Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Hi Fiona! My name is Sian MacArthur, and I’m 40 years old.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally I’m from London, but I relocated to the Kent coast in the UK with my children about 5 years ago.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Well, I’m mother to two teenage boys, so it’s fair to say that they keep me busy most of the time! I work part-time as an admin assistant, which I love as it gives me plenty of time to focus on my writing, and I dabble in copy-writing every now and again when the opportunity presents itself! I studied English and American literature for my degree, and followed this up with a Masters in Popular fiction – which I thoroughly enjoyed!
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I am currently working on an article on modern Gothic that is intended for inclusion in an online Gothic encyclopedia. My article will explore the ways in which Mo Hayder’s Tokyo uses traditional Gothic motif and convention and to what effect. When complete the encyclopedia should become a wonderful resource for students and Gothic enthusiasts to reference in their own studies.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I have always loved to write – and have done so since I was a small child. I mostly write non-fiction (academic reference texts specifically) and this was in many ways a logical extension to my on academic study. I really am very lucky, I get to write about the books that I love!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I held the first copy of Crime and the Gothic in my hands! Seeing it in the flesh for the first time made it all very real. All of a sudden this word document that I’d been working on for a few years became a very real thing – it was a very proud moment.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It was the tutor that I’d worked with during my studies for my Masters Degree that first encouraged me to try and publish. I had originally wanted to begin a PhD (something I still very much want to do!) but it just wasn’t the right time for me as I had two very small children and couldn’t see a way to make it work. My tutor suggested that instead I write a book – and that’s just what I did.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
It took a while to be honest! I wanted something that sounded interesting but also really spoke as to what the book would be about. Academic reference titles need to be very clear and concise – and I think I managed to do that.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
There is a definite writing style for academic reference – it needs to be fairly formal, clear and coherent. It also needs to be very structured and reasonably concise. It also has to remain true to the title – there is often little room for deviating from the subject matter. That said there is plenty of room for opinion , argument and agreement within the framework.
Usually a great deal of research is required, and this is my favourite part of the process.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
That depends on the nature of the research I need to do to be honest. For my second book Gothic Science Fiction I visited any Science Fiction event that I could get to, speaking to fiction writers and Science Fiction enthusiasts to gather thoughts and opinions that would be relevant.
When I have finished the article I am working on at the moment I plan to begin working on the proposal for my third book which will study crime fiction published during the Cold War years. The English Heritage have recently opened up a Cold War bunker just outside of York, and I’m desperate to go and have a look round! All in the name of research, obviously…..
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I chose the images and my publishers chose the fonts and then did all the formatting. I had a huge bank of images to choose from and it was nice to get the opportunity to put my stamp on the front cover.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Oh I have so many authors whose work I love I couldn’t possibly choose a favourite! I love Stephen King, I remember being terrified by his work when I was a child and even today I am blown away by the man’s imagination and his brilliant ability to write so well that event the craziest idea becomes believable.
I also really like Mo Hayder’s writing, Patricia Cornwell and Kathy Reichs. I love crime fiction, and I read as much of it as I possibly can.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Again, my tutor, Clive Bloom. He was and still is someone who inspires me very much.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love one day for it to be my career yes! I think that is something a lot of people are working towards. Never say never!
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
More research, always. You can never have too much knowledge when it comes to academic writing I think – it truly broadens the horizons and definitely allows for greater perspective.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Oh so much! Science Fiction was a genre that I actually knew very little about, and it was great fun to really get involved with it – looking at its development and growth over very many years. I particularly enjoy carrying out the research that helps me to understand the social and cultural contexts in which a novel is set.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
To stay focused and realise that a novel or a text such as mine can be started – and with sufficient discipline it can be finished too!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Mostly a great, big thank you! I hope you enjoyed them and that within them you found something to aid your studies or develop your interests.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have just finished reading Justin Cronin’s The Passage. I last read it as part of my wider reading for Gothic Science Fiction and I wanted to read it again for pleasure rather than study, and I enjoyed it very much.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
No! I wish I did. I remember loving Nancy Drew as a child, anything by Enid Blyton and the series of Worst Witch stories. I was an avid reader and an avid user of my local public library. I remember my Dad taking me to the library on at least a weekly basis just change my books.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
My children! They both have a great sense of humour and they are truly very funny sometimes! Equally they drive me to distraction a lot of the time…sometimes I swear I am only one wet towel on a bedroom floor away from a complete meltdown……
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
I played this game at a dinner party recently – only we were allowed to choose five people – so I’m going to have to narrow it down somewhat! One person…….Anne Boleyn or David Bowie. I can’t decide. I’m sorry! Anne Boleyn just to ask what was true and what was just hearsay, and Bowie, well because he’s Bowie!!!
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I love vintage clothing and I have a bit of an obsession with rummaging through antique shops and flea markets.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I don’t watch a great deal of television to be honest, but I do love my films. Anything with Dirk Bogarde is a winner, anything Hitchcock and I also am totally into German expressionist film at the moment – Conrad Veidt is just wonderful and I particularly like The Man Who Laughs.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
I love Thai food – the colours, the spices and the aromas are simply wonderful. My favourite colour is yellow – someone once told me that yellow is the colour of hope. I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I always associate yellow with optimism and positivity. I like all kinds of music really, apart from Jazz. Can’t seem to get my head around that at all.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Marry a writer. Then I could write. By proxy.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
24 hours! That is no time at all. I guess I should say by finding something that I’ve always wanted to do – being carefree and unapologetic, but knowing me I’d clean the bathroom and get a wash on so the kids had clean pants for the next week or so!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
Now this I have covered! My eldest is under strict instructions to have it say ‘Here is Mum. She was pretty epic. She loved pineapples. And us.’
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Yes I do! You can find my website at www.sianmacarthur.com where you can email me if you have any questions about my work or my research. I also have my Twitter account, @SianMacarthur – please do get in touch!!