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?
Charlie Laidlaw. In my 60s. (How did that happen?)
Fiona: Where are you from?
Originally, the west of Scotland. Now I live near Edinburgh.
Fiona: A little about yourself (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
Educated in Scotland, and a graduate (somehow) of the University of Edinburgh. I am married with two grown-up children. Started life as a national newspaper journalist in Scotland and London, moved into defence intelligence (don’t ask!) and ended up in marketing consultancy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
My next book, The Space Between Time, is being published in June (Accent Press). They have also acquired rights to my first book which is being republished as Love Potion and Other Calamities at the end of the year.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I think I have always been writing. I wrote my first book as a teenager (happily, I threw it on a bonfire). But, like many writers, I have no idea why I write. Maybe because it’s the only discernible talent I have.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
To be honest, I don’t consider myself a writer. But I’m starting this year to teach creative writing, so perhaps that’s a mindset that will have to change!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I suppose that inspiration comes in two forms: the inspiration to write, and the inspiration to dream up a memorable story. The first is something in your DNA, but the second can only be learned. Good stories aren’t just about one flash of inspiration, but a lot of hard work to flesh out character and plot.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My current book is The Things We Learn When We’re Dead. Essentially, it’s a modern fairy-tale of love and loss, told through the eyes of a young woman who has been badly hurt in a road accident. In many ways, it’s a retelling of The Wizard of Oz – how someone head-injured and in hospital can look back at their life and find a new beginning. The title seemed to write itself.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write contemporary fiction, but my books are structurally complex…not that the reader, I hope, notices. Many books are linear and move from A through to Z, which is easier to write. With a more complex structure, moving from A to P, back to B and off to W, finding a route that will satisfy the reader can be challenging.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
The older you get, the more experience you have and can therefore think yourself into other people’s lives. I don’t tend to write about events in my own, or anyone else’s life.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
My three novels so far are largely based in Edinburgh and the east of Scotland, so I’m using settings I know well. However, my books are really character-driven, so I don’t need a lot of detailed context. What my first and third books needed was a lot of research on subjects about which I know nothing.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher organises cover design.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I like uplifting stories that give a message about the importance of life. I hope that’s what mine do – that it’s no big deal to make mistakes in life. What’s important is to find a way through the bad times, and find new beginnings.
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?
I am a fan of many authors from Joanne Harris to Ernest Hemingway. I’m reading Sal by Mick Kitson, a debut novel – and it’s very, very good. It’s always great when you come across a new writer with a distinctive voice.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author?
I’m not sure there was one. I didn’t go on courses or join writing clubs, so all the learning was done by me. And, believe me, writing novels is a skill you have to learn – and I speak as a former national newspaper journalist who has always written for a living.
Now, as I start to teach creative writing, I hope I can help others craft their skillset. I hope also that I can help motivate other aspiring writers to keep at it because, as I know, life has a habit of getting in the way of writing, and time slips by.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
My career is all about writing, mostly journalism. Writing novels is the cherry on the cake.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I have only just finished my final edits to the book, which will be out in June. So, no, right at the moment I absolutely don’t want to change anything!
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
No. As I said, my books are character-driven, so there wasn’t much to learn. That said, once a character gets under your skin, you realise thing about them that you didn’t know at the start of the book. Characters evolve as you get to know them. That’s a part of the writing process I enjoy – getting to know my characters and turning them into real people.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
My current book, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, is all about a very ordinary young woman. She’s no better or worse or different than most people. She just finds herself in a situation where she can look back at her life and remember things slightly differently.
So, no big film star should get to play her. Maybe give her role to an unknown actress…maybe turn her into a star instead!
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep at it. Keep learning. Be hyper-critical and honest f your writing. Understand where it’s going wrong, and figure out how to put it right. But don’t give up. You are only a failure when you give up.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
Only that I’m grateful to every one of them. Writing is a solitary occupation, so it’s always great when you receive positive feedback.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’m reading Sal (see above) and rereading the Corfu Trilogy by Gerald Durrell.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Jennie by Paul Gallico.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
National politics and international politics. We live in uncertain times and our politicians don’t seem to really understand the divisions and growing hatreds in our societies.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Hitler. So I could stab him to death.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Anything that’s well written. Episodes was a series I really enjoyed.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Probably paella or fabada, because I like Spanish cuisine and only using one pot, because I hate washing up.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Go on lots of holidays, mostly to Greece which is my favourite destination. I’d love to visit every Greek island.
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
We never found the body, so he might not be dead.
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
I can be found at:
The book is available worldwide, but the main Amazon links are: