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 Valerie Dickenson – I write under the penname Valerie Keogh – Keogh was my mother’s maiden name. I’m a little over 21!!!!
Fiona: Where are you from?
I’m from Dublin, Ireland but have lived in Wiltshire for the last 13 years.
Fiona: A little about your self (ie, your education, family life, etc.).
I qualified as a nurse and worked as a nurse until last year when I gave it up to write full-time. I also have a BA in English and an MA in American Literature. I come from a big family – five sisters and three brothers and we’re all still fairly close. I live in the UK with my husband, and big fat cat called Fatty Arbuckle
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I was delighted to sign with Bloodhound Books last year – they are republishing a series that I previously self-published and the first, No Simple Death, came out in December. The next is due out the end of this month. I also signed a 3 book contract for psychological novels with them, the first of which is due out in Feb.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always written but when I saw 50 barrelling towards me, I thought it was now or never and finished a book – and I haven’t stopped since.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I suppose when I was able to give up working to write full time – I work longer hours now! I managed to take Xmas day off but that’s been the only day in months that I haven’t written.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
It was bouncing around in my head for a long time until I finally decided to let it out. Different things inspire me – some of No Simple Death was set in a graveyard behind the house where I live. In book two – inspiration came from an article I read about cyanide.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles are hard! When I signed with Bloodhound Books they asked if I had any suggestions. I wanted to make a strong connection between the books in the series so played around with different combinations of words for ages – I also looked to see what other, successful writers were doing. Finally, I came up with No Simple Death – each of the titles in the series will start with No and be a 3 word title. I also had some input into the cover design – as they are based in Dublin I wanted to use iconic Dublin images. I think Bloodhound did a great job with them.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I’m not sure – I write the kind of books I like to read – so a lot of mystery, some romance, no gratuitous violence. The biggest challenge in writing a series is keeping notes to make sure something you said in book one, is carried forward to books 2, 3, 4 etc I’m not the most organised person so I waste a lot of time hunting for information!
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
All the murders, crimes etc are complete fiction but I do use my experiences and those of friends to write the characters and their personal lives. It’s nice to use real life experiences for the characters, I think it helps bring them to life.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
Ha, I wish!! Like most writers, I use Google Maps extensively. I’m from Dublin so obviously I know the city fairly well but I do still need Google Maps for things like distances etc – to make everything realistic and workable.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
The wonderful team in Bloodhound Books – I told them my idea and they came up with a fantastic selection of covers – each of them has a Dublin scene and they’re in striking colours
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
No my books are pure entertainment.
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?
Recently I’ve read books by -Jim Ody, Keri Beevis, Dan Malakin, Lisa Sell, Kate Simant, Rona Halsall, Vikki Patis – brilliant writers, good stories well written.
My all time favourite writer has to be EF Benson – his Mapp and Lucia series of books is just so wonderful, I’ve read them several times.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
Jenny O’Brien, another Irish author, author of The Stepsister, has supported me from the beginning – writing is a lonely career, having someone you can talk to makes all the difference.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely – and it’s hard work but I absolutely love it.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Because I self-published No Simple Death first (under the title That One May Smile) I had the opportunity to change a few things when it was republished by Bloodhound. The main change was in the name of the lead female character – originally she was called Kelly, I changed this to Edel in memory of a close friend who passed away last year.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
Every book I write is a learning process – you learn from the publisher, editor, proof-reader, from advance readers and from critics. I hope I never stop learning and improving.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
I’d quite like Cillian Murphy to play Mike West.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Get that first draft down without worrying about whether it’s good or bad, or worrying about editing. I spent way too many years writing one chapter, reading it, thinking it was rubbish and tossing it aside. The one day, I decided to sit down and write a whole book from beginning to end and that was it!
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I hope you enjoy my books – please feel free to contact me with good/bad comments, I love to hear from readers.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Dark Path by Kevin McManus – just started it but already gripped.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I remember the first book my mother read to me – it was Alice in Wonderland. She was a keen reader and had all the Agatha Christie novels so I read them when I was quite young.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Disappointment makes me cry – a lot of things make me laugh, friends, funny stories, daft things on Facebook, being with my extended family.
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
EF Benson who wrote the Mapp and Lucia series. He was the most amazing writer, I’d love to meet him and see if he was as witty and clever as I imagine him to be.
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
I like walking and gardening – I have less time for both recently!
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love Scandi Noir and European crime series – Spiral was brilliant. I also love Strictly Come Dancing!
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Pizza – no contest there. Favourite colour – blue. I love country music – current favourite Trsha Yearwood – I also love Pentatonix
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
Oh dear, hard to imagine that future. I think, since the stories would still have to get out, I’d learn to use a Dictaphone of some sort!
Fiona: You only have 24 hours to live how would you spend that time?
I’d spend all the money I had to get all my friends and family in the same place and laugh, dance and probably cry until the last second of those hours.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
It took her a while to get started – she’s not giving up now…..
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
My author Facebook pageis:@valeriekeoghnovels where you can find details of all my books.
No Simple Death is currently for sale on Amazon for 99p: Amazon 🇬🇧 https://amzn.to/2OyIzHz
Amazon 🇺🇸 https://amzn.to/35EgnIK