An interview with author Killarney Traynor

(This is the sixth interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

Killarney is a talented author, actress and stuntwoman from America. I was interested to find out more about her and I hope you enjoy reading this interview. I particularly like the section on her faith and how being a Christian has impacted on her career choices.

KillarneyWriting questions

Where did you grow up?

In New Hampshire, which is just north of Boston, Massachusetts. Most of my childhood was spent in Chester, a semi-rural community with lots of small farms and horses.

 Have you always been an avid reader? I used to love sitting in the corner of the playground reading at break times? Who were your favourite authors/books?

Oh, yes! I loved to read anything and everything and I became an expert at finding places to hide where I could read undisturbed. My favorite authors growing up were definitely Laura Ingalls Wilder, CS Lewis, Lucy Maude Montgomery, and Louisa May Alcott. I was also a huge Nancy Drew fan: I so wanted strawberry-blond hair!

Who were your favourite teachers at school? What were your favourite subjects?

Actually, the one I learned the most from was probably my dad: he’s a bigger reader than I am and he would always encourage me to tackle new, and more challenging books. We still swap books today.

As for subjects, I loved history the most, but I also liked literature (naturally, right?), geography, and some of the sciences. I was terrible at math, but don’t tell my boss: my day job is accounting.

Did you have any big parts in school productions?

I played about six characters in A Christmas Carol, and also directed a terrible Robin Hood production. That taught me that I had a lot to learn about directing.

What did you want to be when you were younger?

I always wanted to write, but I was absolutely convinced I was going to be a paleontologist when I grew up. I read every book about dinosaurs and fossils I could find and told my mother that I was going to build a dinosaur museum at the foot of our driveway. I couldn’t understand it when she burst out laughing.

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?

My biggest challenge has probably been getting over my own reticence – I’m actually a pretty private person and the idea of putting my name on a book and admitting to everyone I knew (and didn’t know) that, yes, I wrote this, was a simply terrifying idea. Luckily, I had lots of support and encouragement from friends and family. Slowly, I’m learning to balance my private and more public life.

What are your favourite TV shows and movies?

I’ve watched the Star Wars until I can practically recite them and I love the original Star Trek series. I have a lot of favorites, but here’s a sampling: the new Planet of the Apes series, Inspector Morse and Lewis TV shows, Lois and Clark, Fraser, Hogan’s Heroes, Elementary, Jurassic Park, The Time Tunnel, Rio Bravo, every version of Pride and Prejudice (I cannot wait for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies to come out) and any Zorro series with any actor ever – the cheesier the better!

 

If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick? I’d have pick Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – I love that book so much.

Probably Jane Eyre – such a rich, dark, and brave book with a strong lead.

Could you quickly summarise how you went about getting your first book deal?

I’m an indie author, so at the moment, I’m publishing myself. It’s a lot of work, but very interesting and I get to pick my own covers – win!

Summer ShadowsDo you have any special moments that you’ll never forget? 

So far, the best moment for me was when a man stopped me to tell me how the story of one of Summer Shadows characters – one of the more controversial characters, actually – helped him to heal from a past hurt that he’d been dealing with for a long time. That was an unexpected gift.

Do you have a favourite out of all of your books? I know this is a hard question that you mightn’t be able to answer?

Oh, gosh! That is a hard one: the funny this is, I think my favorite book isn’t one I have published yet. It’s a fantasy novel that I wrote as a teenager, about a young man that gets swept off into war. It was my first attempt at serious writing and the reviews I got from my friends and family gave me the courage to continue writing in this vein.

What tips would you give to children who want to become authors?

Read, read, read, read, read! Read everything and everything and learn everything you can about the world around you. The broader your interests, the more interesting your books will be!

Who has supported you the most during your author journey?

My editor, Jenna Brooks – she helped me shape the first book, Summer Shadows, into something readable, and helped me through the entire publishing process. She’s an author in her own right and a dynamite personality.

Which is your favourite character and why?

I like all my characters, but my favorite is probably Ron Budd, from Summer Shadows. He’s such an interesting, intense, lost little boy, who really transforms over the course of the book. He’s also one of my more controversial character, so I think I’m a bit protective of him.

Have you got any big plans for 2016?

Right now I’m working on a mystery script for my brother’s film company, Narrow Street Films, plus I’m outlining three different books – and hope to finish at least one by the end of this year!

Acting

Have you got any directors or actors that you’d love to work with in the future?

Oh, gosh, my list is so long! If I had a choice, I’d love to work with Kenneth Branagh – I love the depth and breadth he brings to movies, even seemingly simple ones like Thor. He’d be someone I could learn a lot from.

Have you acted in plays as well as movies?

Not yet, but I’d love to! I think acting in front of a live audience would be an interesting and edifying challenge.

What’s it like being a stunt woman? How did you get into it?

My brother has a film company, Narrow Street Films, and I’ve worked with him off and on through-out the years. Initially, I got into stunt work because I’m one of the only women on the crew and few of the guys could double for me. Stunt work is a lot of fun and a little nerve-wracking at times: I’ve had to jump off a cliff (a short cliff, but still), hang on to the back of an ATV while racing through the woods, and get thrown in numerous explosions. Plus, since my brother almost always does action/adventure movies, I’ve had to do a lot of fights scenes, too, which are probably my favorite thing to do!

Music

What sort of music do you like?

I love a lot of different kinds – rock, pop, Christian, jazz, classical, even some country and folk – , but the performers/writers that were probably the most influential were Henry Mancini, Karen Carpenter, and Bing Crosby. I write to Henry Mancini, wish I could sing like Karen Carpenter, and relax to Crosby. I also love Blackmore’s Night, Josh Groban, and Within Temptation – they paint such vivid pictures with their music.

Do you perform as part of a group or solo? Do you write your own music?

I sing in a choir, and I’ve recorded a duet for a movie. I have written some of my own music – some hymns, a Sinatra-standard type, some rock-pop songs, some folky, even a song about my ukulele, just because that word is so much fun to say.

Nesessary EvilWhat do you love the most, writing books, acting, stunt work or music?

Definitely novel-writing – it’s immersive and intense, and as broad or narrow as my imagination can make it.

Faith

How has your faith impacted on your career choices?

My faith is constantly reminding me that there is more to life than the pursuit of wealth and material goods. When I make career choices, it helps me to keep my life/work/family balance and reminds me that any work worth doing is worth doing well.

How old were you when you became a Christian?

I was baptized as an infant, and actually taught myself to read on a book of Bible stories (the pictures were so interesting that I had to figure out what was going on!) I consciously became a Christian when I was eleven, and later became a Catholic when I was eighteen. I feel that being a Christian is an ongoing process – you’re always learning and evolving. Like any good relationship, it deepens over time.

Do you have a couple of favourite bible verses that have helped you through tough times or you particularly like?

I really love Psalm 23: I learned that when I was a child and it’s helped me through some dark times. Another is Matthew 28:20b: “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” And whenever I am really anxious, Matthew 7:25-26 really helps me to refocus: “Therefore, I tell you, do not worry… Look at the birds in the sky… they gather nothing, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not more important than they?”

Are there any particular modern worship songs or hymns you particularly like?

Toby Mac’s Lose My Soul, Kutless’ What Faith Can Do, and Sanctus Real’s The Redeemer are all powerful songs that lend themselves well to prayer. I love the oldies, too: Amazing Grace, Were You There, and Tantum Ergo are good examples.

 

An interview with actor Christian Wolf

Christian Wolf Actor 2(This is fifth interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

Christian is a German actor who moved all the way to Los Angeles to become an actor. I was eager to learn more about Christian and what motivates him. He has met some pretty incredible people – I’m very jealous that he’s met The Hobbit director Peter Jackson. Ever since writing my guide to the Hobbit movies I’ve wanted to meet Peter.

Hi Christian, thanks so much for letting me interview you. I hope you had a lovely Christmas and New Year. If it’s okay, I’d like to start by chatting about your childhood…

I grew up Kassel, Germany. A town north of Frankfurt. Loved movies and soccer. School not so much lol. I lived there until I was 21 and moved to LA for drama school.

 

How old were you when you decided you wanted to become an actor?
I liked acting and performing generally since I was a kid but really decided that I wanted to make it my profession was in high school. So 17 I guess.

 

Did you have any acting heroes when you were younger?
Yes I did, and still do haha. When I was a teenager I was very drawn to the “cool” guys that I wish I could be like haha, like Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and of course Leo DiCaprio, who’s grandma is German and I guess that made me relate even more. haha.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 8Did you act in any school plays? Were there any teachers who helped inspire you?
Yeah my first real school play was a rendition of Spring Awakening where I played Melchior. That changed my life. My teacher then was Eckart Lück, who was very supportive and made me realize that I could really pursue this as a career.

 

What were your favourite subjects at school?
Besides, Drama of course, my favorite subjects were English and German. I find languages fascinating and wish I would make time to learn more. Right now that’s pretty difficult though and I have different priorities.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 7Do you come from a family who are very dramatic/artistic? 
No not at all, my dad works in insurance and my mom was a doctor’s assistant, but became a stay at home mom for me and my little sister, which was awesome.

 

Have they always supported you?
Yes they have. They were skeptical at first but once they realized that I was actually serious they never stopped supporting me in whatever way they could. And I’m very grateful for that.

 

Were you a member of any drama groups or did you go to drama school?
I was part of drama groups in High School, and then moved to LA to attend The American Academy of Dramatic Arts when I was 21. And I haven’t moved back to Germany since.

 

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve faced?
The biggest challenge… I guess trying to make sure that I don’t only work too goal oriented, but also keep enjoying every day of the work I put in if that makes sense. I can get caught up in “success” goals and I don’t like to think that way.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 6Do you have any regrets?
No, no regrets. I’ve found that mistakes are amazingly useful in life.

 

What are your favourite TV shows and movies?
My favorite shows at the moment I would say are Peaky Blinders and Game of Thrones. I also love Breaking Bad but that’s over of course. Some of my favorite movies are Fight Club, What’s eating Gilbert Grape, The Departed, Inception, gosh I could go on forever lol. I really love “It’s a wonderful Life” with James Stewart. I cry every time lol.

 

If you could have been in any movie or TV show from the past or present which one would you pick?
That’s a hard question. Probably “Some Like It Hot” (1959) (another one of my favorites) That would have been an amazing experience to be around those people.

 

Have you ever acted in any plays?
I have, mostly as part of the AADA Theater Company. My favorite roles include Eugene in “Look Homeward, Angel” and Luke in “Next Fall”.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 5What tips would you give to young children who want to become actors?
Tips to young children… Well, I guess just keep at it. And not being afraid of being terrible. Just risk something and see what happens. At least that’s the advice I try to give myself all the time. :)

 

How do you prepare to play a part?
That really depends on the part. But generally I guess I try to really really understand whoever I’m playing and whatever they’re doing. I ask myself a lot of why questions and try to be as specific as I can with everything.

 

What have been your 3 favourite parts that you’ve played?
I think all parts are awesome in their own way. The variety is what really does it for me.

 

Christian Wolf Actor 3Have you got any big plans for 2016?
Yes I am very excited about this next project called “crossing fences” where I play and east German man during the 1970’s who’s trying to escape to West Germany. Should be a blast and I’m very excited to work with Nina Rausch who plays my wife and to be directed by Annika Pampel. I’m sure being on set will be a fantastic experience and I look forward to also learn lot from them.

 

Have you got any directors or actors that you’d love to work with in the future?
I’d love to sit across Leo DiCaprio one day, acting out a scene for a film. That would be epic.

 

Christian Wolf and Peter JacksonWhat was it like to meet Peter Jackson? How did it happen?
It was awesome, Peter Jackson is a really down to earth guy and it really motivated me. It was at an event for The Hobbit Part 2.

 

You’ve also met Charlize Theron and Ben Stiller? Where was that. How did it feel?
Meeting Charlize Theron and Ben Stiller was amazing as well. They both are super nice and really made you feel listened to if that makes sense. Very comfortable and just easy. Very great people to meet and very inspiring. I sure admire both of them a great deal. That was at the AFI Film Fest.

Christian Wolf and Charlize TheronChristian Wolf Actor 4

An interview with crime author Kate Griffin

(This is fourth interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

I was thrilled when Kate Griffin said I could interview her for my website. Kate is a fantastic writer and I find her story very inspirational. She got her first book deal after entering a competition, how amazing is that! She writes novels for both adults and children… I really hope I can say the same this time next year. I’m determined that this is the year I write at least one fiction book!

Hi Kate, thanks so much for letting me interview you.

I thought we’d start by talking about what you were like as a child. Did you always love reading and writing stories? 

Even when I was tiny and couldn’t read a word I remember flicking through the pages of picture books and trying to imagine what the story might be.

Famous FiveI think it was Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books that gave me the key. I know they’re not fashionable now, but I loved them so much that I raced through them all. By the time I was around seven I was a really confident reader.

At my primary school there was nothing I enjoyed more than disappearing into a fantasy world. I either wrote very long, elaborate stories – often involving dinosaurs – I or acted them out and forced my long-suffering friends to join me in the plays ‘wot I wrote’. I was the Ernie Wise of Watford’s Knutsford School!

We had a dressing up box in the corner of the classroom and I loved pretending to be historical characters like Anne Boleyn. I was quite a gory child and I was fascinated that she’d had her head chopped off!

I don’t think it’s surprising that my books are gothically historical.

A Wizard of EarthseaWhat were your favourite books as a child? 

 Anything involving history or fantasy. After I moved on from The Famous Five I discovered Susan Cooper’s magical The Dark is Rising series which involves Arthurian legends, quests and the battle between good and evil. I also loved the Narnia books, Ursula Le Guin’s Wizard of Earthsea series, anything by Roald Dahl and books by a writer no one seems to remember now called Leon Garfield. They were historical tales and often quite spooky. I always liked slightly macabre stories – I really was the child who reads with a torch beneath the bed covers.

Who were your favourite teachers at school? What were your favourite subjects? 

My favourite subjects never changed – Art, English, History and Drama. At my secondary school – Westfield Girls School in Watford – I was lucky to be taught by several fantastic English teachers. The two I’ll always remember were Jackie Fairall who was young and amazingly stylish (she had a photo of David Bowie pinned up in her cupboard!) and Beryl Smith who must have been in her 60s. She terrified the life out of everyone, but she was a brilliant English teacher and I think she had a soft spot for me because I loved books and performing.

Both of them were fascinated by the theatre and they directed many of our school productions.

I also had an incredible history teacher, Betty Saunders, who was wildly eccentric and a fabulous story teller. Looking back I know I owe her a lot.

Did you have any big parts in school productions? 

I was quite a shy, nerdy child, but I loved acting. Looking back I think I relished the chance to be someone else. Maybe it was an escape? I think even now writing gives me the chance to become someone different. It’s definitely a sort of performance.

I was never the most glamorous girl in the school so, despite the fact that I was also pretty much the smallest girl in the school, I always played men. My most memorable parts were The Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland and Ratty in The Wind in the Willows. In the sixth form I was Mr Beetle AND Chief Ant in something called The Insect Play. I remember it horribly clearly. We’d just started having joint lessons with pupils at our associated boys’ school. Appearing in front of them all at the age of 16 dressed as a dung beetle and then as an over-sized ant (with pipe cleaner antennae) was mortifying.

How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a journalist/author? 

To be honest, I fell into journalism. After university I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do and I ended up working for an antique dealer in London for a year. I was terrible – part of the job involved heavy duty china dusting and I’m incredibly clumsy. I kept having to sneak out to Woolworths in my lunch break to buy super-glue to repair the damages, and then I lived in fear that he’d find the evidence.

The one bright spot was that I wrote and produced a glossy catalogue for his shop and had to research and describe every item. I really enjoyed doing it, so when I saw an advert for five trainee journalists at the Watford Observer I applied and was lucky enough to be offered one of the places.

I soon discovered I didn’t really have a ‘nose’ for hard news. All my journalist friends wanted to do the juicy front page stuff (murders etc), but I loved being sent out to golden wedding interviews which mainly involved visiting friendly old couples and listening to their life stories while drinking their tea and eating their biscuits. Most of them had lived through the wars and had amazing experiences. Writing up those interviews was a pleasure.

I think my editor realised quite early on that I wasn’t cut out to be an investigative reporter, but he thought I was amusing and gave me a weekly column where I could write about anything I wanted. Luckily people seemed to like it.

I think it was then that I began to realise how much I enjoyed writing for writing’s sake, but it wasn’t until many years later that I had the confidence to do something about it.

What did you study at college & university?

I studied English at London University (at Royal Holloway College) and then I did a PGCSE (post graduate certificate of secondary education) in English and Drama at London University’s Goldsmith’s College, mainly because I am a thwarted actress and wanted to do a drama course! I never did go on to teach, which is probably a good thing.

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve ever faced? 

I think it relates to my answer to your next question. When I found out that I’d won the Faber / Stylist magazine competition to find a new crime writer it was October 2012 and I was on holiday. I was massively excited for a day or two and we popped open a bottle to celebrate, but then I came down to earth with a bump. Reality set in when I realised that I had to write almost a whole book in three months.

I don’t remember much of the frozen winter spanning 2012 – 2013 because I spent most of it hunched over my lap top.

I work in a room in our basement with a half window to the street. When I looked up for inspiration all I could see was people’s legs scurrying about in the snow outside. When I re-read Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders I realised that the snow had made its way into the book.

Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders CoverCan you tell me about the Stylist / Faber crime writing competition? What made you enter? How did it feel to win? 

It was pure luck – in every possible way. I work part time in London and I picked up a copy of Stylist one evening on the way to the station (I live in St Albans). I saw the competition and stowed the magazine away in my bag for future reference. When I got home I pushed it under the sofa and promptly forgot about it.

It wasn’t until a couple of months later that I thought about it again. It was the weekend of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and I was at a loose end – my husband was working and the weather was awful.

I burrowed under the sofa to retrieve the copy of Stylist and came up covered in fluff balls. (Dusting isn’t my strong point – see earlier answer J )

The rules were clear and simple – entrants were asked to create a crime novel with a strong female protagonist and the judges wanted to see the first 6,000 words. That was all, really.

I thought I knew exactly what they were looking for: something contemporary, perhaps something with a bit of a Scandi feel to it, maybe a detective with lots of personal demons etc etc…

I thought: ‘Yes, I’ll give it a go.’

I went downstairs, switched on my lap top and started to type, but what appeared on the page was nothing like the above. Instead I wrote a conversation between terrifying, raddled, opium – addicted crime baroness (Lady Ginger) and a ‘mouthy’ girl who worked in one of her music halls (Kitty Peck). The date was 1880 and the action took place in London’s Limehouse.

I’m still not sure where it all came from, although my mum’s family lived in Limehouse in the nineteenth century and I knew that, at some level, I was imagining their lives. Also I was inventing a tawdry, intensely gothic theatrical world that appealed to me immensely.

So, I sent it off, thinking it really wasn’t what they were looking for and then out of the blue a couple of months later I got a call from Stylist Magazine inviting me to a ‘finalists’ meeting at Faber and Faber.

I was amazed and completely terrified.

How long had you been working on your book? 

Ha! That was the terrifying bit. When I went to Faber and Faber and met some of the judges they asked how much of the book I’d written. When I admitted that the 6000 words they’d read was all I’d done, the room went a bit quiet. I was asked if I could write the rest of it in around three months and – like an idiot – I said I could!

I really didn’t expect to win. That’s why the call I received on holiday was such a massive surprise, and why, when I really thought about it, the ominous words ‘what have I done?’ started to ring out in my head.

What are your favourite TV shows and movies? 

David Dawson acting in The Last KingdomAnything historical – I do love a good costume drama. The element of escapism appeals to me. I quite like a satisfyingly creepy horror film too. I saw Crimson Peak before Christmas and loved the lushness of it. I’m a huge fan of Game of Thrones (the female characters are so good) and last year I adored Wolf Hall.

On a modern note I loved London Spy too – but as it was really a gothic melodrama maybe that’s not surprising?

Over Christmas I binge-watched The Last Kingdom – which your cousin David Dawson was so very good in! [Click here to read my recent interview with David]

I also like a bit of comedy. Hunderby by the brilliantly black-hearted Julia Davis is a fantastic mash up of every gothic Victorian novel I’ve ever read. And I have a very soft spot for the Carry On Films. For a while in the late 1940s, my mum was at school with (Dame) Barbara Windsor, who is one of my cockney heroes.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Since I started writing I don’t seem to have any! I do like walking round odd parts of the City of London when I have the chance. There are some fascinating ancient corners. I’m constantly surprised to come across medieval churches hidden in the midst of a forest of glass and metal skyscrapers, or to find parts of the old Roman wall.

I walk around Limehouse a lot to get a feeling for the place. It’s changed so much since my family lived there, but it’s possible to pick up so much by exploring, visiting the old pubs by the Thames and making a note of the wonderful old street names.

I enjoy going to the theatre too and I’m planning to do more of that in 2016.

If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick? I’d have pick Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird – I love that book so much.

Great ExpectationsThat’s a great choice! For me it would have to be Great Expectations, it’s such a rich complex and frankly weird novel. The more I read it the stranger and more troubling it becomes.

To be honest, my character Lady Ginger owes a debt to Miss Havisham. I enjoy all those fat Victorian novels, but Charles Dickens is the master. His characters are often completely baroque, but also so deeply human. I also love Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.

How did you get your agent? 

My agent is the wonderful Eugenie Furness, of James Grant. We were introduced by Hannah Griffiths my equally wonderful editor at Faber just after I won the competition.

How long does it usually take to write one of your books?

Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill Fortune coverWell, that first one was a scramble, but my next deadlines were much kinder. Faber has asked me to write four Kitty Peck books. Kitty Peck and the Child of Ill Fortune came out last summer (2015) and I wrote it in nine months. I’ve just handed in the draft of book three, Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow and again, it took around nine months to complete the first draft. But, as you know, that’s never the end. After you’ve handed in a first draft there’s always a period of editing and fine-tuning. I really enjoy that bit; it’s like polishing dull silver and seeing the shine come through.

What usually takes you the longest – deciding on the plot etc. Do you have a plan on your wall, mapping out the story? I’m just fascinated by how you work 

I think everyone works in different ways. Some people prefer to make detailed plans and story maps, but I’m not organised enough to do that and, anyway, I think I need the thrill of the chase. I’m a ‘seat of the pants writer’.

I switch on, set off and wait to see where the story takes me. Having said that, I generally know how exactly how every book ends. It’s getting all the characters to that point that’s exciting.

Do you like writing for adults or children the best?

The Jade BoySince the first Kitty Peck book came out I also wrote two books for children The Jade Boy and The Moon Child (both published by Templar). It won’t surprise you to read that both are historical horror stories. The Jade Boy is set against the background of the Great Fire of London.

The Victorian era and the Restoration era fascinate me. They are both, rich, decadent and vivid.

It’s difficult to say which I prefer to write. I think children’s books are probably harder because it’s a tough audience to please. Children are very clear (and very vocal) about what they like, and what they don’t like and they have a forensic eye for detail.

What are your top author special moments that you’ll never forget? I don’t think I’ll ever forget the first time I ripped open my first box of author copies and held my first Robert Pattinson book in my hands. Seeing it in bookshops and in my local Asda was also an incredible feeling. Finding out one of my books was a Sunday Times Best Seller was also incredible, my dad was telling everyone in our local newsagents and must have bought about 5 copies of the paper. I think my third special moment must have been doing my first book signing in the library where I used to work part-time. 

Seeing the cover design for the first Kitty Peck was a big moment. I think I had tears in my eyes because it was real! But then again, it’s all been such an unexpected roller coaster. I was thrilled when The Jade Boy was shortlisted as book of the year for ages 8-12 by the BookTrust and subsequently long-listed for a Carnegie Medal. And also I was absolutely amazed and delighted when Kitty Peck and the Music Hall Murders, my first ever book, was shortlisted (it was one of five) for the Crime Writer’s Association Endeavour Historical Dagger Award. The daggers are the ‘Oscars’ of crime writing.

The Moon ChildWhat tips would you give to children who want to become authors?

Read as much as you can. Read everything – even the back of cereal packets at breakfast time. Try to read every day and explore lots of different types of books. After a while you’ll know what your ‘happy zone’ is – that’s the sort of thing you want to write. If you feel confident enough to write something yourself, go for it, don’t dream about it. Writing is a bit like a muscle – the more you use it the stronger it becomes. The most important thing is to have fun and ENJOY what you’re doing. The moment it feels like a chore or like homework is definitely the time to stop and do something else. Reading and writing should be an adventure!

Who has supported you the most during your author journey?

My husband, Stephen (who misses me when I’m writing because he hardly sees me) and also my lovely friends and work colleagues.

Do you have a writing schedule/particular time of day you like to write? I love waking up early and writing when everyone else is asleep. Ever since my daughter arrived two years ago, I’ve had to be more creative with my writing schedule and fit it around her. It’s been more tricky but since I’ve been a full-time author/mum it’s been easier. No more commuting into Manchester at silly o’clock to work as a copywriter in an office and then start writing as soon as I get home. How do you fit your writing around your day job? Do you write in a home office or somewhere else? 

Kate Griffin AuthorI work part time for a heritage charity. I’m in the office in London (an attic in a Georgian house in Spitalfields) three days a week so I try to fit my writing around that. The closer it gets to a deadline, the more time I spend tapping away in the basement at home eating cheese and panicking. I am definitely not a morning person! I’m almost bat-like in terms of my most productive hours. If my working day could start at 5pm and end at 10pm that would be perfect.

Unfortunately, my husband is a morning person. I have to adjust my writing schedules if I want to see him; otherwise he gets a bit glum.

Are there any authors who inspire you? I’ve been an author for about six years and I don’t actually have any author friends. Maybe if I lived in London rather than Widnes I would… I am so grateful I have a good editor and agent though, I can always call them up for a chat if I’ve got new ideas or want to talk things through.

 As I mentioned above, I love Dickens and Daphne du Maurier. Also MR James and Susan Hill. I do like a chilling ghost story. Here’s a shocking admission, although I write crime stories I don’t read much crime, except for Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and anything by Edgar Alan Poe.

…But don’t tell anyone :-)

When you finish a chapter/particularly tricky part do you reward yourself? I usually have a tub of ice cream or cake on hand, and I don’t let myself have any till I’ve finished. 

Rewards are so important aren’t they? As Kitty’s world is the alcohol-soaked environment of the music hall, I’ll admit to the occasional gin and tonic as a treat when things have gone well. And I do love a hunk of cheese or a bit of very dark chocolate.

Who is your favourite character [from your books] and why? 

I adore Kitty because she’s witty, honest, strong, loyal and completely fearless and her great friend Lucca is faithful, brilliant, tortured and complex, but I also have to admit to a sneaking fondness for my ancient opium addict Lady Ginger because (I think) she is wonderfully twisted. I look forward to writing her scenes and I act them all out in the basement. My neighbours must think I’m loopy when they hear me reading aloud!

What is the hardest part of being an author? How does it feel to have fans? 

The hardest thing is being disciplined. Making yourself write when the sun is shining and all you want to do is go outside is very painful. Also, I didn’t realise how long you spend sitting in a chair typing. My bottom has definitely widened since I began writing. And it doesn’t help that I keep wandering over to the fridge to cut myself a hunk of ‘inspirational’ cheese.

It can be quite a lonely process. When people take the trouble to tell you they’ve enjoyed your book it’s the most fantastic (and humbling) feeling. It certainly makes all those hours in the gloomy basement worthwhile.

Have you got any big plans for 2016? I hope I’ve not asked you too many questions, I just wanted it to be as in-depth as possible. 

I’ve just finished the first draft of Kitty Peck 3 (Kitty Peck and the Daughter of Sorrow) and that will be published later this year. In the meantime I’ll be writing the fourth book in the series. My deadline is January 2017 which seems to be ages away, but probably isn’t. I’ll be at some literary festivals and events, which are always fun as it’s great to meet readers… and, most importantly, I’ll be booking a holiday!

An interview with American Author Regina Puckett

(This is third interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

Regina Puckett has been writing books for almost fifty years and lives in Tennessee with her husband. She has two grown daughters and four grandchildren. I asked Regina if I could interview her because I was so impressed that she writes books in lots of different genres: sweet romances, horror, inspirational, steampunk, picture books and poetry.

I felt there was a lot I could learn from Regina so I asked her loads of questions. I only wish I could have interviewed her in her home in Tennessee, rather than via email, as I would have been able to visit my cousin who is studying at Bryan College and see Taylor Swift’s old school and home.

author picture smaller size 2 from barbara harrisHow did you start your journey to become an author? Had you always wanted to write a book? I thought I’d written a lot of books (20) but that’s nothing compared to you, how many books have you written to date?

I’m not exactly certain when my writing journey started.  I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve always wanted to be an author but I never thought a country girl from the backwoods of Tennessee had a chance at ever becoming one. It took some courage and a lot of gumption to go ahead and give it a shot anyway.  I also figured if I fell on my face no one would ever know but me.

I’ve lost count but I think my book count is somewhere in the neighborhood of 50 books and short stories.  I’m working on another children’s picture book and my plan is to write three more steampunk books in 2016.  I have a great idea for an historical romance and if all goes well I hope to publish it this year too.

 

I’m so impressed that you write books in different genres, that takes so much skill. What’s your favourite genre?
I love something about all of the genres I’ve tried so far.  My first love was romance but at the moment I’m loving steampunk.  It has generated an entire new world and characters for me to explore and they have been kind enough to let me join on their journeys.
How did you get the idea for your first story? And what was it called?
I don’t remember my first-first, but my first published novel, Concealed in My Heart, came about because of a dream.  I spent two years building around that dream until I decided I needed to put it onto paper.
The Secret GardenDid you always love reading and writing stories? What were your favourite books as a child?
My mom used to make me turn off the lights at night because once I started reading a book I had to finish it.  How can anyone go to sleep without knowing how it’s all going to end? Are they going to fall in love? Is someone going to die?  And who really did it?

 
My favorite book as a child was The Secret Garden.  I still love that book.

 
How did you go about getting your first book published?
I went about it all wrong.  It’s too sad of a story to tell and should be a cautionary tale for all first time authors to check and double check who you’re sending your babies off to.  It took seven years to get my rights back on Concealed in My Heart.  Once I did though, I found a great editor and then published Concealed in My Heart as an indie author on Amazon. (For UK readers, an indie author means a self-published author)

 
My suggestion to anyone thinking of publishing as an indie author is to always have your book edited by a professional.  I don’t care if your mom, grandmother or big sister told you that your book is perfect it still needs a good editor to give it that final polish.  If you decide to skip that step, you might find out the hard way how harsh some reviewers can be.  It isn’t easy recovering from a bad review, so why tempt fate?

 
Concealed in my Heart bookDid you study creative writing at college or go on any writing courses?
I didn’t study creative writing while I was at the university. I wanted to focus on art and painting and didn’t want to use my credits on writing.  I did switch in mid-stream from art to English but with a focus on teaching English in a high school setting.

 
My lessons on creative writing have come from the rejection letters I’ve received from publishers. Several editors were kind enough to tell me why they weren’t interested in publishing my books. Over the years I finally figured out that I could either cry and quit or I could take their advice and improve my writing skills. I should be a fair writer by the time I’m a hundred.

 
What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve ever faced?
Rejection.  It stings and really never gets any easier.

 
What are your favourite TV shows and movies?
I love Downton Abby, NCIS and Once Upon a Time.   My favorite movies are the Harry Potter Series.  You can’t get any better than Harry Potter.

 
Who are your favourite authors?
J. K Rowling, Clive Cussler and I just discovered Anna Katherine Green.

 
Who are your favourite poets?
Longfellow and Keating

 
If you could have a dinner party and invite four people (alive or dead) to come, who would you pick?
J. K Rowling, Stephen King, Mark Twain and Jesus

 
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read, sew, paint and listen to music

 
If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick?
Love You Forever by Robert Munsch.  It’s so sweet and it always makes me cry.

 
Alone in Forbidden (2)How long does it usually take to write one of your books? What usually takes you the longest – deciding on the plot? Do you have a plan on your wall, mapping out the story?
It takes about six months to write a full length novel and two months to write a novella.  I don’t plot because it never works out for me.  Once I have a story idea I just start typing and let the characters take me where they want to go. My characters always know best and never cease to amaze me.  I have to keep a list of characters and characterizes typed and on hand, because I can never remember what color hair or eyes anyone has.

 
What are your top 3 author special moments that you’ll never forget?
I’ll never forget the day I signed my first publishing contract.  I was so excited I thought I might die right then and there.  I had to call everyone I knew and brag and brag.  I’m surprised that smile didn’t freeze onto my face. There’s nothing like realizing the one dream I didn’t think would ever come true.  I was just as excited when I held the first printed copy of Concealed in My Heart. There were several moments that happened that made me think I had made it big as an author – being featured in the local newspapers, book signing and winning awards.  Every milestone I reach just makes me work harder.

 
Do you have a favourite out of all of your books? I know this is a hard question that you mightn’t be able to answer.
For a long time my favorite book was Love is a Promise Kept.  I think it’s such a sweet tale about finding love and never losing it, but then I tried my hand at steampunk last year and wrote I Will Breathe.  I don’t think I’ve ever written a better book.  It touches on all of my emotions and gave me characters I can probably continue writing stories about until I die.

 
Spoiled Little Princess Wears a Rat bookcoverWhat tips would you give to children who want to become authors?
If writing is something you’re passionate about, never give up.

 
Who has supported you the most during your author journey?
My daughters.  They always believed I could make my dream a reality.

 
Do you have a writing schedule/particular time of day you like to write? 
I work full time so I write whenever I can get a spare moment.

 

 

Do you write in a home office or somewhere else? 
I do have an office but since I bought my laptop I write in my big comfy chair in the living room. I write in between all the questions my husband asks.  I usually have to give him my famous glare before he finally figures out I’m trying to write. He’ll give me about fifteen minutes of writing time before he starts in again.  That’s okay.  I have plenty of glares left in me.

 
When you finish a chapter/particularly tricky part do you reward yourself?
I’m just so happy to work through any tricky situations that I’m afraid to stop writing for fear of getting stuck again.

 
Who is your favourite character [from your books] and why?
Boy.  I know he’s just a robot but he has the biggest heart and loves without asking for anything in return.

 
What is the hardest part of being an author?
Everyone thinks you’re rich.  I’m just happy to buy a hamburger and fries with my royalty checks.

 
How does it feel to have fans?
I love my readers.  They give me a reason to keep on struggling and writing during those times I’m certain I suck.

 
A Man called Rat with sealHave you got any big plans for 2016?
My plans are to write three steampunk novellas, a children’s picture book and a full length historical romance, but the only one I’m certain about is the children’s picture book, Spoiled Little Princess Wears a Rat.  It’s written and waiting to be edited.  I’m about a 1/3 of the way through completing the illustrations.

 
My planned steampunk novellas are A Man Called Rat, Building the Air and Alone in Forbidden.  I don’t have a title yet for the historical romance- just lots of sweet and funny conversations happening in my head right now.

 

 

(This is third interview in my inspirational people series. To read more interviews please click here >)

An interview with children’s author L R W Lee

Over the Christmas/New Year break I decided that I would contact some inspirational authors, musicians, singers, actors and sports people to interview for my site. I’ve always been fascinated by how people got their big breaks and I think we can learn a lot from hearing people’s personal stories.

The first person I interviewed was my cousin David Dawson who is an actor in The Last Kingdom and is currently performing in the play The Dazzle. Click here to read my interview >

Final_300x300The second person I interviewed was children’s author L.R.W Lee. She is the author of the popular Andy Smithson series…

I love how you knew you wanted to be an author when you were eight but didn’t think you had anything meaningful to say at the time. I’ve always loved reading and writing, and daydreaming. I think authors always need to have good imaginations.

Did you have any big parts in school productions? 

The only school production I remember being in was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. I got to be the wicked step mother because I could do a really nasty version :)

What has been the biggest challenge that you’ve ever faced?

1) I would have to say being a business owner for 12 years until my partner and I successfully sold in 2012. That entire time I had never felt SO stretched in my entire life. There were always things to learn and changes to keep up with… I became an author after that and got to relax…whew…  2) I would also have to say raising my son, who has ADHD, was a HUGE challenge for both myself and my husband. I say we didn’t truly learn to parent until he came along. Our daughter who is 2 1/2 years older was, relatively speaking, a piece of cake–self mobilized, compliant, hard working and more. Our son…exactly opposite… As a high performing leader type, I just couldn’t “get” my son and why he chose to do what he did at times.

AndySmithson_250x375_wAwaWhat are your favourite TV shows and movies?

I must confess, I’m a Potterhead, so I love those movies, although LoTR and The Hobbit certainly had their draw.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

Usually read.

What are your favourite books now that you’re an adult?

Oh boy, how do I choose? LOL! At the top would be anything by Sarah J. Maas and Elise Kova. But I also love Rachel E. Carter’s The Black Mage series as well as Servant of the Crown by Melissa McShane and the rest of the books in The Crown of Tremontaine series. Sorry there’s so many, but there’s a lot out there. You can see all my reviews of books I read on my blog at blog.lrwlee.com.

If you could have written any book in the world, which one would you pick?

I’d have to say the Harry Potter series. Look at the impact it has had on an entire generation.

VoSC_Cover300x450Could you quickly summarise how you went about getting your first book deal?

I write because I seek to help people understand how to overcome frustration, fear and more as well as understand that true success in life comes from embodying responsibility, diligence and dignity. I queried several traditional publishers with my first book and was rejected by all. Looking back I now understand my craft at that point was  not where it needed to be. So with the narrative that I was not going to allow traditional publishers to control my ability to impact others for the greater good, I self-published.

I can understand this, I self-published my first book after it was rejected by publishers. Be the Best – an inspirational book for young rugby players was a book I wrote whilst I was studying for my Masters at University College Falmouth and I wrote it for both rugby union and rugby league players. I really enjoyed self-publishing the book and I always encourage people to go down the self-publishing route if they can’t get a publishing deal. It’s much better than leaving the book in a drawer, never to be read. You’ve done incredibly well and it proves that self-publishing can work.

How long does it usually take to write one of your books?

It usually takes about 6 months to write one of my books. I have invented the master story arc for all 7 books and now that I’ll soon be plotting the specific events for book 6 as events are unfolding, it gets easier. So I would say, the hardest part for me is starting a new series because you have to first invent the central conflicts, then build the world that is sufficiently complex to allow them to be fleshed out. This is one reason I chose to make my series 7 books. I figured if I’d taken all that time to invent the world, I might just as well use it many times and really get to understand it.

AndySmithson-Disgraceot250xWhat are your top author special moments that you’ll never forget?
1) Opening the box from Createspace with the proof copy of my first book definitely tops the list in terms of meaningful moments. For with that, I was clear that paperback was not just the culmination of 12-months of work, but really the culmination of 32 years of learning and growing and developing as a person to have something valuable to share with my readers that could potentially change their lives.
2) I received an email from a young fan not long ago. She explained that she has dyslexia and hated to read. Eighteen months ago her mom gave her an ultimatium that she HAD to read one of the books her mom had picked out for her. It happened to have been Blast of the Dragon’s Fury. Today she is a voracious reader and she says she owes it all to me because my narrative kept her so engaged, she couldn’t put it down. What’s more, and this was what REALLY made my day, she declared that after reading that book, she now tries to live in a way that she’s responsible, diligent and dignified… I don’t know what that means to her, but clearly that story has had a positive impact on her life…

Do you have a favourite out of all of your books? I know this is a hard question that you mightn’t be able to answer.
You’re asking me to pick my favorite child… I can’t. Each book is special in its own way. For example, while writing Venom of the Serpent’s Cunning (book two), my characters decided to take the plot in a direction I could never have imagined that changed the master series plot for the better.

What tips would you give to children who want to become authors?
Read lots! Reading helps you understand how to effectively plot conflicts and rising action as well as resolutions. Also, write lots. Craft only improves with practice. The more you write, the better you will write.

Who has supported you the most during your author journey?

My readers and especially my raving fans. Folks who read and then posted their review, especially those who offered constructive comments. As well, my editor. I have learned SO much from her and my craft today shows it.

Bk4Cover_250x373Do you have a writing schedule/particular time of day you like to write?

I usually write in the afternoon after I’ve gotten all the busyness of social media and promotion out of the way so my mind is not cluttered. I usually exercise in the morning and during that time invent what I will write that day.

When you finish a chapter/particularly tricky part do you reward yourself?

It depends on how fried my brain is at that moment. If it’s mush, I usually go read and give my mind a break.

Who is your favourite character [from your books] and why? How do I choose?

If I must, I would say Andy. He was initially patterned after my son and the challenges he posed as he grew up.

What is the hardest part of being an author?

Marketing and creating awareness of my work. I say I’m 50% writer and 50% marketer.

Have you got any big plans for 2016?

I do. Book 5 is out on the 13th January so I’m really excited to hear what my fans think of it.

I’m currently doing a rewrite of Blast of the Dragon’s Fury, book one in the series because my craft has improved so much since I began that it’s time. It’s not that the writing is abdominal, it’s not. I just know I can write better now. Book one, even though it’s always free, sets up the entire series for readers. If the craft drives them away, they won’t read further. It’s time. After that I’ll be writing Book 6. Buckle up because things are really getting tense.

I invite everyone to download the free ebook of both book one, Blast of the Dragon’s Fury as well as the prequel novella, Power of the Heir’s Passion that gives much of the backstory to how the curse came to be. Both are free on Amazon, B&N, Google Play and anywhere you get ebooks.

To read more inspirational interviews, please click here >

 

An interview with The Last Kingdom actor David Dawson – Part 2

This is the second part of my interview with my cousin David Dawson. Click here to read Part 1 >

David Dawson The Last Kingdom

Let’s take a step back in time and talk about growing up…

Did you have an acting hero when you were younger?

“I always say that Charlie Chaplin is one of my acting heroes because he was a working class fellow who worked incredibly hard and made his own work. A very clever man. I’m inspired by him. I love wonderful character actors like Julie Walters, Steve Buscemi, Gary Oldman, people like that. People who can transform and surprise you each time.

When did you decide you wanted to be an actor? I can’t even remember a time when you didn’t want to be one?

“I think that’s it. I was like two, I liked dressing up as characters and I’d spend a whole day being that character. And also like Grandad, he’d pretend to be the Great Stromboli at Christmas time and do the circus in the living room for the family… and that’s one of the things when I was really little that struck me – this feels good when you’re clapping and stuff.

I remember playing Batman and Robin in Nan and Grandad’s back garden after school. And you always liked interesting films.

“I used to love Clue [an 1985 movie based on the board game Cluedo].”

Clue the Movie

Now I’ve just got some questions about Widnes [our home town] because some of the children I’m working with are doing a series on inspirational Widnesians…

Growing up, what was your favourite part/memory of Widnes?

“I used to love the Spike Island Fair, I’d get excited every year when I was little and performing at the Queens Hall but that’s not here anymore. I used to love going to that drama club.”

Lunt's Heath BadgeWho was your favourite teacher at school?

“I loved Mrs Marshall at Lunt’s Heath [Primary School], she was a legend because she was very creative but you also wouldn’t mess with her. You had lots of fun with her, I liked teachers like that.

“There was a man called Mr Holmes [at Fairfield High School] a history teacher who used to jump on the tables to re-enact battles and things. That was really fun.”

Were you in any plays in primary school? Did you have any big parts?

“I was Joseph in the nativity. When I was five or six.”

What advice would you give to a school child in Widnes who want to be an actor?

“I’d say, watch loads of films, read lots of plays because I think being an actor is about experiencing life in all its forms and drama in all its genres so if you can, watch history films, horror films, love films, comedies… get a knowledge about everything that a human is capable of. Also, be brave and the less your care about making mistakes the better you’ll be. Always remember that every time you fall or don’t achieve, it’s only making you stronger so that you will achieve. It’s a tough business and you’re gonna be facing auditions and there’s going to be knockbacks as well as jobs.”

What was it like moving to London when you were eighteen? We all [the rest of our family] live within a mile so what was it like making that decision?

“I just knew it was something I had to do for acting. I love London. It’s a creative hub. Full of theatres, galleries and history. I know you don’t have to, but drama school is well worth looking into if you want to be an actor. I loved my time at RADA.”

[A big thank you to everyone who submitted questions for this interview]

An interview with The Last Kingdom actor David Dawson – Part 1

This Boxing day I had the pleasure of interviewing my cousin David Dawson. David is best known for playing King Alfred in The Last Kingdom and Fred Best in Ripper Street. He’s currently playing Homer in The Dazzle.

Interviewing David was a lovely experience because I could ask him anything I wanted. My daughter Lizzy joined us, and kept shouting “Charleeeee” and asking for biscuits. “Charleeeee” (or Charlie to everyone else) is David’s mum’s dog.

I meant to take a photo of us together to accompany this blog post but I forgot. You’ll have to use your imagination and add 30 years to this pic! (I’ve been in awe of David for a long time as you can tell.)

David Dawson and Sarah Oliver

Let’s start by chatting about The Last Kingdom and see where we end up!

What was it like doing the battle scenes?

“Brilliant. Especially when I’d got the hang of the horse. I learnt to horse ride for this job so it was a great feeling once I knew that the horse was listening to me and would move were I wanted him to go.

“I’ve never worked on anything as epic as The Last Kingdom. When you arrive on set and there’s three hundred stunt men all fighting, that’s quite cool. It also makes it feel a lot more ‘real’… you understand how scary it would have been back then. I felt very nervous the day I had to do the big battle speech because literally all the principle cast were there and I wanted to make sure I got that right.”

David Dawson Last Kingdom

When you were filming and had a long break in-between scenes what did you do to relax and prepare for your next scene?

“There was a nice company feel on set and we all got really close because we were on set for seven, eight months together. We’d hang out really and we used to play tricks on each other. Once we did up Alexander’s caravan like a horror film, like Blair Witch Project. [Alexander Dreymon plays Uhtred in the show]. We put things outside to freak him out… we did that to a few people. Because we were all close we’d just hang out and have a laugh.

“To prepare, I used to like to go off and be on my own. Be a bit quiet for a bit. I’ve got a thing were I make a big map, because it’s all shot out of sequence. I make the map so I know what I’m doing and were I should be in the story for the next day.”

David Dawson acting in The Last Kingdom

You’ve acted in lots of historical TV shows and Shakespeare dramas, do you prefer acting in historical settings over modern?

“I love history and I think it’s really fun to explore periods of time that aren’t now, because then you’re entering a completely different world. The way people, societies were in those different times really fascinates me… how people dealt with education, the roles that women had as well… I’m fascinated by it. I love that element of it, it’s a completely different world.”

David Dawson acting in Romeo and Juliet

If you could be offered any part, past or present, what would you love to play?

“Clockwork Orange is one of my favourite films and I’d have loved to have done that.”

Do you think you’ll be on the BIG screen anytime in the near future? Any plans to do movies

“I don’t really have a plan. When I sit with my agent we always say ‘as long as we make sure the next things I do different to the last thing, it’s a new challenge.’ I don’t mind what I do, I love theatre and I always want to make sure that I go back to the theatre. I’m just excited to see what the future brings.”

What can we look forward to seeing you in in 2016?

“I’m in the Dazzle, in the West End till the end of Jan, then I’ve filmed a thing called Maigret with Rowan Atkinson, that should be out at some point on ITV. I’ve filmed The Secret Agent with Toby Jones which a four parter for the BBC and it’s out later in the year.”

David Dawson in The Dazzle

You’ve written a couple of plays in the past, are you still writing any plays?

“No”

Do you think you’ll ever write something that you could be in yourself?

“I’ve written a book, a novel. It’s just up to me now to pluck up the courage to try and get a publisher I suppose.”

What sort of novel is it?

“I’m a huge fan of horror and gothic fiction so it’s in that vein. I love Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe so it’s a bit like that.”

This is a tough one so you mightn’t be able to answer it… what are the top 3 things that you’ve done? If you could only pick three…

David Dawson Road to Coronation Street“I’ve got to pick The Last Kingdom because on screen I’ve never played a character that’s had such a huge story arc and change from being a frail little bookworm to a warrior king, that’s quite cool and very special to be a part of. I think Road to Coronation Street was very special to me too because it was North West and all our family have loved Corrie haven’t they, for years and years. To meet the man I was playing and to become friends with Tony Warren, I think was very special, and to work with actresses I’ve loved for years like Celia Imrie, Jane Horrocks… and to film it at Granada Studios was a real treat. I think the other one’s got to be playing Smike in Nicholas Nickleby at the theatre because that’s where I learnt so much. I was working with actors who were seventy, actors who were nineteen, 26 actors all together with a band going around the country, in the West End, Canada. That was amazing for a twenty four year old to experience.”

How does it feel to have a fan-site, a Facebook page and fans in general?

“I’ve never been able to thank Julie [who runs daviddawsononline.net] before so I’d like to say it’s very humbling and I’m very chuffed that she’s created the site and Facebook page. I’m grateful to those people who are supporting projects I’m involved with. It’s a lovely feeling and it certainly gives you confidence when you’re doing things that people believe in you.”

Click here to read Part 2 of this interview >