I’m very pleased to welcome local author Marie Campbell whose novel Baby was published by The Conrad Press on 14th July 2016. I reviewed her book earlier this year – you can read my review here. You can order a copy of Baby online by clicking here. Thanks for joining me Marie. First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
Well, I was born in Hetton-le-Hole, in the north-east of England. Fast forward several years, via an abandoned teaching degree and many years as a civil servant – I’m now 43, live with my partner Steve and our five-year-old son and work from home as a proofreader.
When I’m not writing, working and looking after my son, I love to read and eat out (not usually at the same time though). I also like gritty British dramas, a good gin and tonic and nice handbags. And castles. My son and I are very partial to castles.
What inspired you to start writing?
It’s just something that I’ve always done, from a very early age. As a child, I wrote handwritten stories in exercise books. I’ve always kept diaries and journals. And for many years, I have written short stories. There is something magical about creating a story, with characters and a theme, and seeing where that story takes them. Reading is one of my favourite ways to spend time, and from that love of words and books, the urge to write took hold.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I started writing Baby during an online writing course, when I was at home with my baby son. In March 2014, when he was three, I thought my book was complete. I knew finding an agent, and then a publisher, was not a task for the faint-hearted, but I hadn’t realized quite how difficult it would be. I armed myself with a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and worked through the list of agents. After six long months, I was thrilled when James Essinger of Canterbury Literary Agency agreed to represent me. And then we began the process of tweaking, deleting and adding new chapters. Honing the book until it was as good as it could be, and then looking for a publisher…
Finally, in July 2016, my book was published, first as an ebook and then in print.
Marketing the book has been a huge learning curve for me, and it’s only by chance that I came across the fabulous blogging community via a Facebook group called Book Connectors. Some days I feel as I spend far too many hours on social media, or updating my website, when I could be spending the time, well, writing. There’s nothing I would have done differently though – every step has been a thrill in its own way. Receiving an email from a reader telling me they’d stayed up all night to finish my book is amazing.
In a nutshell, what is your book about?
Baby is my first book, and it’s a psychological thriller, based in Edinburgh, where I live. In it, Michael Stanton, goes to work one day and doesn’t come back. Everyone thinks his pregnant girlfriend, Jill, should accept that he has left her. But she just won’t believe that Michael would walk away from her and their unborn child. Increasingly desperate and alone, she is determined to find him.
What Jill doesn’t know is that Michael’s beautiful ex, Anna, wants him back, and won’t take no for an answer. And it isn’t just him she wants…
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Coming up with titles is something I really struggle with, and Baby was called several things before my agent and I decided on the final title! I have spent many an hour trawling Amazon for inspiration, and using the many online title-generators.
How did you celebrate publication day?
Publication day itself passed in a flurry of emails and social media updates, but Steve and I went out for a nice meal later in the week.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I’ve started work on a second psychological thriller, and am slowly getting to know the characters. I’m at the stage where I’m making lots of notes with ideas about the plot – I just need to make sense of them all now!
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I’ve done more reading than I normally have time to over the last couple of months, and managed to read a few while we were away on holiday. I really enjoyed Lisa Jewell’s The Girls. I hadn’t read any of her books for a long time, and I thought this one was just brilliant. I also read The Last Act of Love by Cathy Rentzenbrink. It was very sad and incredibly moving, and the story will stay with me for a long time. I also really liked The Girl on the Train.
What are you reading just now?
Well, it’s September 2016, my son has just started school and I’m doing lots of proofreading work, so not a lot of time to read, but I’m really enjoying a book recommended to me by a friend – One by One by Chris Carter. It’s a serial killer thriller, and gruesome in parts, but it really has me gripped.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
Books, always books. I don’t have a Kindle (although I do have a Kobo that comes out on holidays). I do like to read in the bath but rarely do so, so it’s bed, at night for me.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
In lots of ways. One of the things I’ve really enjoyed doing is setting up a newsletter, which lots of people have signed up for, and if anyone would like to do so, they can do so below. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, and have a website:
Facebook: Baby – Marie Campbell
Newsletter: Marie Campbell – Newsletter
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
This is a tricky one. There are loads of characters I love, but wouldn’t want to be anywhere near, let alone actually be (Annie Wilkes in Misery and Hannibal Lecter spring to mind!). I’m too much of a wimp to be Clarice Starling. Frieda Klein (from Nicci French’s books) is a great character but leads a very quiet life. Maybe I’d be Laura Ingalls, running barefoot through fields and getting up to all sorts of mischief. But only for a day or two. Then I’d be one of the wild, sexy women in Jilly Cooper’s Riders for a while, just to experience the ridiculous, crazy lifestyle so far removed from my own. Although it is over twenty years since I read it!