I first bumped into Lucy Cameron at CrimeFest in 2016 and we immediately hit it off – Lucy is one of those people who is so full of energy and enthusiasm, she fills a room with it, and is an absolute delight to chat with!
I was chuffed to bits when she published her first crime thriller earlier this year, Night is Watching, and it’s been garnering some great reviews. With a second novel in the series underway, I thought I’d grab Lucy for a quick catch-up before she disappears back into the writing cave…
What attracted you to writing in the crime/thriller genre? What do you love about the genre that keeps you going back for more?
There is so much variety within the crime/thriller genre that it keeps me coming back as a reader. The twists that writers come up with always keep me guessing, and so many characters leap off the page.
I am attracted to writing crime partly because there are so many authors out there I aspire to be able to tell stories like. I love the challenge of writing in the genre as the bar is set so high. If one person reads my book and spends time thinking about the characters afterwards I have achieved what I set out to do, create escapism into another world.
Your debut novel, Night is Watching, has been wowing readers since its launch in April by Caffeine Nights. With a nod to the horror and supernatural genres, as well as crime fiction, Night is Watching introduces us to DS Rhys Morgan and isn’t for the faint-hearted. How did you manage to draw all those genre elements together in this story?
For years, I was told cross-genre books don’t sell and I would never get one published. I spent a long time trying to make the book a straight thriller but it just didn’t work.
During this time, I was fortunate to chat to James Oswald at a Crime Writing Festival and he told me to just go for it. So I did. I wrote the story I wanted to tell, one that I hope sits between psychological and supernatural as that really interests me. As to how I drew all the elements together, a little bit of accident but mainly a lot of hard work and re-drafting. I do have to say the horror element is purely accidental as I am scared of everything – although it’s something I would like to develop further – if I dare.
Does your background as a playwright dictate how you structure your plotlines prior to starting to write a new book, or do you prefer to see how the story develops along the way?
I don’t think so, although ideas and story development have been helped by working on ideas in both genres.
With Night Is Watching I was stuck between 20,000-40,000 words for ages. I ultimately did an outline of the whole book to enable me to finish it. With the second Rhys Morgan book, I have a pretty clear idea of the story line so there has been less outlining involved.
I would highly recommend Alexandra Sokoloff’s book ‘Stealing Hollywood: Screenwriting Tricks for Authors’ to anyone who struggles with plotting as I use it and it’s fantastic.
(Note from Rachel: you can read my own thoughts about Alexandra’s book here – and yes, it is fantastic!)
What does your writing space look like? Do you have any pre-writing rituals to get you “in the zone”?
I have recently moved house so my writing space is a small office upstairs. I made it a priority to get that space workable (there is a lot of DIY to be done throughout) As with all writing spaces it will grow as I use it. My pre-writing ritual is generally shouting at myself to get off the internet.
I usually work in silence but I stage managed a classical concert last night so may try writing to classical music although I’m not sure that counts as a ritual... yet.
How do you structure a typical day to ensure you avoid distractions and hit your word count targets, especially when you have to do so much travelling to promote your books?
I have been terrible at structuring my days around work and moving and Night Is Watching promotion. It’s so easy to let all the old excuses take over – my main one being I haven’t got time. When you work a ‘day job’ it is easy for writing, or lack of, to become frustrating and overwhelming.
Since the start of August I have been trying to get two hours writing done after work Monday through to Friday. I have a really bad habit of setting my own targets too high – such as ‘this week I will write ten thousand words (and work, and do DIY and see family etc) – and then feeling disappointed when I don’t hit the target. I think as writers working around jobs and family we are also made to feel guilty about taking writing time so I have also started to be strict (selfish isn’t the right word here) about taking my writing time and saying no to other commitments.
We all occasionally hit a brick wall with our creative endeavours – what do you do to overcome any stumbling blocks?
Lee Child said there’s no such thing as writer’s block, that writing is a job so sit down 9-5 and do it. If you worked any other job that’s what you would have to do.
I think this is partly true. Quite often I use ‘writer’s block’ as a procrastination tool: ‘Oh I have no inspiration, I better watch Jeremy Kyle and eat snacks instead’. In these situations, I make myself go and try.
Sometimes after a few hundred words it starts to flow, others it doesn’t, and if it really doesn’t there’s no point sitting for hours to write ten awful words. To answer the question I kick my own butt. But I also am starting to recognise when to be kind and give myself a break.
What have you got planned for the next 12 months?
I am currently working on a second Rhys Morgan/Kier Finnegan book with the working title of The Devil Within. I am also developing a new series of books which will focus more on the psychological as opposed to supernatural. Oh, and I’m also planning a light-hearted crime-comedy to keep my spirits up.
Can you come back in twelve months and see how I’ve got on?
Certainly can, Lucy! Thanks for being on the blog today.
Here’s where you can find out more about Lucy and her books:
Night is Watching on Amazon
Finally, if you live in the area, Lucy will be doing a book signing in Carlisle Waterstones on 16 September 2017 at 1pm, so pop it in your diary and go along to say "hi!"