I’ve known Caroline Mitchell for a while now, and it was brilliant to catch up with her at CrimeFest earlier this year after we’d been in contact via social media for months prior to that. With two new crime thrillers published in quick succession (Love You To Death on 11 November, and Witness due out on 20 December), I somehow managed to get Caroline to sit still long enough to be interviewed on the blog! Welcome, Caroline…
What attracted you to writing in the crime/thriller genre? Was there a particular author that inspired you to do so, or was it specifically because of your background in the UK police?
I’ll be honest, before I became a writer, I never read the crime genre and I was a hard core Stephen King fan. As a police detective myself, reading the genre in my downtime felt like a busman’s holiday. But now I’ve left to write full time, I’ve found myself with a head full of amazing encounters and experiences to share. I can’t use real life events, but my experiences enrich my imagination, and with DS Ruby Preston I’ve been able to do things that I could have only dreamed about in my old career.
Do you outline/plot, or do you prefer to start at the beginning and see where the story takes you? Why do you prefer this method of writing?
I love to outline, and the first thing I do when planning a book is to write the blurb. If I can’t make it sound exciting and inviting, I change my story. I then write a few lines for each chapter and write the last chapter early on, so I know where it’s going. Having said that, nothing is set in stone, and I have been known to make drastic changes after my characters decide to go in a different direction. That happened with Witness. The ending came out of nowhere as the character revealed it to me. It sounds crazy, but it often happens that way. I’m grateful for moments like that and enjoy the twists and turns that writing this way takes me.
What does your writing space look like? Do you have any pre-writing rituals to get you “in the zone”?
I write every day, apart from book launch days, when social media takes up all my time. I have my own writing room but tend to write better in the evenings, curled up on the sofa with my laptop. I dictate my first draft and then layer upon layer, I enrich it with several edits, adding detailed descriptions. Music gets me in the zone. I love to listen to Hans Zimmer’s dark movie themes on Spotify. If I get stuck, I find that going for a walk usually clears my head and I’ve often been caught talking to myself as I work out plot lines that are giving me grief!
You now write for two different publishers and are releasing new books at a rate of knots. How do you structure a typical day to ensure you avoid distractions and hit your word count targets?
You hit the nail on the head there Rachel! I have a very short attention span and get distracted easily. Facebook and Twitter would soak up all of my days if I let it. I use the ‘Freedom’ app which enforces set times without social media. I work very long hours writing, up to sixteen hours each day. But I’m no stranger to working hard, having been in the police for nine years. Writing is a labour of love and I’m very fortunate to be able to do it full time.
Your latest novel, Love You To Death, has just been released – can you tell us a bit more about that?
Thanks for asking. I love the gritty TV programme Luther. The fact that he’s a rule-bending cop with a heart of gold influenced me when creating Ruby’s character. Having said that, she’s entirely unique. Her relationship with underworld criminal Nathan Crosby was something I enjoyed exploring. In Love You To Death, Ruby is on the hunt for a killer as women who gave up their children for adoption begin disappearing from their homes. She hits the ground running with this series, and I’m thrilled with early reviews.
You’ve got another book coming out next month as well – Witness is published on 20 December and is a standalone novel. What was the decision-making process behind writing a standalone after writing series novels to date?
Most of my crime books read like psychological thrillers, so it was an easy transition. I love delving into the minds of my characters, and I’ve been dying to try my hand at a straight psychological thriller for some time. I’m very excited about Witness. Having worked at safeguarding high-risk victims of domestic abuse, I found the story just flowed onto the page.
Finally, where can we keep in touch with you and buy your books?
My blog is www.caroline-writes.com All my contact details are there, as well as blogs on writing and book news. Readers can join my free reader’s club, which will automatically include them in the running for free prize draws for copies of my books. All my books are on Amazon too.