– ‘The Magic of Wor(l)ds’ blog is a hobby, reviews and other bookish stuff on this site are done for free. –
Today I’m on the ‘Killing Them With Kindness’ blogtour, organised by Rachel’s Random Resources.
To promote this book I have a Q&As post, but b
About the Author :
Andy Paulcroft grew up in Weston-super-Mare, and his love of books started when he borrowed his sister’s copy of Five Run Away Together and exaggerated a minor illness in order to finish reading it. He has since worked as a chef in France, Switzerland, Corsica and the North Highlands of Scotland before settling as a catering manager at a boarding school in Dorset. After many years of writing two to three chapters of a book before discarding it, he finally published his first novel Postcards From Another Life – in December 2017. The wonderful feeling of completing a novel was only surpassed by receiving a positive reaction from people who had read it. He retired from catering and recently published his second novel Killing Them With Kindness. He is now working on his third book.
Deirdre Cossette is the self appointed carer for the elderly on The Avenue and all of her friends have stories to tell. Margery, whose comfortable life was destroyed by a knock on the door. Stan, who made a mistake as a young footballer which cost him his friends and his self-respect. Marina, whose slim and stylish figure hides a terrible secret from the summer of Live Aid. And, Oliver and Archie, who have survived everything from post war homophobia to a family tragedy – and they have done it together. Deirdre believes that everyone should have a choice. If they want to live on a diet of cakes, drink the alcoholic equivalent of a small hydrotherapy pool, or take on a toy boy lover in spite of a dodgy heart, Deirdre believes it is their right to do so. If they remember her in their wills afterwards, that’s not her fault, is it? However, not everyone agrees with her. When disgruntled relatives from the present meet up with disgruntled ghosts from her past, Deirdre discovers the cost of being kind.
First of all thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. Here we go! 🙂
Thank you so much for inviting me!
Can you, for those who don’t know you already, tell something about yourself and how you became an author?
I have always wanted to write. I always thought that I might be able to do it to a fairly good standard. But, as yet another potentially brilliant idea faltered at page thirty, I was beginning to think that I would never finish anything. I worked for forty years in the catering industry, which because of long hours that needed to be flexible, made it difficult to get into a routine to write. When I decided to retire early, an idea that I had for a novel became ‘Postcards From Another Life.’ This time, I didn’t give up on it after page thirty, I continued writing it until I suddenly realised that , this time, I was going to finish it. Once I’d done that, I turned an idea that I’d had churning in my mind for about twenty years into ‘Killing Them With Kindness.’
Which books did/do you love to read as a child/now as a grown-up?
Like many children of my generation I started with Enid Blyton. Although ‘Five run away together’ featuring the Famous Five was the first book I remember reading, it was the ‘Adventure’ series featuring four children who argued a lot, along with their rude parrot, that first captured my imagination. In early teens I loved the Pamela Brown ‘Swish of the Curtain’ series, before reading most of the Agatha Christie novels by the time I had left school. As a young adult ‘The Custard Boys’ by John Rae was the first book that gave me an emotional attachment to the characters and later on, ‘Now and Then’ by William Corlett is the book that has resonated most strongly with me. I still have a great affection for detective novels and the Peter Robinson DCI Banks series is brilliant. Donna Tartt’s ‘The Secret History’ is a long standing favourite of mine, along with anything written by Patrick Gale, but especially ‘A Place Called Winter’ and ‘Sweet Obscurity.’
Is there a writer whose brain you would love to pick for advice? Who would that be and why?
I have discovered in my short writing career what a kind and generous bunch us authors are! Through the wonders of social media and from attending literary festivals and seminars, I have met authors from a varied range of genres. They have all been wonderfully kind and only too happy to help. However, if there was one author that I would loved to have had a chat with, I would pick Agatha Christie. I love mysteries that leave you open-mouthed at the denouement, even though you know that the clues were there all along. Her books still have the power to entertain, surprise and delight me, even when I can remember ‘whodunnit’.
If you could, which fictional character (from your own book(s) or someone else’s) would you like to invite for tea and why?
From my own books, I would love to chat to Deirdre Cossette (Killing Them With Kindness,’) because she is sparky, full of fun and as mad as a balloon in a nest of hedgehogs … However, tea parties with Deirdre don’t always end well.
Changing the parameters slightly, as far as other authors’ novels are concerned, I have always wanted to live in Anna Madrigal’s house in Barbary Lane from Tales in the City, after I fell a little bit in love with ‘Michael ‘Mouse’ Tolliver.
Do you have some rituals or habits whilst writing?
I don’t really have any rituals. As well as writing I am also a full-time carer for my 93-year-old Mother. This can be very grounding as I can be creating (what I hope is) a dramatic scene one minute and emptying a commode the next.
Where do you come up with your idea(s)? Do people in your life need to be worried? 😉
The tag line for ‘Postcards’ was: ‘Do you ever have a dream where it seems like you are watching a movie?’ This was inspired by the fact that I do have those types of dreams. Most of the stuff I dream is complete rubbish and loads of it I don’t remember, but, occasionally there will be something, maybe just an image, that gives me the idea for a story. As for the second part of the question, I’d say the answer was – yes! Sometimes unintentionally. I was talking to a friend about favourite characters in ‘Killing Them With Kindness’ and I said that mine was Piers Harper-Vallèe. My friend grinned and said: ‘Of course he is. He’s Ian isn’t he?’ Ian is my partner, but I hadn’t realised up to that point, that I had given Piers the characteristics I love about him.
Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow, as a pantser?
‘Postcards’ would fall into the ‘pantser’ category. There was even one twist in it that I didn’t see coming until I had written it! ‘Killing Them With Kindness’ was plotted, but there were still times when I went a little off-piste! The book I am writing at the moment, I have plotted more intricately – basically because it’s set in alternative realities that are very similar to each other – and I felt that if I didn’t plot it properly, I would end up with the wrong people in the wrong realities!
Can you give novice writers some tips (do’s/don’ts)?
I think ‘Just do it’ would be my best advice. Write a few chapters and then find some friends who you trust, and are on your wavelength, to read it. Tell them that you need them to be brutally honest (most of my friends didn’t have to be told!) and then listen to them. I have found that I can over fiddle – with ‘Killing Them With Kindness’ I must have read it through about twenty times, changing something each time I read it. An editor is a really good idea, I have a lovely one, Emma Mitchell, who has given me encouragement when I need it and advice (which I need all the time!).
What are your futureplans as an author?
I am currently writing a book with the working title ‘Another Man’s shoes’ which I am hoping will be finished by the summer. By the end of the year, I am hoping I can stop myself reading it through …
Last, but not least : Can you give my readers one teaser from your book, which is featured here on my blog, please?
Of course. This passage is from the first chapter of the book. Deirdre Cossette is visiting her friend Margery, a large woman who could be described as ‘cake obsessed’. She has recently been victimised by a couple of local yobs who Deirdre has dealt with in her own inimitable way …
Deirdre tutted at the retreating figure, the ruined lawn, and the fact that she’d missed the first fifteen minutes of Countdown. As she re-entered the house she shouted to her friend, ‘That lawn is in an even worse state now that Tom Daley has swallow dived across it. I don’t think the English cricket boys will be practising their cover drives on it anytime soon.’
‘Deirdre … is there cake?’ Margery stoically ignored the fact that her garden had for the last quarter of an hour resembled the staging of a French farce, and repeated her question from earlier. It might have been a small amount of time, but she felt that it had been long enough for her to raise a small family since she’d last made the enquiry. The tone of her voice was heading north of concerned, very much in the direction of petulant.
If Deirdre thought her friend was being a tad ungrateful, when in all probability she’d solved the invasion problem once and for all, she didn’t mention it. She made the tea in a floral tea pot, covered it with a floral tea cosy, and placed it on the floral tea trolley. After this she loaded it with enough cake to concern a diabetic, and wheeled it into the lounge.
Margery ate the cake alphabetically, and had made it to ‘C’ the second time around before she stopped and drew breath.
‘Doctor Ransom would be having a fit if he could see me now!’ She laughed, good humour restored by carbs. ‘He told me that I needed to be sensible when it came to my calorie intake.’
‘Well …’ Deirdre reasoned. ‘As I said to dear Oliver when I played the under gardener in Women in Love. Sensible is all very well, but would Columbus have discovered America? Would Emeline have procured votes for women? And would Amy Johnson have flown like a bird; if they’d been sensible?’
It wasn’t a question that interested Margery in the slightest. The only question that did interest her was whether she should have carrot cake or croquembouche next. She returned to her own musings. ‘He says I’m heading for an ’eart attack.’
‘Oh! He’s just box ticking – he’s just making sure the NHS can’t be sued if the unthinkable happens. You are not going anywhere for a very long time, my darling!’
Maybe it was the effect of the cake, maybe it was the relief and euphoria brought on by the demise of the bullies, or maybe it was the sudden realisation that her one true friend in the world was standing in this room. Whatever it was, Margery felt a sudden wave of affection for the large, bright, and completely barking woman in front of her.
‘You are the only person who bothers about me,’ Margery said. ‘My children don’t even send me a birthday card, and I haven’t seen my sister’s kids since the day she died.’
Deirdre nodded, she knew exactly how alone this poor woman had been before she’d arrived on the scene.
‘I’ve left everything to you, you know,’ Margery continued solemnly. ‘The cottage, my investments, everything.’
‘Tch tch, sweetheart!’ Deirdre chided gently. ‘We are not inviting Mrs Morbid to our tea party.’
She patted Margery on the hand briefly, then armed herself with the cake knife, and approached the tower of eclairs stuck together with a sticky caramel. Although she outwardly seemed oblivious of the information that had just been proffered, inwardly it was at the forefront of her mind. She pressed on the knife handle, cutting the pastry while squashing and squeezing the cream in the process.
‘How about a large slice of the croquembouche?’
Isn’t that a great reason to pick up this book and to find out more?!
Thanks once again for this lovely interview, Andy Paulcroft.
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