Welcome to the six hundred and ninety-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with contemporary women’s, young adult, and historical novelist Carmen Reid. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Carmen. Please tell us something about yourself, and how you came to be a writer.
Carmen: I’ve been reading and scribbling for as long as I can remember. I studied English at university, went on to be a journalist and in my late 20s, decided I had to get on with writing fiction because it’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I’m now on my 19th novel. I’ll always write even if no one reads a word, because it’s how I do my thinking, really.
Morgen: I write to be read, and love it when I get reader feedback (positive or otherwise) because it means it’s being read. I have six novels in files (waiting for final editing) so no one will if they stay there. You live in Scotland, as do many other authors (especially Edinburgh and Glasgow), do you think the country has a particularly literary pull?
Carmen: The rain, the long dark winters… maybe we’re an indoors nation so there is lots of writing going on.
Morgen: Not a bad thing. You’re best known for writing contemporary women’s fiction but you have also written young adult and a standalone historical novel. Do you think the genre boundaries have softened in recent years and, have you considered other genres?
Carmen: I think genres are useful because they signal to readers what kind of book they are picking up. The boundaries have definitely blurred, because writers push at them. If love stories are allowed in crime novels, why not have a crime in a love story? I never worry too much about what the genre demands. I write the stories I’m bursting to tell and just hope readers find them as interesting as I do.
Morgen: I’m sure they do. You’ve had 18 novels published to-date, all as ‘Carmen Reid’, have you ever been tempted or, or indeed written, under a pseudonym?
Carmen: No, I’m not sure I get the pseudonym thing. If you’ve written something, especially in the social media age, don’t you want to talk about it, champion it and stand up for it? Even if you have to explain to your readers that you’re doing something different.
Morgen: I think that’s where publishers have been keen, up to now, for authors to have other names (Caroline Harvey = Joanna Trollope, Barbara Vine = Ruth Rendell etc) because they don’t want readers to expect one thing and get another and possibly be disappointed, although they’re covers tend to have ‘x writing as y’ which sort of defeats the object. It’s hard enough to market one name let alone more. Have you self-published? If so, what lead to you going your own way?