In conversation with... Claudia Carroll

Hi Claudia! First of all, I would like to congratulate you on the publication of The Secrets of Primrose Square. Can you please briefly tell us what it is about?

A: Of course, and thank you so much for asking me to take part in your blog – I really am delighted! Just to tell you a little about Primrose Square, the book is essentially a number of interwoven stories based on a simple quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. 

‘A woman is like a tea bag. You can’t tell how strong she is until you put her in hot water.’

So we’ve got Susan,  a middle aged woman who’s out of her mind with grief. She spends night after night standing in the pouring rain outside a teenage boy’s bedroom window, determined not to let him forget what he’s put her through. But why? Then we meet Melissa, her twelve year old daughter, desperately trying to keep the show on the road and to keep social workers at bay. Next door to them on Primrose Square is Jayne, a sixty-something super-ager, who finds romance in the most unlikely place and whose only son isn’t best pleased, to put it mildly! And lastly, we have Nancy, whose just arrived over from London to rent a house on Primrose Square, and who finds herself in an intriguing virtual relationship with her mysterious landlord, who none of the neighbours have met.

And no, I’m not telling you any more! But can I just say, this book was a JOY to write and I really hope readers everywhere have fun with it.

Your novel has a host of unforgettable characters, regardless of how big or small a part they play in the narrative. How do you develop them?

A: For starters, I do a skeleton outline of any new story before I’d even sit down to write a line. It makes life so much easier later on, on the days when I find I’m a bit stuck. It takes me quite a long time to get to really know my characters, so I’d begin by writing out a rough biography for everyone of them, to try to make them as three dimensional as possible, it helps me hugely.

A reader will quickly lose interest if they just don’t like the hero or heroine. You really have to try to layer them carefully so that they really jump off the page! Remember at the start of a new book, you’re asking a reader to go on a 400 page journey with your characters, and particularly your leading lady, so it’s vital to get character right early on.

Woody Allen once said, ‘there’s nothing to writing, all you have to do is sit down at a computer and open a vein.’ And believe me we all have plenty of days where I know just what he meant!

But equally you get great days, where the words are just flying and where without even noticing it, it’s five hours after you first sat down and you completely forgot to even eat. Writing is without doubt the single best job in the whole entire world and I’m so lucky and privileged to be doing it.  Even on the days when nothing’s coming and I’m half ready to fling my computer up against a wall, I wouldn’t change it for anything. But I have to say the thing that keeps me going is when I enjoy spending time with characters. That’s the part of the whole writing process I think I love the most!

If this novel could be turned into a film, who would you cast in the roles of Jayne and Eric, my favourite characters in the book?

A: What an interesting question! I’ve always loved Julie Walters as an actress, she’s always wonderful if everything, and wouldn’t she make a fabulous Jayne? And for Eric? Let’s throw caution to the wind and say Pierce Brosnan…..sure why not??!

Without giving too much away, can you tell us about a scene in the book that you love or that was particularly difficult to write?

A: I found the scenes where Susan has to finally confront her own grief, and the fact that her daughter may not have been everything she thought, to be harrowing. I had to take a break from writing just to go off and cry. Mad, I know, an author crying over a fictional character, but that’s how real they are to me. 

If you are already working on your next writing project, would you mind giving us a little anticipation of what we are to expect?

A: I’m not allowed to give too much away, but here’s a clue. My research has led me into a lot of drag clubs which are probably the closest I’ll ever come to being at Studio 54 in New York……..and I’ll leave you with that thought! 

Due to the popularity of social networking websites, interacting with readers – be it via Twitter, Facebook Instagram etc. – is becoming increasingly important. How do you cope with these new demands on authors and do you think that they somehow disrupt your writing schedule?

A: I have to say I think Twitter and Facebook have been a Godsend. Do you remember years ago when if you wanted to contact an author, you had to write to their publisher or agent via snail mail, then wait for a response? Nowadays, it’s all so instant and immediate and it’s a wonderful way to be able to contact authors. I love that I can tweet Marian Keyes and that she’ll respond too…’s just amazing.

What one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?

A: Persevere, persevere, persevere. And write every single day, as every day that you do is a day that your work is improving, trust me. Be brave too; remember it’s highly unlikely that a publisher is going to knock on your front door and ask if you’ve any manuscripts lying around they could publish. Nothing will happen unless you take the first step and get your work out there. An agent is your best friend though, and I’d advise anyone starting out to secure an agent first and the rest will follow. And best of luck!

Thank you for your time!

A: Thank you for reading this and thanks also for letting me take part in your blog. It’s such a pleasure!
Have you read my thoughts on The Secrets of Primrose Square? Find them here and enter to win a copy of the book!


Popular posts from this blog

“Italy in books” - reading challenge 2011

Book review: She’s Never Coming Back

In conversation with... T.M. Logan