Cari lives in the Northwest of England with her partner and two cats. And she writes stories that keep you glued to your seat and up at night.
Here you go:
Some warm-up questions first:
Coffee or tea?
Tea, every time. I don’t drink coffee at all. I do love coffee cake and coffee ice cream though. Hey, I never said I was logical.
What puts you in a bad mood?
Being hungry – I get ratty when I’ve not been fed. Also, bullying, bad driving, finishing late at work, and most politicians.
If you had a superpower, what would it be?
Oh wow. Obviously I’d love to have a power that would save the world, but then I’d also like to be able to climb mountains without being afraid or falling off. It’s not much of a superpower, but it’d be loads of fun.
Where is your favorite place you’ve ever traveled to?
The Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. It’s full of snow-capped mountains, Alpine meadows and cows with bells; it’s just gorgeous. We’ve been hiking there a few times now. If I had my superpower, I’d scale the north face of the Eiger, but I’m content enough standing at the bottom and gazing up.
Terry’s Chocolate Orange. They used to be the unwanted present in your Christmas stocking, but I love them. I’m unfussy when it comes to chocolate, though.
What would you do if you won the lottery?
Buy a cottage in the middle of the Peak District, with a swimming pool, enough land for hens, and a view of Kinder Scout. I’d pay off my Work Wife’s mortgage and give plenty to my family. I could do with some new socks as well. I’m always running out of socks.
And now on to the writing-related stuff:
For how many years have you been writing now, and how did you come to it?
I wrote my first fan fiction round about 1994 (I was an X-Files geek) but I didn’t fully succumb to the writing bug until a few years later. I started Snowbound when my wife asked for a Christmas story. It was never intended to be a novel, but we liked the story enough to submit it to Bold Strokes, who published it in 2011. I’ve had something on the go – be it an original story or a fan fiction – ever since, and now I can’t imagine not writing.
Why do you write? What does it mean to you?
I’ve always written for my own entertainment, and being published hasn’t changed that. Writing a long story is like having my favourite novel play out in my head for a year or so, except that I get to create everything in it, put words into my characters’ mouths, and decide how things turn out. I love the challenge and the freedom of that. Writing also keeps my brain ticking over, and it’s a welcome distraction from my day job.
How long does it take you to write a novel?
Thanks to working a hellish, rotating pattern of 12-hour night and day shifts, it takes me about a year to finish a novel. I’m easily distracted as well, though, which doesn’t help.
How much time per week do you spend writing?
That depends on my shifts. If I’ve just finished nights, nothing worthwhile is coming out of my head for a few days. I might be able to tweak some edits, but I’m not coherent enough to write actual story. During my days off, I can really get on a roll, but there’s no set pattern to my word count; sometimes one scene can take days to get right, and sometimes everything clicks into place and I make decent progress. I’d be useless at writing to a deadline.
When and where do you write the most?
I’m old school, in that I still write longhand – pen and paper. That lets me sit in the garden with the cats in the summer, or upstairs looking out onto the hills and sky in the winter. I tend to write through the day and spend the evenings with my wife (and being sat on by the cats).
How would you describe yourself?
Average-looking, 5 foot 5, brown hair, quite scruffy, bit of an underbite (thanks mum!)
Oh, you mean personality-wise? Chatty, sarcastic, occasionally grumpy, but kind-hearted.
How much of yourself is in your characters?
I strongly suspect that bits of me have sneaked in here and there. My British characters certainly speak like me – I like inflicting colloquialisms on unsuspecting readers – and aspects of my personality, likes, loves and dislikes can all be found in my novels. The sense of closeness that Alex and Sarah share, particularly in Tumbledown, reminds me very much of the relationship I have with my partner, which is probably why writing that novel made me cry a few times.
What do you find the most challenging part of writing?
At the moment, thinking up a damn title. Last lines are also a killer. On a more practical note, my writing pads tend to fall to pieces.
What are you reading right now?
Autumn Bones by Jacqueline Carey. It’s the second in an entertaining, easy-going urban fantasy trilogy. I’ll read anything of hers, but she’s never topped her Kushiel series.
What do you think makes a good romance novel?
For me, a decent amount of adversity that works to bring the characters closer. I’m more of an adventure/intrigue reader (and writer), so I like a lively pace and a few scares en route to the happy ending.
What advice would you give new authors?
Write for the love of it. Don’t try to fathom what your reader or prospective publisher might want. Just write to make yourself happy, and go from there.
What are you working on right now?
I’ve just finished a new story set over here in England. In a bit of a change of pace, it’s less of a breakneck adventure and more a police procedural thriller, with a fun, atypical romance in the background. It needs polishing up, and then I can send it to the boss for her verdict.
What future writing projects can we look forward to?
I honestly don’t know. I’m in that weird no man’s land of just completing something and not having a clue what will happen to it. I’d love to carry that story on into a series. I think the characters and the premise have potential, so the opportunity to develop them would be terrific.
Thanks for the answering our questions, Cari.