Thursday, March 29, 2012

{Author Interview} Stella Stafford

Kristin:  Tell us a little bit about yourself and where you live?
I am married with two children  and live in a village in Oxfordshire (UK).

Kristin:  What is the name of the book you are currently promoting and would you like to tell us a little about it?
My first Little Wychwell mystery novel is Did Anyone Die? and is currently available in paperback and on Kindle, the second Little Wychwell  mystery novel is A Very Quiet Guest and will be available at the end of May.  They are mystery crime novels set in  the quiet and totally imaginary village of Little Wychwell in Oxfordshire and in Oxford. Very light reading! 

Kristin:  Where did you come up for the idea for your book?
I wrote a plan for Did Anyone Die?, bearing in mind the advice ‘Write about what you know’.  Then I started writing it and the characters took over and changed the entire plot to something else.  So since then I just let the characters, or, presumably, my subconscious, write the books. 
Kristin:  Tell us a little about your main character(s)
The main characters in the Little Wychwell books are Priscilla, who is an Oxford Classics Don, her best friend, Elodea, with whom she has been friends since they went to Oxford together, and Elodea’s youngest son, Barnabus. 
Kristin:  Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
I’m very attached to all of them! But I think I love Barnabus best! 

Kristin:  Do you feel like you put parts of yourself in your characters?
I think all my main characters are based on different aspects of me, or what I might have become under different circumstances.  All the non-criminal characters, that is.  I once said that all my characters were based on me when I was giving a talk about my book and one of the audience put up her hand and said ‘You’re a criminal then?”  I am definitely not a criminal!  The secondary characters just turned up and joined in.  They are not based on any real person.  Pippy, who is a Yorkshire Terrier, is based on a real Yorkie, although I changed his sex to conceal his real identity! 

Kristin:  Will there be a sequel or do you have another project in the works?
I have now written five Little Wychwell books, which means I can call them a series. Getting from acceptance to publication is a long and slow process, however, and I held back book two for a while in case I needed to change bits of it to match the later books. I had a section in book two that I took out because it seemed to be disconnected to the main plot. When I wrote book three I had to put it back in again. Which is partly why there has been well over a year between book one and book two. Having written the fifth I have switched over to science fiction. I have finished my first science fiction book but, again, it’s not got a publication date yet. I’m about to embark on writing the second but I am taking a break from that to write a little book of short stories which is an interesting exercise for me. As you will have noticed I find writing in a condensed style quite hard!

Kristin:  How long did the entire process from writing your current work to getting it published take?
For the first book just over a year.   The second one was longer than that because I held on to it for a while before sending it to the publishers. 

Kristin:  Where do you draw your inspiration from?
The Little Wychwell novels are set in Oxfordshire, even though the village and the Oxford College that the main characters inhabit do not exist.  So the background scenery and style is quite authentic Oxfordshire and Oxford.  The plots just arise out of my head.  

Kristin:  Do you have any “rituals” when you write?

Kristin:  If you couldn’t be an author, but anything else…what would you be?
I am quite a few other things already, being an author is just part of my life!  If I could choose anything at all I am not sure what it would be.  I quite like being me! 

Kristin:  Independently published,  commercially published, or self-published?
I’m published by Melrose Books who are a small publishers based in Cambridge.  But I also self publish on Kindle.

Kristin:  Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Simply enjoy writing! I enjoy writing the way I enjoy reading, with an added ‘puzzle solving’ element to make the plot work! 

Kristin:  When did reading and writing become important to you?
They became important as soon as I could read and write. I am told that I could read quite fluently at age two and a half.  I certainly can’t remember learning to read so I must have been quite young. I found a ‘book’ I wrote when I was five quite recently.    I honestly can’t remember ever not having a current book to read and also ever not being in the process of writing something.   But Did Anyone Die? is the first full length novel that I have ever written and also the first one I ever sent to a publishers. I was not really expecting it to be accepted at my first attempt so it was a lovely surprise! 

Fun Stuff

Kristin:  The apocalypse is coming…what do you do?
Pray. (This is not a joke, I am being perfectly serious)

Kristin:  If you were stranded on an island, name the 5 things you could not live without?
Am I allowed to take my immediate family with me?  If so that would be five things.  And I would have to take the dog as well. 

Kristin:  What 5 things are within your reach right now? No cheating?
Given that I am typing on my computer I am afraid this is going to be very boring.  Even not including all the parts of the computer, like the mouse, keyboard etc.   A set of computer disks.  A book of arias. Some bits of paper with random notes scribbled on them.  A design for a book cover.  A pen.  Also a lot of other things - I can reach two bookcases from here! 

Kristin:  Favorite Food?
Raspberries loaded with sugar and clotted cream. I could eat bowlfuls! Closely followed by spaghetti with a knob of butter!  Then really luscious cake!

Kristin: Favorite Movie?
Tricky question! I’ll say ‘When Harry met Sally’ but if you asked me tomorrow I would probably say something else. 

Kristin:  Favorite TV show?
Favourite TV program that is being aired currently is The Big Bang Theory (this is a comedy show for those who have not seen it)

Kristin: Favorite Song?
Something I will answer differently every time you ask.  Instant thoughts today are Radar Love by Silver Earring and In Paradisum from Fauré’s Requiem

Kristin:  Favorite singer or band?
Another inconsistent answer depending on the day and the weather and all sorts of other things, I have lots of favourite singers, first thoughts that pop into my head today are Mika and  Bryan Adams, 

Kristin:  One food you would never try?
Sushi made with raw fish, I have never eaten fish even if it’s cooked and I find the thought of raw fish quite appalling. 

Kristin: Health nut or junk food junkie?
Neither.  I like fruit and vegetables, but I also like cake, coffee and double cream! 

Kristin: The most exotic food you have ever eaten?
I am prepared to try any sort of fruit or vegetable but I am not sure if any of them really count as exotic,  dragon fruit maybe?   I have also chomped through the tops of a lot of pens, including stainless steel ones! 

Kristin:  Day on the beach or snow skiing down a mountain?
Snow skiing, definitely,  although I would rather go mountain walking in summer. 

Kristin:  If you could move anywhere on this Earth, where would it be?
High in the mountains somewhere, probably the Alps or the Rockies. 

Kristin: Two books you think everyone should read. (Yes, you can and should include yours.)
If I am going to include mine then it would clearly be Did Anyone Die? followed by A Very Quiet Guest BUT I really think that everyone should read Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte and Bleak House by Charles Dickens. Also the Bible or the main book for your own religion whatever that might be. 
Kristin:  Places my readers can stalk you?
Twitter: @stellasstafford
Facebook - Author, Facebook - Novel
Anywhere else  

1 comment:

  1. I love to read different genres by the same author. From mystery to science fiction. I have a question: Is there a genre you would love to write, but don't really know hot to go abt it? If so - which one?
    Barnabus: I'm intrigued. I will have to check out #1. Can't go wrong with "very light reading". :-)



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