How many books have you published?
I've published seven books in all. Two are set in Victorian England (The Thatcham Hall Mysteries),
How did you become interested in writing?
I've always loved reading, the first step to becoming a writer. The first books I remember loving were The Borrowers, the Moomins, the Narnia stories and any book about horses. I began to scribble in notebooks, and when, later, I heard about the Bronte sisters, I developed tiny notebooks, like the ones they used, in the hope that their genius may rub off on me!
What is a day in the life of an author like? Do you write a certain number of words, do you write in the morning or evening, etc?
I write in fits and starts, as I can't stop once I get into a story, and when it's finished I like to take a break. Also, a writer these days has to spend considerable time marketing, so I devote one day a week to non-book writing activities.
Do you plot the entire book first, then write or plot as you go?
I plan very carefully, because there needs to be a coherent thread throughout the book, leading to the murderer. I plan the overall story line, and then write short synopses of each scene. Then, I begin to write, and often completely change the story as better ideas pop into my head. Like many writers, I find my characters develop a life of their own, and I've even had to change the identity of a villain. In that case, I had to go back and revise the entire book, but I was delighted with the result.
Do you use real people and places as models for your books?
I set each story in a place I know. The Exham on Sea books are set in Somerset, and Libby, my amateur detective, lives in a small town very like my own, but with a different name. I don't want to offend any neighbors! The characters begin with characteristics of people I have known, but these develop and change. I write a background for each person in the story before I begin writing the book, so they are very real to me.
Who is your favorite author?
I love other mystery writers, and Agatha Christie is at the top of the pile, for her plots and wicked sense of humor. I adore the author character who appears in several of her books, called Ariadne Oliver, who gives wonderfully stringent opinions on writing that I suspect must be some of Christie's own opinions. She's especially good in "Mrs McGinty's Dead" where she describes one of her own inventions, a Finnish detective: "Of course he's idiotic, but people seem to like him." Perhaps Christie felt like that about Hercule Poirot.
How do you promote your books?
I invite people to sign up to my newsletter, (at www.francesevesham.com) so I can tell them directly about new books and , especially, any special promotional prices. I send a free Kitchen Cheat Sheet to all new members of this VIP group, as a welcome. I occasionally speak at events in the local area, and have strong links with some other writers. That means we can introduce our readers to each others' books, which is a win-win as my readers hear about other authors they might enjoy, and new readers can hear about my books. I'm thrilled when a reader contacts me, through my website or directly through email after I send out a newsletter, and I've discovered readers all over the world who are rapidly becoming friends. I don't do very much social media, but maintain a Twitter and Facebook account.