This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Lesley Cookman has just published her twentieth book with Accent Press. Her latest, Murder on the Run, is the seventeenth in the Libby Sarjeant series of mysteries.
Murder On The Run is the seventeenth in the Libby Sarjeant Mystery series, where Libby and her friends become involved in the disappearance of a member of a local Running Club.
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Where do you find inspiration for your books?
In that random way that a lot of writers do. A situation heard about on the news, a place and most often recently, my eldest son, who has a positive genius for latching on to current fashions, fads and fancies. A couple of years ago it was a ukulele club, this time a running club, next time a Beer Festival! If all of this sounds rather lighthearted, it is, but I always use a very much more serious theme alongside, and I’m always delighted when a reader compliments me on my research and tells me how much they’ve learnt from the book.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
Golly – I haven’t really got one! However, broadly speaking, I get up, feed the cats while I’m making tea and settle down to emails and social media. When I’ve showered and dressed and haven’t any more excuses I make a start and work as long as I feel I’m being productive.
What book means the most to you?
The first in the series, I suppose, Murder In Steeple Martin, simply because it was the first.
Which female writer has inspired you?
Ngaio Marsh, but if I had to name a more modern writer, P D James. I love all the Golden Age female writers: Marsh, Sayers, Allingham, Wentworth – but not Christie.
What are the best bits, worst bits and most surprising bits of being an author?
Best bits? I can sit down while working, I don’t have to retire and I can claim time on the computer and reading is research! Worst bits? Thinking of a new and vaguely believable plot at least twice a year and deadlines. Surprising? Well, I’m not sure there are any. I’ve been a professional writer in one form or other for well over thirty years, but I suppose if I really thought about it – the fact that I’m still earning a living at the time most people have retired.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I have a vague idea (see eldest son) and dive in. I only do one draft, and then leave it to my wonderful editor to pick up all my mistakes! However, I do edit as I go along, go back and correct things, check up on timelines, continuity etc. Unlike a certain famous thriller writer who claims he never changes so much as a comma.
I was a features writer and editor for trade magazines for years. I also wrote pantomimes, which are published and luckily for me, still performed all over the country, wrote some short stories for the weeklies after a friend gave me a copy of her “How To” book, and finally, after a friend and I published a charity anthology after doing a Master’s Degree, she formed the company Accent Press and bought the first 20,000 words of the first Libby, which had been my dissertation. Not exactly a traditional route, and I was convinced we would both end up dead in the water. However, I reckoned without Hazel Cushion, business woman and publisher extraordinaire, who has taken Accent (and me) to greater heights than I would have believed possible.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Read, read, read and then read some more. Learn how other writers put their words together, how they structure their stories. Read “How To” books, if you like, but don’t take any of those dastardly rules as gospel. They aren’t. I have been a Creative Writing tutor for Kent Adult Education and the Workers’ Educational Association before going on the afore mentioned MA, so I’ve seen it from both sides, and I know of which I speak!
What are you working on at the moment?
Revisions on the second of my Edwardian novellas and the 18th Libby Sarjeant.
Thank you so much, Lesley!
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT MURDER ON THE RUN