Author Interview, Questions

Q & A with Gayle Curtis

I’d like to welcome Gayle Curtis, author of Too Close to my blog today for the first Q & A at Secret Library.
Too Close was published in paperback on 1st December by Bonnier Zaffre.
You can read my review here.

What was the inspiration for Too Close?

The relationships between siblings, especially conflicting ones really fascinates me and I was researching familial crimes while I was planning a new book. It led me to wonder what would break a bond between twins. I’d also visited an old and remote farmhouse some years before and for some reason when I began to form Sebastian’s character, that’s where I pictured him.

Some authors s32574921ay that they know how their stories are going to end before they even start writing. Is this true for you?

Not always. I did know with Too Close and I’d say for me, the ending appears before the halfway mark. If it doesn’t, I’m in trouble!

What has happened to the characters in the book since you finished the novel – are they still in your head?

Sebastian is still hanging around in my imaginary office! For me, writing a book is like visiting a village or town you’ve created in your head, so once I finish a story, I leave the area as if I’ve been there on holiday. The characters don’t often follow but are always there if I pay a visit.

Would you say that authors often base their characters on real people they know or have met? Do you do this?

It’s risky basing anything on people you know and I’m not aware of anyone who does that. The characters’ form in my head so none of them are people I know but I do steal foibles and mould them to fit. One character I wrote about once in an early manuscript, was very familiar to me and one of my friends who kindly read it. Chatting over coffee one day, we realised he was just like her ex-husband who is a very gentle and kind man. Somehow, I’d morphed him into a serial killer! It’s the quiet ones you need to watch…

What is your favourite book, and why?

Goodness, there are so many but one that immediately springs to mind is My Dear, I Wanted to Tell You by Louisa Young. My Dad recommended it to me because he loved it so much. It’s beautifully written, sad and poignant.

Would you recommend creative writing courses to anyone who aspires to become an author?

Learning anything is never going to hurt anyone but it isn’t a necessary part of becoming a writer. It’s not always the obvious that can aid you. I studied sociology and I think that’s helped me with regards to writing. I think you should be cautious because educating yourself in an art form can destroy your style, force you into a regimental box. It’s good to learn techniques but not at the detriment of your own creativity.

What would you say is the best thing about being a writer?

Writing chapter after chapter and watching it all come together is like magic. That puts a huge smile on my face and it’s a euphoric feeling. And writing in your pyjamas when it’s wet and cold outside!

Is writer’s block a real thing? If so, how do you tackle it?

I suppose it exists if you buy into it. When I’m struggling, I know it’s a sign my brain is on overload and I need a break. I take some time out to go for a walk, watch a film or read a book. One of my friends suggested arranging a day and time to have a cup of tea with your book and pretend it is sitting opposite you while you ask lots of questions. This really works well and you can do it in your head if you feel self-conscious. I found a mannequin at an antiques yard who I named Sybil and I use her as a sounding board!

Do you have a favourite book about writing?

Under the Duvet series by Marian Keyes – brilliant!

Gayle writes her books from an old chapel in Norfolk where she lives with her husband, Christopher. She draws inspiration from abandoned buildings, the sea and very strange people.


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