Interview with writer Linda Priestley (aka Linda Gruchy)

Now and then I’m planning to interview other writers, so to kick off this occasional series we have a visit from Linda Gruchy, a successful short story writer, who has had great results from e-publishing her crime novels.

Q) Linda, I know you have an agent who is very excited about your work and is actively seeking a traditional publisher, so what made you decide to self-publish some of your novels?
A) I want the best of both worlds. 🙂 Publishing as an industry is changing so rapidly that it’s hard to predict where it will go over the next few years. It is certainly becoming harder to be published in the traditional way and I can’t see it improving. My previous agent tried placing Death in Spigg’s Wood but it was declined because of the diminishing market and because then I had no track record with publications. That has changed now.
My current agent wanted to focus on placing my more recent books with a traditional publisher, but we thought it would be a good idea to be able to show good e-book sales of my earlier work when approaching a publisher. All my e-books have had a favourable reception, and, in addition to free promotion downloads, I have sold well over a thousand copies of Death in Spigg’s Wood.. Death in Flitbury Marshes is catching up fast.

Now a few of the questions that readers always like to ask:

Q) Why crime writing? What led you to choose that particular genre?
A) It was accidental, really, though. I’ve always enjoyed crime as a genre. I was chatting with a friend and said, “That would make a cracking crime story. I’ll go and write a novel.” I don’t think she believed me. I wrote two more before I managed to find my first agent, but had no publication track record, so I switched to writing short stories and articles for magazines.
I also write Romances (which often ends up with a crime element). I didn’t want fans of Death in Spigg’s Wood to feel miffed over the genre change so I publish my Romances as Linda M Priestley and my crime stories as Linda Gruchy.

Q) How do you manage the compromise between what you want to write and what you believe will attract readers? Have you had to make difficult choices?
A) My first drafts of Death in Spigg’s Wood were very self-indulgent. I had to cut lots of material that I loved but really didn’t move the story on. Writing for a particular market is a good discipline and makes me much more aware of the readers’ needs. It’s not so much attracting readers as entertaining them. I like to give good value.
My reading tends to be quite eclectic, so my writing reflects that. I think I’ve had to compromise more when writing for a traditional publication because of their word count constraints and perceived market requirements. I don’t mind that, it’s a good discipline, but I do like the editorial control I have over my e-books.

Q) Do you have your novel planned from the start or do you just let it happen?
A) I start with a basic idea and let it grow from there. I plan roughly what’s ahead and usually know the sort of outcome I’m aiming for, though with one, a historical adventure, I just let the story take me and hadn’t a clue where I was heading. I find the story seems to evolve as I go along. I also find that doing research for the novel will seed ideas which make the story stronger. That makes the first draft. The story is honed into something readable from there.

Q) Your books are very realistic, do you use any material from your own life?
A) I used to do kickboxing, so I used that in Death in Spigg’s Wood (though I’m nowhere near as good as Meg the main character). When I started writing I had no knowledge of the criminal justice system, so had to do an awful lot of research My novels might seem realistic, mainly because I hate it when a novel doesn’t make sense. With crime there is often a compromise between reality and writing a good, fast paced yarn .
In my latest Romance (Book Lovers by Linda M Priestley) I used my own experiences of breast cancer thirteen years ago so bring that sense of realism to the novel, hopefully in a good sense rather than a morbid one.
Earth Magic is a Romance set on some allotments. I was an allotment holder for many years until we moved to Essex. I still miss it. Earth Magic will be free to download from Amazon 4th to 8th September 2012 to celebrate the release of Book Lovers.

You can find out more about Linda and her books on her Blog, which also features her wonderful photographs
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