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In this inspirational interview, crime writer Angela Marsons talks about how she overcame years of rejection and broke out of societal expectations to reach writing and publishing success. She also talks about tips for writing a long-running crime series, and how she weaves her home of the Black Country into her stories.
In the intro, pics from Arizona, Dear Writer, Are You Intuitive? by Becca Syme and Susan Bischoff and 5 Key Tips for Profitable Book Marketing webinar, 18 May, 2022.
Today's show is sponsored by IngramSpark, who I use to print and distribute my print-on-demand books to 39,000 retailers including independent bookstores, schools and universities, libraries and more. It's your content – do more with it through IngramSpark.com.
Angela Marsons is the Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author of crime thrillers with over 5 million books sold and translations into 29 different languages.
You can listen above or on your favorite podcast app or read the notes and links below. Here are the highlights and the full transcript is below.
- The long journey to publication — with plenty of rejection and difficulties along the way
- Overcoming the mindset of ‘writing isn't for people like me'
- Tips on writing a long-running book series with characters that readers want to return to
- Discovery writing by following your curiosity
- Writing darker themes
- Working with a digital-first publisher
You can find Angela Marsons at AngelaMarsons-books.com and on Twitter @WriteAngie
Transcript of Interview with Angela Marsons
Joanna: Angela Marsons is the ‘Wall Street Journal' and ‘USA Today' bestselling author of crime thrillers with over 5 million books sold and translations into 29 different languages. Welcome to the show, Angela.
Angela: Thank you very much. I'm so pleased to be here. I've listened to the podcast many times, it's fabulous. So, I'm absolutely thrilled to get the chance to have a chat.
Joanna: Oh, brilliant.
First up, tell us a bit about you and how you got into writing.
Angela: I always loved writing at school. I used to love the feel of a pencil on paper and just getting the ideas down, and exploring my feelings, and that kind of thing. I wasn't really good a lot at school.
Then my English teacher, and when I was about 12, 13, asked if she could bring in a couple of books that were above my reading age, and they were Andrea Newman books. I read them and they got me totally hooked on exploring emotions, and frailties, and just people, in general.
That was when I realized that, as well as loving reading, I wanted to be the person telling some stories as well. I wanted to be writing these things. And from that point on, and I just used to write down everything.
I used to explore different situations. I would pretend that my dad had left us, and then I would explore how I felt about it. I'd write all these feelings down, and I'd been in absolute bits by the end of it. And he'd only gone to the pub. But at the time, I made it feel real so I could explore how I felt about it.
Then I started writing short stories, and I would submit them to magazines. Never actually got one accepted, but then I moved on to novels and started submitting those as well. And that was a very, very long process until Bookouture gave ‘Silent Scream' a chance in 2014, I think it was that they signed me. So, it was a long journey, but I wouldn't change anything about it.
Joanna: What else did you do for your day jobs along the way? Have day jobs featured in your books in any way?
Angela: Oh, they certainly have. I started out in admin because when I was at school, the best thing you could do was learn to type because it was assumed that you would be in an office job when you left school.
You weren't really taught to aspire to anything like writing. That was not for people like me.
And so I did all the things I was supposed to do, the typing, the office practice. I spent quite a few years, just generally going from office job to office job. And then I somehow ended up in security and security management.
I spent 19 years at a shopping center managing a team of 72, which has given me a great deal of fodder for the books. Shopping centers are featured, security officers are featured.
I like to think that everything is ammunition, it's all inspiration for people and situations. So, it was mainly security management that I spent my working life doing.
Joanna: You said that “writing books was not for people like you,” maybe explain what you mean by that because, obviously, we've got listeners from all over the place, but I feel like we do have quite a class system in the UK.
Why did you feel like writing wasn't for ‘people like you'? And how did you change that to be something else?
Angela: I think it was just our environment, very working class. And it was considered that you'd done well, if you did manage to end up in an office, it was just the way it was.
I don't think there's anybody to blame, but teachers kind of, like, that was your target, that was to work in an office and get a nice, solid stable job. The really intelligent people were encouraged to go into banking, and that kind of thing.
Our options of subjects that we could take, there was never anything in creative writing. I took, obviously, English literature and English language, but there was nothing else that you could take or do to head you in that direction. It was all office-based.
Although, I am glad to learn to type now. Typing is coming very, very useful for this second draft and the third draft.
So, you were guided in that direction, you were guided towards office work. And the boys were guided towards woodwork and metal work. There weren't many opportunities around that.
Joanna: Because some people, I think, feel hemmed in by societal attitudes to what they should do, but obviously, you have broken out of that.
How did you break out of that attitude?
Angela: I think it was just because I loved writing so much, I did it in my spare time. I didn't go to college. I didn't have any formal training. I just read books, looked for inspiration, read how-to books.
There weren't podcasts around, then it was literally just getting books from the bookshop. Even Amazon, wasn't a thing then, oh, dear me. I'm showing my age now. So, it was a case of buying books, and reading them, and gaining inspiration, and then sitting down and just writing.
I think the best way of learning the craft is to just keep doing it, just keep writing.
I do firmly believe that nothing is wasted, everything that we write. Even if we then look at it and think, ‘Oh my goodness, that's rubbish. I'm never going to let anybody see that.'
I still believe that we learned something through everything that we write. So I just kept doing the in and around day jobs to get up early and write, and then stay up late and do some more writing and started to submit. I started to submit short stories, first of all, to ‘Writing Magazine' and ‘Writers' News.'
The first time I actually got shortlisted was the very first validation I ever had that actually, I've got something. I don't know what it is, but I've been shortlisted for a competition. And that must have kept me going for about 10 years because that's the worst thing is, certainly, when you've not really had any education, you think, ‘I'm just chasing a dream.'
While chasing the dream, you're doing something that you love and that you really enjoy, and that you would be doing anyway.
If the passion is there, the passion is there, you're going to write, whether you're getting published or not, because you just can't help yourself.
You see a pencil, you see a notepad, and that's it. You put those together, and you're going to start writing something. So I think it was just a case of keep trying and keep trying.
But my partner, Julie, we've been together 35 years. She's been on this journey every step of the way. And she would just constantly encourage me. Sometimes I'd have five, six, seven rejections come back in one day. I felt sorry for the postman because he was logging these three chapters and synopsis about, and then bringing them back to me.
Julie would always say, ‘It's their loss, it will happen. It's their loss, it will happen.' And she kept the faith far more than I did, but I never stopped writing. Sometimes I would stop submitting for a few months and just concentrate on the writing. And it eventually did happen. She was right. But it took a while. It took a while.
Joanna: I love that you've had such a supportive partner, and I know that's hard for some people who don't have that. And I love that you got there eventually.
I wanted to also bring up something else. So, listeners, again, we have listeners from over 200 countries in the world. And you have quite a particular accent, which I think we should talk about because your books are also set in a particular area.
Tell us a bit about the Black Country, and what's so special about your area?
Angela: Well, the thing is I spent many years writing books that I thought that publishers would like using characters that, again, I thought that they would like. I avoided my local area, the Black Country thinking, ‘Well, that's not sexy, that's not appealing. Good books are always set in London, or Liverpool, or Manchester, big city where you can really explore the culture and the diversity.'
I thought, ‘Well, nobody's going to want to read about the Black Country.' And then, of course, year-on-year rejection on rejection. ‘Silent Scream,' the first book in the ‘Kim Stone' series was a bit of a rebellion, and it was a case of, ‘Okay. I'm going to write about the character that's been in my head for a very long time. And I'm going to set it in an area that I know. Yes, it's dark. Yes, it's industrial, but so is my main character. She's quite dark.' And so, actually, they could work quite well together.
‘Silent Scream' was kind of my rebellion book. And it was my first crack at a crime book. I fully expected to get to 40,000 words and hit a wall. And I think, ‘Oh, well, at least okay crime a try.'
But it just kept coming. It's almost like the character took control of the pencil. And I started having to rewrite ideas because, I thought, ‘No, she wouldn't do that.' And I just explored the area and thought, ‘Now, this works, this character in my local area that I know and understand works well.' And that was it.
Then, it was like, ‘Okay. She's always going to be in the Black Country because that's what works.' So, I think that even if people don't know the Black Country, they can identify with an area that's rich in industry, or was in years gone by in coal, in steel. And I think they can identify with that kind of area and that kind of community.
Joanna: And, of course, for you, it's authenticity in voice as well, isn't it? Because that is your area and your characters there.
How much of you is in your character, Kim Stone?
Angela: I often say to people, and I get lots of people who say, ‘What would Kim do?' She's probably a good representation of what I'd like to be, but with better social skills, because she's very determined, and she's very focused, and diligent, and tenacious.
I'd love like some more of those qualities, but I think there's not too much of me. I think there's a lot of qualities that I wish I had more of. But note, the voice had just been in my head for a long time and I never actually let it out because I didn't like it myself. I didn't like the sound of her. So, it was, if I don't like her because the readers aren't going to like her very much, so let's just keep her in there.
Joanna: Oh, well, no, I love it. Now, just coming back to the sense of place. So, the Black Country is basically the West Midlands of the UK, people can have a look on a map. But it's not actually a massive area. It's not like a whole country, it's an area in the country. You've got 16 books in this series.
How do you plot and plan these books while still keeping them in the same area? Do you use the same places over and over again, for example?
Angela: Sometimes. Sometimes I use areas that are very familiar to people and then do sometimes make some areas or some locations, or if I can't think of somewhere that fits exactly what I want, but I'll model it on something similar in the area, and just give it different name. But now there's this sort of like plenty of small areas of the Black Country to explore.
And because the West Midlands police forces, I think, it's the second-largest in the country. Second to the Met, it does cover quite a vast area. And although in the books, Kim covers Halesowen, under the Dudley and Halesowen policing unit.
We can have a bit of license and send her elsewhere around the border because she's a bit nosy and she would get involved in areas that don't really concern. So, we do have the scope to use the entire West Midlands really.
Joanna: That's brilliant. Now, as I mentioned, though, there are 16 books in the series so far, and many listeners want to write a long-running series. But it can be difficult writing.
What are your tips for writing a long-running episodic series?
Angela: I think, definitely, start off with characters that you yourself feel strongly about and that you want to explore. I deliberately made Kim in a work relationship with a happily married man, because I didn't want the reader to constantly be thinking, ‘Well, they won't. It's a very clear, no, they won't.'
That gives me the opportunity to introduce quite a bit of banter between, because Kim hasn't really got any friends except for Brian, her work partner. And so we have quite a lot of banter there. So, although there's no romance between Kim and other characters, I soften the darkness with the humor rather than the romance, because that's not how I want to write the character.
There's plenty of opportunities for humor. All of the characters that are in the core team, there's lots that I want to explore about their characters, but also I bring in different characters on a consultancy basis to just mix it up a little bit, give another dynamic.
Also it's important to know when a character has served their time. I did do something in Book 8, which has caused a lot of bloggers and reviewers to say that they'll never ever forgive me. I won't say what it is, but it is important to know if there's nothing more about a character that you've got to say that will interest the reader. And it's a tough decision.
I cried writing certain scenes. But to try and keep it fresh, you have to let certain ones go. But also I think it's creating characters that readers can identify with.
And that's one of the things that always comes up in reviews about the books. The books are often referred to as a pair of old slippers, which I take is a huge compliment because people will say they open the book and joining the characters, again, is like putting on a pair of old slippers.
There's that comfort in knowing the characters and content in that space, they know how the characters are going to act, how they're going to respond in certain situations. And so I think they don't always have to be completely likable. Kim isn't completely likable, but she does have redeeming features.
She's quite rude, but she's passionate. So, always give the reader a reason to like the character, if you want them to like them, to hate them if you don't, and give a good cross-section of personalities.
Joanna: Did you set out to plan a long-running series? Because 16 books, I mean, did you think that far ahead?
How did you do the plotting and the planning right at the beginning?
Angela: No, I had no idea. By the time Bookouture signed me, three books were already written because I had been with a London Agent for two years, which ended really rather badly. And that was the worst time of, certainly, mine and Julie's time because I'd given not work to try and give the writing thing a go.
I'd taken voluntary redundancy after 19 years. And suddenly, we were selling our possessions to pay the mortgage, and that went on for a few months. I finally got a job of working night shifts, 12-hour night shifts. And then the reader that I'd worked with at the agency, she'd sent the ‘Silent Scream' to Bookouture without me really knowing.
She let me know, and I was like, ‘Oh, that's nice.' I couldn't really get excited about it because I absolutely knew that the response was going to be, ‘We like it. We just don't love it.' Which is the response I'd had for over 20 years.
But then when they did respond, which was a few days later, there was no book. And it was, like, ‘What other books have you written? What other ideas have you got?'
So I've got three books written, and they wanted to sign me initially for four. I didn't really have a plan beyond those four because I just thought, ‘Well, you know, it'd be nice if 500 people read ‘Silent Scream', see what happens. I didn't have any expectations.
There wasn't really a long-term plan at all. I always knew that there would be a lot of stories that I could explore with Kim.
I don't plan. I'm a complete pantser. I tend to write the books around a subject that interests me or intrigues me. And then I build a plot outwards from that subject. And that's how I plot.
I tend to know how I'm going to start, how I'm going to finish. And the in-between is a complete and utter blur. I allow it to happen organically.
Once I start writing, that's when I get ideas for other characters and other storylines I'll be writing. And then I'll be making notes on another piece of paper saying, ‘Oh, and when she goes here, she'll meet this person. And then this person's going to have this story.'
I do find that my best ideas come once I'm actually writing the book. As long as I know the first two or three chapters, I can then get on a roll, and then the bite comes. I always call it the bite. I don't want to put the pencil down, I want to be in my room every minute of the day, just getting this story down on paper.
Joanna: That's so lovely to hear about that. And coming back on, because I'm similar to you, I'm like, ‘Oh, this subject really intrigues me.'
The history of anatomy, my book Desecration. I went to an Anatomy Museum in London and I'm like, ‘Whoa, body parts in jars. That's interesting. Who are these people? And how did they get there? And what if there's a murder in the Anatomy Museum?' Then I looked at that.
Tell us about some of the subjects that have intrigued you that have spun off into stories?
Angela: In ‘Lost Girls,' that was Book 3, it remains my favorite. I wanted to explore the dynamics of a friendship when both children were kidnapped. I just wanted to explore what that would do to a friendship, what that would do to the parents.
It was such a horrific situation to be in, how do you try and save the life of your own child while knowingly sacrificing another child that you know almost as well as your own? That was just an idea that built-in. And that remains my favorite book.
Book 4, ‘Play Dead.' I wanted to explore very similar to what you were just saying, a body farm. I wanted to explore what kind of experiments that they do on a body farm.
I did have many, many emails after ‘Play Dead' saying, ‘Does this facility actually exist in the West Midlands?' I was like, ‘No, it's completely fictional. We don't have a body farm.' But the research that goes into looking into these things is I love it because then I'm learning. I love to learn about new subjects.
I wanted to write about hate crimes, which I did in Book 6. I wanted to write about cults and the methods that they use for pulling you, in which I did in, I think it was Book 12.
Most of the books, or all of the books, come from either subject that interests me, or an idea that I just want to explore and then build a crime story out from that. So, I suppose the crime story comes second to the interest in the subject.
Joanna: Yes, totally. The same for me. I really love that you say that because that's how I start. I feel like everybody starts in different places in terms of how the idea starts.
And then we all end up in the same place, which is, we all have a finished book with the same types of things in character, and plot, and theme, and all of that. But we can all come from it from different angles, right?
It doesn't matter where you start, as long as you finish with a book.
Angela: Definitely. I think you can get caught up in what is the right and wrong way to do it because once I was lucky enough to do this for a living. I started to think, ‘I'm doing it all wrong. Now, I'm not planning. I'm not plotting. I'm not doing chapter outlines. I'm not writing out character profiles.'
You can get caught in thinking the one-size-fits-all, and that everybody must do it a certain way.' I did try that with a book. I got to about chapter 7 and I was bored because there was no so surprise in it for me, I knew exactly what was going to happen from start to finish. And so there wasn't that organic surprise of, ‘Oh, here's a new idea. I know what I can do with that character.'
It went in the bin. I learned from that, I thought, ‘It may not be everybody's way of doing it, but it's my way of doing it.' And I'll keep doing it until it doesn't work anymore. Luckily, it continues to work. I always breathe a sigh of relief when I get to the end of the first draft of a new book. And it's like, ‘Oh, I got there.' It's never a given. But I do think that we can become embroiled in what is the right and wrong way to do something. What's right is what works for you.
Joanna: Totally agree. And it's interesting, you mentioned the body farm there. I get fascinated with these things, too. Do you think there's something in the darker crime writes?
We don't know each other. We've never met before. And you come across as a very happy bubbly person and people say the same about me, and yet, we write these darker books.
What role does writing darker things play in our lives? And how do you deal with some of what I'm sure people say about you in the same way they say about me?
Angel: They do. I do have messages in the nicest possible way saying, ‘How do you sleep at night?' But I don't have any trouble sleeping at all, to be honest, because I think, all I write about is probably what I'd like to read about. And if I don't find it interesting, I don't think anybody else will find it interesting.
So, I think a lot of the things is you can explore, and I've always said there's not any subject that I wouldn't explore, however horrific, as long as it's handled sensitively. I think that's where you have to be careful is how much detail you include because we don't want to be sensationalist about any subject.
I don't want any headline-grabbing lines that cause people to feel revolted or real negative emotion because, at the end of the day, we're entertaining. So, for example, when I read a lot about body farms and researched it. There was an awful lot left out because it wasn't necessary for the story.
I probably take it on what I want to read, the level of detail that I'd like to read. And in the case, in the books over the time, I've explored child abuse and child cruelty, but I've tried to do it sensitively so that people get a picture of what I'm writing. But I don't need to spell it out.
I don't need to put people in that kind of position of feeling uncomfortable or don't want to trigger anybody. So, I think you can write about subjects, but you just have to try and do it sensitively.
Joanna: Yes. And I think if people are reading crime thrillers, they know what they're going to get. Don't they? That it's part of the genre.
Angela: It is. But surprisingly, the amount of emails I get with saying, ‘I didn't realize that this was involved.' I've looked back and I thought, ‘But it was on the blurb.' And you respond as politely as you can because you don't want anybody to be upset after reading any of the books or any portion of the books.
Unfortunately, you can't list everything that everybody might be offended by because we're all offended by different things.
I personally can't read anything to do with animal cruelty. I can have serial killers murdering as many people as you like, but I can't read anything about animal cruelty because it stays with me, and the pictures I can't get out of my head afterwards. So, it affects me quite negatively.
It's a fine line of trying to do the story in your head justice but trying not to offend anybody.
I'll get emails saying about the use of language, which I do. I do try and keep bad language to a minimum, but then I get messages saying, ‘Taking the Lord's name in vain.' And it's like, these are police officers. They have to show their frustration, and horror, and disgust somehow. And ‘Oh my golly, gosh,' isn't going to cut for it time every. Sometimes we need something a little bit stronger.
Joanna: Yes. And these are all decisions we have to make as authors. It's funny on the swearing because the very first couple of novels I wrote had some swear words in that Americans consider swear words, and some British people don't consider swear words.
In the end, I just took them all out. I was like, ‘You know, you're fine with the murder and the explosions and all of that, but not the swear words.' So, as you said, we are entertainers.
We write the books we want to read, but also there are some lines that we do have to set up for our own writing.
And then, look, if people don't want to read your books, they're not going to read your books, right? They make their own choice.
Angela: That's the way you have to look at it in the end. When you've made a mistake, and I made a mistake in a recent book, and it was my own fault. I had a lady contact me to say that she was most upset by my use of the term ‘committed suicide' and not realizing what I'd done.
Obviously, I went and had a look, and I sent back a totally apologetic email explaining that was my fault, my ignorance, I should have known better about the term being now offensive. And it's not a mistake I will ever make again.
Readers letting you know how they felt about something actually can be quite a good thing.
And I think when you've made a mistake, you just take it on the chin, and you admit it, and you apologize, and you just don't do it again.
Joanna: Yes. And we should just say the term ‘died by suicide,' I believe is the correct term.
Joanna: Yes. And that's just partly to do with our age as well, I think, it's that we are brought up with a certain term.
Angela: It is. I never thought of the word ‘committed' as being in relation to a crime. So, it was a complete and utter revelation to me because it was just a term that I'd grown up with. And being told it was an outdated term, it was an education for me.
But I was thankful to be suitably advised, if you know what I mean, because I learned from it. And I won't do it again because I would hate to cause any offense to a family that's been through such a tragedy by me just not knowing the correct phraseology.
We do make mistakes, and we just have to hold our hands up. I did on this occasion just said, ‘I am so sorry. And it will not happen again.'
Joanna: And as you mentioned toward the beginning, a lot of this is about learning. And we put our learning in things and then we change them later if necessary. And that's life. You can't be right all the time on every single thing.
Angela: Absolutely right.
Joanna: I do want to just ask you about publishing, because you mentioned earlier that you had a bad experience with an agent that you'd got to a point where you were selling your possessions because you'd been laid off and you were doing these night shifts. And it sounds an absolute nightmare.
Tell us about because Bookouture. Some people might know, some people don't, but it's a digital-first imprint.
What is the difference between digital-first publishers and other types of publishers?
Angela: I think one of the main differences, and certainly, for me, works is the schedule. I write two books a year, and everything in digital publishing is so immediate, there'll be a cover reveal. And then a little bit later, the book will go on NetGalley and then you'll have a publication day. And then before you know it, you've got a cover reveal for the next one and NetGalley.
Lots of things happen throughout the year, which, obviously, with traditional publishing, it's a lot slower and longer process than that. So, I absolutely love the pace of the digital marketing.
The books have been on shelves in the supermarket. And obviously, when I was writing all those years, the dream was absolutely to see the books on shelves in supermarkets and bookshops. And I have to say, it was lovely. But as I say to people, the books in the bookshops might pay for the electric, but the eBooks pay the mortgage.
For me, being with a digital-first publisher works perfectly. I wouldn't want to be with anybody else. I continue to sign more deals with Bookouture. And I have told them, they'll have to get security to throw me out when they eventually don't want to publish the books anymore. They're happy with that. I'm happy with that, but there is nothing that any other publisher could give me that Bookouture don't.
I don't have an agent. Everything is transparent with me, and my editor, and the marketing team. Because when I joined Bookouture, it was four people, which was Oliver who founded it. There was Kim, the publicity manager. There was Claire, the publishing director. And then Keshini, who had brought me on board. She then joined the team as my editor.
She was my editor for the first eight books. So, it was a very small team. And it's a much bigger team now, but it's still is transparent. I can send anybody an email or have a chat with anybody on the phone any time at all. Everyone is accessible.
There's no cause at all for me to want to be published by anybody else. And ultimately, I'm a hugely loyal person.
And after all those years and a very bad experience, Bookouture gave the books a try. They gave me and Kim Stone a chance.
That will never, ever be forgotten because if it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing now. I do still pinch myself every day that I am lucky enough to call something that I love doing, a job, and that never gets old. Every single day, I realize how lucky I am. And so there is nothing any other publisher could do for me that Bookouture don't. So, now I'm not moving. They're stuck with me.
Joanna: I love that you are so positive and grateful about your publisher because many authors, obviously, have disappointing experiences, but it sounds like you had all your disappointment before you got your publisher and now you are happy.
We should point out that you joined in 2014, as you mentioned, it was very early. And I think, I'm just checking 2017, Bookouture was bought by Hachette. And so is no longer the, I know you said it still has the same feeling for you, but it is quite different now.
I don't want to give the impression to people listening that it's the same, it's not even the same company anymore, basically, it has changed. But obviously, your experience is amazing. So, those relationships have obviously kept you going through the whole time.
In turn, let's just talk about marketing for a minute, because you mentioned marketing there. And many people joining a publisher think that they never have to do marketing again because the publisher does that.
What kind of marketing things do you have to do? And what does Bookouture do?
Angela: I'm really not very good at it. But what I try and do is the publisher marketing team, they are fabulous and they know what I'm comfortable with because I'm a huge social anxiety sufferer. So, in-person things is not something I'm very good at doing.
I think COVID got me able to do podcasts and Facebook Lives and interviews. I'm a huge anxiety sufferer. So, these bigger things tend to paralyze me. Listeners with anxiety will completely get what I'm talking about.
What I try and do is stay accessible. Kim, Noelle, Ellen, Sarah, and the rest of the team, they are looking for opportunities where we can advertise the books, or just get some coverage, or run publication days and that kind of thing.
And what I try and do is to interact as much as I possibly can on social media, on Twitter, on Facebook. I've got to be honest, I can't get my head around Instagram. I've tried. TikTok is a complete unknown quantity to me.
I've got my also page on Facebook and the website. And I just try and interact in the book groups, the book clubs online and that kind thing, and respond to all the messages. When there's a new book out, that takes over the day job because it's suddenly, it's like this woosh of attention, which is fabulous.
I am allowed to spend publication day completely on social media and do nothing else. So, that's what I try and do. And then whatever it is that Kim, Sarah, and Noelle told me to do.
Joanna: That's great. I think, as you say, you are open to their suggestions, but then you are participating in a very positive way, like being on this show. Your publicist did approach me, but your participation is wholehearted.
You mentioned anxiety, I also have the same thing, maybe not as bad. But going to London Book Fair last week, it was an absolute nightmare. I was so scared. And I sometimes get on the phone like this and my heart is pounding. And so that doesn't necessarily go away. But as you say, you kind of just have to go, ‘Well, this is my dream job, and I have to do this.' Right?
You have to talk yourself into it.
Angela: Well, now doing things like this, now I just see them as having a chat. And Julie put that in my head. She was like, ‘Look, you're in your own home, you're in your own environment where you feel comfortable. You're just going to chat with people.'
A couple of years ago, it wouldn't have been as easy as it is now because doing this, I would be conscious of my accent and I would be trying to cover it. And I would think that I'm just going to say the wrong thing. And all these things are going on in your head while you're trying to talk.
Julie would just keep saying to me, ‘Just be yourself, speak like yourself. People know you come from the Black Country. It doesn't matter how you try to hide it, it's going to come through, and just be yourself.' So, now, it's just, I'm going online to have a chat, and that's it.
It's far more enjoyable than it used to be when I think, ‘Oh god, I'm going to say these wrong. I'm this wrong. I'm going to mess this up. I'm not going to say this.' And now I just don't think about it. I just roll with it now, which is a lot less stressful.
Joanna: Indeed, and you are a fantastic interviewee by the way. I love your accent. And I think people listening will love your accent.
We judge ourselves by standards that other people might not judge us by.
Angela: It's true. It's true because I had this delivery guy the other day anyway because we just got out of the Black Country, Worcestershire. And he delivered some soil, and he went, ‘Oh, that's a Brummy accent.' I went, ‘No, it isn't, it's Black Country. And you could get killed for saying things like that.'
That's the thing. It's always an association with a Brummy accent, which I think is viewed quite negatively. Brummy and Black Country, we like to keep the difference.
Joanna: I think it's brilliant.
Tell people where they can find you and your books online.
Angela: Definitely on Amazon, on iBooks, on Kobo. So, they're all out there. The paperbacks are available. The audio is available. So, yet, I think they're pretty much spread across all of the online mediums.
Joanna: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for your time, Angela. That was great.
Angela: No, it's been brilliant. It's been lovely to have a chat. It's flown by.
Rudy Linke says
I very much enjoyed this episode! I am intrigued by the discussion of pantsers vs. outlines, as I’ve recently been reading a series of books by James N. Frey (How to Write A Damed Good Novel, How to write a Damned Good Mystery, How to Write a Damed Good Thriller and others) and he emphasizes creating complete character bios and step sheets. I, too, get bored when faced with a detailed outline; in fact, I often sigh when sitting down to write what I already know will happen, and it’s great to see that many others experience the same problem. When you and Angela mentioned your method of following your interests, I perked up!
Joanna Penn says
You’re a discovery writer, Rudy!
Check out Writing into the Dark by Dean Wesley Smith, it will make you feel better! I’ll also be emphasizing this discovery process in my How to Write a Novel book.
Anitha Krishnan says
Wow! Joanna, I’m so happy that you interviewed Angela Marsons. I’ve read her books for years now, and I absolutely love the Kim Stone series. Thank you for interviewing one of my favourite authors! 🙂
Great interview. Interesting to hear another perspective, so different from many other authors. Thanks, Joanna and Angela!
Seamus Anthony says
Great interview with big heart, thank you both. Makes me feel better about writing a novel set in the Dandenong Ranges on the outskirts of Melbourne instead of the usual suspects: London. NYC or Paris.
Madeline Mora-Summonte says
Great interview! I am a huge fan of the Kim Stone series, and I believe the books just keep getting better and better. A “pair of old slippers” is right – I look forward to settling in with every new book – I go old school, paperback in hand – and seeing what Kim and her team are up to. 🙂
I loved this interview! Angela is such a fascinating author.