INTERVIEW WITH LOUISE MARLEY
Louise Marley is the author of three romantic suspense novels, all set in a fictional area based on the New Forest. They can be read in any order.
Her first published novel was Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, which was shortlisted for Poolbeg‘s ‘Write A Bestseller’ competition. She has also written articles for the Irish press and short stories for British women’s magazines such as Take A Break and My Weekly. Before taking up writing, Louise worked as a civilian administrative officer for the police.
Although born in Southampton, Louise now lives in Wales with her husband, children and a hamster named George.
Hello Louise, and a warm welcome to my blog. Can I ask if you have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written stories, for as long as I can remember. So I never thought about being a writer, because I already was one – if that makes sense?
Perfectly! Do you remember the first thing you ever wrote?
As a child I remember writing a story about a family of mice who lived in a Christmas tree. I suspect I was influenced by a certain Disney cartoon about a pair of chipmunks!
Mmm, yes I can understand that one! And so what was the first thing you had published?
I wrote a short story for Take A Break magazine, about a delinquent dog. I based the dog on my mother’s labrador, who was always getting into trouble.
After you had been published in magazines, did you try writing any other kinds of books before you settled on romantic comedy/suspense?
I originally wrote children’s stories, then I wrote a fantasy novel, which was a kind of cross between Star Wars and Lord of the Rings and based on Irish mythology. I have no idea why!
Sounds fascinating! So what was it that made you abandon Star Wars/Lord of the Rings mash-ups and drew you to write romantic suspense? Was it any particular author or books?
It gradually dawned on me that while I was writing fantasy, I was reading completely different genres. So I decided to write the kind of book I enjoyed reading most, which was usually something by Jilly Cooper or Harlan Coben. So that’s probably how the romantic suspense thing came about – I inadvertently blended the two.
Your first romantic suspense, ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes’ was shortlisted for Poolbeg’s ‘Write A Bestseller’ competition. That must have been a very exciting experience. Had you entered many other competitions before this one? And did you find it a challenge to write the dreaded second novel under that kind of spotlight?
It was very exciting to be offered a book contract after so many rejections. The way the acceptance letter had been written meant the first sentence was telling me who had won, so I assumed at first it was another rejection. It wasn’t until I’d read right down to the bottom of the letter that I realised they were offering me a three book contract.
Fortunately, by the time I was offered the contract, I’d already written the second book.
In that second novel, ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’, your heroine is an original mix of a police officer who becomes a ‘minder’. Have you ever had any ambitions yourself to join the front line of the police force or go into the personal protection business?
As I’m a complete wimp I’ve never had any desire to be a police officer. The original intention behind Why Do Fools Fall In Love was to write a book about the film industry; specifically a book set in the UK, not Hollywood. It would have been too easy to have the bodyguard as some alpha male saving a pretty blonde actress from a stalker, so I decided to swap the sexes around so that the bodyguard was the woman.
I see you’ve recently republished both ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’ and ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ as ebooks. Was it a daunting experience undertaking this yourself? How did you make the book ready to upload? And how did you create the lovely new covers and make sure you didn’t contravene any copyright?
I think the expression is ‘ignorance is bliss’! I’d read an article in Writing Magazine about how to publish your own ebooks, about the same time I’d listened to a talk given by author Freda Lightfoot on the same subject. I just followed the instructions on the Amazon website and published Why Do Fools Fall In Love without thinking too much about it. I’d have been happy if it had gone to sell a few copies a month. Instead, it’s been in the top 100 for over 4 months and was only knocked off the number one spot in the romantic suspense charts by Smoke Gets In Your Eyes.
Why Do Fools Fall In Love had been previously published by Poolbeg, although the rights had reverted back to me. I couldn’t use the same ISBN number, or the same cover, so I designed a new cover myself using a rights-free illustration I bought for £30. I did the same for the second book, although it was slightly more expensive as I used two illustrations instead of one.
Being in the top 100 sounds a real achievement, especially with your first ebooks! Did you find it a challenge publicising your ebooks yourself?
As I wasn’t expecting my books to be so successful, I didn’t really publicise them. I have a couple of hundred friends/followers on Facebook and Twitter; I told them the book was available to buy and that was about it!
is it an experience you would recommend to others?
I would recommend it to anyone wanting to re-publish their backlist, or who has been published before. I would hesitate to recommend it to someone unpublished unless their manuscript has been professionally critiqued, edited and proof read.
That’s an interesting perspective from someone who has been through both processes. And can you tell us what you are working on now, please?
I’m currently getting my third book, A Girl’s Best Friend, ready for publication as an ebook this spring. And I’ve recently finished a fourth book, about marine archaeology, which I hope to publish in the summer.
That sounds exciting! I’ll look forward to them. Marine archaeology definitely sounds intriguing.
Many thanks for being interviewed on my blog, Louise.