Wednesday, April 5, 2017

To kill, or not to kill, that is the Cathy Ace

“What prompted you to become a writer of crime fiction?”

I’m going to have to break this question into two parts – what prompted me to become a writer, and what then prompted me to become a writer of crime fiction. Why? Because I’ve written for my entire personal and professional life, but only truly “turned to crime” in my fifties, so feel I should explain both elements.

As with many children who love to talk, I am, at heart, a storyteller. Sometimes that got me into trouble – as “stories” can be taken as “lies” when a child tells them to an adult. But that’s enough about that. So, yes, I’ve always “told stories” and I was the girl whose English teacher would tell her – every time an essay was handed back  – “That was a bit long, you didn’t have to write a book, you know”. So, storytelling and writing a lot – a good start for any sort of writer.

Some of the non-fiction books I wrote...yes, one was translated into Chinese!
I went to Cardiff University to study English because I wanted to be a writer, but I was battered about the head with a stick upon which were writ large the words CAMBRIDGE SCHOOL OF CRITICISM and became quickly disillusioned, so I packed in English and studied psychology instead; I’d decided I’d rather try to understand the human condition so I could write about it myself, rather than spend years parsing what had already been written. When I graduated, I applied my degree in psychology to the fields of marketing and marketing communications and that’s when I began to “write for a living” – I worked in public relations, advertising etc. and wrote pretty much all day every day, to meet client briefs. I set up my own business when I was twenty eight and wrote all the time for that too – as I had done, as well as training courses and books for post-graduate managers of marketing and marketing communications. I migrated from the UK to Canada in 2000 to teach marketing on the MBA course at the University of British Columbia, and wrote my last management text on marketing communications in 2003. So – I’d always written. A lot.
First two self-published crime fiction books
Back in 1988 I’d written a crime short story which was published, but had turned my back on fiction to be able to focus on my business. Why crime? I’d always read crime fiction (Nancy Drew, Agatha Christie) and it was inevitable, I suppose. When that short story was produced for BBC Radio 4, and my Dad died, I decided I’d better follow my “original” dream and get writing fiction – crime fiction, of course. I’d had a plot (about which I cannot tell you, because the method of the murder is a real spoiler) knocking around in my head for years, but I thought I’d better try my hand at the short-fiction writing thing before tackling a novel, so I wrote eleven more short stories to accompany the first one I’d written back in 1988 and self-published “MURDER: Month by Month”, then wrote four novella and self-published “MURDER: Season by Season”. From that arose an opportunity to send a manuscript to a publisher, and the first Cait Morgan Mystery, The Corpse with the Silver Tongue, was published.

So WHY crime fiction? I’d always read a lot of it and, even when my bedtime reading was Shakespeare, as opposed to Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven, I always preferred the tragedies with their acts of vengeance, murder, lust and bloodshed over the comedies which I never found to be even remotely amusing. I like a book where someone dies. There, I’ve said it. All in all, I write crime fiction because I’ve always read it – and I’ve read it because I found Agatha Christie books on my Mum’s bookshelves…so feel perfectly justified in blaming my mother! 

Cathy Ace is the Bony Blithe Award-winning author of The Cait Morgan Mysteries (#8 The Corpse with the Ruby Lips was released on November 1st) and The WISE Enquiries Agency Mysteries (#3, The Case of the Curious Cook, was released in hardcover in the UK on November 30th and in the USA & Canada on March 1st).  You can find out more about Cathy, her work and her characters at her website, where you can also sign up for her newsletter with news, updates and special offers:   


Paul D. Marks said...

Cathy, I think it's good to break the question down into what made you become a writer and then a crime writer. And it's always fun to see the answers to those questions.

Stepherd said...
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Allan J. Emerson said...

"I like a book where someone dies. There, I’ve said it."

Still laughing.