Hey there everyone – the weekend starts here again, hooray for free time!
Welcome to the latest installment in the Author Interview series and we are finishing out the week with a bang.
Tonight we speak to Award Winning author Judith Cranswick about her crime thriller novels and what makes them so special, engaging and worth reading.
Have a wonderful weekend and enjoy the show.
Hi there Judith, thank you for taking the time to be with us today to talk about your thrilling stories.
Let’s start with your latest novel “Blood Hits the Wall” – Book 4 in the Fiona Mason Mysteries Series. Please tell us more about Fiona, how she has evolved over the course of four novels and what sleuthing adventures and sticky situations she is going to find herself dealing with this time round?
In the first book in the series, “Blood on the Bulb Fields”, Fiona was recently widowed. She had spent the last nine years looking after her terminally-ill husband. When he died, family and friends suggested she get herself a little job to keep herself occupied though becoming a tour manager for a coach company wasn’t quite what they had in mind. Fiona has grown in confidence as the year (and the first four books) has gone on and in “Blood Hits the Wall”, on her tour to Belin and the Elbe Valley, her relationship with MI6 chief, Peter Montgomery-Jones develops though they continue to find themselves at odds with one another all too often as they pursue their separate objectives. This time she wants his help when the group is detained in Berlin following the murder of their local guide, but he has his own secret mission which he cannot jeopardise.
You also have three other stand-alone novels – “All in the Mind”, “A Death too Far” and “Watcher in the Shadows”. How do these three books differ from your Fiona Mason Series? Are there any similarities in tone? Feel free to give us some more hints regarding what these mysteries are all about 🙂
My first published books were Psychological Suspense novels. I love the edginess, that sense of life spinning out of control that underlies this sub-genre when the protagonist is taken over by events they can’t explain, and the knowledge that if they don’t sort it all out, they will end up dead. What interests me is trying to capture that fear, that unease and the sense of what’s going go wrong next.
Although the Fiona Mason series are classified as mysteries, I like to feel they still have that touch of edge.
Finally, in relation to your books, you also have three Short Story Collections called “All Sorts”. What sorts of twisted tales can we expect from these particular collections?
Like many writers, I began by writing by writing short stories and I had a moderate amount of success in competitions and had several published long before my first novel was accepted. The advantage of writing short stories is that you are not confined to one genre so many you’ll find are my collections are quite mixed – some humorous, some poignant, ghost stories, revenge tales, one or two with a dark side and several with a twist in the tail. I’m particularly fond of twists in the tale.
If your Fiona Mason Series or other crime books were to be made into films, who would you cast in the lead roles?
I have absolutely no idea! Fiona, Peter and Winston, her West Indian driver, are very real me and I’m not sure anyone I would approve of anyone ‘playing’ them.
What do you find the most difficult thing about writing? And what do you find the easiest?
Ideas are always easy; the trouble is find time to write them all down. Life has a nasty habit of getting in the way!
I suppose I’m not good at getting started each day and just when the writing is really poring onto the page, I have to break off to get dinner ready or it’s time to leave for one of my classes.
The most difficult phase comes when you send away the manuscript to the editor. It can be weeks before it comes back and you are left twiddling your thumbs. It not a good idea to start thinking too much about the next book as in my case this would involve creating a new set of passengers and characters could easily become confused.
The part of a writer’s life I like least is promotion. I love giving talks about writing and, as well as to local groups, I lecture on board ship but serious promotion and marketing means tackling social media. I’m useless at technology. I do try to post on my Facebook author page and to write a monthly blog on my website. I have promised myself to tackle Twitter for years now, but it terrifies me. Even the noddy guides get me confused!
Who are some of the authors and historical figures that inspire you?
Writers such as Nicci French, Minette Walters, Barbara Vine and Val McDermid, certainly inspired my early psychological suspense novels. I love all sub-genres of crime and read widely, I’m particularly fond Zoe Sharp’s Charlie Fox series.
What sort of research do you do to write your books?
A vast amount! Travel is major inspiration for my novels. Each Fiona Mason takes place in a different European country so I visit all the places I write about. I need to consult quite a wide range of experts – every crime writer needs a tame policeman – but each novels takes you into different areas. To give you an example, after a holiday to an eco-lodge in the middle of the Ecuadorian Amazon followed by a visit to the Galapagos Islands I was inspired to write “A Death to Far”. Writing that novel, I needed to interview a Coroner’s Officer, a tropical plant expert, a Fire Officer, someone who had had a house fire, and a forensic archaeologist. For “Blood and Chocolate”, I had to research Belgian Police forces and ranks, Belgian Police procedures, Belgian Surnames, Belgian Recipes, British Parliamentary procedures and British Trade Unions.
Why do you write? What inspired you to become a writer?
I suppose I have always enjoyed telling stories but I wrote my first novel when my two children were toddlers. I’d just finished five years doing a research degree and, after reading a novel set in ancient Egypt and because I was still in research mode, I decided to write a novel set in Romano Britain in the 4th century AD – now lost at the back of a drawer somewhere. Once I returned to work, there was no time for writing so it had to wait until I retired. The thing that prompted me back was flicking through a magazine while I was waiting to speak to the librarian and I saw an article announcing a short story. There was an example of a short story by a well-known writer. I remember thinking it was rubbish and I could do better (oops showing my arrogance here!) so I decided to write one and enter. I’d love to tell you I won. I didn’t but that same story was entered for another competition some time later and it did win! From then on I wrote over a hundred short stories and eventually turned my hand to novels. I wrote a couple, a history and a fantasy novel, that were turned down but then found my real love – writing crime – and haven’t stopped since.
What keeps you motivated during creative slumps? How do you deal with Writers Block?
Like a great many writers, I often have problem with the soggy middle, but the only thing is to keep at it. If I have a forced break, it can take some time to get back into the swing of things but I don’t have a magic formula.
You have access to a time machine. What advice would you give to your younger self?
Probably – don’t be in a rush to publish. Build a team of good beta readers to help you and above all – a good proof reader!
How do you spend your free time when you are not writing?
Mornings I spend teaching Tai Chi, or doing line dancing, Zumba or yoga. As a cruise lecturer, I give talks not only on writing but also I’m a port lecturer – a logical development for a writer whose protagonist is a coach tour manager even if the places are different. Occasionally, I’m asked to run writing workshops but I no longer teach creative writing.
I suppose I would list may main hobbies as reading and travel.
Tell us more about your upcoming projects. Are you working on anything specific or have plans in the pipeline?
I’ve just sent the manuscript of my fifth Fiona Mason Mystery – “Blood Across the Divide” to my editor so I’m trying to catch up on all the marketing side of writing. I’m not good at social media and though I do try to maintain my website where I publish a monthly blog and my author Facebook page. I’ve started to think about the next mystery is general terms – where it’s set, a few possible passengers but I have a vague idea about the theme but it will be a few months before I can take it much further.
Finally, are there any nuggets of wisdom that you can impart to other aspiring writers?
Write about what interests you – the kind of novel you want to read.
See the action through the eyes of your viewpoint character – their feelings, their reactions. Be in the story not observing it dispassionately from a distance.
Read, read, read.
And that’s a wrap! Thank you for a wonderful interview Judith, have a great weekend and can’t wait to get stuck into your books, it would be a crime not to 😉
Judith was born and brought up in Norwich and now lives with her husband in Swindon. She wrote her first novel (now languishing in the back of a drawer somewhere) when her two children were toddlers but there was little time for writing when she returned to work teaching Geography in a large comprehensive and it was only after retirement that she was able to take it up again in earnest.
Judith’s first two published novels, ‘All in the Mind’ and ‘Watcher in the Shadows’ each won the NAWG Award for Best Unpublished Novel for two years running.
“Writers are told to write what they know about but I can assure you, I’ve never committed a murder. I’m an ex-convent school headmistress for goodness sake!”
You can connect with Judith on the following Social Media channels:-
You can buy Judith’s books here:-
If you too would like to be interviewed on my blog at TooFullToWrite and you have a book or a series of books that you would like us to chat about then fill out the Contact Me form here with your details and we can arrange a future interview slot.
Still want more? Well, Judith’s protagonist Fiona Mason is very brave and daring to be constantly having the courage to solve murder mysteries. For more articles connected to the theme of ‘Daring’ then check out the links below:-
1. Daring – Anything and Everything Blog
2. Men playing the odds and winning! – Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 YNN
3. Daring – Snapshots of a Disaster
4. shame – Twenty-seven year bore
5. Everyday Gyaan – The Art Of Squeezing
6. Blogger Spotlight: Lorrie at Splendippity – Bonnywood Manor
7. Writing Exercise: Daring – Dreaming with Your Eyes Open: Points of Light
8. Positively Un-broken – Creativity
9. Roberta Pimentel – Be your self
10. Vivid Dreamer – Life on the Edge
11. Dare to Think it’s Possible – Eagle’s Wing Ministries
12. Words and Wonders – Corn Flakes Coated Chicken
13. artifiswords – DARING
14. “Daring.” – Nomadic Adventurer
15. #LoveStory About the Frog III – mokita dreams
16. Roberta Pimentel – Daily – I had a wrong opinion
17. Welcome To The Game – aYoKa
18. a bliss of birds – 3-Day, 3-Quote Challenge
19. Dare Devil – SENTIMENTS
20. Daring – thethoughtskeeper
21. Travel Much? – Where the Streets Have No Name
22. Break Down the Mountains – Making Sense of Complications
23. Sacrificial Chain Breaker – DARING
24. A Special Type of Bravery (A Short Story) – stephentotheplate
25. Stephanie Cardozo – A Choice
26. Whole30, Days 22-23. What the hell was I complaining about? – Pursuing Balance in All Things
27. Flowers and Breezes – Daring
28. Five little angels part 19 – Elaine’s Bloggers Paradise
29. Helen Keller – English Lit Geek
30. Joyously Hopeful – A Branch in the Family Tree
31. LIFE – Dare to make a difference
32. Untitled#5 How The Mighty Have Fallen.. – Walkthrough
33. Secrets – A lot from Lydia
34. source of happiness – my sweetpainteddreams
35. 10 Tips On How To Stop Your Feet From Smelling When Wearing any shoes – Custom Shoes Blog
36. theempathyqueen – Daring to Leap into the Unknown
37. Scary book for a daring boy??!! – Caboosemama Little Pleasures
38. Daily Prompt : Daring – Sana Thoughts..
39. logicaldreams – Leap of Faith
40. Daring to Ignore Sarah Janks bridal Kaitlyn – Sarah Janks
41. Boat cruise Dubai marina – Dubai’s Sheikh Mansoor takes daring selfie – Yacht in Dubai
42. Dare To Be – Dare To Be
43. Taifun GT V2 Rebuildable Tank Atomizer – Vape Style Blog
44. Passion through Poetry – Daring
45. Lost Property Repository – Life In Song: Steph sings with Chrissie
46. Fire Exit – Occasional Dreams
47. tuckedintoacorner – comfort zone (400)
48. WRITE THEM ALL. – DARE to LOVE.
49. Daring – Image & Word
50. What I don’t miss – Afterlife Love Story
51. Dead End – Ms Skyfall
52. Purposive Writer – Dare to be Free
53. My little Daring Girl – Living with Boston
54. ExplorewithMafaza – Cucumber
55. Daring Pandora – Lost in Thought
56. do it again? – writemebad
57. Michael J. Fite – How Can You Bring Out Your Daring Side?
58. Fluffy Pool – Truth or Dare
59. Daring….to let go – my unremarkable story
60. Annette’s place – Daily prompt/daring/10/4/2016
61. helen meikle’s scribblefest – Daily prompt: Daring or stupidity?
62. pennyforyourthotsblog – Daring
63. JonahzSong – Daring
64. Seriously Just Saying – My Daring Darling
65. Dare To Be Different – Jibber Jabber with Sue
66. A Poet’s Journal – I Dare Say
67. Learning From Those Unlike Myself – A Stretch of Silence
68. Dr. B – My Crazy Graced Life
69. Daring – The Examined Life
70. In the interstellar space – Un Camino de Hojas Secas
71. awcsome. – daring.
72. My Grandmother’s Doorbell – By the Wayside
73. juantetcts – Daily Post:Daring
74. manvsloneliness – Day 91: The Man and the Taste of Identity; ‘Daring’
75. Secrets – A lot from Lydia
76. What would you do? – charlynn’s jar
77. Le Drake Noir – Daring neighbors
78. 83 Unsung Heroes – Daringly Happy
79. Stutter-Stepping Heart – Life Requirement: Daring
80. The Night Of The End? – Sascha Darlington’s Microcosm Explored
81. Lost Property Repository – I Dare You
82. Splendippity – Morning Lorrie
83. Would You Dare To Scream? – THE SKY’S THE LIMIT
84. The Cliffhanger Chronicle – Musing away… Selfishly!
85. Jaded Psychodelicide – Come Here
86. Daring – Inner Whispers
87. CAN IT GET ANY BETTER THAT THIS? – Okoto Enigma
88. Making it write – Refugee Camp
89. The Biggest Coward – introverted activist blog
90. This is Another Story – The Daring Task
91. Should we invest in stocks or in mutual funds? – Settle in El Paso
92. Daring. – 1withthepen
93. Daring: Courage – Tails of a Tattered Heart
94. Daring – calliemm
95. Sara Ackerman, author – Daring
96. Our Outer Layers – Modern Day Wonderland
97. Peaceful Journey – I Dare You
98. Dollops of Heedful Ramblings – Daring (poem)
99. Steps Times Two – Tell Me
100. Freeing AJ’s Voices – Daring
101. I O U! – Words of a Woman-Loving Woman
102. The Showers of Blessing – Hummingbird
103. Lakeland Musings by Irwin – Adventurous
104. Chris Writes – Take Me Home
105. Dare to Change. I Did! – Sneakers on Pavement
106. The drum solo of a writer’s heart – absurd.lucid
107. Confessions of a compulsive doer, daring to adapt to change – Sporadic Musings…and other irregular thoughts
108. debooWORKS – Crash
109. Dare! – Elaine’s Bloggers Paradise
110. Daring ~ Through the Storm – Word Adventures
111. I dare! – philosophicalpen
112. Daring Man? – emotionsoflife2016
113. Valiantly so – I think, I say, I do
114. daring – Love it Now
115. A Regular Story – Khayal
116. debooWORKS – Game Over
117. Roberta Pimentel – Daily -I’m-possible
118. kStan(ly) kSays – she wants to know who
119. life is great despite its troubles – Daring to inform
120. Dare to Care! – zenyswords
121. Reborn one part 3 – Journal of light and shadows
122. Daily Word Prompt: Dare to be Daring – Hazed & Confused
123. Getting to fly – Stories from A Closet of Errors
124. Daring – Postcard from a Pigeon
125. THIS IS US – Fenix Verde
126. Feats of Daring – April’s Perspective
127. JK Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – onturningpages
128. Healthy Living – Is Criticism Getting In the Way of Your Success?
129. HS Green and Building Our Dreams – The DP Library
130. wordsareallihavesite – Daring
131. The Housewife Chronicles – How Daring Am I?
132. Zombie Flamingos – A Monday at Home
133. Corruption – Oddities and Ends
134. IF WE WERE HAVING COFFEE RIGHT NOW… – Okoto Enigma
135. The Gad About Town – Derring-Don’t
136. Turn That Radio Up – Me Party
137. Dare! – Abi&Stella
138. Life in a Few Words – Mandatory Dare
139. Daring – poorhaiku
140. Full-Time – Possibility
141. Dare! – zenyswords
142. The Warrior Became Daring – eddaz
143. Past days!! – Sasha’s Writings
144. B_ up to date – Not at all!
145. LadyLebz – THE FOUL STENCH BUST
146. To Wear A Rainbow – i dared…haiku
147. Lamont and Dude Recall First Fish – I’m a Writer, Yes, I Am!
148. The happy Quitter! – Vivere – Dare to life
149. The Daring One – Scattered Showers in a Clear Sky
150. Atrevido – apserranoblog
151. aLightningbug – Be Daring
152. Musings of a Random Mind – Going Commando
153. Dare To Breathe – spirit480
154. Daring Dawn – Emotional Spaces
155. I Dare You! – SUCCESS STRATEGIES
156. lifelessons – a blog by Judy Dykstra-Brown – Daring-do
157. Born To Dare – Livin’ The Average Life
158. Little Calico’s Journal – Seriously?
159. My Other Blog – The 3 am Rant – WAGS on Parade
160. Grammy Writes – The Last Leaf
161. Never Back Down – The Grateful Dead – The Voice of the Mortals
162. Think About It – The Audacity of Kindness
163. Your Nibbled News (c) 2016 YNN – Men playing the odds and winning!
164. confabler – The Twin Pools Of Mermaids
165. Daring Are Those Who Dare To Encounter – atrangizindagieksafar
166. Spectres & Stardust – “i am never going to be hungry again”
167. Dare to share – That Girl called C
168. DARING : FIREFLY – Rainbow
169. Life Before 25 – LIVING AND LEARNING
170. Myammy! Moving in together at 50… – Cloudy with a chance of…divorce
171. Lives Matter – Angela Montijo
172. Carefree – adj. – to not give a… – Angela Montijo
173. No Man’s Land – Angela Montijo
174. Punishment – Angela Montijo
175. An Act of Solidarity – Angela Montijo
176. Dream Chasing – Occasional Dreams
177. Ashes and Grace. – My valiant soul
178. The Softer Side of Bullfighting – 8duffels2mutts
179. How Dare You? – No Whining
180. The Cat Chronicles – Daily Feline Prompt: The Daring Feline
181. All Hail – Leaking Ink
182. the dive..a short (really short) story ⋆ Obsolete Childhood
183. Daring – Vermont Book Works
184. Daring – Covert Novelist
185. Chronicles of an Anglo Swiss – Everything I do is daring
186. dare I answer… – maybeiamsure
187. The Well-Informed Namer – Phelony: A Baby Name Rant
188. Courage – indisputably inconclusive
189. Daring… – Emotions that matter.
190. I Dare to Make a Wish – Justus Creek
191. The subtlety of ‘daring’. – trailingthoughtsblog
192. thelonerose – Daring to be me
193. Soldier – YUDITH’S Journal
194. Silent Declaration of a Secret Love – Fenix Verde
195. It’s All in Finding the Right Words – Be Daring
196. Just Try – a mile in my shoes
197. Daring: The Daily Post Prompt – Mind of Sork
198. Little Birdie – Fictional Journey
199. There Are More Poets than Stars in the Firmament – time to let go
200. 34 Prayers to Election Day: The Fool – Growl for Justice
201. Southern By Design – Dare To Risk It
202. Relax – “Throw him out!”
203. Hot White Snow – Prescience, Or the Daring Boy, the Bike, and the Pond
204. I wrote a book. Now what? – It’s not always the obvious choice
205. Southern By Design – Take Note and Stick To It
206. Daring – Random Thoughts and Musings
207. sixty, single and surviving – Dare I Ask?
208. Devil Doll Musings – Touched
209. THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT – Okoto Enigma
210. the15thday – if only i could get me to agree with myself.
211. My keep fit while traveling guide – art of being fabulous
212. Truth or Dare – Its PH
213. White-Collar Purgatory – Imagining a banal Facebook post by someone who wants you to believe they love their job.
214. Purposive Writer – A Simple Step to Achieve A Breakthrough
215. Truth & Dare – A scary game – Share your weird dare – passiondesignerblog
216. Last Night’s Thoughts – Melolontha by the River
217. Scar of life – Tree of life
218. Science Traveler – Thomas Edison the Movie Mogul
219. Accident Prone Motherhood – Sunken Thought
220. Daring – Bits of Poems
221. The Road Less Traveled – Pete Gardner Psalms
222. Lost Property Repository – The Monster In The Closet
223. Michel Montecrossa Blog – Today’s Art: ‘Lifting The Curtain’ – Cyberart by Michel Montecrossa
224. Frontline’s Documentary: The Choice 2016 – The Mono-Economy of the New Millennium
225. If Only – Writer’s Blog
226. Baba, Look!! – Blog of Hammad Rais
227. Frank Prem – the new west: a ride on the St Albans line
228. Daring – Daily Prompt – ladyleemanila
229. The Wandering Poet – Dare to go beyond
230. Travel Much? – A Svalbard Love Story
231. Lantern Words – Daring Act