Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today, I’ve invited Paula to the tearoom to talk about her writing and books. Welcome Paula. What would you like to drink?
Thank for the invite Paula. My favourite beverage is tea. My work is fuelled by it and I get through gallons. I like it very weak (my dad used to call it gnat’s pee!) with a dash of milk and no sugar.
Now we have our refreshment may I ask you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I began my journey writing short stories and serials for women’s magazines, back in day when almost every magazine had a fiction page. Sadly, no longer the case. I found the stories I enjoyed writing most were the ‘Twist in the Tail’ type, ie when the writer deliberately misleads the reader by laying false clues in among the real ones.
These sold really well for quite a few years but I realised that the technique is almost exactly the same for writing the type of ‘whodunnit’ crime stories that I so enjoy reading. So I turned to crime which proved very popular and several of the serials I wrote for women’s magazines have since ‘grown up’ into full length novels. In fact, my MyWinchmoor series (and I’m now on #4) started life as a 2 part, 8k word serial in Woman’s Weekly. Almost 4 books and 300k words later and it’s still going.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
My strong point is definitely humour. And my weakness is planning. I am also absolutely rubbish at writing (a) graphic violence and (b) sex scenes, which is a bit of a handicap given that I write mostly murder mysteries spiked with humour and sprinkled with romance. (No graphic sex or violence though!
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Murder on High is the fourth in my Much Winchmoor murder mystery series. They’re set in a Somerset village that bears a startling resemblance to the one in which I live! Although as far as I know none of my friends and neighbours have murderous tendencies.
I love writing this series but have got myself in a bit of a quandary trying to work out if my main character, Kat, really is going to leave the village that is stifling her or settle down and marry the gorgeous Will, a local farmer who’s as much a part of Much Winchmoor as the village pond (although, according to Kat, he smells a lot nicer). And the appearance of a softly spoken, good looking Irishman is not helping matters! I really have no idea how it’s all going to turn out.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I don’t think I would dare count them. Although most of them date from when I used to write (and sell) short stories for the womags. After writing literally hundreds of them (over many years) I learned which were going to work and which were not and many of them did not make it past the first draft stage. Maybe I’ll go back and revisit them one day. Who knows?
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter, or let the characters lead you?
Like I said, I’m not that good at the planning thing, which is a bit of a handicap when you’re writing murder mysteries and have to be careful about who is where and why. Only last week, I found I had to rework an entire thread because I’d got one character in two places at the same time. Then there was the problem of another character’s precious blanket, stolen from a washing line on a day that I’d already decided would be one of continuous rain.
The one thing I do have in mind very clearly when I start a new book though is what I call The Three Ms. I know who the Murderer is, his/her Motivation and the murder Method. It works for me!
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
No. Once I am in writing mode, I am in that world and leave the real world behind. That’s what I love about writing. I believe it’s the best therapy in the world, this the ability to create a world you can control when the real world is spinning out of kilter – which it seems to be doing an awful lot of at the moment!
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
I am one of six children and once wrote a short story that was almost true to life. It was very much written as a tribute to my dad and I was so proud of it that when it was published I bought 5 extra copies of the magazine to give to my siblings. Four of them totally ‘got it’ and loved it. The fifth, however, read it, sniffed and commented “Well, that was money for old rope, wasn’t it?”
Guess who ended up in my next murder story, when I needed a victim? Strangled by ‘an old rope’, of course!
How many hours in a day do you write?
I aim to stay at my desk for three hours a day but I am having to force myself to spend some of that time on the marketing side of the business. That’s my resolution for 2021, to get better at social media and marketing. The writing is the easy (and fun) part of the business. The marketing, not so much.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Not now because I’ve been writing for 12 years and have established my name. But I wish when I’d started out I’d used my maiden name which was Gingell. (A) because it’s unusual and (B) because it comes nicely towards the start of the alphabet, unlike Williams which is close to the end.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I take ages finding the right names for my characters. It is more a question of “I don’t know what it is but I’ll know it when I see it.”
I sometimes use the names of places I come across when travelling. For example, there’s a village we pass through on the way to our son’s called North Bradley and I named a character Bradley North. It really suited him. Then I was stuck in traffic once by the junction of two roads, one was Hempitt Lane and the other Mildred Close. My character became Mildred Hempitt. I was very fond of her and was sorry when she came to an untimely end.
One odd thing, though. Two of my favourite names are Kate and Rob and they appear frequently in my stories. But it was only recently that it occurred to me that my parents’ names were Robert and Kathleen. I wonder what Freud would have made of that!
I don’t know everything about my characters but add to them as I go along. One of the hardest things about writing a series is keeping the characters consistent over time. I keep a file for each but don’t update as often as I should. Thank you so much, Paula, for letting me joining you in this lovely tearoom.
Thank you for joining me, Paula. If you would like to find out more about Paula’s writing and books please click on the links below.
Paula’s website and blog is at paulawilliamswriter.com
The links to her books are https://mybook.to/murderservedcold
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.