My next guest is a bit of a dark horse really. She is seriously multi-talented, has penned several crime novels, received glowing reviews for them all and also has found time to become involved in Belfast’s dynamic arts scene.
So, who is my latest guest at Simon’s 10 Q Interviews and what other skeletons does she have that we may dig out of her closet…
She is the founder/director of Belfast’s Studio Theatre Company which performed two plays at the MAC Belfast in April and June 2013, ‘Blithe Spirit’ by Noel Coward in June 2014 and is currently taking part in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s project, RSC Open Stages 2014.
Well… I’m going to let the ‘Cat’ out of the bag here *Groan*, (Yup, that’s almost as bad as a Sir Terry Wogan pun!) Catriona King hails from Belfast where she now once again resides. But, that’s not where her career began…
Catriona was a family doctor, community paediatrician and police Forensic Medical Examiner. She has also earned, amongst her impressive compendium of qualifications and achievements, an MBA. Certainly not somebody I would want to take on at Cluedo as her experience is vast. But if one did want a Saturday night epic against Catriona, I would suggest reading her several crime novels first. It may, just may, give you a chance at saving your blushes, when she announces early on that Mrs Plum strangled the butler in the living room with the curtain tie-backs!
These days she busy’s herself as a Novelist, Commercial Writer and of course managing the Studio Theatre Company in Belfast, but I can well imagine that given her panache, looks and style, that in the past many a patient must have sent out spurious heartbeat and blood pressure signals whilst getting treated for simple cuts and bruises! Perhaps such issues were why she gave up the noble career within medicine for a career with the pen… perhaps we shall find out as she runs the gauntlet of Simon’s 10 Q Interviews.
So, an incredible lady, beauty mixed with intelligence and talent, this makes for an interesting albeit potentially dangerous interview for me… Perhaps, I am the one who needs to remain on guard here! So, it’s time to see how we got on as Catriona King, author, novelist and lover of the arts runs the gauntlet of Simon’s 10 Q Interviews.
SD Q1: Originally a doctor, community paediatrician and police Forensic Medical Examiner. I might add not the first on Simon’s 10 Q Interviews. What made you turn to the pen and do you still practice medicine or has writing and the arts completely taken over your life?
CK A1: I’ve always written, first at school and then as a medical journalist for a while. I’ve only been writing novels since 2012. I don’t write full time as although I’m not practicing as a doctor at the moment, I’m still working in the health field in strategy, policy and board posts.
SD Q2: You’ve now got several Crime Novels published by Crooked Cat, you have also ventured into writing espionage and I understand you feel that there could be a sci-fi book stirring in the grey matter. What prompted you to veer away from the successful crime series of books, how have your readers taken to your approach to espionage and, if a sc-fi book was to make it to paper, what is the likely storyline?
CK A2: I’ve always been interested in science, physics in particular, probably because I come from a scientific family. So there’s an idea that’s been floating around in my head that I’d like to get down on paper, it combines science with adventure which will hopefully make for a fun read. However, I haven’t left crime behind, there are two more Craig novels almost completed and several more in the idea stage. I’ve also got an idea in mind for a second, different crime series and possibly a follow up to The Carbon Trail, my espionage novel. I’ll be busy in the next two years!
SD Q3: Belfast to London to Belfast… Was that always the plan or did the Capital simply not agree with your sensibilities and, on returning to your homeland you set up the Studio Theatre company which has taken part in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s project, RSC Open Stages 2014. What do you have in mind for the future of that company and will we see your novels played out on the stage?
CK A3: I love London and would live in both places if I could. I returned to Belfast for family reasons. I’ve always loved the theatre and directed some semi-professional theatre productions in England so when I returned to Belfast I decided, after getting to know the theatre scene by attending classes etc., to set up my own small company. We’ve produced plays by mainly classical playwrights e.g. Oscar Wilde, Noel Coward and now Shakespeare. I also wrote a modern play which we produced last year. We’ll be putting on Romeo and Juliet next spring then I’ll see where the company goes from there.
SD Q4: You have always had a passion for writing and are able to produce entire novels in as little as three to four weeks. I find writing comes to me in spurts of inspiration when I become unable to stop writing for days and then equally as abruptly it stops, often giving dry spells of weeks/months. Are you a planner and structured writer or do you also write in spats and do you wish you could be one or the other?
CK A4: I do write the first draft of a novel fairly quickly (probably 6-8 weeks) but then editing and redrafting can take as long again. I don’t plan my writing at all, I just start writing with a vague idea of a plot and see where it goes. Sometimes it’s OK first time, other times I rewrite the whole plot when I redraft. Once I start writing a book I have to keep going until I’ve finished it, otherwise it will gnaw away at me.
SD Q5: You decide to head off on an adventure cruise in order to gain some inspiration for your next masterpiece. You find adventure but not of the kind you had hoped; The cruise ship sinks and all those aboard except you perish. You manage to survive by clambering aboard a floating trunk and bob up and down on the ocean waves until becoming beached on a deserted and uninhabited island some days later… The island is full of plant life, fresh water springs and all that you should need to survive. But you have gained cuts and bruises along the way and risk infection, aside from the dehydration that has already began setting in. Using your knowledge of medicine, what would you do to ensure your return to health using just what is available to you on the island and, once back to full health, what are the three things (other than family or pets) that you would begin missing most and why?
First Aid: Kelp from seaweed and Vitamin C from plants for wound healing. Lots of vegetables and fruit generally for overall health. Leaves to make poultices for wounds.
Re-hydration: Spring water, or failing that coconut juice.
Item 1 Missed: Laptop.
Why? Because I write on my laptop and if I couldn’t write it would drive me mad.
Item 2 Missed: The internet.
Why? Because I love keeping up with news, current affairs, friends and family.
Item 3 Missed: High heels.
Why? Because without them I don’t feel dressed!
SD Q6: You have previously worked as a forensic scientist for the Metropolitan Police. One figure springing to mind immediately (and showing my age here!) is Quincy! So, what is the most interesting case that you worked on, what made it so, and assuming their was a villain involved, did the police finally get their man or woman?
CK A6: I wasn’t actually a forensic scientist, I was a doctor who trained as a forensic medical examiner. They are doctors who work with the police to examine victims of crime, prisoners and help gather forensic samples. One of the most mysterious cases was one where the police were called to a house only to find the front door lying open and no-one there. The police searched for the house owner but she was nowhere to be found but there were thousands of pounds lying on the floor!. We were all very worried in case the owner had been kidnapped but they returned a few days later saying they’d just decided to go on holiday for a few days! Leaving the front door open and money lying where anyone could have stolen it! The police never got to the bottom of why they’d been called. The woman who disappeared was perfectly well on her return and had no mental health issues – she was checked out by her doctor.
SD Q7: Through fear of losing one of their best writers, Crooked Cat publishing approach the bosses of Simon’s 10Q Interviews and request that, using the famed Time Machine, we come and rescue you from that desert island! We duly agree and I volunteer for said task. On my arrival, you seem to have faired the storm quite well and climb aboard the Time Machine with me. As a ‘pick me up’ I agree to allow you three quick trips in the machine, but first you must drop me off somewhere, collecting me before returning home having been for a joyride. Firstly where and when would you drop me off and why and then once you have the Time Machine to yourself to what three times and places would you venture and for what purpose?
Where to drop me? A luxury desert island spa with three famous writers of your choice to chat to.
When? The 1950s, before decadence became a bad word.
Why? So that you could relax and chat to interesting people in luxury, without worrying about rushing to work or doing all the boring day to day chores.
SD Comment: You really are growing on me! Lol… Let’s see where you would go whilst I am enjoying my spa!
CK A7 (continued…):
Destination 1: Belfast
Year: All the years from my mother’s birth until I was born.
For what purpose? So that I could get to know her as she was before we all came along. She isn’t here anymore and I miss her so I would love to see her again and I’ve always wondered what she was like when she was young. Plus i would get to see my grandmother again.
Destination 2: Shakespeare’s England.
Year: 16th Century.
For what purpose? To see the first performance of Romeo and Juliet.
Destination 3: The future.
Year: 25th Century.
For what purpose? To see how the world has changed in between. I want to see if all the post-apocalyptic novels are right.
SD Q8: Other than those of your own making, who are your favourite three fictional detectives of all time and what makes them so?
Detective 1: Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie.
Why? I love the clothes and architecture of the period and Poirot’s attention to detail and intelligence in solving crimes
Detective 2: Every detective in the BBC series Ripper Street.
Why? Because of the period it is set in and the language
Detective 3: Jim Taggart from the TV series Taggart.
Why? He was the original hard nosed Glaswegian detective. No nonsense and with a great accent.
SD Q9: What are you currently working on across the many facets of your work? What is the next theatre piece, next book and where, when and why can your fans expect to watch it or buy it and, in terms of theatre, what would make the travel for them worthwhile?
CK A9: I’m getting ready for the release of book eight in the Craig Crime Series, The Careless Word, in November. There’s a sneaky preview of the cover below! We’re starting rehearsals for Romeo and Juliet this week for performance in March 2015. It’s a production with modern clothes, music and cultural references, so it should be fun. Book nine in the Craig Series is in edits and book ten is almost finished, then I’m going to start book one of a new crime series, but I’ll keep on writing Craig as well.
SD Q10: Firstly, now that we are at Question 10, I would like to thank you for taking part in Simon’s 10 Q Interviews. My last question is that if you were to be the interviewer on Simon’s 10 Q Interviews. Who would be top of your hit-list for interviewing and assuming they turn up, what would be your opening question to them? Following your answer, please feel free to have the closing line, anything you feel you would like to share with your existing or potential readers!
CK A10: If I could interview an author I would love to interview Agatha Christie and ask her where all of her ideas came from. She had so many. And in particular what inspired the creation of Poirot and Miss Marple.
My closing line would be to any writer just starting out not to get despondent. Just write, write and keep on writing until things happen for you.
SD Comment: Thank you Catriona for such a pleasant interview… Now if you could just drop me off back at that spa, it would make for a perfect ending!
If you would like to stay one step ahead of the game why not pop along to Catriona’s Amazon author page, having first of course, watched the short teaser video for her recent (but not latest) release The Slowest Cut below.
Here’s the author page link:
Catriona King Author Page