We have a crime writer coming to Simon’s 10Q Interviews very soon. She is a member of the Crime Writers Association (CWA) and writes under a pen name to keep her criminal antics separate from her day to day job as a columnist and journalist…
She recently interviewed me on her own website and was very kind to me. The question is am I able to reciprocate that kindness, as one knows, I do sometimes have a wicked sense of humour!
We are going to be welcoming Frances di Plino to Simon’s 10Q Interviews very soon. She is the author of the Detective Inspector Paolo Storey crime series comprised of; Bad Moon Rising, Someday Never Comes and Call It Pretending.
Her latest book, Looking for a reason will be released at the end of October 2014, here’s a sneak preview at the cover! Don’t forget to watch out for it…
The name Frances di Plino, and I am sure she won’t mind me eluding to this fact, is the pseudonym of columnist, editor, non-fiction author and writing tutor, Lorraine Mace. She states that writing as Frances di Plino gives her the opportunity to allow the dark side of her personality to surface and take control. I think we’re going to get on very well!
As Lorraine Mace, she is the humour columnist for Writing Magazine and a deputy editor of Words with JAM. She also writes fiction for the women’s magazine market, features and photo-features for monthly glossy magazines and is a writing competition judge for Writers’ Forum.
Lorraine is a former fiction and non-fiction tutor for the Writers Bureau, and is the author of the Writers Bureau course, Marketing Your Book. She is also co-author, with Maureen Vincent-Northam, of The Writer’s ABC Checklist.
SD Q1: Frances, I have to ask… Frances di Plino is a pen name and has a very cool ring to it. Indeed I understand it is the feminine version of your Italian great-grandfather’s name, it’s almost regal. What inspired you to use his name rather than push forward with your established career driven name of Lorraine Mace which sounds, in my humble opinion, a very suitable name for a crime writer?
FDP A1: Good first question, Simon. In addition to the other writing activities where I use my real name, I am a children’s author.
When Bad Moon Rising, the first in my D.I. Paolo Storey crime series, was accepted for publication, I had visions of innocent little bodies taking the novel down from the shelf in a bookshop or library and saying: oh, a new book by Lorraine Mace. Mummy, I like her books.
The poor distraught mother would then have to explain to the traumatised child what that bad man did those bad things and what a prostitute did for a living. It just seemed safer to separate the two genres.
SD Q2: You have said yourself that you have a fairly dark and sinister side to your writing. From where does that originate and whilst you write, teach and judge competitions in other genres for column’s magazines etc, would you, or perhaps do you already write novels in any other genres or is the dark side where the heart is for that discipline?
FDP A2: I lived with a psychopath for nearly seven years. I think I can safely say that coloured my view of life and people. I use memories of those dark years as inspiration for my crime novels. Funnily enough, because of those personal experiences I find it easier to humanise my villains, giving them (in their twisted minds) valid reasons for what they do.
I am writing (and will probably still be writing when the bloke with the scythe turns up) a literary novel (oooh, get her!) based in wartime France and the present day.
SD Q3: I note our previous Simon’s 10 Q Interviewee Catriona King headlines/endorses the fourth book in the D.I. Paolo Storey series (published October 2014) Looking for a Reason. Who are your top three crime writers of all time and what is it about their work that really inspires you?
Crime Writer #1 Harlan Coben
What inspires you? The elements of humour he is able to work into his Bolitar books (Myron and Mickey) without detracting from the seriousness of situations. That’s really hard to do.
Crime Writer #2 Dennis Lehane
What inspires you? Characterisation – he is a master craftsman when it comes to bringing his players to life. He paints such vivid word pictures of people I feel bereft when his books come to an end. Suddenly, these people I have lived with are gone.
Crime Writer #3 Michael Connelly
What inspires you? Reading the Harry Bosch novels in the correct order was how I discovered the trick of giving just enough private life detail to make the reader want to know more, but holding back so that things could be revisited two or three books down the line.
SD Q4: You are a writing competition judge for Writers forum. What makes a book really stand out from the rest when you are judging and would you ever score a poorly constructed grammatical piece over a well punctuated and set out piece due to an exceptionally good storyline, or must the two work in harmony and why?
FDP A4: I judge short stories for Writers Forum, as opposed to books, but the principles are the same. To make a piece of work stand out it needs to have originality. I see so many entries each month on similar themes that I can pretty much tell the ending after the first couple of paragraphs. But sometimes a story arrives on a well-worn theme, but told in such a unique way that the author takes me by surprise. You know the old saw about there only being seven plots in the storytelling world? It’s probably true, but the way those plots are used is what makes one story stand out over all the others.
I would love to say the grammar and punctuation don’t count, but they do because too many errors make the work difficult to read.
SD Q5: Given that you have a very dark side to your writing, you may not be easily scared. So, I am going to ask you to be brutally honest and tell us what is the scariest predicament you could possibly find yourself in, what would make it so and given that I am an evil interviewer, put yourself within that environment and tell me how you will overcome your fears?
Scariest predicament? Living with a psychopath
Why? He was totally unstable and terrified me physically, mentally and emotionally
How will you overcome your fears? After getting away with the help of a friend, undergoing years of therapy and then using the experience in my work.
SD Q6: I would like to offer you the keys to the Simon’s 10 Q Interviews Time Machine, but am fairly conscious that the machine is fairly low on plutonium fuel. So, I am going to have to restrict your trips to those of major unsolved crime scenes. To which three major unsolved crime scenes would you travel to, in what years and where did they take place. What new light do you think you could find out using the same technology of the day in which they took place (and that others have missed), and what would you bring back as a souvenir from your rather dark travels?
Unsolved Crime Scene 1: The disappearance of Madeline McCann
Year and place: 2007 Portugal
New insight? None, but as a mother, I know I would never rest until I knew what had happened.
Souvenir: Madeline – bring her back and keep her safe
Unsolved Crime Scene 2: The murder of Lord Lucan’s nanny
Year and place: 1974 London
New insight? I’d like to conduct tests on the blood and hair found on the lead pipes.
Souvenir: One of the lead pipes
Unsolved Crime Scene 3: The murder of Elizabeth Short (Black Dahlia)
Year and place: 1947 Los Angeles
New insight? Use modern forensic techniques on the letters sent to the police and media
Souvenir: One (or all) of the letters
SD Q7: In 2010 you co-authored The Writer’s ABC Checklist with Maureen Vincent-Northam. Do you consider that book to be timeless and still worth the investment for new writers entering the trade today or, given the overwhelming hunger for e-books, will there be an updated version that will cater to the e-publishing market more specifically. Given your answer and without ruining any prospect for a follow up book, what do you think are a few of the major differences that have taken place within the last four years?
FDP A7: I would say that most of the contents are timeless, in that it is aimed at writers wanting to get into print, but not having a clue how to do so.
To answer the second part of your question, there are so many excellent guides to self-publishing and, in particular, e-book publishing in the marketplace (many of them free), that I wouldn’t be tempted to address that in a revised version of our book.
I think the ease with which writers can now self-publish is both a blessing and a curse. For those who take the time and care to ensure their work is error free and well edited, self-publishing is an absolute boon. They can now build a readership without having to jump through the hoops of a restrictive publishing industry.
However, far too many write a first draft, stick a cover of sorts on it and publish. The result is that self-publishing as a whole has been tarnished.
SD Q8: You have spent a long time travelling across the world. Originating in the UK, you emigrated to South Africa then France, Spain and back to France again. Work and commitments aside, where would you firstly be most comfortable living from across the globe and secondly most uncomfortable and why?
Most favourable place to live? I’m back in Spain again and this is where I intend to stay.
Why? My daughter, her partner and my youngest grandson live in Gibraltar, just half an hour’s drive from where I live. Wonderful climate, good food, comfortable lifestyle and family nearby – what could be better?
Most unfavourable place to live? I lived for a couple of years on the island of Gozo and, although it’s a lovely place, I wouldn’t want to return there to live.
Why? I found it claustrophobic. To leave the island in summer you had to queue for hours to get on the ferry. Leaving the island in winter was too dependent on the weather – if the sea was too rough, the ferry didn’t run. All the expats knew and analysed all the other expats. It was like being in a goldfish bowl with the other goldfish all peering at you.
SD Q9: Other than family members and pets, if we were to send you to stay on a deserted island (with writing materials of course) in order to concentrate on a new crime thriller what are the three items you would miss the most that would remind you of home and why?
Item 1: A rock with a face painted on it and a green frog sitting on top.
Why? The face on the rock was drawn by my son when he was a young boy and the green frog is a good luck item from my big sister.
Item 2: My phone
Why? I get regular video updates on my youngest grandson’s exploits.
Item 3: The hill leading from my home up into the countryside.
Why? I get inspiration while I’m walking – my characters seem to like that route and that’s when I get the best dialogue.
SD Q10: Frances/Lorraine, I would firstly like to thank you for participating in Simon’s 10 Q Interviews and wish you the best of luck with all of your writing for the rest of 2014 and beyond. My final question is that if you were to become the interviewer on Simon’s 10 Q Interviews, who would be your first interviewee and why and finally what would be your opening question to them? Please feel free to have the final word(s) having answered the question and once more thank you for taking part.
First Interviewee: Terry Pratchett
Why? He is my writing hero – wit, humour, insight into the human psyche and damn good stories – the man is a genius.
Opening question: I have read all your books and, if a gun was put to my head and I was forced to choose, Night Watch would be my favourite. Which is yours?
The final word(s): Thank you, Simon, for the great questions. I am now going to lie down in a dark room to recover.
Enjoyed the interview? Why not check out the very spooky teaser at the bottom of the page or visit Frances on Amazon using the following links;
For UK Readers – Frances di Plino Amazon author page
For US Readers – Frances di Plino Amazon author page
Simon Duringer is both a Goodreads Indie author and Independent Interviewer. Simon’s most recent book is The Word: The Best of Simon’s 10Q Interviews, featuring 28 equally interesting and exciting interviews, with some great names in the literary trade from both sides of the fence (Indie and Traditionally Published). It is available on Kindle, Prime (#Free) and Paperback. Links to Simon’s Amazon Author Page are as follows;
UK Link – Simon Duringer Author Page
US Link – Simon Duringer Author Page