Simon’s Choice. It follows a man as he struggles to come to terms with the impending death of his seven year old daughter. Overwhelmed with grief, when she asks ‘who will live with her in Heaven’, he offers to go with her. We look at the impact this has on the family. Despite the subject matter it isn’t quite as gloomy as it sounds! I’m told it’s rather funny – sad, but funny.
Tell us something about yourself.
I am 29 and a mother of two – or rather, I am now. I started writing this book at 8 months pregnant and took one week off for the birth (at Christmas) and then went back and finished it in two more months. Most of it was done with my son on my lap. As it happens my mother was a succesful novelist in the nineties. She used to write through the night to pay my school fees.
What inspired you to write this book?
It was a throw away comment by a friend. He said “If my daughter was dying, I’d offer to go with her to heaven.” It sent a shiver down my spine and I started writing that afternoon.
How did you publish this book?
I got picked up by a small publisher – I’d posted my book on www.authonomy.co.uk, the Harper Collins online slushpile and they had seen my work and loved it. I was a bit nervous about going with a small press but they have been very professional and I’ve really enjoyed working with them.
How do you do research for your books?
Internet mostly but I’ve just discovered that local historians will spend enormous amounts of time with you for the price of a pint and a good pub lunch. I’m going to be working with a lovely guy in Coventry for my next book.
What are you reading now?
I have to admit that I am re-reading the last Harry Potter book. Whenever I’m feeling a bit low I re-read a HP book. They make me feel cosy and safe! I guess I’m just a big kid. The book before that was ‘White Tiger’ Aravind Adiga. For anyone puzzling over that oft’ used phrase ‘strong voice’ this is the book to use as an example. The character (it’s written in the first person) just leaps off the page.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I love Jodi Picoult and I’m told that Simon’s Choice is very Picoultesque. I suppose we bother tackle family matters with a big ‘what if’ flung in. They say write what you know – as a mother my life has revolved around my family for the past few years and I’m interested in the dynamics and past histories that make families what they are. Psychology interests me.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
My next book is called ‘Management Material’ and is set in Coventry during the late 30’s and through the war. It covers the corruption of a formerly good man as he allows ambition to get the better of him. It also examines grass-roots facism in between the wars Britain.
What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Actually, I have a blog http://charlotte-castle.blogspot.com/ where I dispense advice on selling and PR but the main piece of advice I would give to anyone writing or thinking of beginning to write their first book is SET TARGETS. I write 10,000 words a week. You just have to plough through, otherwise you’ll be one of those writers who have been writing their novel for the last 23 years.