An interview with Geraldine Evans; an extremely prolific writer of crime novels
Jack: You write about detective teams, a pair of which are Celtic. What gave you the idea?
Geraldine: I suppose I’d read too many books about detectives who were very serious, very middle-class and very English. I’m none of these things, albeit I was born in London. I decided I wanted to write a detective novel that was amusing. One about a policeman who was an ordinary Joe. A working-class guy, one of those who make up the backbone of the British police service. I also decided, given the working-classes’ propensity for a little ducking and diving, that my policeman would come from a family who gave him grief on a regular basis. The Rafferty family are not good at sticking to the letter of the law, which gives my DI, Joe Rafferty, a number of problems. Problems not helped by being partnered by the intellectual moralist Sergeant Dafyd Llewellyn. Llewellyn thinks the law should apply to everyone; even the mothers of detective inspectors..
Jack: What is the name of your latest book? And how did you come up with the title?
Geraldine: My latest hardback book is Deadly Reunion. And the title was easy. It’s about a school reunion that turns deadly. I’ve never had such an easy title. It came to me pretty well immediately.
On the indie ebook front, my latest books are Absolute Poison and the soon to be published Kith and Kill (also to be published as a Trade Paper Back) Absolute Poison was so named because it’s about the murder of a man who was Absolute Poison. And Kith and Kill is a play on words of kith and kin. This book is centred around the murder of a family matriarch and all her ever loving family are suspects.
Jack: What is Deadly Reunion about?
Geraldine: It’s about the murder by poisoning of a man who attends a school reunion. A man who is, perhaps, reaping what he has sown in the past. Here’s the blurb:
Four weeks back from his honeymoon, and DI Joseph Rafferty not only has a new case. He also has four new lodgers. As far as the former is concerned, a dead man had been found in Deadman Wood and, at first, it is assumed that he had just died from a heart attack after a too-energetic bout of jogging. But the toxicology report gave the lie to that.
The second little difficulty, of course, was down to Ma Rafferty, who had decided to hold her own reunion, a family one. And since she had become a silver surfer the guest list had exploded and, as far as guests are concerned, Rafferty had drawn the short straw.
Drawn the short straw in his murder investigation, too. Because the dead man had been a guest at a school reunion. And a number of the other guests were gradually shown to have reasons to want the victim dead. In fact, if it wasn’t for one of his unwanted lodgers, Rafferty would have despaired of ever solving the case at all.
Jack: What books have influenced your life most?
Geraldine: The bible, definitely. With its morality. I try to live my life on a ’do as you would be done unto’ principle. I would say also that Shakespeare has influenced my life. Though I have only actually read a few of the plays, his words permeate our language. Sometimes, it seems we can hardly utter half a dozen sentences without Shakespeare creeping in. And if it’s not Shakespeare, it’s the bible.
Jack: How many books do you have out there now?
Geraldine: It will shortly be nineteen. The first eighteen were all traditionally published, but for the nineteenth, Kith and Kill, my latest Rafferty & Llewellyn mystery, I’m publishing it myself and it will be out as an ebook and paperback sometime in September 2011.The reason I’m publishing it myself is that my print publisher declined to publish when I refused to hand over the e-rights to all my backlist…I thought I could do a better job – at a better price for the reader –than my publisher could. And to judge from the price at which my publisher has e-published Deadly Reunion, I’m right. It’s double the price of my other ebooks.
Jack: What do you consider to be the greatest way to market your books?
Geraldine: I’ve tried various things, doing a blog tour, taking out ads on Kindle Nation Daily and doing a Banner Ad on Kindleboards. I found the latter two didn’t increase sales, though I found all the hard work during my blog tour definitely paid off. My sales (at the very beginning of my ebook adventure) went from 53 a month in January to 215 in February and 316 in March and they’ve been on the rise ever since. I really must think about organising another blog tour as I think the figures speak for themselves.
Jack: Do you believe in having an agent?
Geraldine: Yes, though my agent and I parted company shortly after I started putting out my backlist as ebooks. This was after my publisher declined my latest book. I think she saw no role for herself with me taking the ebook route. But I shall always be grateful to her as she got me published again after I had been in the publishing wilderness for six years after the publication of my first five books when I was dropped by Macmillan. I was really starting to despair and she made all the difference. If it hadn’t been for my agent, I wouldn’t be the proud owner of nineteen published books. I would definitely recommend having an agent. If, like me, you’re in the publishing doldrums, they can shake things up and get you published.
Jack: Have you ever had to deal with rejection? If so, how did you handle it?
Geraldine: Like nearly every writer, I’d been rejected countless times. When I was starting out I wrote a book a year for six years, only the last of which was published. I think, unless you self-publish, you have to be prepared for any number of rejections, often in a standard format that has you questioning whether they’ve even glanced at your book, never mind read it. Believe me, they won’t have read it. How do I handle rejection? I don’t have to handle it any more as I’m self-published. But when I did get rejected, I used to have a little cry. Then I’d grit my teeth and send the bloody book out again for another half dozen times, after which I’d read it through again to see if I couldn’t somehow improve it.
Jack: If you had to choose which author, would you consider a mentor?
Geraldine: Stephen King, I think. But most American authors are in the mentoring major league as they seem to regard their writing and everything connected with it in a thoroughly professional manner. They seem to be born understanding about marketing. I belong to several lists whose membership is predominantly American and I’ve learned so much. But for them, I doubt I would have embarked on e-publishing my backlist.
Jack: What are your current projects?
Geraldine: I’m still in the middle of getting my backlist up on Kindle and Smashwords. I’ve got about another eight to do and then I might just take a holiday before starting a new book. I’ve got a rough (very) idea for another Rafferty novel, but there’s not enough there yet to tell you about it.
Jack: Are you staying with crime fiction or would you like to try other genres?
Geraldine: I’m staying with crime fiction for now. It’s been good to me, and although I have tried other genres (romance and historical), my most financially rewarding novels are my Rafferty books. I’ll have to wait until I get my second mystery series (Casey & Catt) up on Kindle before I see if it does as well. I’d love to write another historical, but as I’m not known for these, the sales aren’t great.
Jack: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Geraldine: The fact that Sergeant Llewellyn is an educated man (I left school at sixteen). Sometimes I have a struggle to make sure the words I put in his mouth are as grammatical as they should be! He corrects Rafferty’s grammar and is given to little educational lectures. I live in fear that I’ll put my foot in it in a big way.
Jack: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Geraldine: Maybe it’s time to give up the struggle with the slush pile, get your book privately edited and put it up on Kindle. If you think it’s good enough. But have it professionally e-formatted.
Jack: Do you have any writing quirks and if so what are they?
Geraldine: I used to have the quirk that I would write in scenes – not necessarily in chronological order – which had then to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle. But I managed to cure myself of it and I don’t write out of order so much now.
Jack: Why should readers want to read your work? What makes it stand out from the rest?
Geraldine: I think they’d find my novels both a fun read and a device for tackling serious issues. I think the families of my principal detectives make my books stand out from other mystery novels. In my Rafferty novels, between Ma and Father Kelly and Nigel Blythe (aka Jerry Kelly), there’s plenty more to entertain the reader than just the actual mystery.
Jack: Do you read other authors writing in your genre to keep up with the latest trends?
Geraldine: I do read other authors writing in my genre, but not particularly in order to keep up with the latest trends. I’ve always gone my own road rather than followed the herd. I read for either entertainment or education. Sometimes I’m lucky and I find both in the same book.
Jack: Well Geraldine that was both rewarding and enjoyable, I hope the readers find it so and you garner even more fans for your writing. Thank you for your time.
Geraldine may be contacted at www.geraldineevans.com and at geraldineevanscom.blogspot.com