GERALDINE EVANS AUTHOR INTERVIEW
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Geraldine Evans, and I’m a British writer. I’ve been published traditionally, off and on, since 1991 (Hale, Macmillan, Severn House, St Martin’s Press and Worldwide (US), which means I’m an author of a certain vintage!
My main detective is DI Joe Rafferty, who comes from a family who think – if they must have a copper in their midst – he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. So there’s a fair bit of humour in them given Rafferty’s recent promotion, his sidekick, a moralistic Welshman, who thinks the law should apply to everyone—including the mothers of detective inspectors. Then there’s the rest of his family, who mostly don’t see eye-to-eye with him regarding the letter of the law. All complicated by murder.
Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?
When I was young, I thought people like me didn’t become writers – working-class, council house raised, blah, blah – so it wasn’t till I’d got this thinking out of my system, around my mid-twenties, that I made my first tentative attempts to be a writer. I say tentative, because I never actually finished anything. It took hitting the milestone age of thirty to achieve that—and then I went for broke. I wrote a novel each year for six years (fitted around the day job). The final one of the six was accepted by Hale in 1991. That was a romance.
But then they rejected my follow-up. I don’t know how you’d have felt, but I was all for murdering someone! So I did. I created Dead Before Morning, #1 in my almost eighteen-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn Mystery Series. It was accepted in 1993, on only its second slush pile outing, by Macmillan.
What are you currently working on?
Number 18 of my Rafferty series, which has been a bit of a stop/start effort, as I’ve had to keep putting it aside for marketing and all the work that involves. Then, I really must do what I promised one of my readers, and get on and write #3 in my Casey & Catt Mystery series. I’ve rather let this one languish on the vine, and I shouldn’t. I would also like to write a second biographical historical novel. My first, Reluctant Queen, was about the infamous Henry VIII’s little sister, Mary Rose. It’s taken me a while to find somebody who isn’t written about by everyone.
Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
Of the mystery novels, I’ve several favourites: Dying For You #6 Rafferty—where my DI becomes chief suspect in his own murder inquiry. Death Line #4 Rafferty, wherein there was a nifty bit of footwork on my part—especially as I’ve only a tentative grasp of arithmetic. And Blood on the Bones #9 Rafferty, when my hero is unwillingly reacquainted with Catholicism.
My bio historical, Reluctant Queen. I love the Tudor period, but so many of the characters from that era have been done to death (literally, in plenty of cases). So I knew, when I learned a little more about Mary Rose, I was sure I had the Tudor that fitted my bill—not done to death, and a sufficiently interesting life to encourage the masses of research required.
What books have most influenced you as a writer?
On the mystery side, it would have to be Cynthia Harrod Eagles, Reginald Hill, and Ruth Dudley-Edwards. Harrod Eagles is a fabulously witty writer, and her Atherton is the perfect foil for her main character, Bill Sider. Reginald Hill is also a very witty writer, and in his Andy Dalziel has created a nigh-on perfect character. And Ruth Dudley-Edwards with her Baroness Troutbeck character, has created a divine flouter of rules. I do like a good flout! It’s why I wrote both my mystery series.
Sharon Penman is my all-time-favourite as an author of historicals: the history, the characters, the dialogue—all brilliant. Jean Plaidy was the writer who introduced me to history, and from whom I learned my love of both historical fiction and non-fiction. She was a prolific writer, covered everyone who was anyone, so I’d like to pay a tribute to her, too.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?
The most challenging is everything but the writing! The emails. Oh the emails. If I have to leave them for a day I’m swamped with 200-300 of the blessed things, and it takes me a several days (and then some) to plough through them. Meanwhile, the new mail is piling up.
The marketing, which is another relentless time grab. Sometimes, I don’t know how I manage to do any writing at all. You’ll laugh (or perhaps not if you’re a Rafferty fan, eagerly awaiting my next opus), but I’ve been trying to write #18 Rafferty since January, and I haven’t even got a tricky plot hole as an excuse. How other authors write a book every month, I can’t imagine. I like to write amusing dialogue, and you need to hit on just the right combination of words, and they’ve got to be the perfect words, in the perfect order, no stand-ins will do. The trouble is, it can take days, sometimes, before you can get hold of those words which slide away the second you reach for them. Definitely on the challenging side of the equation.
The most rewarding is obviously the writing—when I can get at it. I’ve mostly been a seat-of-pants writer, though nowadays I generally write a brief plot plan, if only to lessen the snags, pitfalls and rewriting. That said, there’s nothing so satisfying as writing yourself out of a plot hole as a pantser. I go around with a grin for days. Or if I hit upon a nifty bit of dialogue by-play and manage to seize hold of it immediately.
What book is on your nightstand?
I’m currently reading The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman (for about the fourth time—love that book). It’s about the Plantagenet’s, Edward IV and Richard III, all their friends and enemies (sometimes one and the same), and the Wars of the Roses.
On the mystery side, I’ve so many awaiting my attention that I hardly know where to start. But I will. Janet Evanovich’s latest. Love her Stephanie Plum. Then there’s Harrod-Eagles. I mostly read on my Kindle now, or my Fire, and I have an in-built resistance to paying over the odds for digital books. But I invariably give in on my favourites.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
The #18 Rafferty that I mentioned earlier (other things being equal). The second historical (ditto), and the #3 Casey & Catt (I do hate to be repetitive, but ditto again).
Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers?
One thing that I’d like to make clear–I started to write my Rafferty & Llewellyn series in 1991/2, after I received an unexpected rejection from Hale, and it was published by Macmillan in 1993. So when Lewis, the off-shoot from Morse, began, my series was already in its second decade and more. So when readers/reviewers compare the two, they should say that the Lewis series reminds them of my Rafferty, not the other way round. It might sound picky, but us writers are sensitive souls. Each time I get a comment like that in the reviews it’s like a dart to my heart. I feel like writing a comment to that effect beneath the review. So far I’ve resisted the temptation, but oh, my poor, holey heart.
That said, I love my readers. Even with the dart-to-heart remarks, they mostly say lovely things, and help me resist the urge mentioned above.
I know how difficult it is to compose reviews—I’ve written a few myself, so am familiar with the angst involved. I think it’s awesome when they take the trouble. Why would they bother? Why not just move on to the next book? I don’t know—but it’s serious Wow! factor time when they do. So—thank you. It’s very humbling and, at the same time, very elevating. I’m floating on air when another reader says they love my characters. Because I do, too.
Geraldine Evans is a multi-published mystery author who has had eighteen novels traditionally published. Her publishers include Macmillan and St Martin's Press. But in 2010, she made the momentous decision to turn indie. Since then, she has published all of her backlist in digital format, including her Rafferty & Llewellyn and Casey & Catt detective series, as well as creating new, original to kindle works. Geraldine also writes biographical historical novels.
Although originally a Londoner, she now lives in an old market town in Norfolk, England, where she moved with George, her late husband, in 2000.