The Writing Life of: Charlie Laidlaw
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Charlie Laidlaw. Charlie will be sharing with us detail of his writing life, telling us all about his latest book ‘The Space Between Time‘, which was released on 20th June 2019 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.
I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.
I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.
Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
I am married with two grown-up children and live in East Lothian.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
Journalist, which I did do for several years.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
It would have to be Paul Gallico. Jennie is still a favourite book.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
I suppose at school, where I wrote my first book. Luckily, I threw it on a bonfire. Thinking about it still makes my toes curl! I wrote my second when I was about 18, and a third a couple of years later. I still have both of those.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I also work from home, so writing gets fitted in around other things. After all, writing is something you do when you’re actually supposed to be doing something else. I’m either feeling guilty about not writing, or feeling guilty about not working.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
Three, my last, The Space Between Time, was published last week. (June 20th)
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I try to be a plotter because I like to know where the story is going. That said, plots often take strange turns and I welcome those diversions! I’ve learned that the hard way: my first book was seat-of-the-pants, and it took me years of writing down dead ends. My advice: always plot, but don’t worry if the book zooms off in unexpected directions.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Accent Press
Pages – 448
Release Date – 20th June 2019
ISBN 13 – 978-1786156945
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
There are more stars in the universe than there are grains of sand on Earth…
Emma Maria Rossini appears to be the luckiest girl in the world. She’s the daughter of a beautiful and loving mother, and her father is one of the most famous film actors of his generation. She’s also the granddaughter of a rather eccentric and obscure Italian astrophysicist.
But as her seemingly charmed life begins to unravel, and Emma experiences love and tragedy, she ultimately finds solace in her once-derided grandfather’s Theorem on the universe.
The Space Between Time is humorous and poignant and offers the metaphor that we are all connected, even to those we have loved and not quite lost.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
The book did take quite a bit of research, but that’s what the internet is for!
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Probably about 10 years, although the writing took no more than a year. The initial idea kept changing, until I had a loose shape to the book that I knew would work.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Again, the title has changed several times. The final title is a reflection of the book’s main theme: that between the people we are, and the people we were, is a gulf of time that we fill with memories – some real, and some false.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
My books are character driven, so I do like the process of getting into their heads. Many times, it’s them who write the books. All I do is listen to what they tell me. The Space Between Time is about a young woman growing up, but who is mentally unstable. It’s about how we remember things, good and bad, and sometimes falsely blame those closest to us for things they haven’t actually done.
My last book, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead, was also about memory – how we are shaped by our memories and how, if we could remember things slightly differently, we would also be changed.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I had an agent for a while, but she couldn’t get my book published. Then a small publisher published my first. Then a larger publisher, Accent Press, published my second and third. They have also acquired the rights to my first which is being republished later this year as Love Potions and Other Calamities.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I’m working on three, which are at various stages of utter non-completion!
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
To be able to write 300,000 fabulous words, which would complete my three unfinished books!
2) Do you have any pets?
Two completely useless cats.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
Not Quite a Failure.
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
Parking warden! (One does fleetingly come into the book, but doesn’t say anything. As I can’t act, that would suit me perfectly).
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
I would like to say a big thank you to Charlie Laidlaw for sharing with us details of his writing life and for a wonderful interview.