The Writing Life of: M. W. Craven
M. W. Craven
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author M. W. Craven, who will be sharing with us detail of his writing life, telling us all about his latest book ‘Black Summer‘, which will be released on 20th June 2019 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
M. W. Craven was born in Carlisle but grew up in Newcastle, running away to join the army at the tender age of sixteen. He spent the next ten years travelling the world having fun, leaving in 1995 to complete a degree in social work with specialisms in criminology and substance misuse.
Thirty-one years after leaving Cumbria, he returned to take up a probation officer position in Whitehaven, eventually working his way up to chief officer grade. Sixteen years later he took the plunge, accepted redundancy and became a full-time author. He now has entirely different motivations for trying to get inside the minds of criminals . . .
M. W. Craven is married and lives in Carlisle with his wife, Joanne. When he isn’t out with his springer spaniel, or talking nonsense in the pub, he can usually be found at punk gigs and writing festivals up and down the country.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
I did. I wanted to be an author as it happens. I used to scribble a few stories as a child and even took a correspondence course (no internet when I was a kid . . .) but then life got in the way. I joined the army instead and read prodigiously. It wasn’t until I left and became a probation officer that I started writing again.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
Enid Blyton was my entry into full-length novels I suppose. I then moved onto to Alistair MacLean. Still remember both fondly.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
The moment I read my first book. The moment I thought I could be an author though? – that wasn’t until I was shortlisted for the CWA Debut Dagger in 2013.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I’m a full-time writer so tend to stick to a routine I can manage. I write Monday – Friday and usually start around ten (after the dog is walked and I’m fed and coffee’d up). I keep going until about half one then take an hour for lunch. I then write until the words stop making sense, around 5 or 6 pm.
I have a target of 1000 words but usually smash this. I figure that the first draft of a novel will take me about 70 days (The Puppet Show was just 25 days and The Curator (Poe 3) took me 8 months but these are extreme examples). No special routines other than I have to have music on and I can only work in my office. And I always start the new Poe book on December 1st.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
I have written 4 Poe novels (almost – very close to boxing up Poe 4) and 2 Fluke novels. There’s also a short collection knocking around somewhere. I’m currently re-editing the Fluke novels as Little Brown have just acquired and plan to re-badge and reissue in January next year.
I also have an unpublished novel called A Different Kind of Animal (a thriller set in the States) that’s with my agent although we don’t really know what to do with it yet.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Bit of both. I always start with the crime so I know who did it. I then throw Poe and Tilly at it and tell them to go and solve it. How they get there often surprises me though.
Concerning your latest book:
Washington Poe Book Two
Publisher – Constable
Pages – 400
Release Date – 20th June 2019
ISBN 13 – 978-1472127464
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover, audio
After The Puppet Show, a new storm is coming . . .
Jared Keaton, chef to the stars. Charming. Charismatic. Psychopath . . . He’s currently serving a life sentence for the brutal murder of his daughter, Elizabeth. Her body was never found and Keaton was convicted largely on the testimony of Detective Sergeant Washington Poe.
So when a young woman staggers into a remote police station with irrefutable evidence that she is Elizabeth Keaton, Poe finds himself on the wrong end of an investigation, one that could cost him much more than his career.
Helped by the only person he trusts, the brilliant but socially awkward Tilly Bradshaw, Poe races to answer the only question that matters: how can someone be both dead and alive at the same time?
And then Elizabeth goes missing again – and all paths of investigation lead back to Poe.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
A bit of Black Summer was pre-researched as my wife and I like to cook and we like to eat out. One of the crimes committed in the novel was inspired by an article I read years ago that had stuck with me and I’d always known I’d use it at some point. Can’t say what it is as it’s a spoiler.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
Black Summer probably took 6 months to write. I’m always thinking 2 books ahead though so the germ of the idea started way before I typed the first word. I like working this way as it allows me to seed things for future books. My editor occasionally asks why I’ve put something in, saying it isn’t that relevant. I tell her ‘No, but it will be!’
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
Throughout the book the word ‘black’ kept cropping up. And then the term black summer did (won’t tell you how yet). I decided that would be a great title so added a bit of stormy weather and worked that into the narrative. The end result worked well.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
Detective Sergeant Washington Poe is dark, cynical, ruthless; he lives a monastic existence in a shepherd’s croft on the most desolate moorland in Cumbria. Even his secrets have secrets. He has a past he keeps there and another past he doesn’t yet know about . . .
Tilly Bradshaw is a civilian analyst. Brilliant, adorably awkward, a social hand grenade; she lives at home with her parents and isn’t allowed out on her own. She has three PhDs but doesn’t know how to boil an egg. Meeting Poe will be her first step into the non-academic world. The world might not yet be ready for her . . .
And finally there’s Detective Inspector Stephanie Flynn. Poe used to be her boss, she’s now his. She heads up the National Crime Agency’s Serious Crime Analysis Section – the unit charged with apprehending serial killers and solving apparently motiveless murders. It’s the country’s last line of defence and although Flynn knows managing Poe and Tilly will be like herding cats, she also knows she’s the only one who can do it . . .
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I Sent it to my agent. Pretty simple really. The process I went through to get said agent and get the first book in the Poe series published, that’s a whole different story . . .
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I have the new edits on the Fluke books to do then the line and copy edits on The Curator. I’ll then box off Poe 4 (untitled as of now). I’ll then start working on another Fluke novel. On December 1st though, that’s when I’ll start to write Poe 5, The Botanist.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
As a writer I’ve already spent a great deal of thought on this anyway. I think I’d go for the ability to time travel to a fictional place and I’d go to Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork. Have a few pints in the Mended Drum.
2) Do you have any pets?
I do. I have an English Springer Spaniel called Bracken, my very own Edgar and a large inspiration for Poe’s dog. You can bet that if Edgar has done something gross it’s because Bracken did it earlier in the year . . .
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
‘Wish I’d Thought Of That’
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?
There’s a really cool character in Black Summer called Jefferson Black (told you black kept cropping up). I’d like to play him.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Las Vegas. I’m going there soon to see Iron Maiden. I also like Madeira.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘Bracken, how the f**k did that weirdo get past you?’
I would like to say a big thank you to M. W. Craven for sharing with us details of his writing life and for a wonderful interview.