Louise Walters – Q&A

Louise Walters

Louise Walters§

Louise Walters studied for a Literature degree with The Open University between 1998 and 2010. She took Creative Writing and Advanced Creative Writing courses during the final two years of the degree, and she says that writing her first novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase, has been one of the most positive experiences of her life.

Louise can be found at:
Website: louisewaltersbooks.co.uk
Twitter: @LouiseWalters12
Instagram: @louisewalterswriter

Tell me what inspired you to write your novel?

It’s my fourth novel and the inspiration came from two things. One was an article in a local newspaper, years ago, which I cut out and kept. It was about a local hermit who used to go into town once a week to shop. Rumour had it that he had been betrayed in love by his own brother. The second inspiration was from even further back. As a teenager I stayed on an estate in Devon, in a holiday cottage. It was called Wiscombe Park and that is the inspiration for Rowan Park in the novel.

What came first the characters or the world?

The world, really. The action takes place on the fictional estate and in the nearby fictional seaside town, also based on a real town: Beer, in Devon. I thought about the characters for a long time… the novel has been on the needles for ten years or so.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

I only ever got my first novel trade published. The other three have been independently published at my indie press, Louise Walters Books. I sent The Hermit to twenty agents. Then I said to myself, enough is enough, and decided to bring it out at my indie press. A book deal would have been great financially. So it was worth a try.

How long did it take to write?

On and off, ten years or so. Mostly off, to be truthful! But it’s been around in my head, and on various laptops, for a decade.

How many publishers turned you down?

No publishers because I couldn’t get an agent! I tried one indie press, who rejected it with lots of encouragement, as did several of the agents.

What can you tell us about your next book?

I have 12k words so far and it’s the first in a planned saga, or series of novels, about the fortunes of a working-class family and their hangers-on, set over about thirty years. That’s the current plan. I have all the characters and the odd thing is I hardly had to think about them. I started writing it earlier this year, and there they were. Mainly inspired by my own families, on my mum’s side and my dad’s. I’ve sort of mashed them up into one big family.

Do you take notice of online reviews?

Yes and no. I don’t take them to heart. Or try not to. Everyone has an opinion and they are entitled to express it. I love the good reviews, of course!

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Yes, I think so. I’d love to have a go at a ghost story.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years! Currently I’m a freelance editor, providing manuscript reports and developmental edits for hoping-to-be-published writers. This is my day job, really.

Which author(s) inspire you?

Lots! I’m really enjoying Kate Atkinson’s work. Joyce Carol Oates is great, perhaps my biggest inspiration. And I love Taylor Jenkins Reid at the moment. Making my way through these writers’ work is a total reading joy.

Which genres do you read yourself?

Mostly literary fiction with a plot. Joyce and Kate do literary-fiction-with-plots really well! Taylor is a little more commercial, but I’m well aware of the work involved in writing good commercial ficiton. In some ways it’s much harder then writing literary fiction. I take my hat off to writers who can pull off good commercial novels.

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

The Hermit

The Hermit

I have been working with the wonderful Jennie Rawlings since I started Louise Walters Books. I usually supply Jennie with a brief from me and the author, with our vague ideas of what the cover might look like… then Jennie does her own thing. Her ideas tend to be much better than mine or the author’s! I am however now turning to a single, generic, cover design for any books I may publish in the future. The Hermit is the first to carry this “brand” cover. I hope it will work out OK. I’ve had to completely re-think my publishing. DIY is the only way forward, realistically. It’s a constant financial struggle to run an indie press.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Yes. I read all the time. It was a source of comfort, and still is. I can’t imagine life without reading.

What were your favourite childhood books?

I wasn’t really into fantasy like Roald Dahl, not much. I loved the Chalet School Books, Ballet Shoes, Anne of Green Gables, Little Women… realist and literary-ish stuff. Penelope Lively was a favourite as a child, and she is now too. Moon Tiger is my favourite novel.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I used to work at the Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, Northamptonshire. It was the inspiration for the bookshop in my debut novel, Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase. So that is my favourite bookshop. I also love Foyles on Charing Cross Road in London. It’s like a book cathedral. Blackwell’s in Oxford is always a great place to visit.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

No, none at all. I write when I can, and love it when I do. But no rituals. I’m quite workaday about my writing.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

Currently around a dozen. Usually is! I try not to overwhelm myself with too big a pile. With my publishing and editing work, reading-for-pleasure time is quite limited. How ironic is that?

What is your current or latest read?

Currently reading Big Sky by Kate Atkinson. I have a little literary crush on her private investigator, Jackson Brodie. Yeah, I know… ridiculous…!

Any plans or projects in the near future you can tell us about?

I would love to complete a first draft of my new novel in 2023. That’s the goal. 12k words down, another 80k or so to go.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

My reading. I love literary, realist stories, with good plots and characters. Always have, always will.


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3:AM Magazine

3:AM Magazine is an online journal of radical literature and philosophy. Featuring literary criticism.’Whatever it is, we’re against it. Since 2000.’

Submissions: All writers should  contact a relevant editor according to the subject fields listed on their contacts page — one query per piece per editor, please! – contact details at https://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/submissions/

Co-Editor-In-Chief: Andrew GallixEditors: Josephine Schreiber (criticism and non-fiction), SJ Fowler (poetry), Sylvia Warren, Isabella Streffen (contributing)

Digital Magazine
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3:AM Magazine

3:AM Magazine


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Caron McKinley – Q&A

Caron McKinley

Caron McKinley

Caron grew up in a mining town on the east coast of Scotland where her dad would return from the pit and fill her life with his tall tales. She never thought about making a career in writing – that was what posh people did, not someone from a working-class council estate.

However, her father’s death was the cause of deep introspection and her emotions gave birth to a short story, Cash, which was published in the Scottish Book Trust’s anthology, Blether. This gave her the confidence to try and believe in herself.

When not blogging, reading, and writing, Caron spends her time with her daughters. She doesn’t enjoy exercise – but loves running around after her grandsons, Lyle and Noah, to whom she is devoted.

Caron had three childhood dreams in life: to become a published author, to become a teacher, and for David Essex to fall in love with her. Two out of three ain’t bad, and she’s delighted with that.

Caron can be found at:
Website: www.caronmckinlay.com
Twitter: @caronmckinlay
Instagram: @caronmckinlay
Facebook: www.facebook.com/mckinlaycaron
TikTok: vm.tiktok.com/ZML8bGo9h/

Tell me what inspired you to write your (debut) novel?

I always wanted to write a story about love. Something that would move people and let them experience a sweep of emotions. But I also wanted to address how women are often affected by the toxic behaviour of men. Most women have had an experience of being adversely affected by a man in their lives at one time or another. Or if not, they know of a family member or friend who has had that happen to them. So I wanted to write a book that would reflect this aspect of society by focusing on interpersonal relationships. I suppose you could say that the inspiration for the book was to see if those two opposing themes, love and toxic relationships, could be drawn together into a book that people would enjoy reading.

What came first the characters or the world?

That is a hard one because as I thought about the characters, I always saw them embedded in their historical and social circumstances. So in a sense, as the characters took form, their worlds grew up around them.

How hard was it to get your first (debut) book published?

Once I started the submission process, it took four weeks to get an agent and then six weeks to find a publisher. That seems a relatively short time to me, given what I have read in the press about publishing and have heard from other authors. But I would not describe it as easy. It took me a long time just to work out how to write a convincing cover letter, for one thing! And most of all it was down to luck.

How long did it take to write?

Nine months. However, there were weeks and weeks when I didn’t write a word. I can’t force myself to write, I have to wait until the words come to me.

Do you have a writing playlist? If so do you want to share it?

No, but a lot of ‘The Storytellers’ was written with Married at First Sight on the telly in the background!

What kind of reactions have you had to your book?

People have been tremendously supportive which is both gratifying and very humbling. To date, I have had 54 reviews on Goodreads, with 48 five-star reviews and a further six four-star reviews. I am really so grateful to everyone who took the time to provide ratings and comments. And it means the world to me that it’s connecting with early readers.

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

So many people have been so kind, and have said so many lovely things, from ‘mind-blowing’ to ‘magical’ to ‘beautiful’ to ‘fascinating’, it is very hard to select one reaction. I guess one of my favourite quotes is ‘every woman should read this book’. But if I had to choose just one reaction as my favourite, it would be my daughter telling me she read the book in a single day and cried throughout! She is not a reader.

What can you tell us about your next book?

Not really as I am torn between two different ideas, and I am not sure which one to go with. Everything they say about book two is true – It’s a nightmare!

Do you take notice of online reviews?

I suspect most authors do, even if they say they don’t! It is a nerve-wracking thing to spend so much time writing a book and then sending your baby out into the world. Of course, you want people to love it the way you do. But the only way to find that out is to look at what they say about it. Until now, I have been very lucky. So far, so good.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Several people have described ‘The Storytellers’ as ‘genre-busting’. I am hoping that was meant as a compliment! I love fiction with a speculative element so I am happy writing that at the moment.

What did you do before (or still do) you became a writer?

I was a secondary school teacher and eventually became a headteacher before I took early retirement.

Which author(s) inspire you?

The Storytellers

The Storytellers

I spend a lot of my time reading. I am an insomniac, and often stay up into the wee, small hours with a book in hand. I suppose two of the books that recently influenced me were Schwab’s 2020 ‘The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue’ and Niffenegger’s 2003 ‘The Time Traveller’s Wife’. But, being honest, I suspect every book I have ever read and enjoyed has had some sort of effect on me and what I write. So if I were to mention a third, it could be Brontë’s 1847 ‘Wuthering Heights’. I suspect some other authors and books from that near-two-hundred-year span crept up on me without me noticing!

Which genres do you read yourself?

I read most genres except spy thrillers, sci-fi and hard fantasy. My favourites are speculative fiction, psychological thrillers, women’s fiction and the odd romance.

What is your biggest motivator?

When I retired, I found I had time on my hands. I tried several different things like joining a gym and taking up walking. But none of them really stuck. But I knew I wanted to do something. When I wrote my first short story, about my father’s death, and it was published by the Scottish Book Trust, I decided I might actually be good enough to write a book. My father was an inveterate storyteller and I think I inherited that from him. So I realised I finally had an opportunity to share my stories with others. And that has remained my motivation – wanting to write a story that someone else will listen to and enjoy and, hopefully, make an emotional connection with.

What will always distract you?

My grandsons! And my daughters.

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

I have heard from other authors that they had little input into their book covers. But I was fortunate that Bloodhound Books allowed me to have a substantial say in what the cover would look like. We went through two or three iterations before we finally landed on the present cover.

Were you a big reader as a child?

Yes. Since childhood, I have always found a great sense of peace when I slip into a book’s imaginary world. I am a bit of an insomniac, so always have lots of time to read at the end of each day, and I have been like that since I was young.

What were your favourite childhood books?

The Famous Five and any kind of ghost story.

Do you have a favourite bookshop? If so, which?

I would have to say The Portobello Bookshop in Edinburgh.

What books can you not resist buying?

Anything in women’s or psychological fiction, especially if it has a speculative edge and a hint of time travel. I love Keith A Pearson’s books and always buy his.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

Only one. Making sure I always have a full can of real Coke to hand before I start and a bar of chocolate.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

Maybe three. I tend to read what I buy fairly quickly.

What is your current or latest read?

‘Wrong Place Wrong Time’ by Gillian McCallister. It was just genius and ‘Breakneck Point’ by T Orr Munro which is the start of a new series.

Any books that you’re looking forward to in the next 12 months?

I cannot wait to read ‘The Bonesetter Woman’ by Frances Quinn.

and finally, what inspired you to write the genre you do?

All the books I mentioned before at the beginning. I love when something is set in the real world but has just an edge of magic.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.

Kate and Liz Corr – Q&A

Daughter of Darkness

Daughter of Darkness

About DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS, an original fantasy inspired by ancient Greek myth:

Welcome to a Greece where the great bronze age cities, never fell. Where the heroes disappeared, but the ancient gods never retreated. Where magic manipulates nature, and the greatest crime of all is failing to believe in the divinity of the gods…

Deina is trapped. Bound to the House of Hades as a Soul Severer, she’s responsible for shepherding souls through death to their rightful place in the Underworld. So when the tyrant Orpheus offers fortune and freedom to whichever Severer can bring his wrife, Eurydice, back from the dead, Deina jumps at the chance.

But to succeed she must enter into an uneasy alliance with a band of fellow Severers: a fighter, a scholar, a singer and a thief. Together they will journey into the deadly realm of Hades.

Deina’s freedom is within reach – but what will it take to claim it?

The Underworld awaits…

You can find the Corr sisters at:
Website: Corrsisters.com
Twitter: @katharinecorr / @lizcorr_writes
Instagram: @katharinecorrwrites / @lizcorrwrites

Tell me what inspired you to write your novel?

Liz and I had talked about writing characters who could travel back and forth between life and after-life, and we both love Greek mythology, which is full of characters who journey to the Underworld. Orpheus is the most famous of those characters, so we decided to take that myth as our initial jumping off point for the book that became Daughter Of Darkness. We were also intrigued by two questions: what if the Bronze Age kingdoms that inspired the Iliad hadn’t disappeared, and what if Eurydice didn’t want to come back from the dead?

What came first, the characters or the world?

Deina, our main character, came first. We wanted to write about a thief, someone who was more of an underdog and more morally grey than the protagonists in our previous novels. The scene of her planning a theft in the hot, dusty streets of an ancient city was the first thing we wrote for Daughter Of Darkness.

How long did it take to write?

Longer than we expected! For a start, we were writing during the second and third phases of lockdown. We found the lockdown in the first few months of 2021 really difficult; it was hard to be creative. Liz had to home school her children too. We also realised, about 30 thousand words in, that the voice wasn’t working, so we had to go back to the beginning and re-write it…. Tedious, but definitely worth it.

Do you have a writing playlist?

Liz does – she especially loves listening to Two Steps From Hell. I’d love to have a writing playlist but I can only work in complete silence unfortunately!

What’s the favourite reaction you’ve had to your book?

We’ve already had lots of lovely reviews, and we appreciate every single one. It’s such a boost when someone reads your work and loves it AND takes the time to post about it. But, if I had to pick one review, it would be that from @gaz_the_reader. Gary has been a huge supporter of our writing ever since our first book came out in the summer of 2016, so it was lovely that he read Daughter Of Darkness and then felt moved to post on Instagram ‘The Queens of fantasy have done it again.’

What can you tell us about your next book?

Our next book is the second half of the House of Shadows duology. Queen Of Gods will be out next August (fingers crossed); expect more gods, more mythological beings and more death!

Do you take notice of online reviews?

I don’t look at reviews at all. One negative review will make me feel terrible for days, even if it’s offset by 100 positive reviews. Plus, opinions on any kind of art are subjective; no book is for everyone. I think review sites are for readers, not authors.

Would you ever consider writing outside your current genre?

Definitely! Liz and I both have lots of things we want to write, both together and separately, across various genres.

Which author(s) inspire you?

Neil Gaiman, Margaret Atwood, Ursula Le Guin. Liz and I both really loved Terry Pratchett too, and we both re-read the Discworld books regularly.

Which genres do you read yourself?

All sorts! As well as YA fantasy, I read adult fantasy and science fiction, crime and detective novels, humour, historical fiction, short stories, romance and classics.

What is your biggest motivator?

Connecting with readers who enjoy our books. We had a lovely signing queue at YALC recently, and it was so much fun to chat with everyone.

What will always distract you?

Social media. I have to be really strict with myself or I can waste far too much time on it. Research can be a distraction too, even though it’s necessary. I tend to disappear down rabbit holes and emerge hours later having discovered lots of interesting stuff, but not necessarily the answer to the question I went in with!

How much (if any) say do you have in your book covers?

The Corr Sisters

The Corr Sisters

We’ve always been sent cover ideas for approval, both by Harper Collins (our first publisher) and Hot Key Books. However, we really struck lucky with the cover for Daughter Of Darkness. We told the team at Hot Key how much we loved Micaela Alcaino’s designs, and they got her on board for the project. The result is just stunning. Micaela won Designer of the Year at this year’s British Book Awards and no surprise!

Were you a big reader as a child?

Yes, Liz and I both read a lot. We were lucky that both we and our Nana (we spent a lot of our time with her) lived within easy reach of a library.

What were your favourite childhood books?

As smaller kids we both loved the Narnia books and The Dark Is Rising sequence by Susan Cooper (we both still re-read the second, eponymous book every winter). I had a soft spot for Charlotte’s Web too. As I got older, I fell in love with Austen and Tolkien (queue failed attempt to learn Elvish) and Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast Trilogy. Liz became a fan of Arthur C Clarke.

What books can you not resist buying?

Any new translations or fancy editions of Beowulf. Currently the Seamus Heaney translation is my favourite.

Do you have any rituals when writing?

Tea. Lots and lots of tea. I know I’ve had a good writing day if my desk is crowded with cups, all of which are about three-quarters empty.

How many books are in your own physical TBR pile?

I’ve no idea. I tend to hide new books around the house so all the other books I’ve not yet read can’t see what’s going on and get jealous…

What is your current or latest read?

I’ve recently read and loved Mina & The Slayers (Amy McCaw), Big Little Lies (Liane Moriarty) and The Murder Of Mr Wickham (Claudia Gray). I’m currently reading Tag, You’re Dead by Kathryn Foxfield.

Any events in the near future?

Yes, we will be at the No Limits Festival at Normanby Hall Country Park in September.

What inspired you to write the genre you do?

I’m never going to travel to a magical world in real life, so writing magical worlds is a way to visit my dreams. Plus, in the real world, I hate the fact that good often goes unrewarded and evil often triumphs. It’s satisfying to create worlds where the good guys (mostly, eventually) get to win.


If you want to help and support this blog you could become a Patreon which would help pay for my hosting, domain names, streaming services, and the occasional bag of popcorn to eat while watching films.

If you can’t support with a monthly subscription a tip at my Ko-Fi is always appreciated, as is buying things from my Ko-Fi Shop.

You can always email me on contact@bigbeardedbookseller.com with any suggestions.