Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Frequently Asked Questions

How did you come up with the idea for the Marion Lane series?

To cut a very long story short, I came up with the idea for ML during a severe bout of homesickness. In 2017, I left South Africa and moved to Malta with my boyfriend. When I arrived, the job I’d been counting on was no longer available, and I was left unemployed, unfulfilled and very concerned that I’d just made a rather stupid life decision. One day, after many weeks of pondering what to do with myself, I had the strangest urge to write a book. Specifically, a detective novel. I still don’t know where this overwhelming desire came from but with no other good ideas on the way, I decided to give writing a go. And haven't stopped since. I suppose the moral of the story is: listen to that voice inside your head!

Did you write any other books before Marion Lane?

Marion Lane was my first attempt at novel writing so I was very fortunate that it got published. I do sometimes think this is all just a dream and I might one day wake up. I hope not.

Are any of the characters in the Marion Lane series based on people you know?

No, sorry. All the characters in ML are a composite of people I’ve known and personality traits I’ve observed, rather than based on particular individuals. However, I did name my protagonist after my mom, Marion, just because she’s the best.

How many books are in the series?

Three! The second book, Marion Lane and the Deadly Rose, is coming out in February 2022 and is now available for pre-order. I’m also in the middle of writing the third book in the series, untitled at this point, which will probably be published early 2023.

Is Marion Lane a YA or Adult book?

My publishers are marketing ML as an adult/YA cross-over. I have readers as young as fifteen and as old as seventy. But, if you want my very biased opinion, ML will appeal to you if you have a rather quirky, eclectic taste, no matter your age.

How did you come up with all the gadgets in the book?

The inspiration for most of the gadgets in ML came from my research into real-life devices of espionage used during WWII and the Cold War. I took these historic contraptions and simply added a pinch of magic, an ounce or two of gloss and just a touch of the impossible.

Why did you choose to set Marion Lane in the 1950s?

Mostly because I wanted the technology the detectives of Miss Brickett’s Investigations and Inquiries use to be superior to what existed in the period the story was set. And for the array of gizmos I had in mind, the 1950’s just turned out to be the ideal decade. Secondly, the central plot of the novel is greatly influenced by the aftermath of WWII (which I believe was felt most acutely in the 1950’s), the destitution England suffered through and the industrious ways they brought themselves together again.

What is your advice for unpublished writers?

Read and write as often as you can. I know that sounds simplistic, but I really do believe it’s the best way to learn the craft of writing (and it's the way I did). As far as getting published goes, try to remember that behind all the glorious stories of six-figure deals and instant best-sellers, there is hard work and blinkered determination. If you truly enjoy the act of writing, then just keep going. I can’t promise you that you’ll land a publishing deal but I can promise you’ll feel fulfilled. Nothing you love doing is a waste of time.

Can you read my manuscript or critique my work?

While I’m flattered that you ask, I’m afraid not. As a full-time writer with pressing deadlines, I just don’t have the time to read your work or give you any individual advice. I know that writing a book (especially for the first time) sometimes feels like wandering aimlessly in the dark, lost and a bit afraid, but it shouldn’t have to. There are a number of brilliant resources out there for beginners, as well as workshops and mentorship programmes. And always remember, practice makes the professional.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

I’m a messy and disorganised writer but I’ve come to embrace it. Usually, when I begin a story, I only have a main character, a vague setting and a general theme in mind. I try to plot a basic structure before I start drafting — inciting incident, midpoint and climax — but this ALWAYS changes as I dive into the writing process. I start with chapter one and write in chronological order for as long as I can, skipping scenes or chapters if they don’t come to me naturally, then filling them in at a later stage. For me, this is what makes writing so fun. I never know where the story will take me when I start out, or which characters I’ll meet along the way. I do confess, however, that my unplanned methods make the editing stage a nightmare. But it’s a small price to pay.

I’d love to read your book. Could you send me a free copy?

I do love your enthusiasm, but I’m afraid it’s not possible for me to hand out free copies to every Tom, Dick and Harriet. If you are a blogger or reviewer, please direct your request for a review copy to the appropriate contact below. Also, I run a number of giveaways over on my social media pages, so keep an eye out for those!

U.K. and Europe: [email protected]

South Africa: [email protected]hanball.co.za

U.S.A. and Canada: [email protected]