I'm always pleased to welcome back author friends who have previously been a guest on my blog. Today, it's the turn of Deirdre Palmer whose new novel, Moonshine, was published this week by Crooked Cat. I thought it would be a good time to find out a little more about Deirdre and her writing life so I took the opportunity to ask her a few questions.
Can you tell my readers something about your new novel, Moonshine?
There are four main characters: young marrieds Terry and Carol-Anne; Terry’s mate, Mark, and Mark’s girlfriend Vicki, all from Deptford, South London. Also, there’s Donna, Terry and Carol-Anne’s two-year-old daughter. Carol-Anne’s teenage sister, Beverly, plays a big part in the story and she’s mostly seen through the other characters.
It’s the summer of 1969 and the group go to Paignton for a caravan holiday. The Apollo 11 space mission is in progress, and the whole camp stays up all night to watch the moon-walk on TV, but in the middle of the party, Beverly goes missing, and creates a drama of her own when she makes a serious accusation. Chaos ensues when the others are forced to take sides, nobody knowing who is telling the truth.It’s mostly left to Carol-Anne to sort out the resulting mess, but when they return to London, each of them has other problems to face.
It’s a fast-paced read, with a lot of humour and bit of romance, too. The caravan park, by the way, is based on one I stayed at with a friend around that time. It was all quite primitive then, and I had a lot of fun with that! The clubhouse came from another holiday camp somewhere else, though.
Was it easier or harder to write a sequel and did you always know there would be a second book after Dirty Weekend?
Easier, because I knew the characters so well already – three of the four main characters from Dirty Weekend return in Moonshine. I thought it might be hard to get the balance right between writing a book which would stand alone but have some continuity too, but once I started writing I didn’t have any problems. Again, I think that’s because I knew the characters inside out, and although they threw me a few surprises, I knew basically what their lives had been like in the ‘missing’ three years. After I’d written the next book, Never Coming Back, I wanted a real change from that, and that’s when I decided on the sequel to Dirty Weekend.
How long did Moonshine take you to write?
I can’t remember now, but probably around six to eight months. I only write for a few hours a day. Some days I don’t write at all.
What was the hardest scene to write?
It was a minor scene, with Carol-Anne and Vicki in a coffee bar. Dialogue is my favourite thing to write but this came at a point in the plot when I needed to show a wariness between the two girls and it just wouldn’t flow. I did my best with it, then my editor picked up on it – the only scene she asked me to look at again, luckily – and finally I got it right.
Do you think it’s important to have a ‘brand’?
Interesting question. Branding is something that’s being talked about a lot at the moment and I do struggle a bit with the concept. If it means getting yourself recognised as an author who writes books on certain themes, in a certain style, which I think it does, it’s a whole lot easier if your books all fit into the same tight genre; romantic comedy, for example. Then you can have matching covers, and carry the design through to your website and all the rest of it. It’s when you start crossing the boundaries and experimenting with different styles, which I am, it’s much harder to say that you’re this or that kind of writer. So, to answer the question, it probably is important to build a brand in that it helps to sell the books, but achieving it isn’t always that straightforward.
Do you believe in writers’ block?
No. I think if you’re truly stuck for any length of time, something’s wrong with the piece you’re trying to write and it needs a re-think, or it shouldn’t be there at all.
Does your family support your career as a writer?
Yes, they’re very proud of what I’m doing, and my sons plug the books on Instagram and Facebook. Secretly though, they’re all wondering when I’m going to write that massive best-seller!
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start now, don’t wait as long as I did. Find the time somehow.
What is the first book that made you cry?
What next for Deirdre Palmer?
I’m writing some more short stories as I’ve had some success with The People’s Friend, and I may also try a pocket novel. There will be another full-length book at some point but what type of book that will be, I’ve yet to discover!
Wendy, thanks very much for inviting me onto your blog. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions.
Amazon page link