Today I’m sitting down having a virtual chat with my Indies Unlimited buddy, Carol Wyer, which is a little more difficult because she lives “across the pond,” but we’re managing. I’ve just finished her book, Just Add Spice, which I enjoyed immensely.
Just Add Spice is about Dawn, a mature woman who finds herself butting heads with her unwillingly retired and very grumpy husband. She escapes into her writing and, most specifically, into the antics of her main character, Cinnamon. You know I have to ask: how autobiographical is the book?
Sadly, I am no Cinnamon but I am like Dawn in as much as I have a very grumpy, retired husband and a head filled with characters who talk to me and who are worryingly real. Every time I write a book, I attempt to create the most lifelike characters possible, which often means I try to live and think like they would.
That was all fine and dandy in the early days when I was writing about Amanda Wilson in my first novels. She is a 50 year-old bored housewife who enjoys blogging and drinking wine, but with this book I found I was behaving more wickedly. I spent ages trying to fathom out how to murder my husband and I think I began to worry him. He became extremely anxious when I collared a doctor at a drinks party and asked her if it would be viable to kill someone by putting ground up glass in their food. He’s been much better behaved since Just Add Spice.
I’ll be he’s watching his Ps and Qs now!
Cinnamon is like a modern-day Wonder Woman, righting wrongs and delivering paybacks to cheating lounge lizards. Where did the inspiration for her come from?
I was sitting in McDonald’s plotting a murder/mystery novel with a humorous twist. I was staring at my grumpy husband who was glowering at an email on his iPad, and pondering if it would be viable to murder him by slipping some poison into his Happy Meal, when she popped up in my head. She was a cross between Lara Croft and Wonder Woman.
A couple were opposite in one of the more private booths, kissing passionately. I didn't pay too much attention but after a while, and a lot of kissing and fondling, the woman left. Within a few minutes, the man’s mobile rang. He was one of those people who spoke quite loudly so it wasn't difficult to overhear his conversation which went something like “Hi Hun! Yes, I’m still at the office. I’m just about to pack up. Don’t worry. I've got the bicycle in the back of the car. Is he enjoying his party? I’ll be back for the birthday cake. Love you, Hun. Give the little guy a hug and tell him I have a big surprise for him.” I can’t repeat what Cinnamon suggested she’d like to do to him but some of the ideas are in the book.
I’ll bet we've all run into that sort, and probably would cheer Cinnamon on for her “corrective action.”
Did Cinnamon surprise you as you were writing the book? Did Dawn?
Cinnamon was always a wild card so I wasn't surprised by what she got up to. Dawn surprised me more. I hadn't intended for her to become so confident but as the book developed she transformed and I had to change the ending twice until I felt it fitted.
I've had a similar experience when the ending I thought I wanted was not the ending that the story demanded. Everything, after all, must serve the story, but sometimes it’s hard to give up an idea.
Anything else can you want to tell us about the book?
Watch out for the infamous lollipop scene. I actually witnessed something very like this a few years ago at a party when a stripper was hired for a friend to celebrate his birthday. I still cringe at the thought.
What other books or blogs have you written?
Writing has become an all-consuming passion. I’ll skip over all the books I wrote for children, with titles like Humphrey and the Dustbin Cats, before I became deadly serious about writing. My first adult novel was called Mini Skirts and Laughter Lines. It is about a woman who is facing 50. She begins a blog as way of letting off steam and then has a hot and lusty relationship on Facebook with an ex-lover. It is full of humour and twists. It got a lot of media attention and won several awards. Thanks to its popularity I wrote the sequel, Surfing in Stilettos and am now writing the third, Follow You, Follow me.
I’ve written two non-fiction books that help us face older age with humour – How Not to Murder your Grumpy and Grumpy Old Menopause. Both of these offer advice and lots of laughs.
My blog Facing 50 with Humour is now almost four years old. (I’m now facing 50 from the wrong side.) I’m about to launch a new website/blog called Grumpy Old Menopause which will be all the bits I couldn’t fit into my latest book. Finally, as you know, I write for Indies Unlimited, a site that offers a lot of exceptionally good advice to writers and for the Huffington Post Huff/50.
What are you working on currently?
I’m about to start edits on a short collection of stories, Love Hurts. They look at both the lighter and darker side of love. I’m halfway through Follow You, Follow Me and I’m getting my notes down for my next novel that will be a revenge novel full of mirth. Oh, and my posts for all the blogs. My husband has given up on having a clean house or any food cooked for him. It’s not going to happen any time soon.
No wonder he’s so grumpy!
What is your writing process? Are you a planner or a pantser?
Planner. I spend months planning. Each story runs through my head several times as a film. Luckily, I have insomnia so I get to watch my film, night after night until I am satisfied with the plot, characters and ending. Some nights, I even eat popcorn while running it through my head! If it’s good enough to make me want to watch it then it’s good enough to get down on paper.
Do you work on more than one manuscript at a time?
Yes. I always have one going through my head as ideas, one going through the note-jotting process, one being typed and one being edited at the same time. Isn’t that normal?
It is for me!
When you're not writing, what’s your favorite activity?
Sleeping. Ha! No, I love travelling. I have always been nomadic and if I can’t get away regularly, I sink into a depression; even if I only nip over to France for a few days, I have to get my fix. I blame it on my upbringing. My father was in the army and we were always on the move from base to base The world is a big, beautiful place and I intend to see as much of it as I possibly can before I am too old.
I’m with you on that. Still have too many places to see and cross off my list.
What’s the best part about being an indie writer?
It may sound odd but I love all the marketing and bits that surround the writing as much as the writing itself. I get a real thrill out of doing interviews, radio chat shows, magazine articles and so on. I am such an attention seeker!
I think you’re much more extraverted than most of us authors, but it’s great that you enjoy all aspects of writing.
You’re able to invite three people (alive or dead) to dinner. Who do you invite, and how do you seat them?
I am the world’s worst cook so they had better be prepared for a lousy meal. I’d like to invite the group ABBA (okay that’s four people…) to sing. Hubby adores ABBA and it’ll keep him in the party mood all night I’d like to have a couple of comedians around for dinner. John Cleese from Monty Python and Fawlty Towers is one of my favourites and Tim Vine who has the best collection of one-line gags…even better than my own.
Sounds like a hoot. I love John Cleese.
What is the one book that you wish you had written?
Last week, I read Coco Pinchard’s Big Fat Tipsy Wedding by Rob Brynzda. I laughed so much at it that I genuinely wished I’d written it. I’d have liked to have written all the Harry Potter books for obvious reasons, although I also wish I’d written one of the classics like Wuthering Heights. It would be wonderful to be the author of a book that was read by so many and studied in schools.
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Be very, very patient. Don’t be in a hurry to publish your book. You have spent so long writing it that a few more weeks or months making sure it is perfect. Edit it thoroughly. (Hire a professional editor.) Create a good cover and make sure you have a blurb written, a synopsis and promotional materials ready before you press that button and publish it.
Carol, thanks so much for stopping by and putting up with all my questions.
It has been a huge pleasure. Many thanks indeed for letting me take up your time and lounge about here. I don’t really want to go now.
Find out more about Carol below.
Carol E. Wyer is an award winning author whose humorous novels take a light-hearted look at getting older and encourage others to age disgracefully. Carol has featured on numerous radio shows discussing 'Irritable Male Syndrome' and 'Ageing Disgracefully'. She has had articles published in national magazines such as Woman's Weekly' and on-line magazines. She writes regularly for The Huffington Post and author website Indies Unlimited.
Where can we connect with you?
Google Page: https://plus.google.com/b/104416616378938448966/104416616378938448966/posts
Huffington Post : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-e-wyer/
Huffington Post : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/carol-e-wyer/