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My Journey to Becoming a Writer: Bad Sister by Sam Carrington

Sam Carrington © 9 October 2017.
Posted in the Magazine ( · Crime · Interviews ).

I began writing in 1997 while pregnant with my second child. It was something I’d had in the back of my mind for years, but never did anything about. It was during my maternity leave from my job as an auxiliary nurse that I bought some ‘how to’ books on writing and even enrolled on a distance writing course (which I never completed!). However, it went by-the-by and then after going back to work, I had the opportunity to undertake nurse training ‘on the job’ with The Open University, so I took it. Four years passed and the only things I wrote were assignments. But I really enjoyed constructing and writing the assignments and found it interesting to develop PowerPoint presentations and put my creative side to use. It was much later when the desire to write fiction found its way to the surface again.

When I decided to pen my first short story in 2010, I’d taken inspiration from a story in a women’s magazine and thought ‘why not send it?’ After all, it couldn’t hurt to try. I was thrilled when it was accepted for publication. It was called The Silver Cross and was published in Candis Magazine.

But then I decided to change careers. After I’d completed my nurse training, I continued the psychology degree I’d begun earlier and an opportunity arose to work in the psychology department in a male prison. I began working full time for the prison service in 2011 and writing took a back seat once again. Working with prisoners delivering Offending Behaviour Programmes gave me an insight into criminal behaviour and I learned a lot from the men I worked with. For example, how their backgrounds, upbringing, their relationships and the decisions they made, all affected their offending behaviour. During the programmes the aim was to highlight the risk factors associated with their offending and work to manage these in order to reduce their likelihood of reoffending. I worked for two years on two different programmes, and I also trained in a third. I worked with a vast array of men who’d committed a range of offences: drug-related, burglary, rape and murder to name a few. It was a job I loved, one that fed my fascination with psychology and the criminal mind, and one I found challenging, yet rewarding.

However, a few years later, after a particularly bad year personally, I took time off work which ultimately led to my decision to leave the prison service. At this point I began writing in view of making it a career.

After my earlier success with my short story, I began writing them regularly and gained publication in a few women’s magazines. At the same time, I was lucky to become involved with a small group of authors through Twitter, who were writing anthologies for charity. I had two of my stories in these, then also self-published two of my own collections. After this, I found I wanted to expand and build on the skills I’d learned from writing short fiction and try a novel. After a failed attempt at a chick-lit-style story, I utilised ‘what I knew’.  Having worked in the prison service, and with an interest in psychology, writing within the crime genre seemed the obvious choice – I had a lot of inspirational stories I could draw on as well as good insider knowledge! So, in January 2014 I began my first novel-length project. The novel was completed and sent off to a handful of agents later that year. While I was nervously awaiting feedback, I began writing another novel – a psychological thriller, again with a crime element. In January 2015 I entered the opening chapters of this new novel in to the Crime Writers’ Association Debut Dagger Award, and was thrilled to be longlisted.

From there, it all went really quickly. I was contacted by an agent who had read my first manuscript, and, although she didn’t feel she connected with the novel I’d submitted, she’d liked my writing style and was interested in seeing any future writing I did. I emailed back straight away telling her about my longlisting and she asked to see the manuscript. Later in the year we had a meeting to discuss it further. Amazingly, despite it being unfinished, she was confident enough to sign me!

Over the next few months I finished the novel and with my agent’s guidance edited it. It was ready for submission to publishers in October 2015. I was lucky that Avon, HarperCollins loved it and I got a one book deal with them the following February. They wanted to get it into the hands of readers quickly and Saving Sophie was published in August 2016 in ebook and December in paperback. My second novel, Bad Sister, was in the process of being written when I signed with Avon, and after they read the opening chapters they said they’d like to publish that one too. I was so excited to think I was now an author with a book deal, it was amazing. I am currently editing book three and cannot imagine having any other career now.

(c) Sam Carrington

About Bad Sister:

The gripping new thriller from the bestselling author of Saving Sophie.

Stephanie is scared for her life. Her psychologist, Connie Summers, wants to help her face her fears, but Connie will never really understand her. Stephanie’s past has been wiped away for her own protection. Stephanie isn’t even her real name. But then, Dr Summers isn’t Connie’s real name either.

And that’s not all the women have in common. As Stephanie opens up about her troubled relationship with her brother, Connie is forced to confront her own dark family secrets.

When a mutilated body is dumped in plain sight, it will have devastating consequences for both women.

Who is the victim?
Who is to blame?
Who is next?

Gripping, tense and impossible to put down, Bad Sister will have fans of Sue Fortin, B A Paris and Linda Green hooked till the final page.

Order your copy online here.

Sam Carrington lives in Devon with her husband and three children. She worked for the NHS for fifteen years, during which time she qualified as a nurse. Following the completion of a psychology degree she went to work for the prison service as an Offending Behaviour Programme Facilitator. Her experiences within this field inspired her writing. She left the service to spend time with her family and to follow her dream of being a novelist. Saving Sophie, her debut psychological thriller, published in September 2016. It became a Kindle eBook bestseller, with the paperback hitting The Bookseller Heatseeker chart at #8. Sam was named an Amazon Rising Star of 2016.

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