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Me and You: Claudia Carroll on Character

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Fiction Guides | Character
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Nerve-racking time in this house, as my new book, ME AND YOU is published this very day in Ireland and  when I tell you I’m down on my hands here praying you’ll all like it, ‘tis no exaggeration.

Anyway, one of the questions I get asked a lot is, where do get all your ideas from? Well for this particular book, the apple on the head moment came from…of all things…an interview I just happened to be reading with the head of the Missing Person’s Bureau here in Ireland. You know how it seems not a week goes by without posters appearing on lampposts with heartbreaking photos and messages saying, ‘missing. Last seen leaving the xxx pub…etc.’ T’would break your heart, it really would. Anyway, in this interview, the guy from missing persons said that well over 90% of people who go missing do so voluntarily, often because of depression or alcoholism or maybe financial worries. But in a frightening amount of cases, it’s because they just want to check out of their whole life.

Which got me thinking. What is it that could possibly make someone just walk out on everyone and everything they ever loved?

Just to tell you a little bit ore about the story, it starts with our heroine Angie being stood up on her birthday. No hang on, keep reading, it gets worse. By her best friend, Kitty. So of course Angie does what any of us would do…does a ring-around of just about every mutual pal they know, but it’s nothing but dead ends everywhere. No matter who she talks to, to a man everyone says, ‘oh, I thought she was with you!’

Now she’s a bit of a flake-head, Kitty; you know, the type of character who could fall in with a load of strangers in a pub, then wake up the next morning on a sofa in Holyhead, not having the first clue how she got there. Which means, initially no one panics, everyone just keeps telling Angie, ‘Ah, Kitty’ll turn up when she’s good and ready to…you know what that one is like!’

claudia-carrollBut she doesn’t. So Angie and Kitty’s lovey boyfriend really start to get panicky, go to the cops and file this as a missing person case. And of course, the search gets wider and wider with absolutely nothing turning up…until one night the police come calling to report a major breakthrough. So just how well, they ask Angie, did you really know this girl Kitty anyway?

Part two is Kitty’s story. It’s two years on now and we learn why she did what she had to do, why she had to walk out on the best pal she ever had and the only man she really ever loved. She’s abroad now, but suddenly her circumstances change dramatically and she finds herself having to come home for a funeral.

What she doesn’t know though, is that in the intervening two years, Angie and Kitty’s old boyfriend have grown closer and closer, almost bonded by the shock they went through…and are now…wait for it…a couple.

So there you go! It’s essentially a love triangle story with a missing girl at the back of it and I’m hoping against hope you’ll all like it now!

Just to tell you a wee bit about the writing process behind it, it took about a year to write in total, roughly seven months to get the first draft down, but then editing it always where the real work start really, isn’t it? So between second draft edits, then a round of proof-edits, the whole process takes one, quite intensive year really. I’m always being asked about how I’d go about structuring a book, so for starters, I’d always do a skeleton outline of a story before even sitting down to write a line. It makes life so much easier later on, on the days when you’re stuck.

Then it takes me a long, long time to get to really know my characters. A reader will quickly lose interest if they just don’t like the hero or heroine, so they have to layered carefully so that they jump off the page! Sometimes, it helps to write out a detailed biography for them, to make them as three dimensional as possible.  I always have to remember you’re asking a reader to go on a 400 page journey with them, so it’s vital to get it right early on.

Now this is a hard one, particularly for anyone writing from home where they are so many distractions. Even as I’m typing this, I’m looking at a big mound of ironing, just winking at me to be done and it’s SO distracting….. But the really hard part for someone as easily distracted as I am is to remember, when you’re writing you’re working, and just as if you were based in an office or business setting, you just can’t take calls, answer emails from pals or surf the net when you’re working. God Almighty, it took me a long, long time to get used to this one though, and I’m really only at the point now where my family and friends have copped on not to call during the day. I think that’s one of the hardest things in this house; ignoring the door, put the phone on silent, and applying bum to seat!

Huge thanks for taking the time to read this and on another note, can I just say huge and heartfelt thanks to lovely Vanessa at Inkwell? Not only for all the incredible hard work she does, but also for the unbelievable support she so unfailing gives to Irish authors whenever one of us has a new book out. [Aww, shucks! Ed]

(c) Claudia Carroll

Claudia was born in Dublin, where she still lives.

She wrote her first novel, HE LOVES ME NOT, HE LOVES ME in the dressing rooms of RTE studios, when she was meant to be learning her lines. It was published by Transworld in 2004 to critical acclaim and became an instant bestseller. In 2005, she followed this up with THE LAST OF THE GREAT ROMANTICS, another bestseller.

Then, the following year, her third book, REMIND ME AGAIN WHY I NEED A MAN was published and then optioned by Fox TV for a series in the US. This meant that Claudia could quit the day job and concentrate on writing full-time. The only job, she reckons, where you can wear pyjamas, stare out the window all day, and still get paid.

In 2007, she published I NEVER FANCIED HIM ANYWAY, another bestseller, which Wendy Finerman (CBS) optioned for a movie. Wendy’s previous credits include THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA and PS, I LOVE YOU. Claudia is currently hassling producers for a walk-on part and very cheekily hoping they might throw in a free outfit too.
In 2008 she published her fifth novel, DO YOU WANT TO KNOW A SECRET, then in 2009, she followed this up with IF THIS IS PARADISE, I WANT MY OLD LIFE BACK, which is now available in paperback and which has been optioned for a film by Canyon Creek Productions.

In 2009, Claudia was very excited to move publishers to Harper Collins (Avon) and published her first book with them, PERSONALLY, I BLAME MY FAIRY GODMOTHER, in 2010, also a bestseller.

All her books are published by Harper Collins in the US and all are widely translated.


About the author

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