Sunday, 29 April 2012

Author Interview: Camilla MacPherson

My guest author today is Camilla MacPherson whose debut novel Pictures at an Exhibition was published this week. The book is about a modern day woman Claire and Daisy who wrote a series of letters during the war about the paintings that were Picture of the Month in the National Gallery.  When Claire discovers the letters and retraces Daisy's footstep she finds that their lives have many parallels.  

How long did it take you to get your first book published?
A long time!  I started writing Pictures at an Exhibition in January 2008 and the publication date is April 2012.  There were a lot of stages between finishing the first manuscript towards the end of 2008 and holding the final book in my hand.

Do you have a set daily writing routine?
When I was writing Pictures at an Exhibition, I would write for an absolute maximum of five hours a day before I had had enough, starting in the morning. I found I just couldn’t focus for longer than that, and some days I called it a day after a couple of hours. I would alternate the writing with doing research, either in a library or in a museum or gallery, and some initial editing.
Have any of your characters in your books been based on people you know?  If so, did they recognise themselves?
Not at all! It is pure fiction. That said, people who know me may see something of me in the main character, Claire.

If you could write another style of genre, what would it be and why?
Definitely crime fiction. I was brought up reading Agatha Christie, P D James, Ruth Rendell and many others of the genre. I find that type of story-telling to be reassuring and compelling in equal measure and it’s a type of writing that feels very familiar to me. 

How do you manage to keep yourself motivated?
Just by mixing it up a bit. There are so many more different elements to writing a novel than just the actual writing. For me, a big part of the process is research and simply observing how people behave. Sometimes it can help to get out and about rather than sitting in the house staring at an empty page.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Persistence when it comes to trying to get your work out there! Personally, I wanted to feel I had done as much as I possibly could to get the novel in front of literary agents.

Are you able to give us a hint about what your next novel is about?  And when is it likely to be published?
I have lots of different ideas floating around at the moment, but have yet to put pen to paper. It’s important for me to wait till I have just the right thing in mind before I get started on the next book.

Do you have much spare time to read books?  If so, what was the last book you read or what are you currently reading?
Snowdrops by A.D. Miller, which is an extraordinary and courageous encapsulation of life in Moscow. I love to read, and always have something on the go.

If you could have any of your books made into a film, which one would you choose and why? Who would you cast in the leading roles?
Pictures at an Exhibition is my debut novel, and I would love to have it made into a film. I would be more than happy with Carey Mulligan and Kirsten Dunst as my female leads!

If you were going to be stuck on a desert island and could only take 3 books with you, which ones would you choose?
Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons, because it always makes me laugh. 

An old favourite like Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (which might be enough to teach me how to sail back home) 

Finally, something very, very long to keep me occupied while awaiting rescue, maybe Trollope’s Barsetshire Chronicles which I have never read.

Can you describe 'In a Moment' in 20 words or less?     
It’s a book about love and loss, and how both can pull people apart and bring them together. 

When looking for ideas for posts on my blog I like to look on author websites for inspiration and I have to say I particularly love the design of Camilla's website where each section has its own picture frame.   To find out more about the inspiration for Pictures at an Exhibition, pictures of the paintings that feature in the book and the synopsis for the book, visit the website here

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