Cal Moriarty also writes for film and theatre, and previously worked as a private eye. Like S.J. Watson and Rachel Joyce before her, she attended both the Writing A Novel and Edit Your Novel courses on the Faber Academy in 2012-13.
Can you tell us a little bit about your debut novel The Killing of Bobbi Lomax?
When a sleepy devout town is hit by a series of deadly bombings an extraordinary mystery is unravelled.
I should also add that it’s a retro crime fiction novel set in the same era as True Detective.
Bobbi Lomax was the first to die, the bomb killed the prom queen on her own front lawn.
Just moments later one of the nails from the city's second bomb forced its way into the brain of property investor Peter Gudsen, killing him almost instantly.
The third bomb didn't quite kill Clark Houseman. Hovering on the brink, the rare books dealer turns out to be Detectives Sinclair and Alvarez's best hope of finding out what linked these unlikely victims, and who wanted them dead and why. But can they find the bomber before he kills again?
What made you have the book begin with a bombing instead of a murder especially as the blurb mentions the book is set in the deep religious heartland of America where this may not be a common occurrence?
Much creative writing advice tells writers to ‘start the story with a bang’. Although, mostly, they don’t mean literally, I really wanted to start with a significant event that brought together the two main characters whose lives the narrative then follows.
In the States bombing is far more a regular occurrence than you’d think. Most City police forces have a bomb squad unlike the UK. In the 1970’s there were many bombings/terrorist attacks in the States. There’s fewer now, despite what the media might want us to believe. Although, that said, between 2001 and 2011 73% of terrorist attacks in the States involved bombings and/or explosives.
Can you describe The Killing of Bobbi Lomax in three words?
Intense but quirky.
Are you currently working on your second novel?
I am. It’s called Killing Alice. It’s the second book in the Wonderland Series.
Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I always wanted to be, but in a working class household and inner-city comp it wasn’t actively encouraged. I was writing plays, directing and producing them in our living room aged 7. I’m an only child, so any visiting cousins formed my acting troupe.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
I have an obsession with writing a chapter in one sitting. This is a hangover from my screenplay writing where I will always write an opening sequence, maybe 10 pages, in one go. However, the trouble is that screenplay pages are a lot shorter, and 10 pages might only take a couple of hours. Whereas a chapter, mine are usually 2000 words, takes a rather intense 4 or 5 hours. And then I will go over it again and again tweaking and tweaking. And then read the last chapter or two immediately before beginning the next sitting just to get into the tone of it all again before cracking on with the next chapter. This sounds laborious but, thankfully, actually cuts out most of the rewrite stages.
Do you set yourself a daily/weekly writing target?
If I do three chapters a working week I am very happy. Ecstatic in fact. I won’t write every day though. I will think and think and think about the novel on the days away from the desk. Thinking is the most important part of writing. Never sit down to a blank page if you have absolutely no idea what you are going to write, or why. It will be a total waste of time you could be spending catching up on your box-sets.
Right now, we are about to move house as our Landlord wants their house back to renovate it and sell it:( So, I might splash out on some high grade removal boxes for my mountain of books.
What is the best writing advice you have ever received?
Less is more which I learned from Beckett, Harold Pinter and David Mamet’s plays and an edict also encouraged by my fabulous Faber Academy tutors Richard Skinner and Sarah Savitt.
Have you anything exciting planned for publication day?
Yes, I am hosting a Mad Hatters Tea Party in Bloomsbury right before the launch for all the people who’ve been so great to me and Bobbi Lomax including established crime writer Stav Sherez and Laline Paull, author of The Bees who I met in our Faber Academy class and Laline has become a great friend of mine.
Cal Moriarty also writes for film and theatre, and previously worked as a private eye. She attended both the 'Writing A Novel' and 'Edit Your Novel' courses on the Faber Academy in 2012-13.
The Killing of Bobbi Lomax is out now (Faber & Faber, £12.99)