Today it's my pleasure to be shining the spotlight on author L M Milford and her debut novel A Deadly Rejection which was published last week.
In a previous life worked as a local newspaper reporter. This gave me the inspiration for the story that has become my first novel, A Deadly Rejection.
I live in Kent and spend far too much time on trains commuting into London for work, which does however give me time to work on plotting and writing my books.
You can keep tabs on what I’m up to by following me on Twitter @lmmilford or by checking out my blog www.lmmilford.wordpress.com I write about what I’m working on, advice on what I’ve learned through my work and how to move forward with writing.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your writing journey?
I’ve wanted to be a writer almost as long as I can remember. As a youngster I was swept away by The Famous Five and wanted to do what Enid Blyton did. I suppose that meant telling stories and hopefully having some adventure along the way. Later I was inspired by Murder, She Wrote. I loved the credits, where JB Fletcher sat there typing away and then solved lots of crimes.
I think I started writing from a young age and attempted a children’s novel (I think I was about 11 at the time so it can’t have been a very long book). But it wasn’t until Year 9 when my English teacher set us the challenge to write the opening chapter of a book as a homework assignment. It had to feature several specific words – I can’t even remember what they were – and mine turned into an Agatha Christie-style house party, opening with a detective arriving at the country house. It was set in modern day and I absolutely loved that opening. So much so that I tried to turn it into a novel. I never got very far – as my mam pointed out ‘There are too many people, I’m confused’ – but I’ve still kept it. It may yet see the light of day, but it’ll need a lot of work!
I toyed with that idea and others throughout university, but it wasn’t until I was working as a journalist that The Big Idea arrived. It started from a council meeting – the Innovation Panel, I think – where I was sitting near a group of councillors and officers who were speaking in quiet voices. I’d been taking notes throughout the meeting and while we were on a break I was marking up sections in my notebook to making writing up the story easier. When I put my pen to the page, the whole group stopped talking and moved away from me. ‘Aha,’ I thought. ‘What don’t they want me to overhear?’ And that was that, the concept of A Deadly Rejection – a journalist finds out something they shouldn’t and how far would someone go to stop them reporting it?
It took me two years to write the book – writing around a full-time job and having a life (sort of) – and after unsuccessfully trying to get agents interested, I put it to one side and wrote a second one. Then about two years ago, I shook myself by the scruff of the neck. Being published has always been my dream and I was going to make it happen. So it’s taken a long time and a lot of work, but now I’ve realised my dream, and it feels amazing!
If you had to give an elevator pitch for A Deadly Rejection, what would it be?
It’s difficult to distil a whole book into such a small amount of time. I’ve tried lots of different versions over the years and never been happy with any of them. Then recently someone at an event asked me what my book was about and I responded automatically ‘It’s about a journalist who thinks he’s onto a big story. But then his source is found dead and he’s implicated. He tries to find out more about the story but then a second source dies. He has to decide what’s more important, the story or his life’.
It came as quite a surprise as that’s the first time I’d been able to come out with something coherent and the person said they liked the sound of it!
What attracted you to writing crime fiction as opposed to any other genre?
I think I’m attracted by the puzzles, mysteries and trying to find out what’s going on. I’m a nosy person by nature, always wanting to know what people are doing and why. My boyfriend laughs at me because whenever there’s a noise in the street outside our house I’m up at the window trying to see what’s going on. I think it’s also a bit of wanting to understand people, why did they react the way they did, why did they kill their victim. I had previously tried to write romantic fiction or chicklit but whatever I wrote seemed too much the same as everything else on the market. I couldn’t make my characters stand out, or my plot sound like anything other than a cliché. Fortunately at that point I moved on from reading Sweet Valley High into the Point Horror and Point Crime series – along with Agatha Christie – and the rest is history!
Did you do anything exciting to celebrate publication day?
I had a lie down in a darkened room…. No, I’m kidding. I took my long-suffering boyfriend out for a nice steak dinner to thank him for putting up with me for the last few months when I’ve been going slightly crazy. Oh, and there was some Prosecco involved as well. Got to have a bit of bubbly to celebrate.
Finally what can we expect from you next?
I’m currently editing book number two. It’s from the same series, in that it’s set in the same town (Allensbury), but it has a different protagonist. I liked the idea of having a series set around a place rather than people, so the main character from A Deadly Rejection only has a cameo part. After that there’s a plan for book three and ideas for four and five. There’s also a novella that’s written but needs editing. So there’s plenty for me to be getting on with!
How far would you go to get what you want?
Beneath the bustling, respectable exterior of the Kent town of Allensbury lies a world of corruption and greed.
When local news reporter Dan Sullivan scents a story, he begins to ask questions. But when his source dies in mysterious circumstances, Dan is implicated. He is quickly drawn into a world of lies, ambition and avarice as he fights to clear his name.
The more he digs, the more someone tries to stop the story from ever seeing the light of day.
Dan must decide what’s more important to him…the story, or his life.
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