Friday, 19 June 2020

Author Interview: Caro Land

Today it's my pleasure to welcome author Caroline England back to the blog although under her alter ego Caro Land. Welcome Caroline.

You usually write psychological thrillers under your Caroline England name, but you have recently turned your hand to writing a legal drama under the pen name Caro Land. Tell me more!
I’m still writing my psychological thrillers and I’m very excited that the UK standard paperback of Betray Her will be out on the 16th July. However, they say to write what you know and I’ve done precisely this with my Caro Land legal dramas…

Convictions (published by Bloodhound Books in January) introduced my solicitor protagonist, Natalie Bach. Though a feisty legal eagle on the outside, Nat is vulnerable, real, relatable and, I hope, engaging. Though there are legal cases, crime, darkness and intrigue, there’s humour, love and friendship too.

The follow-up, Confessions, was published just last week. We follow more of Nat’s challenges and dilemmas both personally and professionally. Her cases range from mercy killing to cowboy builders, from revenge porn to murder... 

So, how is ‘Caro Land’ writing what she knows?
Like Nat I worked as a solicitor in Manchester. As a trainee, I specialised in criminal law, later moving on to divorce, then professional Indemnity work, where I represented professionals accused of making mistakes.

My career has very much influenced my writing. In all three areas I saw people at their lowest ebb, emotionally stressed and raw, having to bare their souls and admit to their darkest deeds, sometimes keeping secrets and telling lies like the characters I write about!

In Confessions, Nat is seconded to criminal law firm Savage Solicitors, so I was able to draw on my duty solicitor days, sitting in on police interviews, visiting inmates in Strangeway’s Prison and frequenting local magistrates courts. Like my characters, some of the ‘criminals’ were bad people, but others were just people who had lost their way.

How different is it to write a legal suspense to a psychological thriller?
I began writing novels in ‘the closet’, so to speak, and I just wrote stories I would like to read without any ‘genre’ in mind. When my debut Beneath the Skin was taken on by HarperCollins, I was told, to my surprise, that it was crime fiction! On reflection, I think my style of writing is a blend of crime and contemporary fiction because my real interest is people. I think the legal suspense novels are an extension of that, but this time the characters revolve around the law. 

In all my novels I like to look behind the human mask and find out what’s beneath it in all my novels. I love exploring the moral grey area. I enjoy weaving a twisty, intriguing plot, but my favourite part of writing is characterisation, creating people and relationships. Readers particularly loved this aspect of My Husband’s Lies.

My legal suspense novels do have a lighter tone, and of course, they have the back drop of a busy solicitor’s office.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Like Frankenstein, I get inspiration by pinching tiny bits of people’s lives, news stories, films, TV, newspapers, documentaries. The legal cases I have worked on help, though of course it wouldn’t be ethical to steal them outright! Like many authors, I put a bit of myself in characters and storylines too. Then there’s my crazy imagination…

What challenges (or indeed opportunities) if any, has lockdown presented to your writing process?
Apart from having a houseful, I have to confess that not a lot has changed for me writing-wise. I’m usually home-alone during the day, so suddenly having four other people making demands (how very dare they!) can be disruptive, but I’m still wearing joggers and a hoodie and scribbling away at my desk. At this time of the year I usually venture outside for the Newcastle Noir, CrimeFest and Theakston Old Peculiar’s crime writing festivals, so I have missed appearing on panels, chatting to readers, seeing writer friends and stalking celebs!

What advice can you give to writers who haven’t yet had the break they’re looking for? 
Only a few writers get lucky with an agent or a publisher the first, tenth or even thirtieth time of trying. When yet another rejection comes your way, my advice is to shed a few tears, then pick yourself up, dust yourself down and carry on polishing that manuscript until it positively gleams. 

Looking back, I would also recommend paying for a professional edit if you can afford it. An alternative is to find a beta reader to feedback on your work. Don’t ask your great aunt Mildred who’ll say it’s fantastic, but someone who is prepared to dish some hard truths if necessary - doing a swap with another writer is a great idea. 

Above all - don’t give up!

What can our readers look forward to from you?
My Husband’s Lies audio book will be out on the 23rd June. I’m really looking forward to listening and finding out how the narrator deals with the different characters.

Betray Her has been out in ebook for a while but the UK standard paperback will be launched on the 16th July! Here’s a quote by the author Sheryl Browne to give you a flavour of the story:

“Betray Her is exquisitely written. I identified with the narrator so profoundly through her grief at one point, I literally stopped breathing. Alternating between present and past, this is a cleverly woven story, full of passion and intrigue, sexual tension and desperate longing. Two girls, poles apart in their early upbringing, are drawn together at boarding school to form an unlikely friendship that endures into adulthood. But as we examine the friendship, going back to the musty halls of the boarding school, forward into the girls’ teenage years, on to the present, it’s clear that the friendship is not all that it seems. There are secrets under the surface, secrets that shaped who the women now are. There is jealousy and manipulation, co-dependency to a degree. Their relationship is tumultuous and, with a man in the mix who is married to one friend, but has a history with the other, there is a tinderbox of emotion simply waiting for a spark to ignite it, bringing us the final explosive conclusion. I was fascinated by this book, in awe of the writing. Mesmerising storytelling. A taut, tantalising thriller and one I would highly recommend.”

My next book with Piatkus is called Truth Games. The trade paperback and ebook will be out in November.

You can find out more about Caro Land/Caroline England via the social media links below:

Twitter: @CazEngland
Facebook: Caroline England author
Instagram: @cazengland1

All book links in bold are Amazon UK Affiliate links which will earn me a few pence if anyone clicks through and makes a purchase - any money earned will go towards buying books or gifts for giveaways.

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