An Interview with Amelia Moore ...

What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now? My name is Amelia Moore (it is my pen name).  I was born in London, England.  I now live near a small village in the Dordogne, France.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be? From an early age, I used to tell my little sister stories and then I began writing them down when I was about eleven years old. In life, I became a teacher and researcher, so I satisfied my need to write that way. I always wanted to write a novel however, so in between my academic writing, I wrote some. I also love drawing and watercolours and wanted to be a fashion designer in my teens. I did train as a graphic artist and worked as such until I had my daughter.

When did you first consider yourself to be a ‘writer’? I have written stories for years, but only considered that I might be a ‘writer’ in the past ten years or so.

Did it take a long time to get your first book published? I wrote my first book some years ago but did nothing with it for some time, then we self-published it a few years back.

Do you work in another job as well as writing? Well, I retired from my research post at university, five years ago. But since moving to France, three years ago, I have taught Chinese martial arts. I am a trained and qualified coach and ran some classes in the UK. I do it as a profession here though, part-time, as well as my writing.

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than twenty words, what would you say? My last book is called Elyse; the fourth book in the Evening Wolves (EW) series.

It is the life story of a peasant woman, born in 1746, who is one of a long, ancestral line of cunning folk.

Who is your publisher or do you self-publish? We self-publish.

Do you have a ‘lucky charm’ or ‘lucky routine you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher? No, because we self-publish.

How long does it usually take you to write a book; from the original idea to finishing writing it? It depends on the size of the book and the circumstances I am in during writing. I have written a large novel in six months. Some of my smaller novels, I wrote in three months. However, due to moving to another country and then having a debilitating accident, the last book took me a couple of years to complete. I also illustrated a book, and that took quite a few months to do. But I used the time I was painting to relax from my academic work, so I was not counting the months.

Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others? They were much the same as each other. Each book was different and presented different challenges. Most of my stories have required some level of research, so the amount of work involved was similar, whether it was a larger work or smaller one. However, one of the latest books I am writing, set in France during WW2, requires an enormous amount of research. Luckily, I enjoy doing that, so I don’t consider it to be hard, just time consuming.

What can we expect from you in the future, i.e., more books of the same genre or different genre? I write adult fiction and children’s books (under a different name), so I do cross genres. I don’t have any problems doing this.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series? The current book I am writing is called ‘Esobel’; the fifth in the EW series. There are six (or maybe seven) in that series, so possibly two more planned after this one. The first book was Elizabeth, then Eve, then Elisa and the last, Elyse. I have written other adult books that are not part of this series and they have also been self-published.

As well as Esobel, I am writing two other books; Coffee Girls, about a group of mature women who meet up each week in a café in France and talk about their lives, and J’attendrai, a story set in France during WW2. When these are finished, I hope to do more in the series of children’s books I have already published.

What genre would you place your books into? Adult fiction; historical drama, and children’s fiction.

What made you decide to write that genre of book? The adult books in the EW series came out of an interest I had in the dreadfully sad witch trials that took place in times gone by. The childrens books are ghost stories, another interest of mine.

Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so, why is it your favourite? Not really. I like each one for different reasons. However, if absolutely forced to make a choice, I would say Eve. Why? I ‘found’ her character quite easily and enjoyed her exploits.

Do you have a favourite character from your books? Why are they your favourite? They all have something that I like about them. Each one of my characters is a tiny part of me, from the thirteen-year-old Roland Pollard in my children’s books, to all the lead women in the EW series.

If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your books, which would you be and why? I would choose a character that is hopefully coming along in a future book. It is a lady by the name of Harriet Smithe, a psychic investigator, who helps the police. She has some great investigations to make and some fascinating mysteries to solve. But I have lots to write before she is born.

How long have you been writing? Who or what inspired you to write? I have been writing most of my life and I am in my mature years now. I can’t say that any one writer has inspired me to write. It is topics that inspire me, and real-life history, tales, events, situations and places.

Where do you get your plot ideas from? I have a vague idea of the whole story before I begin and just think of the plots as I write.

Do you have a certain routine you have for writing, i.e., do you listen to music, sit in a certain chair? I do not listen to anything … I prefer quiet. When I lived in the UK, I used to sit and write by a large window in my lounge, so I could see the trees in my garden. It has been harder to ‘find’ a right place to write since I moved to France. I am still experimenting with that. But I always have to be able to look outside though. I would love to have a writing lodge, like Roald Dahl had in his garden, which turned and gave him a different view all day long. What a luxury!

Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them, i.e., your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know? My husband reads and edits my books. Then my stepson. My daughter reads them because she is my business partner and PA, plus, she enjoys them.

Do you gift books to readers to do reviews? We have done and will do in the future.

Do you read all the reviews of your books? Absolutely.

What was the toughest/best review you have ever had? So far, I’ve had mostly good reviews, some very good. Only one was horrid … when the reader wrote and told others ‘not to bother’ to read my (first) book. I had to tell myself that you can’t win them all. You must be philosophical and accept the fact that if you put your work out there, someone, somewhere, might not enjoy it.

Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your books? No. I try to see what they did not like and look at it. That’s not always easy though. in that case, you just have to swallow the criticism and get on with it.

How do you come up with the title and cover designs for your books? Who designed the covers of your books? I usually have an idea, but then discuss it with my daughter, who is great at covers. We play around with ideas until one strikes us as being the right one.

Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title? I have done both.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books? Mostly, I just think of them, but I link names to the time and place and setting of the story, as in the EW series. These books are set in Yorkshire, so I give them that flavour and sound and find popular names that were used in different centuries and adopt them for my characters.

Are character names and place names decided after their creation or do you pick a character/place name beforehand? I do both, depending on the story.

Do you decide on character traits (i.e., shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along? I do this as I go along generally. Sometimes, I have a good idea of the character, then I develop it more during my writing, as the story progresses.

Do you plot and plan your book before you actually begin writing it out? Or, do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story? Sometimes I have a very, very basic idea then just write and let the story go where it wants to take me. Other times, I practically write the entire book in my head before I have even written the first word.

How do you market and promote your books? We market our books electronically and in paperback. We are enjoying learning about the new ways of getting out there and the electronic books are a good starting device for doing this. I am getting into the 21st century and now ‘blog’ and have a Facebook account. I can’t say these are natural mediums for me, but it is the way we all seem to have to go these days.

What do you think makes a book a really good bestseller? A number of factors, I would say. It has to be a really good story to start with, then lots of publicity and promotion, and also, considering what is in vogue at the time.

Have you ever suffered from a writer’s block? What did you do to get past the block? I do get ‘stuck’ sometimes, then I leave the story for a day/morning/couple of hours and go back to it. It usually flows again after this break. If not, I just give myself some time to think about where I would like the story to go. If that fails, I ask my dear husband, who always has at least one good idea. I also write a couple of books at a time. So, if/when I get bored or stuck in one book, I go to another one and write that for a bit. This works for me.

What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby? I do my Chinese martial arts as a hobby as well as work. I love music and have recently got hooked on old French (30s/40s) stuff. I also love travelling around this beautiful country that I have moved to.

Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you? Certainly. I believe we all have a wonderful store of experiences, good and bad, and of the people who shared them with us. Who doesn’t draw on these?

Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (morals as in ‘Aesop’s Fables type of “The moral of this story is...”). Not really. I just tell my stories.

Is there a certain author that influenced you in writing? No. I have read novels during my life but I am not a great reader of other people’s work and don’t really look for inspiration for my own writing. I tend to read for research purposes. I am not the normal writer in this respect, I don’t suppose.

Which format of book do you prefer, e-book, hardback, or paperback? Each has its merits. The e-book phenomenon is great for new writers. I am impressed with its capabilities. Where else could you reach millions of people with the pressing of one button? But I like the feel of a paper book. I am probably old fashioned. I’ve got hundreds of reference books and would buy more if I had the space to keep them.

What is your favourite book and why? Have you read it more than once? I loved reading The Great Gatsby, and I really don’t know why, except I like the period it was set in and it is a good story. It seemed to make some kind of an impression on me, and I wanted to learn more about Scott Fitzgerald, who seems to have been an interesting man.

Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is your favourite/worst book to movie transfer? I couldn’t say really … I’m not an expert on this. I should imagine that if the story is good in the first place, and the film is well-made, then the outcome should be an excellent film. I think the worst story for me that was made into a film was ‘The Man Who Fell to Earth’ (ISBN 9780440352815). It is a 1963, science fiction novel by American author, Walter Tevis. It is about an extra-terrestrial, who lands on Earth, seeking a way to ferry his people here from his home planet, which is suffering from a severe drought. The novel served as the basis for the 1976 cult film by Nicolas Roeg, as well as a 1987 television adaptation. I thought the film was awful.

What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it? (e-book, hardback or paperback). I am currently doing so much research; I’m not reading anything else.

Do you think e-books will ever totally replace printed books? No. I don’t think they will ever replace printed books entirely, but I do think they will become much more popular in the future. Being able to carry around hundreds of books in one slim electronic devise is incredible.

Do you think children at school these days are encouraged enough to read and do imaginative writing? I don’t know. But if a child has no interest in reading or writing, then they can’t be made to enjoy it and will stop doing it as soon as they can.

Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life? I did not have access to many books when I was young. When I was at school, the books were mostly subject related. I wrote stories as a youngster but most of my writing over the years has been academic. I still love reference books and really enjoy researching a topic.

Did you have a favourite author as a child? I cannot remember having a favourite author, but I loved ‘The Water Babies’ by Charles Kingsley.

Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it? It is a very old book with no title. It is a pop-up, picture book with stories and poems in. the pages are very thick, and it is an odd book altogether.

Do you have a favourite genre of book? No.

Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn’t finish? I have not read any books by J.K. Rowling and never will. I tried ‘Les Misérables’ … but I couldn’t quite get to the end of it.

Are there any new authors you are interested in for us to watch out for and why should we watch out for them? I don’t really know. There must be many, many brilliant writers out there.

Is there anything in your books you would change now if you could and what would it be? I haven’t written enough books to feel that way yet. No doubt I will.

What do you think about book trailers? I think they are a good idea. We are going to do some shortly.

What advice would you give to a new writer? Keep writing. I found that the more I wrote, the better my work became. Keep checking your writing as well and make sure your grammar is up to scratch. Get others to read and review your work and take account of what they say. Don’t be afraid to get rid of some of your story, if it doesn’t work.

Do you, or would you, ever use a pen name? I do.

If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with? Charles Dickens, Arthur Conan Doyle and possibly, Shakespeare.