Firstly, let’s get down to the questions…
1. What made you want to write a book?
As an avid reader, I think subconsciously I always wanted to write a book but never believed I could. Attending crime and publishment masterclasses run by Graham Smith and Michael J. Malone really inspired and motivated me. Being taught by some of the greats, being surrounded by positivity and supportive people helped me focus and get Dead Inside written. Then I had the bug and couldn’t/didn’t want to stop.
2. I know the first book came from personal experience, but where did you find the inspiration for your other books?
All my books come from my experience as a Senior Probation Officer and being involved with other criminal justice agencies. Some have been inspired by real life cases I worked on, some just come to me as I’m doing laundry. Watching true crime documentaries or a podcast might also trigger a ‘but what if this happened?’ moment and I develop that further.
3. How long does it take you to write a book?
I write a few drafts – the first draft can take about 2-3 months. I write 1k – 1500k a day, In an hour. That is my designated writing time. I make sure that at least every day for an hour (just after work) I spend getting my words down, doing research – writing related. After the first draft, I leave it for about 2 weeks, then I read through it – noting the gaps, where I need to move chapters etc and once that’s done, I edit. The last part is reading through that revised book, fixing anything I missed and then I send it to my trusted beta readers who usually spot more errors/ plot holes etc that I became blind to. I incorporate their feedback in one final version and then I submit it to my editor. I guess that whole process is about 6 months.
4. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I read, or course! I also love binge watching true crime series – I don’t watch tv in the evenings/ regularly. I usually find a series and binge it over a few weekends. I also love playing Elder Scrolls online (PS4) with my sister in Canada. Social Media can take up a lot of my time too and blogging – though I have a lot of reviews to catch up on.
5. Out of all of your books which is your favourite and who is your favourite character?
Dead Inside will always be my favourite for many reasons. But a close second would have to be my latest, Dead Mercy. I loved doing the research for Dead Mercy. My favourite character? Hmmm… I love them all for different reasons: Lucy, because she was my voice. Maggie, because she gets on my nerves but is so determined. Kate, because I always wanted to be an offender profiler. Kat, because she swears like a trooper. I loved writing Bill Raven, the baddie in Dead Wrong too – he was a culmination of a few nasty people I came across in my years as a probation officer.
6. How much of you and the people around you can be found in your books?
Me? Probably a lot more than I realise 😂 #TrueStory. There are bits of me sprinkled in a lot of my characters – good and bad! Other people? I used their names but everything else was pretty much made up. I mean, they are great people so that much is true to life, and maybe some habits I noticed – but 95% is fictional.
7. As a child what did you want to be when you grew up?
First, I wanted to be a brain surgeon. I loved watching medical programs and took all the relevant courses. Sadly, barely passing physics and maths put a stop to that – lives were saved! Then I wanted to be a criminal lawyer – did the practice LSAT (law school admission test) and did well but then I learned that I would have to take other types of law classes (not just criminal) and that put me off. I did realise I wanted to do some sort of job in the criminal justice system though and all my degrees focused on that. Eventually I took a module on Probation while I was doing my MA in criminology and I found my calling!
8. What advise would you give to someone just starting to write?
Read as much as you can in the genre you want to write in but explore other genres to see what works. You may find something that can be adapted to your own writing. Network! Attend festivals, book launches, follow on social media – get to know authors, bloggers/readers, publishers, agents, publicists – everyone you can in the book world. Look at the bestseller charts in your chosen genre. You’ll discover what readers are looking for. Seek out and take as much advise as you can, then find out and use what works best for you. Develop a thick skin – you’ll need it for rejections, reviews etc. Join groups in your genre and get to know your readers/audience. Never give up! Everyone’s journey is different so don’t compare. Get your but in the chair and write.
9. How do you handle writers block?
I’ve never had it! Advice I was once given was to never finish writing at the end of a chapter, instead stop halfway through the scene and pick up from there the next day. That’s what I do and have never struggled getting my daily word count in.
Describe your writing space?
It is a little writing book in my dining room area. My dad built me a desk when I moved to England in 1999 and that’s what I use. I have a board in-front of me, with book stuff, a map to mark where my bodies are/areas in my stories and a few book related pictures on the wall. I also have my reference books to hand and a bookcase behind me with more reference material. Hanging from a door to my right is a flip chart that I note things down on. Here’s a pic. Excuse the chaos – I’m in edit mode.
Noelle Holten is an award-winning blogger at http://www.crimebookjunkie.co.uk. She is the PR & Social Media Manager for Bookouture, a leading digital publisher in the UK, and worked as a Senior Probation Officer for eighteen years, covering a variety of risk cases as well as working in a multi agency setting. She has three Hons BA’s – Philosophy, Sociology (Crime & Deviance) and Community Justice – and a Masters in Criminology. Noelle’s hobbies include reading, attending as many book festivals as she can afford and sharing the booklove via her blog.
Dead Inside – her debut novel with One More Chapter/Harper Collins UK is an international kindle bestseller and the start of a new series featuring DC Maggie Jamieson. Dead Wrong, Dead Perfect and Dead Secret are also out now.
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I would like to say a massive thank you to Noelle for answering those questions and letting us get a little insight into the inspiration for her books, and what makes her tick as a writer … even though I wasn’t quite happy with the comment that Maggie got on her nerves but I think I will let that slide just this once.
Noelle’s latest book in the series Dead Mercy is out on November 19th in Ebook and can be pre-ordered from Amazon.