I’m delighted to be welcoming debut author Marie Campbell today. Amazon reviewers say that thriller Baby is:
“intriguing, it’s unexpected and it’s engrossing”
“intense, chilling and emotional read with well-rounded characters and an ending that will leave you hoping there’s another book around the corner at some point.”
“a captivating thriller”
Baby is published by The Conrad Press and is available to purchase in ecopy and paperback formats.
Marie is chatting with us today about her inspiration, how her characters come to life and you can find out what is the best part of her writing journey so far.
I was born in Hetton-le-Hole, in the north-east of England, in 1972. Growing up, I spent many hours reading and writing stories and can still recall the pride when, aged eight, my story was chosen by the primary school teacher to be backed in cardboard and put on display.
Fast-forward several years, via an abandoned teaching degree, many years as a civil servant and a new baby; driven by a lifelong passion for words, I embarked on an online writing course. I wrote many, many short stories, and then I decided to write a book.
Over the years, I’ve written everything from reports to magazine articles, blogs to short stories. I write mostly at the kitchen table, picking up a pen, thinking, ‘What if…’ and seeing where the story takes me.
When I’m not writing or looking after my son, I run a freelance proofreading business Marie Campbell – Proofreading. I also love to read and do so wherever and whenever I can.
Connect with Marie
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree
Please summarise Baby in 20 words or less.
A psychological thriller that asks just what lengths someone will go to, to get what they really believe is theirs.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
I like to think about what happens when ordinary people are put in extraordinary situations, and ask myself, ‘What if…?’. Before I wrote Baby, I wrote many short stories, and they all tended to have a dark side. Baby is no different, and in it I considered what would happen if someone believed they had an absolute right to have something, and what they would do to get it.
Did you do any research for your book Marie?
What resources did you use?
I did – I found myself googling all manner of things in the name of research! My search history would make for very interesting reading; I’ve searched for everything from locks and chains to bus routes and timetables! I’m also lucky to know some medical professionals who were happy to answer my (often-bizarre) questions, such as how best to lift someone and the effects of different medication. My partner Steve was a wealth of knowledge on locations and layout of Edinburgh, where my book is set – he was born here whereas I’m a relative newcomer to the city, having moved here eight years ago.
What inspired you to write?
Writing is something I have always had a passion for. I loved English at school and college, and have dabbled with short stories, diaries and journals for years. Five years ago, after having a baby and taking a career break from the civil service, I decided to embark on an online writing course via writingclasses.co.uk. Another course followed, and by then I had quite a portfolio of short stories, many of which I entered in competitions and a few of which were successful. But what I really wanted to do was write a novel. A whole book that maybe someone would actually want to read. And so I enrolled on a novel-writing course. This was serious stuff – posting large chunks of previously private work and awaiting the critique of fellow students and tutors.
It was on this course that my book Baby came into being. I became very good friends with a tutor from the course, and she supported and encouraged me to complete what I’d started.
Another source of inspiration is my love of reading. I’ve always loved to read, and always have a huge pile waiting to be read. Maybe one day I’ll have time to get to the bottom of that pile… (hahaha, yes, we’re all nodding along)
How do your characters come into existence? Do they have a bio?
This is something I really enjoy – getting to know my characters, writing their biographies, their likes and dislikes and all their little foibles. Little details like how a character wears their hair, the expressions they pull, the clothes they wear – all of these things allow readers to build a picture. Because I like characters with a dark side to their nature, I like the process of thinking as they would think, and working out how they would deal with a given situation. I keep detailed notes on all of my characters, and even if those details never make it into the story, it helps me to know them better.
Panster or plotter?
I do a bit of both. I always carry a notebook, and jot down random thought and ideas all of the time. I like to get the story down without much planning (although I do keep detailed notes about each character) and then go back and work through that first rough draft in detail, making sure the story flows and recording what should happen in each chapter.
Are there any authors have influenced your writing Marie?
I’ve been a big fan of Stephen King from an early age, and while I could never hope to be blessed with an imagination like his, he was certainly influential. His book ‘On Writing’ is one of the best I’ve read on the craft of writing.
I’ve read so many books by a multitude of different authors and really wished I could write like they do. Spending years reading good books by a huge variety of authors made me want to see if I could do it myself, I suppose. I was also really encouraged by other writers I’ve met on writing courses. The opportunity to get feedback on your writing is a huge boost. That’s why I love hearing from people who have read my book now – I want to know what they thought, what they liked and didn’t like and basically whether they enjoyed it.
I’m a big fan of fiction with great characters and based in UK cities, and as such authors including Nicci French, Kate Atkinson and Erin Kelly inspire me.
Are there any tips you could share with new writers?
I’m no expert, but I would say don’t give up. The process can be challenging, and there’s so much more to writing a book than getting the first draft down on paper. But it is such a rewarding thing to do, and so worth it. On a practical level, joining a writing group and discussing work with like-minded people can be a great source of support. And to try to write something every day – be it a journal entry, sentence or a few pages of a novel. Practice and then practice some more.
Have you done any writing courses that you would recommend to others?
As I mentioned above, I did online courses in creative and novel writing with writingclasses.co.uk. Online courses really appealed to me, as I could fit the assignments around my family responsibilities. Also, my writing was, until fairly recently, a pretty private thing, and I benefited enormously from the opportunity to share my work with other students and receive really useful feedback.
Finally Marie, what has been the best part of your writing journey so far?
My writing journey has been a long one – I thought Baby was more or less complete in March 2014, and along the way there have been many ups and downs. One of the first amazing moments was finding an agent, after many months of working my way through the list of them in the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook. And then when my book was published – actually seeing your own name on Amazon is surreal and fantastic. Opening a box full of print copies for the first time was certainly one of the best moments.
The very best part of the whole journey, though, is hearing from readers, telling me they have enjoyed the book, and leaving great reviews. Receiving an email from a reader telling me they’d stayed up all night to finish Baby was the best reward ever.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Wishing success with all your writing projects Marie.
When Michael Stanton goes to work one day and doesn’t come back, everyone – friends, family, police – thinks his pregnant girlfriend Jill should accept he’s left her. After all, he’s done it before. But Jill just won’t believe that Michael would walk away from her and their unborn child.
Increasingly desperate and alone, she’s determined to find him. Just where is Michael? What Jill doesn’t know is that his beautiful ex, Anna, wants him back, and won’t take no for an answer. And it isn’t just him she wants…
In a maze of captivity, sexual tension and dark desire, Michael battles with his feelings. Does he really want his normal life back, or could there be a future with the woman who terrifies, controls and fascinates him?
Baby is a compelling, sexy, disturbing and unforgettable thriller.