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Authors > Q & A's With Mel Sherratt 24th and February 25th 2015

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message 1: by Sean, Moderator (last edited Jan 23, 2015 04:29AM) (new)

Sean Peters | 9128 comments Mod
Our next Q & A author is confirmed.

Author Mel Sherratt.

Her new book with be out on February 10th(USA)

Follow The Leader.


message 2: by Chris (new)

Chris | 267 comments Mel does your new book have Allie and the group in it? Thank you.


message 3: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Chris wrote: "Mel does your new book have Allie and the group in it? Thank you."

Yes, Chris - I finally decided to write the follow-on from Taunting the Dead and make Allie Shenton into a series. Only the Brave, book three is out in May this year too. They are all standalone books, with a crime solved in each one, but the first three have a sub-plot going through it that ends in book three. I'm just starting to write book 4 now too.


message 4: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Moretimer (TMoretimer) | 71 comments As an author, I am interested in how much time you took to develop and get to know your characters?
As for myself I knew some before I wrote and invented others along the way and have some I like and some I despise lol. Do have any you like or despise?


message 5: by David (last edited Jan 28, 2015 11:46AM) (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 1242 comments Hi Mel, looking at some of the comments and the number of reviews, Watching Over You certainly looks to have been well received. What would you say has contributed most to its success?


message 6: by Perri (new)

Perri I've just started Taunting the Dead-very British. Some I know thanks to this group-"Curry's here"-thanks Janet :) Others I've had to look up Panto season. There's really a season for pantomime? Huh!


message 7: by Sean, Moderator (new)

Sean Peters | 9128 comments Mod
Perri, I love this book a brilliant book, last chapter tonight !!

Such a fantastic plot !!


message 8: by Theresa (new)

Theresa Moretimer (TMoretimer) | 71 comments Mel, How do you set your mind when you are in writing mode? Do you place yourself in the scene as a movie playing as you write? Or do you place yourself as a character and become living parts?


message 9: by Perri (new)

Perri I'm always curious about how writers choose the names for their characters. Taunting the Dead has several of my family's names :)


message 10: by Sean, Moderator (new)

Sean Peters | 9128 comments Mod
Mel

as mentioned I love your first book Taunting The Dead, and half way in Follow The Leader, great book.

Lots of great characters, all so close to real personalities, you feel you know them.

One, could you name a few of your favourite authors, have you read British author Sharon Bolton.

Where do you start your story, do you have the villain in mind from the beginning.


message 11: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 5582 comments Hey Mel,
I am about 80% through Somewhere to Hide (the Estate series) after reading Taunting and Follow the Leader. STH is a great change of pace novel that I am greatly enjoying. I believe you describe the Estate books as crime drama. I know you are focusing on the Allie Shenton series right now. I am wondering if you know yet what you plan to tackle after finishing the Allie series? Do you think you might write anymore crime drama?

I am also curious if you get any pushback from your fans or your writing team regarding your liberal use of British slang (which I think is a terrific trademark of yours).

Thanks, Mel!


message 12: by Perri (new)

Perri Christine wrote: "Hey Mel,
I am about 80% through Somewhere to Hide (the Estate series) after reading Taunting and Follow the Leader. STH is a great change of pace novel that I am greatly enjoying. I believe you ..."


So, it's not my imagination how very UK based the books read-interesting. I'm thinking when I read a book based in, say India or Scandinavia, I'm expecting differences, but not so much for England, so it's a surprise. Like one of your cousins isn't talking the same ;)


message 13: by [deleted user] (new)

Hi Mel,

I'm also reading Somewhere to hide, I'm 60% through and I'm really enjoying it. So pleased there are follow on books!

My question is, what sort of research do you do to develop your characters? Have you drawn anything from personal experiences?
I feel your characters are so believable and their situations scarily realistic!
I'm really feel for a lot of your characters, for example, in particular Becky. My heart really feels for her.
Is it hard getting into a character's head like Becky?

Thanks, can't wait to continue the series.
Kim xx


message 14: by Sean, Moderator (new)

Sean Peters | 9128 comments Mod
Mel will hopefully been on shortly and has mentioned that she will kindly also pop in tomorrow and check questions.


message 15: by Janet , Moderator (new)

Janet  | 5670 comments Mod
Hey Mel!! Firstly a big thank you, it's great to see here!

Taunting The Dead was the only book of yours where pretty much all the characters were unlikeable. I thought it was a brave move on your part, were you any more worried at all about the reception of this one than your others?


message 16: by Jean (new)

Jean | 1952 comments Mel, thank you for making yourself available today to answer questions. I've just finished Taunting the Dead, and while I found the first part a bit drawn out for my liking, the finale was quite satisfactory, thank you! Did you learn anything in the process of writing this first Allie Shenton novel (or the aftermath via reviews, etc) that perhaps you would do differently, perhaps in your style, your research, your writing habits? And were any of your lead characters patterned after anyone you know?


message 17: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Theresa wrote: "As an author, I am interested in how much time you took to develop and get to know your characters?
As for myself I knew some before I wrote and invented others along the way and have some I like a..."


Hi Theresa!

Great question - and something I've never been asked before. Often when I'm drafting a scene, my mind will be anywhere but on what I'm writing as I try to get stubborn words out. Often I'll go to write one scene and a completely different one will emerge, so I go with the flow. It always works out.

Sometimes I write a 1000 words and I'm not sure what I have written - only that they make up a scene. When I'm near to the end of a book, I can write a few thousand words a day as the urge to finish takes over - those are the scenes that when I read it back as a whole, I can't really remember writing. So in a way, I must lose myself in the story, clear my mind and off I go. It's as if someone else is giving me words - I know it sounds mad.

I have to say I think that I must detach myself from my characters in some of the scenes I write! But often, like in some of the emotional scenes I find myself getting really upset for the character when I'm writing. Also, if I get goosebumps when I read my work back, I reckon I've cracked it!


message 18: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Sean wrote: "Our next Q & A author is confirmed.

Author Mel Sherratt.

Her new book with be out on February 10th(USA)

Follow The Leader."


Dreadfully sorry, I've just found the author question feed! Hello everyone!


message 19: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Chris wrote: "Mel does your new book have Allie and the group in it? Thank you."

Hi Chris

Yes, Follow the Leader is a follow-on from Taunting the Dead. Originally it was only going to be a standalone, hence the three year gap! But when I got my second two book deal, my editor discussed continuing it as a series. I already had 10,000 words written and a rough synopsis so I continued with that. So all the same team in reference to the police force are there - Detective Sergeant Allie Shenton takes more of a lead in this book.


message 20: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Theresa wrote: "As an author, I am interested in how much time you took to develop and get to know your characters?
As for myself I knew some before I wrote and invented others along the way and have some I like a..."


Hi again

I tend to know some of the characters, their ages and names and then find they develop into more 'real' characters along with the story. So I draft out the first 30,000 words, letting the characters find themselves, go back to read through that and then I get to know them too, then I continue through to the end. When I first started to write, I used to write huge character biographies. Now I find they develop organically.

I do have characters that the readers will like and despise but me personally, I love writing about both types! I think the very dark ones are my favourites - apart from Allie.


message 21: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) David wrote: "Hi Mel, looking at some of the comments and the number of reviews, Watching Over You certainly looks to have been well received. What would you say has contributed most to its success?"

Hi David, out of all my books Watching over You has got the worst reception, to be honest, especially in the US. I write about uncomfortable subjects, and I tend to get into the character's minds so some readers have not been too happy with my main character, Ella, who is a sex addict. I wanted to show someone breaking down next to another character falling in love. Other have seen her for what she was - a lonely soul, with a tormented past, who just wants to be loved but becomes obsessed with getting that love and goes about it the wrong way.

I think it has been successful in the UK because I had a lot of books out before it, had built up a good readership (who I chat to quite a lot on social media) and they like my style. I named it grit-lit and it stuck. So I guess, the more you write, the more readers enjoy reading it, the more they will come back is true.


message 22: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Perri wrote: "I've just started Taunting the Dead-very British. Some I know thanks to this group-"Curry's here"-thanks Janet :) Others I've had to look up Panto season. There's really a season fo..."

Yes, Perri, there really is a Panto Season, in most cities. It runs from early December to about Mid January. And thanks, Janet!


message 23: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Perri wrote: "I'm always curious about how writers choose the names for their characters. Taunting the Dead has several of my family's names :)"

Perri, I choose the names of the characters very carefully. I have to start with every main character's name and surname. For those, I have a book of baby's names and I use my local newspaper and scour the deaths (honestly!) Certain names have to suit certain characters too - so I can't have too many posh names for my characters. Also, if a name doesn't suit a character as he/she develops, I have to change it.

Some of the surnames in the book are related to specific places or people in my city too. For instance, in The Estate Series, the estate is called The Mitchell Estate, named after Reginald Mitchell who invented the Spitfire aeroplane. He came from Stoke-on-Trent, Midlands where I live. Indeed there is a Reginald High School (not sure what your equivalent of High School is) in Follow the Leader after him too.


message 24: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Sean wrote: "Mel

as mentioned I love your first book Taunting The Dead, and half way in Follow The Leader, great book.

Lots of great characters, all so close to real personalities, you feel you know them.

On..."


Sean - favourite British authors? I love Ian Rankin, Peter James, Mark Billingham, Martina Cole, Lynda la Plante, Elizabeth Haynes, Mandasue Heller. I have read Sharon Bolton - I loved Now You See Me. I have actually met all those authors I've named above at various crime writing festivals around the country. Indeed, I was on a shortlist of five authors on the Crime Writer's Association Dagger in the Library Award 2014 (readers vote for their favourite authors) with Sharon - Sharon won!

And yes, I always have the villains in mind first. I always work Allie's story around the crimes they commit. So I have to know who they are and what they are responsible for.


message 25: by David (new)

David Staniforth (davidstaniforth) | 1242 comments Interesting that you say "others have seen [Ella] for what she was". All reader's certainly read the same book differently.

Does it bother you much if the story/character isn't received as you intended them to be? And, have you ever wished you had written something different in hindsight?


message 26: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Christine wrote: "Hey Mel,
I am about 80% through Somewhere to Hide (the Estate series) after reading Taunting and Follow the Leader. STH is a great change of pace novel that I am greatly enjoying. I believe you ..."


Hello again Christine!

Thank you so much for letting me know you are enjoying Somewhere to Hide. I have enjoyed writing police procedurals with Allie as the main character but, as you know, they are part police procedural/part crime thriller in nature and I feel crime thrillers are where my heart belongs. So, there will definitely be one more Allie Shenton book after Only the Brave. As to if there will be a book five depends on how those four go. And yes, I am at the moment planning a seven book crime thriller series...

My editing team in the UK have asked my US team not to change anything in my books as they feel they would be better to stay how they are. It does mean I limit my audience as not everyone can understand my slang, nor like it as much as you :) and I can clearly see that in my US reviews. But I do feel they wouldn't be the same if they were changed. So I'm happy.


message 27: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Perri wrote: "Christine wrote: "Hey Mel,
I am about 80% through Somewhere to Hide (the Estate series) after reading Taunting and Follow the Leader. STH is a great change of pace novel that I am greatly enjoyin..."


Yes, Perri, it does surprise me how different our languages are, even though very similar too. Also in the city I come from we have our own dialect, the potteries dialect (my city is the home of pottery ware, Wedgwood, Royal Doulton etc) and I wrote that down, you wouldn't understand a word I was saying! Even I can't decipher it sometimes.


message 28: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Kimberley wrote: "Hi Mel,

I'm also reading Somewhere to hide, I'm 60% through and I'm really enjoying it. So pleased there are follow on books!

My question is, what sort of research do you do to develop your cha..."


Hi there Kimberley

I'm so glad you're enjoying Somewhere to Hide. They were my earlier books but I really have a passion for women in jeopardy. It's going to sound really strange but I don't do any research other than find a story in a women's magazine (the problem pages are great sources of plots) and make a story around it by twisting it. None of the characters in any of my books are based on anyone I know. They just appear on the page as I write about, for instance, Becky - aged 16 and runs away from home.

I think that's why I often get good and bad reviews for my books. Some people feel very strongly about subjects I write about, for instance, if they have a relative that something has happened to, or indeed it has happened to them. I seem to get under their skin. Other readers empathise with my characters. For me as a writer, whether people love them or hate them is a honour, as I've caused a reaction.

Becky was one of the first characters I wrote about and she still sticks in my mind. She will feature in a later book in that series, I'm sure.


message 29: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Janet wrote: "Hey Mel!! Firstly a big thank you, it's great to see here!

Taunting The Dead was the only book of yours where pretty much all the characters were unlikeable. I thought it was a brave move on you..."


Hi Janet, nice to see you here too!

Taunting the Dead has and always will be my demon. I self-published it because I couldn't get a publishing deal. To date, it's sold nearly 150k copies and I still think it was a fluke. Originally, I think I was trying to be like Martina Cole. Because I couldn't get The Estate series published, I introduced a police character, thinking this might make the book more generic. From my point of view, Steph's story was created around when you hear on news bulletins after someone has been murdered - oh, he was a lovely person, he would do anything for anyone. I just wondered what if someone was murdered whom no one liked. And that became Steph's story. By showing her as an alcoholic, I wanted you to feel sorry for her too. I believe it is a terrible addiction. Some readers liked this about her - others didn't. But maybe that is what made people want to read the book...


message 30: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) David wrote: "Interesting that you say "others have seen [Ella] for what she was". All reader's certainly read the same book differently.

Does it bother you much if the story/character isn't received as you int..."


It does bother me, David - every one star reviews stings, but I was told it was better to get five star reviews and one star reviews rather than straight down the middle three. But, man some of the one stars are mean! But I do stand by what I wrote. Lots of people loved Ella.

Sometimes I do wonder though, if Ella had been male, Alan, I reckon the story wouldn't have got as much criticism...


message 31: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Jean wrote: "Mel, thank you for making yourself available today to answer questions. I've just finished Taunting the Dead, and while I found the first part a bit drawn out for my liking, the finale was quite sa..."

I think if you ask any reader if he/she would change their first book, they would say yes. I'm now writing number ten and I feel like I'm just beginning. So yes, I would in terms of the writing style - I hope it's a lot more crisp now. But in terms of the story, no I'd stick by what I wrote. I do think I could have made the story tighter at the beginning, by getting into the action straight away but ultimately a lot of things happened leading up to Steph's death that I wanted to show. Maybe that is what made it different at the time?

As for characters, no none of them resemble anyone I know - apart from there must be parts of me in Allie Shenton.


message 32: by H.N. (new)

H.N. Wake | 107 comments Thanks Mel for the Q&A!

Question: How much time off do you take between writing novels?


message 33: by Janet , Moderator (new)

Janet  | 5670 comments Mod
I still think it was a brave move on your part with Taunting The Dead. I think it's quite hard to write in your style because it would alienate many I guess. I personally was annoyed when reading some of the negative reviews for Somewhere To Hide. Likening it to porn for me was ridiculous in my opinion. Everything was intrinsic to the character and I thought you did a great job of the sex scenes, the characterisations, well all of it. Still my fave so far!! :-) Do you struggle with the racier scenes? I can imagine it must be hard knowing how far to go.

When did you know you could write?


message 34: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 5582 comments Mel wrote: "Christine wrote: "Hey Mel,
I am about 80% through Somewhere to Hide (the Estate series) after reading Taunting and Follow the Leader. STH is a great change of pace novel that I am greatly enjoyin..."


Mel, thank you for answering my questions. I am very pleased to hear you will be writing a 7-book crime series!! Exciting!

On one of our threads yesterday we got off on the subject of British slang in novels and virtually everyone said if they didn't know a word, they could discern the meaning in the context of the sentence. I definitely find that true the vast majority of time, so I really wouldn't think this should be a big problem. I do often stop and look these words up though as I am just interested in their precise definition. One of our British author members Heather Burnside directed us to a fab website for British slang (peevish.co.uk/slang) that is extremely entertaining just to browse through, lol. One of my very faves of yours, Mel, is "stroppy".

Tell your US team to keep their hands off your words.


message 35: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) H.N. wrote: "Thanks Mel for the Q&A!

Question: How much time off do you take between writing novels?"


That's a great question. I've just worked on two books for the past year. I wrote the first, then started the second, then worked on structural edits for the first, then back to the second, then worked on copy edits for the first, went back to the second, worked on proofs for the first and then did a structural edit, copy edits and proofread on the second! I have never worked so hard in my life, great to see both books out in a matter of months, as there is a cliffhanger at the end of Follow the Leader. But it something I don't want to repeat. I was exhausted. Exhilarated but exhausted.

But I do find a couple of weeks after I finish one, I'm itching to get on to another. I have several books planned enough to start at any time, ideas aren't my problem, just time to fit them all in.


message 36: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Janet wrote: "I still think it was a brave move on your part with Taunting The Dead. I think it's quite hard to write in your style because it would alienate many I guess. I personally was annoyed when reading..."

Thank you, Janet! I too felt the same - and I wanted readers at the end of Watching over You to wonder, had she made it all up, had some of it happened, had all of it happened? The rants in the diary were from one long drunken session so they had to be like they were, as too was the sex scenes to show that she was getting worse. I'm not one to write more than necessary - indeed I took a lot out of Watching over You before I published as it became too dark.

Funnily enough, I never struggle with the racier scenes. I doubt I'd ever be able to write about inner goddesses and whatnot though. But I do like to try and leave as much off the page as I can. In Taunting the Dead, there was a fair bit but it was meant to show how those characters used it for power.

I've always wanted to write - I think I'll answer the question that way. I'm not sure a writer ever truly believes they can write! We're so full of self-doubt. And often I sensor my writing as I'm not a dark character, you know. I met someone recently who said she enjoyed listening to me at a talk, all smiling and positive, bought Taunting the Dead and hated it because it was too gritty! I write gritty but I'm quite a nice person ;)


message 37: by Jean (new)

Jean | 1952 comments When you're not writing, what do you do for fun? Do you travel? Do have other creative endeavors? Or do you just give your brain a break and maybe play tennis or run marathons or something?


message 38: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Jean wrote: "When you're not writing, what do you do for fun? Do you travel? Do have other creative endeavors? Or do you just give your brain a break and maybe play tennis or run marathons or something?"


Jean, I wish I was more active. Writing for a profession is very unhealthy - not a lot of fresh air, working from home so not much exercise and terrible on the back. So when I'm not writing, I chill with my family and friends. I like to read when I get the brain time to dive in to someone else's words. I travel around the country but mostly for work, attending panels on festivals. Other than that, a holiday in the sun every now and again. I've never been happier in my life doing what I am now, so it's the simple things that I enjoy. I sound really boring, don't I, lol!


message 39: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Christine wrote: "Mel wrote: "Christine wrote: "Hey Mel,
I am about 80% through Somewhere to Hide (the Estate series) after reading Taunting and Follow the Leader. STH is a great change of pace novel that I am gre..."


Lol, I will do exactly that, Christine! I will look at that website tomorrow and let you know what I think. I shall be around here for a couple of days to answer questions if I've missed any.

And, yes, I feel the same when I read some Scandi novels, for instance. I like learning new things.


message 40: by Bill (new)

Bill Kupersmith | 32 comments One thing I really love about the Estate books are your care-givers. You create characters who inspire admiration without making them too good to be true. I'm looking forward to more like Cathy & Josie.


message 41: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 5582 comments Mel, do you know at this point whether your 7-book crime drama series will be set in The Estates?


message 42: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Bill wrote: "One thing I really love about the Estate books are your care-givers. You create characters who inspire admiration without making them too good to be true. I'm looking forward to more like Cathy & J..."

Thank you so much, Bill! Yes, the next book, Written in the Scars will feature Josie. I'd also like to do a book later that gets all the characters together from the earlier books so we can see what has happened to them all.


message 43: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Christine wrote: "Mel, do you know at this point whether your 7-book crime drama series will be set in The Estates?"

Christine, I really can't say for spoilers but yes, some of it will be set on the Mitchell Estate in The Estate Series... There will also be a police presence in the form of a Ms Shenton too... so the series' interlink.


message 44: by Sean, Moderator (last edited Feb 24, 2015 02:38PM) (new)

Sean Peters | 9128 comments Mod
Mel...

What do I do....

Just come back from snooker, rushed here to read all the messages and answers, and also send a few PM to fans.(your not mine !!)

But I want to go and finish your book as well....

Not enough hours in the day, and I get up at 5.00 am !!

I hope you will pop in tomorrow as mentioned, I am sure more questions will appear all evening.

Ps I have just ordered Somewhere To Hide !


message 45: by Christine (new)

Christine (clt04) | 5582 comments Mel wrote: "Christine wrote: "Mel, do you know at this point whether your 7-book crime drama series will be set in The Estates?"

Christine, I really can't say for spoilers but yes, some of it will be set on t..."


Oooooooh......


message 46: by Rhonda (new)

Rhonda Wunder | 583 comments Mel, I liked the way you were able to get the husband in the end. Do you usually now the ending before you start writing or does it come to you as you go along or does it change at all while you are writing. Also maybe putting a glossary of unique British terms at the end of the book would help people who don't know what they mean.


message 47: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Sean wrote: "Mel...

What do I do....

Just come back from snooker, rushed here to read all the messages and answers, and also send a few PM to fans.(your not mine !!)

But I want to go and finish your book as ..."


Hi Sean

Yes, I'm happy to stick around - no worries! Your group is brilliant! Some great questions coming in my way.


message 48: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) Rhonda wrote: "Mel, I liked the way you were able to get the husband in the end. Do you usually now the ending before you start writing or does it come to you as you go along or does it change at all while you a..."

Hi Rhonda

Yes, I do start off knowing the ending before I begin, and who does what so to speak. It doesn't change, who the murderer is, too often, but as I twist to try and keep the reader guessing, it might end up being someone totally different. In Only the Brave, the murderer changed right at the last minute as I thought of an extra twist, but I think that might have been a one off, and mainly because Only the Brave, book 3 mirrors a lot of things from Taunting the Dead, book 1. It really has become a trilogy of sorts, even though there will be more in the series.

That's a great idea re the glossary -The next book, Only the Brave is already done now but I'll mention it to my publisher for, hopefully, the one after.


message 49: by Mel (new)

Mel Sherratt (melsherratt) If I've missed anyone, please do let me know and I'll find the question again. Been great fun so far, thank you for your time.
Mel


message 50: by Sean, Moderator (new)

Sean Peters | 9128 comments Mod
Thanks Mel, I am very proud that most top authors who have done Q & A here are all still members.

I did receive PM sometimes and updates and comments.

Great if you do pop in, it would be great.

I think we have a great collection of members here.

This year alone we have had over 280 new members now, and growing.


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