Today author Pam Lecky joins us to answer “10 Questions” about her writing. Pam writes historical fiction and has published an impressive range of subgenres, including crime, mystery, romance, and the supernatural.
Linda Covella: Welcome, Pam!
When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Pam Lecky: That’s quite difficult to answer – it’s certainly back in the mists of time! My first foray into writing was poetry – angst-ridden teenage stuff which I would shudder to read now. However, I did win a prize for it, so some of it may not have been too dreadful!
There was no one moment when I thought I am going to become a writer. But I’ve always had stories knocking around in my head. While on a career break from work, I was reading a book with a very unsatisfactory ending and I remember thinking I could do better. Then someone I knew quite well suddenly announced they had a book coming out and I had never even known she was a writer. Somehow this combination of factors led to me ‘trying my hand at it’ myself. However, it was not until 2013 that a particular story seemed to be screaming to be let out into the world. Out of that came my debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, published in 2015, a book I am very proud of. It is romantic suspense with lots of mystery and a strong Irish flavour although set predominantly in the English Lake District.
It was awarded the B.R.A.G. Medallion and was shortlisted and longlisted for awards and has received consistently good reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
Once you’ve popped your head above the parapet, writing-wise and no one shoots you down, it gets easier. I guess I was smitten with the process too and the feedback I have received keeps me motivated. Signing with a literary agency in London this year has been the icing on the cake for me, so far.
LC: Congratulations on acquiring an agent!
What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
PL: I am very lucky to have my own study with room for bookcases with all of my reference books close to hand. Over the years I have had different writing companions, including a couple of dogs and cats. These days, however, my only company is some goldfish and minnows in the aquarium near my desk. I find it relaxing to watch them swimming around if mulling over a tricky impasse in my work in progress.
It is wonderful to have a quiet space in which to work. When I close the door, I am transported back in time, usually around 1880!
As I work part-time, my writing time is precious. The days I am working I tend to be too tired for creative writing, but if I have editing to do, I usually try to do some of that. A couple of times a year, I go away for a few days to concentrate on my writing. I have found this both enjoyable and very successful. When you are immersed in your story for a long period, it can become much clearer where the gaps or loose ends are lurking.
Plotter V Pantser! Well, I fall somewhere in-between these days. For my debut (which I never even thought of publishing as I wrote it), I just let the story flow. Now I am a little more disciplined and start with a loose plot outline and a rough idea of who my main characters will be. Because I write mostly historical fiction, I find my plots tend to evolve as I research and ideas pop into my head. The more subtle details tend to develop slowly over time.
LC: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
PL: The inspiration for my Victorian mysteries and crime novels is probably from two sources; a love of history and a love of classic literature. I read a lot as a child and teenager and it was mostly historical fiction or contemporary crime.
The Victorian era, in particular, has always fascinated me because of the rapid pace of change and the effect of those changes on society. This, combined with my love of Victorian fashion, architecture and manners, meant it was inevitable that this would be my era. However, I have set my sights on the Edwardian, WW1 and 1920s as eras I’d like to write in too.
For my short stories, much of the inspiration came from my family history. Two of the short stories in my anthology, Past Imperfect, are about true events in my family’s past, (names changed to protect the innocent, of course!) including how my grandparents ended up together.
LC: I’m intrigued about your grandparents’ story; your anthology is now in my Kindle library. 🙂
Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
PL: When I read, I have a preference for strong female leads and can’t bare wishy-washy women who simper and wait for the men to do all the heroic stuff. So it is important for me that the women in my stories, within the constraints of their environment and time period, get out and live life to the full.
I am currently working on a series of Victorian mysteries. Strangely enough, they started out to be about an insurance investigator and his adventures in Victorian society, but as I created the female protagonist, Lucy Lawrence, she started to outshine him completely. She is strong and feisty and not afraid to do her own sleuthing. I have a feeling the series will be all about her now! She has just been widowed, finds out some terrible things about her late husband and is thrown into the dark underbelly of Victorian London with its collection of unsavory characters. She is a delight because I can watch her evolve from being a frustrated and bored stay-at-home wife to being an independent spirt directing her own destiny. She’s incredibly brave so she gets to do all the stuff I’d like to do but won’t because I am such a coward!
LC: Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
PL: I think it is impossible not to unless you are naughty and base your characters on people you know (not that I’d ever do that!!). Even then, something of your opinion of that person will colour the character. I hope none of my characters are recognizable as me, in fact, it is probably the opposite in that most of my protagonists are a complete contrast. So perhaps they are the version of me I’d like the world to see? However, it is never intentional – they emerge from the chaos of my day to day life and set themselves up in my head and keep nudging me until their story is down on paper.
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
PL: I’d like to think my plots and characters are interlinked and drive each other, but if I have to choose I’d say I lean towards plot driven. I think most crime/mystery novels are. Since I have starting writing short stories, where every word counts, my writing has tightened up a great deal which in turn speeds up the plot to some extent – no meandering navel gazing individuals, or three page descriptions of the lush and green river valley with its gnarled oaks standing as sentinels on the gravel-strewn bank, their bare branches dipping in to the gushing water as if to stem the flow. (Sorry, couldn’t resist!).
My current work has a very fast moving plot, with many twists and turns, but through this the reader gets to know the characters well by how they act and react to people and events.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
PL: I devoured books from an early age. My mother would buy me Ladybird books in the supermarket and I’d have finished them by the time we would get home in the car. Consequently, my father got me a library card! As a shy teenager I found great comfort in books and read mostly historical romances, classics and a huge number of crime novels.
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
PL: I think it is vital both as a break from writing and pure enjoyment. My reading time is very limited now that I write, but it helps me relax. Now I’m part of the writing community, I come across a lot of great writers and books. My ‘To Be Read’ pile (on my Kindle) is a disgrace it is so long, but I can’t resist a good blurb! Time constraints unfortunately mean if a book doesn’t hook me in the first few chapters, I will abandon it and start something new. Reading other genres is useful too and when I come across a great read, I tend to analyse it a bit (editor’s hat goes on automatically these days!) but from doing so you can improve your own skills.
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
PL: My all-time favourites would be Elizabeth Gaskell (North and South and Wives and Daughters), Jane Austen (Sense & Sensibility & Pride and Prejudice) and for romance, Georgette Heyer. These were fabulous writers who created memorable characters you could love and/or hate and stories that stayed with you long after you finished the books.
In the crime genre, I adore Dorothy L Sayers, PD James and Elizabeth George – what fabulously twisty minds those women had and have! Above all, they are masters of plot and again create such wonderful characters – Lord Peter Wimsey & Harriet Vane, Adam Dalgliesh, Inspector Lynley, – just superb!
LC: Anything new in the works?
PL: The first in my Lucy Lawrence mystery series (mentioned above), set in the late Victorian era in London and Yorkshire, is currently with commissioning editors. I would love it to find a publishing home soon and I am working hard on the sequel as we speak. I hope there will be at least 3 if not 4 books in the series. I also have one novelette I’d like to expand to a full novel. So, as you can see, that’s me kept busy for a while!
LC: Yes, busy but fun. And good luck with the current book making the publisher rounds!
Pam, thanks so much. I really enjoyed your answers and learning more about you and your writing.
Pam Lecky is an Irish historical fiction author, writing crime, mystery, romance and the supernatural. She is a member of the Historical Novel Society and the Society of Authors and has a particular love of the late Victorian era/early 20th Century. Her debut novel, The Bowes Inheritance, was awarded the B.R.A.G Medallion; shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016; and long-listed for the Historical Novel Society 2016 Indie Award. Her short stories are available in an anthology, entitled Past Imperfect, which was published in April 2018. She is currently working on a Victorian mystery series. Pam is represented by the Hardman & Swainson Literary Agency in London.
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