It’s my pleasure to welcome Christine Campbell to the Storage Room today. Rusty Gold, the third book in her Reluctant Detective Series, was released yesterday so it’s a real treat to talk with her today. Christine and I write in the same genre and tend to address many of the same issues, but in very different ways. I love how that happens. Anyway, here’s Christine –
What genre books do you write?
Contemporary Women’s Fiction, though some of them almost fall into the cosy mystery/cosy crime sort of area.
What types of books do you typically read?
Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Cosy Crime, Mystery, Legal/courtroom novels, Relationship novels (not really romance)
Whatever I read, I like it to be a ‘clean’ read, as in no swearing, sex or violence. I’m also not into fantasy or science fiction – and especially not paranormal or supernatural.
So I suppose I have a pretty old-fashioned, conservative taste in books.
I have read a few books here and there outside that comfort zone, and I particularly enjoyed The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffeneger.
Which authors influenced you the most?
Oh, dear, sooo many! I’ve always loved reading, and always been in love with words.
This might sound an awful thing to say, but some of the really dreadful writers I have come across influenced me greatly because I thought, “I can do better than that!” They spurred me on to become a novelist.
On the positive side:
Authors like Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, Louisa May Alcott – when I was growing up
Maeve Binchy, Rosamund Pilcher, Susan Sallis, P.G.Wodehouse – as a young woman
John Grisham, Nicholas Sparks, Anita Shreve, Maggie O’Farrell, Anne Tyler, Rosie Thomas – as a middle-aged woman
Still love Anita Shreve and Maggie O’Farrell, in particular, now that I’m ‘more mature’.
There are many others too, and I’m sure if I took a look along my bookshelves I could fill the page with the names of authors I have enjoyed and who have therefore influenced me in a positive way.
How has your writing evolved from your first publications to now?
I think I develop the characters more now, and engage the senses better. I am certainly more aware of trying to do that. Having said that, I recently spent some time checking through Family Matters, the first book I had published, checking for typos etc, and I had prepared myself that I might want to do a major revision of it, but I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed reading it after all these years. I was content to make very minor changes in sentence structure and correct the few typos.
Of all the characters you’ve created, do you have a favorite?
Mirabelle, the main character in The Reluctant Detective Series I’ve been writing. I love her eccentricity and her upbeat personality, though she is also a woman who feels deeply and can fall apart as readily as the next woman.
Like most of the female main characters in my novels, she is an ordinary woman who finds extraordinary strengths when needed – though I doubt I should call her ordinary, she is actually fairly eccentric as I mentioned already, but she is no superwoman, so ordinary in the sense of down-to-earth.
Another of the things I like about her is that she loves people, cares deeply about them and wants to help everyone who she feels needs help, even if they don’t.
Do your books have a theme that runs through them?
Relationships. No matter the story line, it is the relationships between people that fascinate me most. I love how relationships develop through time, change with changing circumstances, and can withstand a lot of pressure if built on solid foundations.
The other theme common to most of my writing is losing loved ones, searching for people, finding relatives. This is probably because I grew up having never known my birth father. I set out to search for him when I was approaching forty, reckoning he might be that age where he could die before I find him if I didn’t look for him at that point.
I did find him and met him a couple of times. And therein lies a whole new story for another day.
But a lot of the methods I used, the way I felt about it, what it stirred up in me – these things I have been able to use here and there in some of my novels.
It was an interesting exercise and I’m so glad I did it. Finding him meant that I also found a whole new family, aunts, uncles, cousins, brother and sisters.
What is your writing process? Do you quickly outline your plots and move on from there? Do your plots develop over a period of years?
I used to be a total ‘pantser’, just sat down and wrote the story I had in my head, but over the years and the novels, I’ve become a little more of a planner. It definitely makes the whole process quicker and easier when you spend some time in the pre-writing of a novel: things like character development as well as plot outlining really do help the writing go smoother and less likely to hiccup.
The better I plan a novel, the easier I find it is to edit when I get to that stage.
Tell us about your new book.
My latest book, Rusty Gold, is the third book in my Reluctant Detective Series.
Mirabelle had thought she and Summer were happy. Being a single parent may not be ideal, but they coped well with their situation. Sure, bringing up a teenaged girl on her own was hard work, and they had their ups and downs, but they were pals as well as mother and daughter. She might not have planned her, but she was certainly glad she had Summer, and would not have liked to be without her. They’d built a life together, sorted out some kind of routine, and were happy. On a day to day basis, Mirabelle reckoned that’s all you could ask for.
Then Summer disappeared and Mirabelle was left searching for her daughter.
The reason for the title of the series is that while Mirabelle searches for her daughter, she realises she has a knack for finding and reuniting other missing people with their loved ones. It’s not really what she wants to be doing, but how can she refuse to help when someone comes to her begging her to help find their missing son or daughter, mother or friend?
In Book One of this series, her search was centred in Edinburgh, and Mirabelle wandered the streets, slept rough, in cemeteries and squats, Searching for Summer.
In Book Two, Traces of Red, her search widened out to include the Scottish countryside further North.
Now, in Book Three, Rusty Gold, Mirabelle is off to the Island of Skye.
‘Find her,’ Agnes Donald had begged. ‘Find my daughter.’ The words of a dying woman force Mirabelle to take on another case for the unofficial Missing Persons Bureau she runs from her Edinburgh flat. Along with her assistant, Kay, she heads for the island of Skye where Esme Donald was last known to be. But is someone else looking for Esme too? And could Mirabelle’s own daughter, Summer, be in danger?
What is next for you?
At present, my WIP, For What It’s Worth, is another story about Mirabelle and her family and friends, but it is not so much another book in the Reluctant Detective Series as it is a spin-off from it. This one features Mirabelle’s sister, Yvonne, and we get to know her better and hear her story. She’s been itching to tell it. Like Mirabelle, she too is a fun character going through a difficult time and finding her strengths and weaknesses.
Mirabelle is very much a part of Yvonne’s story, but Yvonne is the main character this time.
Interested in getting a copy of Rusty Gold? CLICK HERE
Where can we find you on the internet?
More about Christine Campbell:
Christine Campbell is a writer. She has always been a writer. For as long as she can remember, she has scribbled poems and prose, snippets and stories on scraps of paper, in the back of cheque books, napkins, on the back of her hand — anything more durable than her faulty memory.
She loves being a writer, a novelist, in particular, and she writes contemporary fiction: strongly character-based, relationship novels — with a smidgen of romance and a generous dusting of mystery and detection.
She has learned a lot about her craft since that wonderful night when she held her first completed, printed manuscript novel in her arms. Her first book-baby.
Christine has now completed and published seven novels, the seventh newly ready to leave home and see the big wide world and, even more importantly, to be seen by it. It’s so exciting when your book-babies grow up and leave home. As mother of five grown-up, married children and ten grandchildren, Christine knows a lot about babies growing up and leaving home!