I was luck enough to be able to chat with the lovely Pam Lecky. Pam had just had some fantastic news. Her book, The Bowes Inheritance, had just been shortlisted for the Carousel Aware Prize 2016 for Independent Authors.
All of us here at The Review and all of our followers wish you the very, very best for this, Pam and really hope you do well.
Hi Pam. I am sure that you are tired of being asked the usual questions that would be interviewers ask authors, so hopefully this interview is an interview with a difference and I have come up with some unusual questions!If your latest book, The Bowes Inheritance, was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role?
Wouldn’t that be lovely! If I could have a say in the casting it would be James McAvoy to play the male protagonist Nicholas Maxwell – I think he could do the slightly tortured and brooding scenes very well indeed. As the heroine Louisa Campbell is Irish, I would love to see an Irish actress in the role. Sarah Greene has the right look and would be perfect for the independent and feisty Louisa.
If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!) you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind?
I adore crime novels and one of my current projects is in that genre. I’m a huge fan of Anne Perry, Deanna Raybourn, M.R.C. Kasasian – who all write Victorian crime and I grew up on P.D. James, Dorothy L Sayers, Ruth Rendell, and Elizabeth George.
I am finding the genre very challenging and the writing has taken on a different style, purely because that type of story demands it. My WIP is called The Carver Affair and is set in 1894 Dublin. It is the story of a Detective Inspector whose career is on the rise when he takes on what appears to be a very clear-cut case. But the murder takes him on an unexpected journey and forces him to face up to the ghosts of his past. Solving the case almost destroys his career.
Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...??
I have to be able to visualise a scene before I can write it and there is nothing better than the right type of music to help you do that. It would be generally classical music I would listen to when writing. Music also helps me when I get stuck, mainly because it helps me relax and the ideas start to flow again. I also have a tendency to come up with plot/dialogue either just as I’m nodding off to sleep or waking up – not very convenient I have to confess.
Apart from that, and it’s my biggest downfall, I tend to drink a lot (and I mean a LOT) of … tea. (Ah, but there is a such a thing as 'too much tea' ??? Hang on. I need to get the kettle on!)
*What is the worse book you have ever read? What made it unreadable for you?
I’m not going to name it and I’ll tell you why. Now that I am an author I know how much goes into writing a book – the time, (the pain!) and often neglecting other areas of your life. You sacrifice a lot. I don’t post reviews for books I don’t like for that reason. You have to give the author the benefit of the doubt and maybe it’s just not my thing and others will really enjoy it.
However, if a book is badly written or is clearly an editor-free-zone, I will post a review - but it will be as constructive as I can make it. Too many Indie authors think that editing isn’t essential. Frankly, this baffles me. Recently I have been quite shocked to read traditionally published books that look as though an editor hadn’t been near them either. As an Indie author I know the cost of editing is high but I feel very strongly that if you are going to compete, you need your ‘product’ to be of a high standard and let’s face it; your reader deserves value for money too. Now, my rant is over J.
(I fully understand and empathise with everything that you say.)
*Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job?
I would probably pursue a career in horticulture which I studied with the RHS. I designed and built a show garden a few years ago in Bloom, the Irish equivalent of Chelsea.
Coffee or tea? Red or white?
I think I have already answered the first one above! As for wine – neither just to be awkward – I prefer rosé.
*If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose?
As I’m Indie, I do have the choice. I generally use Garamond or Times New Roman in my POD books as they are easy to read. I use Times New Roman for Kindle as it doesn’t matter too much which font you use – the newer Kindles/Kindle apps let the reader choose the font they want. (As a seller of vintage type, this excited me so much when I first came across it!! A brilliant move forward!)
Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be?
I actually did. My great grandfather’s shop and home were destroyed in the fires and looting in Dublin during the Easter Rising in 1916. I found his insurance claim to the Government in the National Archives. It was very detailed and gave a wonderful insight, both into his business and how they lived. It even included the very poignant item, ‘daughter’s trousseau’, listed as destroyed. The great aunt in question married a year later, hopefully with a new trousseau. Thankfully, the family was unharmed but it must have been a terrifying experience. (Gosh!!!)
Historical fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot?
That didn’t arise in The Bowes Inheritance as all the characters were fictional. Some were based on real characters and real events drove the plot to some degree. I had to keep a balance between the politics and events of the time and the main thread of the story. It was important that the historical details didn’t swamp the main storyline which was a young woman’s struggle to be accepted in a new community that was predisposed to be suspicious of her.
*Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this?
I try not to. In The Bowes Inheritance I had to move one incident (time and place) to make the timeline work but everything else that happened was true to history. I include the proviso at the beginning of the book that ‘Names, characters, places and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously’.
*Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred?
So far that hasn’t been an issue for me as my characters tend to be fictitious with a background of real events. I have yet to include a real historical character in my work, other than in passing.
*Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters?
In one of my unpublished stories (that may one day see the light of day!) one character I conjured up was quite wicked but his back story was such that he could not have turned out any other way. He was enormous fun to write but I had to kill him off. It was such a difficult decision. I couldn’t write that chapter for about a week and when I did, I think I actually grieved for him. I moped for days afterwards – I was genuinely upset! (I understand. I never was able to carry on with one MS as I knew Piet had to die, but I could not bring myself to be the one to kill him.)
*What do you enjoy reading for pleasure?
I tend to read a lot of historical fiction – crime and romance – that is when I have the time. Unfortunately, trying to write and working part-time, means I don’t have as much reading time as I’d like.
I also read a lot for research – either history in some form or other (books/blogs, etc.) or fiction of the time. For instance, I have just finished reading James Plunkett’s Strumpet City (an incredible book, by the way) to get a feel for Dublin in 1913 during the Lock-Out.
*What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book?
Curl up on a window seat with the wind and rain lashing against the window, a roaring fire in the grate and a nice (large) glass of Baileys close at hand!
*Last but not least... favourite historical author?
Georgette Heyer – she is unsurpassed for characterisation, attention to detail and humour. She is my writing hero.
This has been wonderful, Pam. Thank you very much. Shall we have that cup of tea now???
Biography: Pam Lecky originally hails from Clontarf, Dublin, and now lives in north County Dublin. A working mum with three children, a dog and two cats, her life is hectic. Pam studied horticulture with the RHS, loves music and photography, and has been an avid reader from an early age. A huge fan of historical fiction and crime, particularly when combined, she finally decided to set free the stories battling for release in her head. She has a particular fascination with all things 19th century, from food and clothes to architecture and social history. If there was time travel, she’d be the first to sign up and there are no prizes for guessing what time period she’d travel to.
The Bowes Inheritance is her debut novel, and is available as an ebook or paperback on Amazon. It has been shortlisted for The Carousel Aware Prize 2016 and was longlisted for the Historical Novel Society Indie Award 2016.
You can learn more about Pam, her book and follow her blog at Pam Lecky or follow her on Twitter @pamlecky.