After the darkness – ruminating on our chat with Julia Crouch

Julia CrouchPhil: Well done again for bagging another top interview.

Candice: Why, thank you. Your turn to get the next one.

Phil: Hmm. Anyway, the main thing I notice is that as with Daisy Waugh,  editing is the key to the finished book. I can understand this as Julia’s books rely heavily on a well-planned plot. You can’t just let the characters run off and do their own thing, they have to perform like actors on a stage so you reach the denouncement and tie up most, if not all of the plot strands. This is, I suspect, the difference between “real” authors and the rest of us. They see the big picture whereas we are too busy enjoying the details. I even found this post on her blog that shows the novel split up into Post-it notes. I suppose this must mean we are heading in the right direction.

Glad you asked the question about being “light and fluffy”. We were both completely fooled by Julia at Stratford Literary Festival. I’m glad I didn’t get to ask a question because it’s obvious that if she didn’t like it, a horrible death would be plotted for the questioner! Seriously though, I read the first two novels and wondered where the author stopped and character started. Every Vow You Break takes place around the background of a theatre company and I wonder if there are people reading it who are thinking, “Has she based XXX on me?”.

Maybe this is catharsis – you can do things on the page that you shouldn’t do in real life. In fact, people generally want to read an extreme version of real life and that’s exactly what the crime writer provides. The trick is to keep things believable which must mean reining in the imagination at times.

Work-wise, Julia is very organised. Deadlines. 90 minute writing sessions. Word targets. Even a proper office, albeit a shed at the bottom of the garden. Yet again though, there seems to be a lot of running involved. Not sure I like the sound of that.

Candice: I seem to be handling the running part of this partnership. Perhaps we should share the workload here?

Phil: Maybe not. I mean, I’m sure that running is fine if you can get yourself “in the zone”, let your mind float free and enter a Zen-like trance. Becoming a frustrated, sweaty lump isn’t quite so helpful.

Candice: Hum. I really like this idea but am not a morning run person so I wonder how this works for me? The idea of doing something before settling down it is good though, hence the idea of leaving the home as otherwise it takes me ages to concentrate.

Phil: Yes, we always seem to be more productive when using a library for work. When fame and riches arrive, we’re going to hire office space so a working mindset takes over. Thinking along those lines, the targets are a good idea. At “real” work, everyone has deadlines and I bet if we’d had something definite to aim at, our book would be finished by now.

Another area to look forward to is publicity. We can both do the showing off bit, so the thought of appearing at festivals, talks, library events, signings and workshops appeals. This is another difference between “real” authors and the rest. They understand that writing is just part of the job. You have to sell what you produce and this can’t be done from an ivory tower, or even well-insulated shed at the bottom of the garden.

Candice: I’ve been thinking hard about needing to buy new frocks for public appearances. In fact I’m planning to do some more research on Asos.com as soon as I’ve finished writing this post…

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