Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Going crazy with Elizabeth Forbes


Your novel is called 'Nearest Thing To Crazy' please could you tell me about it?
A quiet country village is pleased to welcome a glamorous new resident, a novelist renting a cottage for six months to work on her new book. However, she seems to be targeting one of the women. Strange things start to happen: someone is definitely playing mental games, but it’s not clear who, and why.

"Nearest Thing To Crazy' is a psychological read, did you find it took over as you started to write it?
It was quite a difficult project to write at times. Getting inside the mind of someone who was going through such psychological turmoil was exhausting, and I can only liken it to being a method actor, having to become that character, really get inside her head. I think any book one writes has to take over, because if it doesn’t grip the writer then it won’t grip the reader.

They say the journey to being published is one of the hardest an author can take, please can you describe the journey that you went on?
Firstly I was lucky enough to find an agent, the wonderful Broo Doherty and she nurtured the book and me throughout the writing process, giving advice and support which was invaluable. Then it finally went out into the world and Cutting Edge Press said they loved it and wanted to publish it. I was very lucky to be taken up by such a young and innovative company because I believe they really care about each book they take on. They have involved me in every step of the publishing process, choosing the cover, the typefaces, each stage of setting and proofing, so I really felt I was in good hands, and that they respected both me and the book. They are also doing a brilliant job on the publicity front, and because they are small it’s like a family and we have a lot of fun together.


Are any of the characters in 'Nearest Thing To Crazy' anything like you?
I don’t think so. I try and develop characters who have had life experiences totally different to my own – that way it’s more interesting to discover how they will react to the challenges I put them through. If I was simply writing a diary of my own life, I would know how it was going to turn out, and that would be dull, I think. It’s the ‘not knowing’ what will happen next that makes the writing process so exciting so I need to get to know these strangers and let them tell me who they are.

Writers put so much time and energy into their characters and I have been told in the past that a writer carries their characters around with them.
So my question is if you could go out for a day with any one of your characters: who would it be, what would you do and why did you pick this particular character?

I would obviously have to go out with Cass, because she’s flawed and vulnerable which I think is what makes her human. I like her dry sense of humour and her ability to laugh at herself. And I like the contradictions in her make up.

If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
I think reading is vital. Reading all sorts of different genres and seeing how other authors make a success – or not – of their work..

What can we expect next, any future books in the pipeline?
I’m working on my new novel right now and hopefully it will be ready for publication next June. It will be another psychological thriller, very possibly a bit darker than Nearest Thing to Crazy. I can’t say much more than that at the moment.

Was there any book you read as a child that convinced you that you wanted to become a writer? If so, which one was it?
I wish I could say there was. I read avidly as a child and a teenager. Going through different stages, like everyone else. I remember sneaking my mother’s Jean Plaidy novels which were quite racy. Then I discovered Jane Eyre which terrified me. And then I went through a D H Lawrence phase, Aldous Huxley, George Orwell - that was in the days when Penguin Books were that splendid orange and it was almost a status symbol to have a collection on one’s bookshelf. Rather pretentious, I guess.

if there was one saying that could sum up your life, what would it be?
However dark life seems, things will always get better.....

if you could choose one book that you think everyone should read, what would it be and why?
Henry James Portrait of a Lady. The writing is superb, and the characters are so real. The section where he gets right inside Isabel Archer’s consciousness is oft-quoted because it is so very good.

What or who in life inspires you?
Other writers, books, movies and television. Newspapers, magazines, radio phone-ins. I think as a writer you have to be a sponge soaking up everything – even if it’s not a conscious thing at the time.

What is your all time favourite book?
Portrait of a Lady, Henry James

if 'The Nearest Thing To Crazy' was to be made into a film, who would you like to star in it?
Hmm, that’s a bit of a pipe dream. Great question and took me a long time to decide. Dan could be Greg Wise, possibly. And Cass could be Kate Winslett. As for the glamorous Ellie that’s a difficult one. Maybe Rachel Weisz would be a possibility.

Please could you tell us a bit about your writing process?
Slow to start, and then obsessive and all-consuming. The obsessive and all-consuming part is the best bit, although sadly not necessarily compatible with family life.

Your 5 dream dinner party guests?
Wow, another really interesting question that took some pondering: Boris Johnson, Mick Jagger, Bill Deedes, Bill Nighy and Ian McEwan. All men, all to myself. So I’ve got politics, music, media, theatre and literature. That would be a great evening.


I would like to thank Elizabeth for talking to 'The Love of a Good Book'

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