Interview with Frances Fyfield
Marianne Shearer is at the height of her career, a dauntingly successful barrister, respected by her peers and revered by her clients. So why has she killed herself? Her latest case had again resulted in an acquittal, although the outcome was principally due to the death of the prime witness after Marianne’s forceful cross-examination. Had this wholly professional and unemotional lawyer been struck by guilt or uncertainty, or is there some secret to be discovered in her blandly comfortable private life? Her tenacious colleague Peter Friel is determined to find out of that last trial held the reason for her taking her own life. The transcript holds intriguing clues, but it is another witness at the trial who holds the key to the truth.
Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your books?
Because they contain serious stories, well written with touches of humour, irony and above all suspense.? (I’m told by readers they like my books because they like my characters.) One reader told me she liked my characters because they made her realise she was not as mad as she thought she was. Also, I’m in love with the English language.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
I always learn something knew, because most of my characters are on voyages of discovery themselves. They often refuse to do things which endanger their health, which sends the plot in an entirely new direction.
Nothing is predictable.
How do you research your books?
Usually the idea is triggered by a personal experience, or equally often, a particular place which I’ve seen . So, research is physical, and I usually know something about the subject before I start. For instance, a book I wrote called ‘Staring at the Light’ was inspired by multiple visits to the dentist for complicated implant surgery. I put the dentist at the centre of the plot, so I had to learn a lot more about how he worked.
I research for facts via newspapers, libraries and the internet, but the best way of doing it is finding an expert willing to talk about it and tell me stories which become the impetus for the plot. My research is more talking and listening. Also walking and exploring, thus I’ve climbed into church Towers, office cellars, examined maps, done jobs and sat in Art restorers studios and dentist’s waiting rooms.
What’s your favourite quote about writing for writers ?
‘A book is easier to dream than to write.’
Don’t know who said it, but it’s surely true.
What’s the best thing about being a writer?
Being a dreamer who can turn a dream into some kind of reality, for someone else to enjoy.
Who inspires you?
The dogged and determined decent working men and women who are the salt of the earth. And their children and their dogs.
What are your thoughts on self publishing v traditional publishing?
I think traditional publishers have missed so many tricks and so many good books by constantly following trends, that self- publishing is sometimes the only way to get work to the public. It should be respected.
However, I personally want to read a novel that has been judged as worthy by someone other than the author. All novels need editors.
Who or what inspired you to become an author?
My father, who was handing me books as soon as I could read at four years old. And, because of that, I’m inspired by the Authors I read, then and ever since. I wanted to pay back those great Authors who had so enriched my life and knowledge of it.
I wanted to do for others what they had done for me. There’s no pleasure quite like it. So, other authors!
Does your family support you in your writing career?
Nope! When I started, they mainly thought I was mad to try it. I had a good job as a lawyer, took a year off to try writing. My mother wailed, ‘You used to be so interesting!’ What’s happened to you?’
My brothers and sisters didn’t notice.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m a sometime radio broadcaster, I’m a passionate collector of Art, ( yes, that goes in books, too!) . I walk, talk, cook, eat, drink and spend as much time as possible loitering by the Sea.
I love shopping.