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Catherine MacPhail is an amazing mystery/suspense writer. Her books are filled with twists you never see coming. Don't even try and guess the ending to one of her books, because you'll always be wrong.
I recently e-mailed Ms. MacPhail, asking if she would mind my interviewing her for Teen Ink.
1. When did you really get into writing?
I was always into writing. But after my children were born I started going to the local writers club and it was there I was given the encouragement to send my stories away. My first published short story was a twist in the tail, called The Perfect Wife!
2. When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I think I always knew I wanted to be a writer. My favorite book was Little Women about four sisters and one of them wanted to be a writer and I was one of four sisters and wanted to be a writer. Can't remember not wanting to be a writer.
3. How did/do you create such unique mysteries/thrillers, filled with so many twists and turns?
I love reading mysteries with lots of twists and turns, and I think you should write the kind of books you like to read.
4. Where do you find inspiration when writers block sets in?
Don't tell anyone but i don't really believe in writers block. I might sometimes get stuck about what is going to happen next, but to me that is just your brain working out your story.
5. Are you a fan of ghosts stories, like "Dark Waters", or thrillers, like "Missing"?
I love ghost stories! But even my ghost stories are thrillers too I think. I loved writing Dark Waters, didn't know it was a ghost story till the end myself! But of course there is a ghostly element to Missing, isn't there?
6. What is your favorite book that you've written?
That is like asking a mother who her favorite baby is. How can I choose a favorite? I might offend one of the others. But of course, Run Zan Run was my first and it was about my daughter Katie, so I will always have a soft spot for that. And my latest is Grass, my new baby, so of course I want everyone to admire my new baby.
7. What are some of your hobbies?
I am so boring, my hobbies are all to do with writing or reading. I love being with my children, and I love television and going to the cinema. but I'm not a bit sporty, I'm afraid.
8. What is a book/author that has most influenced your writing and you, yourself, as a writer?
I suppose I would have to say Little Women, because in that book, Jo is only successful when she realizes she should write about real life, and it took me a long time to learn that too. But I learn from every book I read.
9. What are some of your favorite books/authors?
Too many to count. Pride and Prejudice, Emma, Persuasion, Salems' Lot, Therese Raquin, The Road, And Then There Were None, Dracula... as you can see I don't stick to one genre to read, do I?
10. Is there a certain type of writing or genre that you would like to experiment with?
Good question. I would like to write an adult murder mystery, or a real horror story, and I still like writing scripts for radio, but I would like to get something on television. To write for Doctor Who maybe!
11. Is there a novel you are working on now, that you would like to tell your fans about?
I am so excited about my next book, because it is the first in a series about a character called Tyler Lawless, who can see dead people, and has another special gift too. I am just putting the finishing touches to the second int he series, called Something Evil, trying to make it as scary and un-put-downable as i can!
So I am relying on you, Rachel, and my other fans to make Tyler Lawless mega! Like Twilight. Tell me what i need to do to make sure that happens. By the way, the first, out later this year is called. Out of The Depths.
12. Are any of your stories based on true events or legends?
It's always real life that sparks off my stories. Roxy's Baby a terrible story on the radio. Run Zan Run, what happened to Katie, Another Me, my own fear of coming face to face with myself. btu also based on a real life legend. A fetch, a doppelganger, and the legend says if you come face to face with your fetch you are going to die very soon. So I am always ont he lookout for real life stories, or strange mysteries I can use.
13. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
My best advice? Read as much as you can. Without even realising it when you read you are learning how another writer has made you turn the page, made your heart jump with terror, or made you laugh or made you cry. How did they describe that scene and bring it to life for you, how did they create that character. and of course, write every day, even if it is just a new word, or a sentence, the more you write, the better you get at it!