There are two Alison Bruces… actually there are way more than that, a movie star, a physicist, librarian, women’s hockey play, I could go on… but in the world of authors I think there’s just the two of us. Some times it causes some minor confusion, but we don’t mind, in fact it’s already proven to add a quirky twist to the day when someone’s not talking to quite the person they thought they were…
This brings me nicely onto the super-prolific author interviewer Morgen Bailey (opposite), who has nearly 400 author interviews on her site with another 200 in the pipeline…
Yes, one a day, every day.
Well I noticed that Morgen had interviewed the other Alison Bruce (that’s @alisonebruce in Canada) who had mentioned the other Alison Bruce (that’s me). It was a great interview and I even learned that Alison logic on decided not to use a pen name was exactly the same as mine. Alison’s Interview 138 is here.
And here’s mine :
Blog interview no.311 with crime and non-fiction writer Alison Bruce
Morgen: Hello. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Alison: I live in a village a few miles outside Cambridge. I moved here when got married and before that I’d lived in the West of England and worked in London. I first visited Cambridge in 1997 and when I decided to set my detective novels here the city was still relatively new to me. First long as I can remember I have written bits and pieces – mostly poems, short plays and stories while I was school, and later, my love of music led me to writing reviews of gigs and short biographies of musicians from my local radio station. I never aspired to being a novelist but enrolled on a short screenwriting course after coming up with a story idea but I felt would make a great movie. The man running the course was the director David Yates who was also staring out in his career, he liked the story but advised me to write it as a book first, OK I thought, how hard can it be? I guess there’s nothing like the combination of ignorance and enthusiasm for underestimating the job at hand.
Morgen: Having written four and a bit novels and 102 pages of script, I know which I’d rather stick to, although I don’t actually stick with either – I’m short stories through and through. What genre do you generally write?
Alison: I have written crime fiction and non-fiction. I don’t particularly see myself as only ever writing crime however I have so many crime stories bubbling in my head perhaps I’ll never find the time to try anything dramatically different. Having said that, I have the idea for a screenplay and if I’m ever in the position to tackle it I will jump at the chance.
Morgen: Ooh, Script Frenzy runs 1st to 30th April – your ideal opportunity. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Alison: I don’t write under a pseudonym, my publishers toyed with the idea of A.C. Bruce or Ali Bruce but as I already had non-fiction books published under the name Alison Bruce I was keen to stick to it. My first book, Cambridgeshire Murders, came out in 2005 and my first novel, Cambridge Blue in 2008, since then I have written one more non-fiction book, Billington – Victorian Executioner and three more novels in the same series, The Siren, The Calling and the book due out in July 2012, The Silence.
Morgen: I actually interviewed another Alison Bruce back in September 2011. It would be interesting to know whether readers ever mix you up and whether this has improved sales for either / both of you. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Alison: I have had rejections but fortunately not a huge number, I think this is partly due to finding the right agent before my first novel was pitched, it meant that the manuscript had been through quite a long editing and polishing process before if ever arrived on a commissioning editor’s desk. From the rejections I did receive I took all their comments and, as an exercise, decided to try to come up with a plot and character that addressed their various points, it turned out to be both fun and a very positive experience as the notes I ended up with turned into the bones of a stand-alone novel that I am currently writing.
Morgen: Oh wow. That’s the first I’ve heard of that happening. What a great result. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Alison: When I was 15 I had a poem published in Pony Club Annual, my prize was £1 and a copy of the book and I can’t remember even coming close to winning anything ever since.
Morgen: My first was £10 from Woman’s Weekly – I still have the original cheque. So you have an agent, do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Alison: The publishing world is going through huge changes at the moment and there are opportunities for writers to have success without an agent and even without a publishing deal with a traditional publisher however, I think the advice and support my agent has given me has been invaluable. She has years of experience and far more objectivity than I could have of my own work.
Morgen: I do think they are worth every penny (on the whole) but with eBooks so accessible it’s very tempting for an author to go that way after a few rejections trying the traditional method (like me ). Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Alison: This debate reminds me of the CD or vinyl debate… I love buying vinyl but love playing MP3s. I never thought I’d convert but the convenience won me over and I guess the same may eventually happen with my use of eBooks. So far I have read a couple on the Kindle App for my MacBook but it doesn’t quite feel the same yet. My novels are available as eBooks and have sold very well for Kindle with The Calling peaking at number 2 in the crime fiction chart.
Morgen: Well done. You must be chuffed. I’m yet to put my books on Amazon (but will before or when the novels are ready) but I do love my (month-or-so-old) Kindle. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Alison: I really love events where I can meet readers and answer questions, and I never turn down an opportunity like this. Sometimes events are booked via my publishers, but very often I’m approached directly, so I make sure I have all the publicity materials that will help to make the event the success. I have cards, promotional photographs, press releases and a display stand, all of which I have organised myself and I think these are the kind of items that make a big difference in the amount of publicity an event can generate and also the impression that readers are left with after they have attended.
Morgen: I’m off to a friend’s book signing today (his first as far as I know) and I love going – even if it’s not me doing the signing (I don’t plan any paper versions but never say never), it’s the whole experience of it. I went to Sheryl Browne’s book talk and signing recently at Droitwich Library and that was great (especially as she pointed me out and we ended up having a conversation about second person). Do you have a favourite of your books or characters?
Alison: LOL, I like this question!
Morgen: Thank you, it’s quite new.
Visit Morgen’s blog for the answer… to this and the rest of the interview.