I’m not totally sure it was ever a premeditated decision. I was good at English at school and had an excellent English teacher in junior school who got me interested in books. I loved our village library – started with Enid Blyton and soon moved onto Agatha Christie. I think writing was a natural progression of reading for me – wanting to create my own stories and realising I was quite good at it and it wasn’t something everyone else could do as easily as I could!
And then I think encouragement from my partner, Adrian, about twelve years ago gave me the confidence to take it up a notch and consider going for a full-length novel, rather than short stories. And then from there to the creative writing course, and onwards to considering publication. A long, hard, slow road. No easy fixes.
How long does it take you to write a book?
From start to finish about a year depending on how much research is needed. Every book I’ve written has gone through several rewrites which I can do in a couple of months if I have a deadline. But the actual journey from idea to finished product via numerous edits would be twelve months or more. I’m in awe of these writers who can rattle a book off in a couple of months, first draft is the finished article, that will never work in my case!
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
With working full time, I find it hard to have a writing schedule – I’d probably write much faster and be a lot more productive if I had time I could dedicate on a regular basis. Early morning, late at night and Sundays are really my writing time. If I have a deadline I will grab every hour I can. If I’m writing for pleasure I may just do one evening and a Sunday morning.
How many crime novels have you written?
I have three novels published: The Charter, Closure and Complicit comes out on June 1st. I have another two novels in a series called The Gold Detectives that my agent is pitching as we speak. And I have another two finished novels that need work that will hopefully see the light one day. So, that’s seven now!
Which is your favourite and why?
Probably Closure, because it’s what I class as my first proper completed novel – although it has gone through numerous rewrites. It’s part of the cross-genre crime books that I love to write – crime with a hint of paranormal. It looks at the topic of reincarnation and how different people have opposing views about such things.
I found the whole subject fascinating; much of the research I included in the book really opened my eyes to the topic. And I still remember where I got the original idea – from a television programme where a young boy was regressed and then taken back to the remote Shetland Island where he knew he’d lived previously. I knew there was a story there that I wanted to retell in my own way and I loved creating the characters. Yes, it’s probably the book that has made me the most proud to date.
Where do you get your ideas?
Closure – I’ve just covered.
With The Charter it was a fascination with shipwrecks which I’ve always had – I used to collect anything to do with the Titanic as a child. Having a house on Anglesey and friends who come from the area, I’ve grown up with stories about the shipwrecks around the coast and spent hours treasure hunting on the beaches. I remember visiting Llanallgo Church as a child – where most of the Royal Charter victims are buried – and getting really drawn into the story. I researched it and then tried to think of ways of bringing it to life in a modern day crime story.
With Complicit it was the discovery of the Staffordshire hoard – a treasure hoard of Saxon gold – found near my parent’s home that gave me the idea. I went to see it at Birmingham Museum, then went to a lecture given by the archaeologists, and decided I wanted to write about a treasure hunt in the modern day but also cover how and why the treasure ended up where it did - as that seems to this day to be something we will never know about the Staffordshire hoard. Anglesey is famous for its Roman invasion and its strong Druidic influences – so that seemed a perfect combination!
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
Probably Helen West – the mother of the reincarnated child who suffers from the nightmares and traumas in Closure. She’s a strong woman, grieving for the loss of her husband, and having to cope with seeing her child suffer. And yet, she is strong enough to stand up to the doctors who doubt him – and has strength in those convictions right up to the point of travelling back to the place her son remembered from his previous life. She has balls – and I like a woman with balls!
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Goodness me, so many! I’d have to choose one obvious one as a crime writer – Miss Marple. I love how Christie broke moulds by choosing a female – and an elderly female at that. I love how she was quietly intelligent, letting the big, strong male detectives think they were solving the cases – whereas behind the scenes she was steering them in the right direction. She had a brilliant knack of knowing people, understanding what made them tick, and yet she carried it off with a brilliant air of humility. And I loved the twinkle in her eye!
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
That’s a really interesting question I’ve never considered before. I’d want to be a goodie, so on the side of the police, I don’t think in real life I’d be much good as a baddie. So, a really interesting crime that was never solved maybe. Jack the Ripper? I could be the Victorian female detective who came along with her new forensic tricks and solved the crime! There … could be a story in there.
What are you working on now?I’m actually on a mini-break. I’ve been writing solidly on rewrites for the past twelve months. Complicit is out in a couple of weeks, so I’m going to give myself the summer to enjoy reading and start thinking of a few new storylines. I’ll see how long I last – I may well be engrossed in a new full length novel in a month’s time if something takes my interest!
Born in the industrial Midlands, Gillian's heart has always yearned for the wilds of North Wales and the pull of the ocean. A company director for twenty years, she has written obsessively for over a decade, predominantly in the crime genre. She has completed six full length novels and numerous short stories. After completing a creative writing course, she decided to take her writing to the next level and sought representation. She is a columnist for Words with Jam literary magazine, a regular theatre goer and avid reader across genres.
WEBSITE : www.gillianhamer.com
TWITTER : @gillyhamer