It's MYSTERY THRILLER WEEK (www.mysterythrillerweek.com) and I'm doing a little happy dance. I've made great new friends at this event and found some fantastic reads to add to my library.
And speaking of new friends. Samantha Goodwin, author of Murder at Macbeth, and I recently sat down over tea and had a chat about ... okay, really we talked via email and messenger, but I'm painting a picture so play along ... we sat and drank tea and chatted about writing and books, especially those of the mystery variety, and here's how some of the conversation went.
T: Do you have any writing habits or superstitions?
S: I handwrite everything as I find my ideas flow better! It’s great because it means I can write anywhere, my favourite location is outside on those rare sunny English days. It is however, not the most time-efficient way of writing as then I have to spend time typing everything up as I go along and start editing!
T: Where did you get the inspiration for your story?
S: I was inspired by a newspaper article about a London West End actor who was accidentally stabbed live on stage. That got me thinking; what if that had been intentional? What a dramatic way to murder someone and believe you could get away with it.
I’ve always been fascinated by the superstitions surrounding Macbeth about it being cursed and the fact the play itself is about corruption and deception provided an interesting parallel to the murder mystery. Plus, I found the concept of interviewing suspects who are also actors really interesting; they could so easily be playing a part to hide the truth.
T: How long did it take you to write your novel?
S: It took me one year to finish the complete first draft of my novel and then another year to complete the editing. Which considering I was working full time and pregnant while writing it, I was really pleased about! I carved out time to write every day but it usually ended up being only 30 minutes in the morning before work or 1 hour during my lunch break. At first it seemed completely impossible to write an entire book with such little time, but before long I found I could get into the swing of it and write pretty quickly. I actually found the balance of doing my editing and looking after a newborn much more difficult. I did a lot of one-handed typing while holding a sleeping baby!
T: I know asking about favorite characters can be like asking about a favorite child or pet, but . . . do you have a favorite character or one you’d love to bring back in another story?
S: I love both of the detective characters, I’ve deliberately set the novel up so it could work as the first in a series so it would be great to bring them both back in future stories. The astute Detective Inspector Finley Robson leads the murder investigation. Smart and resourceful, he has an uncanny ability for getting to the bottom of the toughest cases. However, he is also struggling to overcome his own troubled past and finds the unusual theatrical case resonates deeply with him. Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra is his tenacious, no-nonsense partner who has risen quickly through the ranks to become one of the youngest detectives at the London Metropolitan police force. Fiercely loyal, she maintains a healthy disregard for bureaucracy and is a force to be reckoned with.
T: If you could give one piece of advice to someone interesting in writing a book or becoming an author what would it be?
S: Believe in yourself, and surround yourself with positive people who will spur you on. Writing groups and online communities are great for when you need advice. It’s good to make those connections early on so you don’t feel isolated and are motivated to keep going.
And don’t worry about getting it right first time. One of my favourite writing quotes is from Shannon Hale who said, “I’m writing a first draft and reminding myself that I’m simply shovelling sand into a box so that later I can build castles.”
T: Do you have anything non-writing related you’d like to share? Maybe something that would surprise your readers to know?
S: I’m a huge fan of the theatre and particularly adore musicals. I love Wicked and The Lion King, but my all-time favourite is Rent, which I have seen on stage seven times!
T: What do you find the most difficult to write? Beginnings, middles or ends?
S: I definitely find the beginnings the hardest, so much so that I actually wrote my novel out of linear order and finished the second half first which was much more exciting to create as there are lots of twists and turns and unexpected revelations. Then I had to backtrack and write the beginning to set the scene.
T: Where are your favorite places to hang out on social media and why?
S: I absolute love the bookstagram community on Instagram, it’s such a positive group of lovely people! There are some incredible bookstagrammers out there who post beautiful photos and it’s a great way of discovering new books to add to your TBR list. Some of my favourite crime-related accounts include @crimebythebook, @thrillerbooklover, @killerreads and @crimereadsandcoffee.
T: Anything else you’d like readers to know?
S: If you’re a fan of whodunnits, Murder at Macbeth is a very intriguing one; an actress unwittingly stabbing herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with. It’s different than other crime mysteries, as the action is conveyed through interviews with her eclectic bunch of castmates who gradually reveal what happened, with lots of twists and turns along the way.
Plus, Murder at Macbeth was longlisted for an international debut novel award and has received a lot of advanced praise from a number of other authors, including the No.1 bestselling crime author Joy Ellis who loved the book and said, “as a debut novel, this is a cracker!” and Carol Deeley, author of the Britannica series, who said it is “a classic whodunnit that entertains in true Poirot style and read like a really good episode of a prime-time crime series.”
It's been a treat getting to know Samantha better and learning about her new book and writing process. I'm eager to read Murder at Macbeth when it drops on May 17th.
You can learn more about the book and connect with Samantha here:
Amazon Link: http://bit.ly/murderatmacbeth
Goodreads Link: http://bit.ly/murderatmacbethgoodreads
Author Website: http://samanthagoodwinnet.wordpress.com
Samantha Goodwin has written professionally for her business career as a Chartered Marketing Manager for over a decade before turning her hand to fiction. As an avid crime fiction fan, she regularly participates in the renowned Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate and completed their prestigious Crime Writing Creative Workshop. She also relishes attending literature festivals across the country as well as engaging in numerous online writing communities.
Keen to support upcoming authors, Samantha recently launched the #IndieWritingWisdom initiative on Instagram to collate and share inspiring, original quotes from a wide range of different writers to encourage others.
When she is not writing, Samantha enjoys reading, countryside walks, movies, musicals and almost all chocolate (but controversially not Oreos). She lives in Leeds with her husband, Chris, and son, Jack.
Murder at Macbeth is her first novel and was longlisted for the international Flash 500 Novel Award in 2017.
Murder At Macbeth
By Samantha Goodwin
Something wicked this way comes…
When a talented, young actress unwittingly stabs herself live onstage after a prop knife is tampered with, suspicion immediately falls on her eclectic band of castmates.
But who had the motive to kill the show's leading lady?
As the insightful, yet disillusioned, Detective Inspector Finley Robson and his shrewd partner, Detective Sergeant Nadia Zahra, interrogate the seven key suspects, secrets unfold to unveil a web of scandal, blackmail, and deceit.
Bitter rivalries, secret trysts and troubled pasts are just the beginning of the story…
INTERNATIONAL FLASH 500 NOVEL AWARD LONGLIST
Murder At Macbeth
By Samantha Goodwin
The Way to Dusty Death
Friday 23rd March
Nikki Gowon was dead. Neil Hillton was sure of it. Dumbfounded, he stared blankly down at the young woman’s lifeless body. A crimson stain had blossomed on her white dress like a macabre flower and a pool of blood was seeping out from beneath her, discolouring the wooden floorboards. Her dark, tangled hair resembled a spider running across the stage. The sharp knife had clattered to her side, where it lay forgotten, the blade glinting ominously red.
A hushed silence had fallen backstage, punctuated only by Megan’s intermittent sobs. A sense of complete and utter panic was setting in fast. Beyond the red velvet curtains currently obscuring the stage, Neil could hear the distant murmuring of the impatient audience waiting for the next act of the play to commence. Of course, they could never have guessed the real reason for the delay.
What exactly was he meant to say? Oh, so sorry for the temporary setback but our lead actress has just been killed. I do apologise for the inconvenience.
As a seasoned London theatre director, Neil had experienced his fair share of live disasters over the years, but tonight’s current predicament made all those previous quandaries fade into insignificance. He couldn’t foresee how the old showbiz adage ‘it’ll be alright on the night’ applied here.
It most certainly will not be, he thought bitterly. Everything will definitely not be alright in this scenario.
Neil was painfully aware he should have already sprung into action. But he felt rooted in position, rigid in shock. He was at a loss to explain the circumstances leading to this horrific moment. All he could think about was the motionless body of the beautiful young actress slumped across the stage.
He was vaguely aware of the other cast members milling around him in equal states of shock and confusion. A grief-stricken Jimmy knelt on the floor unmoving, staring down at Nikki’s still body in disbelief. His trembling hands were pressed against the ugly stab wound in her abdomen in a vain attempt to stem the gushing blood flow.
Neil regarded the desperate lover grimly. It was already too late for such heroics.
Ben stood awkwardly to the side of Jimmy, hand placed stiffly on his shoulder as though it offered some semblance of comfort. Standing behind them was Violet, frozen still as a statue, silent tears rolling down her rosy cheeks. Eyes wide, deep blue pools of despair. The teenage girl frustrated the hell out of Neil. Sure, she served her purpose and had proved eager to offer her help and assistance as a dutiful stagehand. But recently she had taken to following him around like a lost puppy, as though she was afraid to be left alone. It had been driving him crazy.
An inconsolable Megan started wailing hysterically. Clutching her boyfriend, Peter, she sobbed as he gently stroked her hair in a futile attempt to calm her. Neil had half a mind to berate her for crying so loudly the audience might be able to hear, but he restrained himself. While the audience’s opinion was usually paramount, this was hardly a run-of-the-mill night.