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Caroline Rance Interview

Posted on 30 June 2009. © Copyright 2004-2018 WriteWords
A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
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WriteWords talks to Caroline Rance, aka WW member Caro55

Tell us something about your background.

My first novel, Kill-Grief, was published in April 2009 and is set in an 18th-century hospital. It's historical fiction, and is apparently on the literary side of things, although I'm never sure what that means – I just set out to write a good yarn that some people might enjoy. It took about 3 years to write once I got on with it, but I'd been having false starts at novels since my early twenties.

At the moment, I'm working on my second novel, which is slow going. I did an unofficial version of NaNoWriMo in November 2007 and did 33,000 words, but my son was only 7 months old then so he wasn't too demanding. Now he's a very lively 2-year-old so progress on the book has slowed down! It's another historical novel, set in the 1850s this time, and it has two narrators – a charlatan doctor and an impoverished girl who gets caught up in the world of freak shows.


Other work besides writing; ie. Editing, dramaturgy, tutoring, and how it works/worked for/against your own writing

(Talk amongst yourselves while Caroline goes to look up dramaturgy.) In August I'll be starting a part-time job editing charity publications, and although that will involve a lot of writing, I don't think it will detract from my fiction. If anything, the structured working hours should make me use my other writing time more productively, rather than checking WW or Facebook every couple of sentences. At least that's what I'm hoping.

How did you start writing?

The first story I remember writing was called “Goldie's First Adventure.” (Note the series potential.) I was eight years old and it was about a little goldfish who used cunning and guile to fight her way to becoming leader of all the strange characters in the fish tank. This story contained the immortal line “I might not be the biggest, but I'm going to be the best!” I tried to write a Second Adventure but I think I'd exhausted all my fish-related ideas on the first.

When I was in my teens, I got all serious and decided I wanted to “be a writer”. I wrote lots of awful poetry. Then I started several novels, each time getting to about chapter 3 before losing confidence and thinking I could never be any good. With hindsight, though, they weren't really that bad and I'm glad I eventually gritted my teeth and finished one.



Who are your favourite writers and why?

Although I write historical grit and grime, I gravitate towards reading comedy, and some of my current favourites are Malcolm Pryce, Mark Poirier, Garrison Keillor and Bill Bryson. The main historical novelists whom I admire are Sarah Waters and Charles Palliser. As for the classics, I have been quite influenced by the Brontës, particularly Anne's The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, which is so often under-rated for some reason.



How did you get your first agent/ commission/publication?

I'd been sending out submissions for a few months and had quite a few standard rejections, a couple of personalised rejections and one request for the full manuscript that ended in nothing. Then I was on WW and saw that someone had got a request for a full on her second submission! Argh! I was pleased for her but this also made me panic a bit, and I knew I had to get my act together. I'd been looking at the website of a new independent publisher called Picnic and was enjoying reading one of their other books, so I fired off a quick email thinking “What the hell... I'll just send it.” They replied the next day asking for chapters, then the full. Several months later, they said they would like to publish it. I did things the wrong way round – I got an agent as a result of the publication.

What's the worst thing about writing?

The feeling that, because it doesn't bring in a regular income, I'm not allowed to take it seriously. Some people still seem to see it as a cute hobby to keep my little brain occupied while I'm sitting at home doing nothing except looking after a toddler. I wish society would accept that some things are worth doing even if they don't attract a wage.

And the best?

Finishing a first draft – the sense of achievement at having completed a book, combined with the anticipation of editing and polishing it, which is my favourite part of the process.

Tell us what kind of responses you get from audiences\ readers.

So far, I've had a really positive response to my book, with people emailing to say how much they have enjoyed it – even a few people I don't actually know.

People tend to mention the atmosphere of the setting, which is something I didn't really give that much thought to when I was writing it – it all seemed pretty obvious to me! The main character, Mary, often makes an impression on readers, too, which is interesting as I always prioritised plot over character.

It's lovely when people say they can't wait for the next book, but it also puts the pressure on. I feel like saying 'don't get too excited...'





A longer version of this interview is available to WriteWords Full and Community Members.
Click here to learn more about becoming a member.







Comments by other Members



Rainstop at 22:03 on 30 June 2009  Report this post
What I love about you, Caro, is that you always make me laugh. Great interview.

SheScribbles at 01:02 on 01 July 2009  Report this post
'don't get too excited...' - I can SO relate to that and the slooooooow second novel *sigh*

Great interview Caro. Thank you.

Gillian75 at 11:06 on 01 July 2009  Report this post
Fabulous interview Caroline - it made me laugh lots I loved Kill-Grief and look forward to the next book!

Luisa at 12:11 on 01 July 2009  Report this post
Brilliant interview, Caro! I really enjoyed reading it.

I'd write all night and sleep all day too, if I could. And I'd love to read Goldie's First Adventure - it sounds great!

Account Closed at 18:45 on 01 July 2009  Report this post
Lovely interview!

susieangela at 21:01 on 01 July 2009  Report this post
Lovely, down to earth, real interview. Well done, Caro!
Susiex

Beanie Baby at 08:46 on 03 July 2009  Report this post
Great interview Caroline. I so love reading about other writers who have come through against all the odds. Many congratulations.
Beanie

Account Closed at 21:44 on 04 July 2009  Report this post
Fab interview, Caro, and i love how down-to-earth you are about writing

nessiec at 11:51 on 07 July 2009  Report this post
Ha - I love 'Writer in Residence at Thorntons'. I think that would be MY ideal job too, along with 'Writer in Residence at Oddbins', perhaps. Great interview.


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