Today I’m delighted to bring you another author Q&A, this time with Louise Hutcheson. Louise is the author of The Paper Cell, which is published by Contraband.
About the book:
From the publisher of Graeme Macrae Burnet’s His Bloody Project, the first in a new series of distinctive, standalone crime stories, each with a literary bent. In 1950s London, a literary agent finds fame when he secretly steals a young woman’s brilliant novel manuscript and publishes it under his own name, Lewis Carson. Two days after their meeting, the woman is found strangled on Peckham Rye Common: did Lewis purloin the manuscript as an act of callous opportunism, or as the spoils of a calculated murder?
About the author:
Louise Hutcheson has a PhD in Scottish Literature from the University of Glasgow. She works in broadcast and digital media and is a freelance editor who has edited a number of crime novels and other fiction. Louise also created and runs a highly respected review site for new fiction.
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a Glasgow-based crime fiction editor who’s hopped the fence to start writing my own novels. For years, championing other people’s books was my bread and butter: I’ve worked in libraries, as a literary researcher, in publishing and in media, so it’s exhilarating to experience things from the author’s side for the first time.
How did you get into writing? Is it something you’ve always wanted to do?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer.
I didn’t gain the confidence to actually pursue my writing more seriously until my late twenties, and in lots of ways, I’m glad. I don’t think I was ready before that.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
The inspiration for my debut novel came from my own life: I was working at a publishing house, where one of my duties was to assess manuscript submissions. Upon coming across one I really rated, I joked to a colleague that I might steal it. Instead, I wrote my own novel about a publishing assistant who (you got it) steals a young woman’s literary manuscript.
Aside from that, I read a lot. I have no compunction in telling you that I draw inspiration from the writers I’m reading, particularly the likes of Muriel Spark and Patricia Highsmith.
How would you describe your writing to anyone who hasn’t read your books?
Waspish, feminist, literary crime with a retro feel.
Do you think social media helps in regard to promotion and drumming up publicity for a new book?
Absolutely. Social media allows readers and writers to engage on a personal level that marketing campaigns just can’t match. Most of the books I buy, I buy based on the blogs and conversations I see on Twitter, not because I saw an ad on the subway.
What’s your most favourite thing about being an author?
As I’m just about to publish my debut novel, I haven’t yet experienced all the hoopla that comes with being an author. For now, I’ll say the writing process itself. I love world-building and getting to know a character, drinking tea and writing into the small hours. I’m just a bit in love with the act of storytelling.
What’s your least favourite thing about being an author?
Anxiety. I worry constantly that readers won’t find anything of value in the book, and that would be thoroughly heartbreaking for me.
Where do you see your writing career 5 years from now?
It took me four years to write my first book, so…factoring in contract negotiation, editing and general procrastination, here’s hoping I’ll have book 2 under my belt!
What’s next for you?
The Paper Cell is launched on 23 June and I’ll be devoting all my time and passion to that. I’m not quite ready to think about writing the next book, but I’m sure the mania will take hold of me soon enough.
I often wonder are authors voracious readers. Do you read much, and if so, what kind of books do you enjoy?
God, yes. I read on the subway, on my lunch breaks, in bed, in cafes and pubs – basically whenever/wherever I can. I read a lot of crime and some fantasy, and I have favourite authors who I return to often, such as Ian McEwan, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark and Kate Atkinson.
Can you tell me your all time favourite book, or if you have to, your top 5?
My all-time favourite book is A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé. It’s a French novel, a beautiful love letter to books and how essential they are to our lives.
Has there been any books you’ve read that you wish you’d written?
The Disappearance of Adèle Bedeau by Graeme Macrae Burnet is a criminally underrated novel, and I desperately wish I had written it. It’s all wine and coffee and a very French detective, and it’s utterly compelling. Graeme went on to be shortlisted for the Booker for his second novel, but I’ll always be jealous of Adèle Bedeau.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a day job in tech, which I love, and I’ve been spending a lot of time recently learning how to code. I’m not very good, but it’s challenging and fun.
Have you any hobbies that aren’t book related?
I love to cook. My favourite way to spend a Sunday is to devote the entire afternoon to cooking something special. Preferably with a nice bottle of red to accompany the whole endeavour!
What’s your favourite holiday destination?
Islay, for its beautiful surroundings, delicious seafood and peaty whisky.
I’m anyone’s for a bowl of pasta.
Either a dram of Lagavulin or a glass of red.
Last but not least, why writing? Why not something else?
I’m going to cheat here and end on a quote from my favourite novel. As mentioned above, this is from A Novel Bookstore by Laurence Cossé, and it’s a more eloquent answer than I could ever provide:
“Novels don’t contain only exceptional situations, life or death choices, or major ordeals; there are also everyday difficulties, temptations, ordinary disappointments; and, in response, every human attitude, every type of behavior, from the finest to the most wretched. There are books where, as you read, you wonder: What would I have done? It’s a question you have to ask yourself. Listen carefully: it is a way to learn to live. There are grown-ups who would say no, that literature is not life, that novels teach you nothing. They are wrong. Literature performs, instructs, it prepares you for life.”
Huge thanks to Louise for answering my questions 🙂