Interview: Angie Smith

Interview with Angie Smith by: Peter Best

One good thing about being an author is that a great deal of people take an interest in your work. Normally it’s just a chat in a bar or talking to friends. However, every now and again some authors get the chance to be interviewed. Sometimes by a newspaper or local Radio but more often than not in this day and age the interviews are carried out and then posted on the internet. I’ve been lucky enough to be involved in a few of these interviews and really enjoyed answering the questions, even though sometimes it can be a little daunting at times. So anyhow what I’ve decided to do is turn the tables and instead of answering the questions I’ve decided to ask the questions.

This is an Interview I have recently carried out with a very talented author called Angie Smith.

Now let me tell you a little about Angie. She is the author of the very highly acclaimed CXVI Trilogy, at the moment the first two books are out now and the third, I have been told is on the way. Like many others I can’t wait. Anyhow, let’s see what Angie has to say.

So Angie; the CXVI Trilogy! You’ve already got two of books out there at the moment. I have already read them both and it’s no secret that I had enjoyed them a great deal. However, what can you tell any future readers what to expect if they were to buy them?

Firstly, thank you for your kind comments about the books, it’s good to know that you enjoyed them.  As for future readers, well, they can expect to be challenged by an intriguing, complex and fast paced plot, which starts with a routine murder investigation and quickly unfolds into a series of murders and suspicious deaths linked by Roman numerals. The lead detective, Superintendent Greg Woods and his new assistant, Sergeant Maria Barnes, soon discover that the British Government also holds a vested interest in their investigation and is prepared to take drastic action to prevent them discovering the truth.

Desperate Measures I believe is still under production, now I know many readers out there can’t wait to get their hands on it. Tell me, how long will they have to wait?

Good question! The initial plan was to publish by the end of February 2016, however the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry! Perhaps when you read some of the answers to questions below you will probably understand why it’s so difficult for me to give an exact date. Suffice to say that I am aiming for publication in Spring 2016.

One of the things I said about these two books is that concentration is the name of the game. The reason why I said that is because the plot is quite complex with many twists and turns, which is of course great. But tell me how on earth did you work it all out?

I love complex plots, which can engage readers and really make them focus in on the storyline, where certain questions appear to be deliberately left unanswered, but if you dig deep enough the pointers, and sometimes even the answers are there for you to discover. So, this is how I do it: many, many sleepless nights, with numerous Excel spreadsheets detailing individual character’s storylines, with who said what to whom and when. Incessant back-reading, checking detail after detail, ensuring the timeline is as watertight as possible and that the twists keep coming as the pages turn. Treatment for OCD begins next month!

So Angie, tell me. What are the back-stories for the main characters and will we see them again in future novels after the CXVI trilogy has come to an end?

Hopefully the characters’ back-stories develop throughout the trilogy, with many surprises and the odd skeleton, or two, rattling out of their cupboards. The truth is that I have no further plans to use any of the characters in future novels. The question, as always, is: who will survive anyway? CXVI Desperate Measures will provide the answers.

I understand that you travel quite a bit. Have any of your travels influenced your work?

Absolutely. I find it difficult to write about a location unless I have actually been there and experienced the atmosphere, the sounds, the smells and the sights. Consequently, I have visited most, if not all, of the settings in my books, and this is exactly where I find my inspiration. I’ve landed a dinghy from a catamaran onto an island in The Seychelles. I’ve sat in the coffee shop where Woods and Barnes discuss her dark secret, and I’ve even used the bench seat opposite the shop to sit and contemplate the storyline. And yes, I actually live in one of the properties used in the CXVI trilogy.

What research went into your books?

How long have we got? I’m sorry to admit this, but virtually every single aspect of my books is researched to the very best of my abilities. I try to leave no stone unturned, and I don’t feel comfortable writing if I’m not confident on a subject. I spend hours upon hours researching everything from travel times to government reports, to the history of the Russian and British intelligence services. I trust this is apparent in the writing!

Out of all the books you have written, what’s your favourite? Oh and tell me what you love; or hate about the characters.

I’m so pleased you asked me this question.

As for the favourite book, the answer is always the last one! My aim is to improve my writing. Therefore CXVI Secrets Broken is currently top of my list, soon to be replaced by CXVI Desperate Measures.

Now the best bit. Which characters do I love? Obviously Woods and Barnes; they are the backbone of the CXVI trilogy, and their incongruous relationship is what I most enjoy writing about. Both have respect for each other, yet Barnes’ besmirched past has Woods doubting his judgment, time and time again he thinks he’s uncovered the truth, only to be faced by more questions about her professionalism and suitability. Will he finally uncover the truth? And will they become entwined, or are they destined never to cross that definitive line in the sand? Who knows the answer? Wait and see what happens next!

So now, here is my little secret that might just surprise and set you thinking: without question, my favourite character in the CXVI trilogy is none other than Faulkner-Brown. I absolutely love him to pieces! He’s the bad guy, the one who gets under everyone’s skin, and he makes me smile. He’s the one single character who knows which of Barnes’ buttons to press and exactly what kind of reaction it will generate. He and she are far from done; they have history, and some unfinished business. Desperate times call for Desperate Measures.

Faulkner Brown! Now that does surprise me, however I must say he really is a fantastic character without a doubt.Now the Angie, can you tell me are there any themes or messages in your books?

Another excellent question! Perhaps you have noticed some already. Obviously, the central theme encompasses government conspiracies, corruption and espionage, and the measures taken by the various intelligence services to conceal this from the general public. However, in addition to this there are a few subtle messages hidden in the dialogue and storylines. I’ll say no more.

What are your future plans as a writer?

I have the skeleton of a storyline already formulated for a fourth book; something quite different from the CXVI trilogy, but I don’t want to say too much about it just yet.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block and if you do how do you get over it?

Occasionally I do. And when the words and ideas slow, I usually have a break and take the chocolate labs for a very long walk in the countryside where I live. That works for me every time.

Now I know this is a common question for writers but tell my why do you write and what made you start writing in the first place?

I’ve always been an avid reader and I held a desire that one day I’d attempt to write. That day came along, and I thought, how hard can it be? Sometimes you can blame thoughts. Anyhow, I know the answer now! Very hard!

Another common question. Where do you get your ideas?

My ideas come from my various experiences, acquaintances, family, friends and former colleagues; from reading crime fiction and watching Scandinavian films and dramas; from my travels; from the highs and lows of life, and most importantly, from listening to people.

When you first started writing any of your novels; did you plan them first or did you just get straight into the writing?

I start with a brief idea, which, once the words start flowing, leads me in quite unexpected directions. CXVI is a prime example of this.

If for any reason you were unable to write; what would you do?

I’m not sure I know the answer to this. I suppose that would depend upon my health, but I’d have to find another passion, something else that could virtually consume me and it would probably involve animals.

Do you know of any unsung heroes in the writing profession that deserve a mention?

Absolutely. Yourself Peter. Lesley Hayes, Steven Hayward, Pat McDonald and Ian Hutson.

Apart from detective stories which other books do you enjoy reading?

I have a passion for history, interesting people, places, and great leaders.

Who is your favourite author and why?

There are so many great authors out there, and choosing one above the rest is incredibly difficult.  If you’ll allow me, I’ll duck out of answering.

Apart from being a writer, what other successes have you made in you life. In other words what else are you proud of?

Achieving a First Class Honours Degree in Education and Training. This allowed me to progress to senior management level. The pinnacle of my former career was being nominated for an award, co-authoring a journal article and travelling to Durban to present the findings at the International Social Work Conference.

Of course I am proud of my family. My supportive husband, my caring son, my beautiful daughter and my young grandson. I’m proud of what I have achieved in life especially considering that when at school I was told I would achieve nothing.

On a personal level I dare not say I have beaten cancer. Breast cancer can lay dormant for many years and recur. So let’s just say I am proud of how I dealt with the very gruelling treatment and the resulting long-term side effects.

That’s certainly great news about the cancer. It truly is a horrible thing to deal with and I’m sure; just like me, everyone wishes you well. Which leads on to the next question. What plans, dreams, ambitions have you got for the new year coming up?

Oh yes and do you make any New Year resolutions and if you do, how long is it likely to take before you break them. Or will you keep them?
New Year resolutions? I thought this meant a ‘to do’ list for the first week in January! Joking aside, I intend to limit my alcohol intake and lose some weight ready for the next episode of travel.

As for dreams and ambitions – I’d love to explore India, visit the Himalayas, and see the gorillas in Rwanda. Oh yes, and I would love to own my own helicopter, jet and yacht – it’s good to dream!

Angie, it has been a great pleasure! Thank you very much indeed.


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