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Author Spotlight with Lisa Matthews

Read my latest Author Interview with the lovely Lisa Matthews

Lisa Matthews was born in Middlesbrough, England and spend most of her school years sneaking outside of her class so that she could read - and eventually come to write - to her heart's content. Outside of writing, Lisa mainly enjoys cooking; buying more clothes than she can afford and will probably ever wear; and alcohol of most varieties, mainly including gin, prosecco and (of course) sherry. She has a major obsession with dogs, and has two of her own - a Black Labrador, Dexter, and a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Sonny, who've inspired two of the three good boys in Armitage's world.

Lisa, Thank you so much for taking part in this interview, I am so excited to have you here! What was your inspiration for your book 'Death By Curiosity'? Thank you so much for having me! I really appreciate it, the original inspiration was actually Sherlock Holmes; I remember watching the first film with Robert Downey Jr and thinking I’d love to write a story with a similar vibe. I’d worked for the Police – on the staff side – for a few years by then, but getting moved into the Typing Pool really helped; it gave me Armitage’s ‘in’ into the case, and the story came together quite quickly after that.

For those who don't know this book, or what it is about, can you tell my readers of the blog more about it?

Basically, it’s about a lass who doesn’t know when she should stop sticking her nose in 😂 no, it follows a particularly nosy Police Typist as she gets involved in a criminal case. The book is set in the normal world – no magic or anything like that – so when she reads in the papers that the murders happening in her sleepy little village are being carried out by a witch, Armitage needs to know more about what’s going on. She wants to know how Knight has convinced her followers that she’s a witch and how she’s doing things that she shouldn’t be able to – but because Armitage can’t get those answers fast enough, she takes it on herself to ask her own questions… which Knight doesn’t like very much, to say the least. I just want to say it was incredibly written, the narrative made the novel addictive and hilariously funny, as I've been talking to you and getting to know you, I can clearly see Armitage's character has your personality, was it easy to write a personality similar to yours? Thank you so much! I’m really pleased you enjoyed it. I think the hardest part in writing Armitage is having her justify the things that I’d never personally never do – I’m a lot more cautious than she is, so I’m not as likely to go chasing after a murderer or take myself off and interrogate witnesses to a crime 😂 but I have a lot of fun writing Armitage – love how easily her voice comes to me, and how the story can quite often go in a direction I wasn’t planning for it to. That’s always fun to see. It was a thrilling page turning mystery, mixed with pure comedy, yet serious themes that made my jaw drop open. Was it your intention to start writing with this genre?

It was always going to be a crime mystery, but I think the book now is very different to how it was when it was Spellbound. I wrote the first version when I was twenty, and the characters were all that bit younger as well; I made Armitage and Angie twenty-one, so obviously it was a bit more immature than it is now (hopefully). I think going back with an older head and making the characters that bit older and more developed really helped me to make it a bit drier and probably darker than its original few versions.

I wanted Armitage to be my friend, and I adored how you wrote her with such wit and how she was so nosy and never gave up, if your debut novel became a film, who would you have to play her? This is something I have thought about from time to time, and I’m really not sure! I think it’d be nice to have someone who’s unknown at the minute. I do know who I’d like to play Hadaway, though, and Henry Cavill, if you’re reading, yes, you can absolutely have the part. How long did it take you to write this book, until the time you came to self-publish? I actually wrote the first draft ten years ago now; it took me about a month to handwrite it, and another four to type it up and edit it (badly, looking back). I sent it off to a few different publishing houses and got knocked back every time (understandably, it was not good 😂). It wasn’t until my friend suggested that I self-publish it instead that I even considered that option, but because I wasn’t having much luck with the traditional route, I decided to give it a go. So I first published the book as Spellbound about seven years ago now, and it stayed on Amazon for a good few years until I happened to have a read of it, and realised exactly how terrible it was. I think the subsequent rewrite took about a year to do, maybe a little more. So I’ve gone ’round all the houses there, but I guess I’m saying it took me eight years to go from handwriting the first draft to actual publication! 😂 As a writer, you are obviously a reader too! What are you reading right now and who is your favourite author? Sophie Kinsella and Liane Moriarty are hands-down my favourite authors, I can’t put their books down. Lately, though, I’ve been going back through the Bridgerton series by Julia Quinn (along with the prequels and spin-off series), and now I’m getting stuck into Gobbelino London & a Scourge of Pleasantries by Kim M Watt – I’m only a few chapter in and trying (operative word) to save the bulk of it for our next holiday, but I’m already enjoying it so much that I’m itching to buy the rest of the series already! I also love Cat Walsh (author of The Rebound and One Night Only, and definitely worth a follow on the socials) and the Finlay Donovon series by Elle Cosimano. So far as I can see on Amazon, GoodReads, Insta and many more social sites, you seem to have had great reviews right through, how do you deal with bad reviews if any? It’s a (nerve-wracking) risk you take when you put a book out there, especially when you send it to book reviewers. I’ve always wanted people to be honest in their reviews, and while it can be disappointing to get a bad write-up, I just remind myself that it ultimately comes down to people’s opinions. It’s cliché, but I really am my own worst critic, so no-one’s going to give me a review worse than the ones I give myself! 😂 The good reviews have been a really lovely bonus that I didn’t expect, and I can’t put into words quite how much they make my day 😊 In terms of marketing, what sort of marketing has helped you promote your Armitage Black series? Bookstagram has been invaluable – there are so many reviewers on there who’ve been angels in promoting it and getting the word out for me, I wouldn’t have anywhere near as many reviews without them. Book Twitter is incredibly supportive as well – I’m a bit late to that particular party, but the writing community there is so supportive. I haven't read a book like yours before, with witches, black magic, a mixture of comedy, crime and a thriller all in one, what do you think makes your novel unique and stands out from the rest? I personally haven’t read – or heard of – any other books where the magic isn’t what it seems to be, so for me, that sets it apart from other novels. I think the Police Typist is a different angle as well; I’m not sure how many people know that it’s a real job (I didn’t until I started working for the Police), but in most detective novels and shows, the main character seems to be in the police or a PI or something similar. You don’t seem to get many nosy civvies who don’t know when to stop 😂

What do you do to relax to get you into the mode of writing? Do you set a particular scene to help your imagination flow? To be honest, it really varies; sometimes the story is just there, constantly flowing through my head, and other times I can write about five words in a day. Sometimes being on holiday helps, other times it makes me want to shut off from the writing and bury myself in other people’s books instead. But on the whole, I find exercise or a couple of drinks help to oil the cogs a little, or occasionally a change of scenery, like my local Costa instead of my living room. What advice would you give people who are just starting out in writing? Just get the words down onto the paper. It doesn’t matter how you write it, and it doesn’t matter how bad you think it is. Just get the story out, and you can go back and tweak it as much as you want; there’s a saying attributed to Ernest Hemingway that ‘the first draft of anything is shit’, and it’s absolutely true (for me, at least 😂). It’s so easy to be your own worst critic, but just try not to stress too much about what you’re writing now and remember that this is a draft, not the final version that you’ll be putting out into the world. Tell us something we don't know about you? Your second book is available now on Amazon, what's the plan after these? Do you have plans to carry on with more books in this series? Oh, that’s a tricky one! Normally my answer to that question is that I’ve written a book, but obviously you do know that 😂 so I think I’ll have to tell you that I once hatched a baby alligator. I’m probably making that sound like I did more than stand there and hold the egg while the baby alligator hatched itself, but it was a very cool thing to be able to do – and if you ever meet an alligator called Fluffy, that’s my boy. I’ve also been in a watermelon seed-spitting contest and been ziplining through a cave system, and I somehow managed to pass all of my snowboarding lessons despite having no coordination whatsoever.

But yes, there will definitely be more Armitage in our lives! I’m currently writing the second draft of the third book in the series, and I’m planning a further seven after that. So take that news as you will… What can we expect from you in the future? What are your plans? I’m really excited for the third Armitage book, which I’m hoping to bring out in early 2023; after that, I’ll be cracking on with the fourth! I’d definitely like to write some books other than Armitage at some point – I wrote a lot as a teenager as well, and I’m absolutely going to revisit some of those ideas in the future. But for now, Armitage is going to be the big focus 😊

Thank you so much for taking part in this interview Lisa, I loved having you here and can't wait to read the second book in the Armitage Black series. Take care of yourself! Thanks so much again, this was a lot of fun! If there's anything you need from me, just shout 😊

To follow Lisa on Social Media: Instagram: @notlastbutlis


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