Author Stories Podcast Episode 664 | Louise Candlish Interview

you're listening to the author stories podcast bringing you the story behind the stories and the storytellers market watchers Russ Matthew quick Katie Ellis and Walton Dee Williams Brad Ford or a doctor or insects Robin mom Ernest Cline tempature Sharon Harris visit Hank garner calm for archives of all the shows today's guest is thanks for tuning in to author stories today we've got a fantastic show lined up for you before we get into that I'd like to tell you about some sponsors today Krystal Pico Watanabe at Pecos House the Pecos House website now has a new look she's got a team of eight people who help provide services to fiction authors and she has a full slate of services that now include beta reading she's got four beta readers now so if you're looking for beta reading services she can definitely take on your project manuscript critique developmental editing line editing copy editing and proofreading authors can also inquire by putting their books in her book lovers box which is 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aims to bring you a smile and reminds us why comic books are fun be sure to visit ed Ghazni comm today speaking of superheroes and comics my friend Patricia Gilliam has a fantastic series called the heroes of Corvus it begins with book one a flight between the second generation superhero named red bolt and a villain for higher name goes terribly wrong resulting in the drowning deaths of three innocent civilians and orphanage a six-year-old boy wracked with guilt bread bolt visits Cameron Wilson at the hospital every night and won't leave the boys side until it falls asleep but friended by a nightshift nurse the man in costume begins to disclose what really happened after the fight and why he feels the deaths of Cameron's parents and sister follow his actions a superhero didn't survive that night and Cameron and the rest of the city aren't out of danger this is such a phenomenal story she has released up to part four now and I cannot wait for part five to come out if you're looking for a great adventure read that's on the cutting edge of what is in today's entertainment the heroes of Corvus is the series for you by Patricia Gillen thanks for tuning in be sure to go to Hank garner comm to subscribe to the show we're on just about every platform you can imagine now stay tuned for our show well thanks for joining me again for the author stories podcast where I bring you the story behind the stories and the storytellers today I'm really excited to have Louise Kamlesh on the show with me today she has a fantastic and terrifying new book called those people and I say terrifying with a with a little bit of a of a laugh because this is one of those books that keeps me up at night because it could happen and so thank you for writing a book that has caused me to lose sleep welcome to the show Louise people have said this about my books before I think there is that element that it could be us just that one bit of bad luck and this could be the scenario we live through ourselves exactly exactly Louise we're going to talk all about that just a minute but we begin each show with the same question every time and that question is what is your first memory of wanting to be a writer or storyteller hmm it's come out quite hard I think that it may be a false memory but I do think that reading a certain book made me fall in love with reading and made me excited about what a what a bit was and how its constructed for the reader in terms of revelations and that book was death on the Nile by Agatha Christie which I read when I was about 12 years old and I do think that was a lightbulb moment for me both as a reader and potential writer even though I probably didn't sit there you know with the book in my hand and say I want to do this I think it just presented itself as them as utter genius and from then on I was just hooked on books and so in so the switch from being a reader to a writer came later but I think that was the moment when when it started to seed itself in my mind Agatha Christie was a has been a gateway drug for for so many writers that I hear that so often that there's just something magical about those stories they Libs today that those their stories are absolutely just perfection and I think there is something about a great book that if you are inclined to be a writer if you have the gene or the gift or whatever there's something about those stories that just gives you the inclination that that could be you as well I think so because I didn't say they're deceptively simple but you probably know what I mean and that you can sort of see the structure I think you could deconstruct it and make a little spreadsheet about it and think well you know maybe I could have a go at that they're not books where there's enormous character development and there's that they're not emotional outpourings it's very much about plot and structure and so I think they I think I got the Christie is a fantastic gateway for writers even though you then try it and it's much harder than you thought and you will never write anything as graters as Murder on the Orient Express or death on the Nile or the murder of Roger Ackroyd she makes it seem accessible right it's like it's simple so going on yeah right simple to spot hard to replicate that's right yeah exactly so at when did you start writing your own stories well I started writing around that time actually I was my sister and I had got involved in some sort of slight she's now crime nothing serious I won't go into it but we've got in with the wrong crowd you could say my parents grounded us one summer holiday so in the UK a school summer holiday will be about six weeks I don't know if it's the same with you guys but six weeks is a long time when you're you know sort of 1112 to not see your friends and and we were allowed to go to the library and it's around that time that that I started reading Agatha Christie and we decided we would write a novel we were reading a lot and we decided we would write one each and so we did so I started writing at about at age and then but then didn't write fiction again until I was in my early 30s but I had a variety of jobs that were sort of editorial tight jobs so I was always writing and I was always crafting words but there was a long period where I didn't make anything up it was all based on fact did you realize at the time Louise that when you were doing those editorial type jobs and in your in writing but not writing for yourself did you realize you know when you're in the midst of it that this is this is this is me biding my time to get back to to my fiction and me kind of learning and collecting skills or are you aware when you're in the middle of that that this is building towards something I don't think I was aware of that at all although in hindsight I think that's exactly what was happening I was kind of aware of myself becoming frustrated by the constraints of the truth and when I worked in in advertising as a copywriter you know the constraints of a client and you know wanting wanting to rewrite the lines for you and and I felt very constrained and so fiction allows you to do whatever you like and it's certainly before you get published you don't have an agent you don't have an editor you're not collaborating with anyone at all it's just you and so there was real freedom when I when I took that first step and started writing my first novel because there was a it didn't have to be based on fact I could make it up and be there no one was checking it or judging it or reworking it or making any suggestions so it really was a pleasure I didn't think at that stage that it would be published or that I would have a career as a novelist it was just a pleasurable thing to do what was that first story idea that then became your first book how did that idea come to you and how long did it take you to write it well it's going to sound incredibly easy and I don't know whether it would be so easy if I did the same thing now because this was in about 2002 2003 I was on holiday in Italy and I had the idea of a story of a girl who stalks her ex-boyfriend her ex-fiance – a little Italian Island where he's on holiday with his his new girlfriend and I had a notebook with me and I just started writing it and by the end of the holiday had probably written about 30,000 worth and it just it I didn't plot it out it was it was not at all what I would advise people to do now if they were starting a story because I'm a big plotter now big planner but it just kind of you know flowed and I came back and wrote it up and developed it and made it a little bit longer and then sent it off to agents and and and it it was published a couple of years later so it all happened very easily but I think that what it did have was a was a strong idea and I and I learned that from my copywriting years I think that you have to you have a good concept you have to have you know that elevator pitch that that idea that you can describe it in a couple of sentences and people go rule what happens then it did have that it was a very simple story with one narrator it wasn't anything like my complicated stories now but it did have that horrifying central idea of someone doing something that really she shouldn't be doing and that those those horrifying central ideas those are the best how does it when a story starts coming to you is it usually a premise like that as a character is it a situation that just starts to your imagination starts to run with how do those stories usually begin for you well it could be a variety of things it could be you know sort of usable with me mood is very important so I might be listening to a piece of music I've always you know listen from a child I've listened to music and imagined stories to go with you know a piece of pop music or rock song or something you know made my own videos in my in my mind so it could be music it could be an article in the newspaper our house my previous book about the property theft that was inspired directly by a news report about a situation that was that was a similar thing a fraud where a house was stolen from someone by a gang of criminals so that started me off thinking old that this is the worst thing that can happen to us in our property-obsessed middle-class society and how much worse would it be if you knew the the criminal it wasn't a faceless gang it was in fact your estranged spouse and so that started with the newspaper article those people I think was a number of things but partly my own experience of having had a bad neighbor and hearing my friends talk about bad neighbors it was almost rivaling property prices for number one topic of conversation and so I listened very carefully to those stories and you started to notice some themes that were coming up things like a total overreaction to any the smallest conflict a real sense of emotional investment in our home and you know really offense warfare when someone came along who didn't want to live in exactly the same way and so I started to shape the story out of that so yes it varies there's not one single way in which I'll come up with an idea well we we began the show by kind of joking about the the terrifying nature of your books and and I say that kind of tongue-in-cheek because they're these are not bloody horror novels by any stretch of the imagination but they are so close to the bone so close to our everyday life that like you said this could be any one of us that if it were just you know one turn of fate or whatever when you start like for instance and those people when by the way that the title is gives us that kind of unsettling feeling from the very beginning but when you're when you're working on a book like this and you're hearing these real-life stories from from your friends and things like that how do you begin crafting an outline for that you mentioned that early on you were not an outline or so I'm assuming that now you are how do you start working through the plot points and events that are going to go into what's happening well with this particular one I I knew that the tagline is you know could you could you hate your neighbor enough to plot to kill him and that was very that was the start was central that was what came first and so then I started to think about how you would go about killing a neighbor if you were going to do that was it going to be an Agatha Christie style plot or or was it going to was it going to be one personal acquaintance several people was it going to be an intentional murder with malice aforethought or was it actually going to be an accidental situation and then once I decided on the first death in the book I then I started to ask myself or do I start with that or do you you know do we not actually want to go back and see what feels up to this this terrible crime and the answer is actually you want both you want to get people into the drama straightaway and for that reason I begin with excerpts from the police interviews they're literally doorsteps house to house into these hours after a body has turned up and he start with that but then you do you go back at this just straight afterwards and and find out what led to this death but as a writer I'm very very empty formulaic I don't tend to plot in a kind of you know they follow a guide because to plot a thriller so it there's often an unusual structure and in this case you reach you but you do have the juxtaposition that I just mentioned between the police extracts and the history and then about halfway through two-thirds of the way through the book you go off and something else happens and so so it's quite experimental actually I think not sure if people right because we we know we know enough about what happened we don't yet know why this happened or who or what the instigating factors are and you kind of tease those out forests and and keep us turning those pages what's what's really interesting about the story is that when the police are investigating and you're looking for who did it you start realizing that there's no one person or family who has a devilish motive against these people everyone has something that they are not proud of that they would rather stay hidden and we kind of start realizing that that this could be any one of us who could be pushed too far how fun was that too right to start looking at all of the ways that we kind of barely hold it together when it comes to our neighbors and people that get under our skin I think it was really enjoyable but also very scary I mean novelists are often catastrophists I mean I can look out the window at any situation and see something terrible happening so you know what a normal person might see a family walking down the street with a fluttering tree in the breeze but I'll see that tree falling down and crushing one of them to death so I do you find it very easy to go that next step with a disaster and I think that's really all that I'm doing in this book is I'm describing a situation that happens all the time which is neighborhood conflict it probably happens millions of time today in around the world and I'm taking it just that step further and I think the scary thing is what is what you're saying that we recognize ourselves in the characters and it really is just all it separates our from what they experience and potentially going to jail is making one bad decision or being in you know one day being in the wrong place at the wrong time and that's all it is it's it's often just that kind of moment where it tipped the wrong way and I think we can all identify with that will find it really scary and that's why it's fun to read because it's actually you know it's not happening to us it's happening to them something for those people it's still happening to us I know was there a real-life neighbors from Hell story that you've experienced I have had a very bad neighbor he was doing a DIY renovation I live in a terraced house which I know you don't use that term in the US but it means I live in a whole house and then on either side of my wall there is another house exactly the same so it's a row of houses there's no gap between houses so if someone is putting up shelves or something on you know is literally on the other side of the wall and this guy was renovating his house from scratch himself so he tore everything out and then he put everything back in and when he tore everything out he didn't put it in a skip or have it removed by professionals he would burn the debris in the garden in a bonfire so that was you know the first thing that I found very very annoying and also quite dangerous but the noise when you go to get to the heart of these neighborhood disputes often noises is there at the heart of it and he was very very noisy and he was you know drilling at 7:00 a.m. on a Sunday and I put my daughter to bed she was she was younger then and you know that was when he decided he would start cutting some tiles and powering up the tools and and he was absolutely awful and that he wasn't an evil person a malicious person he was just in his own thoughtless bubble and but what-what stayed with me from that experience because you do quite quickly forget he moved on actually he sold up for a huge profit and moved on and I forgot about the drilling that what I didn't forget was how I responded to that situation because I was very shocked by myself and I felt really overly emotional about it I wasn't I would expect myself to be able to go and chat sensibly in a civilized way and negotiate but instead I was you know I was getting fight-or-flight reactions and I was sitting in dread almost willing the noise to start and so I knew I've always known that would be a great setting for a novel because when you have a neighborhood conflict you have people overreacting and you have people experiencing violent emotion and that's really good for a thriller good for a domestic suspense story well neighborhoods are such weird things we have our own personal spaces where we are sequestered from everyone else yet we are sometimes in cases like you and in a terraced house weird literally pressed up against each other and and that is that is the definition of a boiling but the potential for a boiling plot that's to tell us about the neighborhood in the story lowland way alone in play is it's in South London it's that lowland gardens is the name of the suburb and it's fictitious but anyone who lives in South London will be able to say it's theirs because it's a very typical South London neighborhood it's quite affluent it's up-and-coming rather than established so I think your listeners might be familiar with places like Notting Hill and Kensington and you know the lovely central London neighborhoods we see in movies and books but South London where I am South East London it's more up-and-coming it's more suburban and in the last few years you might have been able to pick up a bargain which is what some of the characters have done on lowland way they picked up a bargain they're living in beautiful houses they wouldn't be able to afford in in other areas of London and they've set about creating paradise for themselves so the kingpin is the street is called Ralph and he has promptly moved his brother and his family into the house next door when it became available and they have set the tone for the street they've made it into a perfect family paradise and and the the Alpha mom character Naomi who's Ralph's wife she has started an award-winning scheme where they cleared the street of cars and the children can play outside every Sunday old style they love the idea of an old-fashioned childhood and family values but the problem with creating perfection is that other people will fall short of your standards and this is exactly what happens so when the toxic neighbors Darren and Jodi move in even if they were attempt as bad as they are they would still not be matching up to the expectations of the established residence so and as it turns out their absolute neighbors from hell and any anyone would spot them as a nightmare but these these very pleased with themselves characters are their world is rocked by their their arrival in in your books our house and those people you've really hit upon this this source of stress in so many of our lives and it seems like those stresses are increasing with property values and you know the just the the people running into each other and fighting over what is mine and what is yours and what are our lines and and all of this that there seems to be so much potential for stories in that do you ever just sit and just watch your neighborhood and and just look for ideas absolutely and you did you don't need to wait very long either really scary about a couple of days ago in my neighborhood which is a lovely neighborhood a boss was trying to turn I'm on my street is just off Oh sort of high street and the bus was trying to turn onto residential Road and there was a car that was sort of illegally parked on the corner and he couldn't he couldn't turn his bus and so he called for the car owner to come and move his car and rather than simply moving his car the guy took a fence and smashed the window of the of the bus where the driver you know the driver's seat and trying to stab him and you know I mean talk about over reactions that's the kind of thing that is happening I think people are very angry there's a you know there's a lot of uncertainty in I probably in the US as well as the UK and politically and I think that people are just so much closer to boiling point than I remember them ever having been before so there is always the potential for this sort of outbreak of violence it's really it is it is quite scary I mean it doesn't stop me from you know going and doing whatever I need to do but but I'm very aware of more tension and more kind of conflict and also but people simply strolling by with their headphones on and not you know not doing anything about it I mean when this is attempted stabbing took place people just strolled by with their coffees and didn't people don't want to get involved it's it's very strange we're all quiet detached and not cooperating that much with each other at the moment I think or the thing that drives me crazy now is seeing something going on and people pulling their phones out to record it for social media instead of instead of doing something about it oh that drives me crazy absolutely also let me know that that really should be you know an offence it's really neglect that'll probably be it for an offence in some countries because that's neglecting to help at the scene of an accident kind of thing isn't it but no it's it's extraordinary I don't know how we've how we've got this way and I think that that the two books those people in our house I mean I do see them as portion airy tales I think that you know I want them to be entertaining stories but I see you also hope that people we'll think a little bit about the way you know the behavior I'm describing it's not that far removed from what we all experienced it might be exactly what we do experience and so if it is it really how we want to live our lives and with those people in particular you know you start the book knowing very clearly that those people are Darren and Jody the toxic neighbors but by the end of the book what I'm hoping is that you might have shifted your perspective a little bit as the reader and and starters but if they will actually are Ralph and Naomi those people or is Anton M those people and am I one of those people because this is the other thing about neighborhoods is certain you know no one actually thinks they're a bad neighbor and yet we've all got stories of bad neighbors so maybe it's just possible we've occasionally been the bad neighbor and not even realized and none of us want to see ourselves as the villain and sometimes we probably are only at least I have to self-awareness to know that I have been a bad neighbor in the 90s I was a real sort of party animal and I was a had loud music and yes smoking cigarettes out the window and you know friends over all the time and so so you know help my hand if I have been a bad made for myself and at least that was headin ISM Louise who is your favorite heavy metal band and do you listen to it while writing I love heavy metal my favourite band I would say because I'm a real sort of late 80s girl so I would say Guns N'Roses although I do you love ac/dc as well they would be a close second so yes Guns N'Roses I love Metallica who are of course name-checked in the book I'm not so keen on Megadeth and you know some of the thrash metal that Darren and Jody like I'm not so keen on that but yes Guns N'Roses I definitely don't listen to any kind of music with lyrics when I'm writing I can't have distracting me so I can't listen to music with lyrics and I can't go to cafes because I'm my brain will immediately tune into dialogue and I don't get anything done so no strictly in my in my free time will I be listening to heavy metal you know I'm a pretty big Iron Maiden fan but Metallica oh yeah oh yeah they've got a big summer tour go and I think yeah Louise I'm absolutely love the new book it's called those people and it's out today everywhere so happy release day and yeah we're gonna send everybody to pick up their copy of it is there a place online where people can connect with you and maybe dig into your back catalogue and all that good stuff absolutely you can the easiest thing is to come to my website which is Louise candless calm and then from there you can see where to connect on Twitter and Facebook but that has all my releases and and you know knees and bits and pieces about events so that's a great place to start excellent we'll send everybody to see you and we're going to send everybody to pick up their copy of those people there's a link to it in the show notes for this episode Louise thank you so much for taking time to come on the show today well thank you so much for having me it's been lovely thanks for listening to this episode of author stories go to Hank garner com to find all of the archives of the show and be sure to subscribe while you're there now stay tuned for a special audiobook clip from Richard gleb's that Jason crane series the ancient building war the severe cassock colors of a Puritan minister a uniform monochrome of slate gray shingles and soot gray clouds its shadowed upper window is cross-hatched like the facets of a spider's eye the second story protruded beyond the first and bore the houses only ornament too great air drops of wood weeping from each corner of the buildings stiff upper-lip the place would have looked sinister and foreboding in its shadowed alley if not for the die-cut silhouette of a dancing sheep jaunty above the door and the two front bay windows that blazed with colorful welcoming light the windows were hung with orbs of colored glass on staggered lengths of ribbon each orb glowed with autumnal Reds and delicate greens burgundy tints and pumpkin hues dappled raspberry and clover lime streaked with light and weightless as bubbles over a cauldron the shelves below offered crystal skulls and silver daggers and horny Devils Celtic chalices and woven dream catchers in Dreamcoat hues a primitive broom leaned in a corner ready for flight and the rhapsodic nude in bronze clutched her goat-legged lover beneath a jackal bust of Anubis the interior of the shop was even which year above a crude in sooty fireplace a stack of brick barely holding the shape of a chimney pushed through the bar and high roof threading ancient beams that criss crossed overhead brooms and kettles and Christmas lights dangled from these alongside Halloween costumes and Chinese umbrellas pointy hats and bundles of herbs Jason wandered deeper into the shop his fingers trailed across strange bronze statuary and Aztec masks of turquoise and lapis lazuli he rolled his eyes at the luck candles and money charms but goggled indecently at a nude and anatomically correct silver nymph with long golden hair that reminded him of Kate see anything you like Jason jumped turned and jumped again the woman standing before him was the living embodiment of every hippie dippie counterculture type he'd ever seen her hair was green her face pale and round her doughy body wrapped in some elaborately woven ethnic garb her eyebrows were black and pierced in little rows and her eyes were heavily circled with midnight blue as if she'd been sucker-punched by an oil slick she tapped the glass over the nymph admiring the goddess I see oh um she practically caught him with porn you want to hold her she won't break here the woman flipped open a glass door and handed Jason the naked figure see how heavy she is you could bang her against the wall all day and barely make a dent she waggled her eyebrows obviously enjoying his discomfort he checked the price tag 700 bucks the goddess is a symbol of love and fertility don't be ashamed of desiring her the woman's long green fingernails plucked a long black cigarette from a long red case and she lit it I sense she blew smoke and studied it swirls dissatisfaction in love yes I have just the thing she pulled Jason into a side room where the smell of her clothes smoke gave way to the skunky aromas of potpourri sachets tea leaves and hanging clutches of Twiggy flowers she searched found a little bundle and pressed it into his hand this will make you irresistible rub it on your nethers twice a day and love shall surely find you Jason made a face the bundle smelled like cow manure he didn't even want that on his hands

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