M.C. Halliday Tells All
ST: Hi, MC Halliday, welcome and thank you for visiting with us this week.
MC: Sloane, it’s my pleasure! Many thanks for asking me here.
ST: Tell us about yourself.
MC: Originally from the UK, I now live in colonial country. My cottage is snugly nestled in a mountain valley at the edge of a forest. It’s peaceful here, with bird songs when it isn’t raining and croaking frogs when it is! I like to garden using both wild and cultivated flowering plants, bushes and trees. I’m a fair carpenter and an artist in a variety of mediums. I also dabble in photography and use some of my photos in creating my book videos.
ST: Your latest novel, A BRIBE AGAINST THE INNOCENT, is out. Let’s show everyone your intriguing cover.
ST: It looks to be an exciting read. Please tell us about it.
MC: The Detective Inspector Octavia Cambridge series feature a middle-aged Inspector with the London Met. These are noir psychological mysteries containing romantic elements. Also, they are knife sharp, shocking who-dun-its!
A BRIBE AGAINST THE INNOCENT was nominated for Best Mystery Novel at the 2007 P&E Readers Polls. This is brief description of BRIBE:
Remarkably, the methods of a recent murder match a bizarre murder twenty years ago. The latest victim proves to be an enigma and Inspector Cambridge has only an old photograph to advance her investigation. As the enquiry progresses, hideous secrets are revealed that led to suicide and murder.
ST: How did you come up with the story lines?
MC: BRIBE came about as I wanted to read a mystery featuring a woman in her mid-forties, dealing not only with her detective job but everything else in her life. So, I decided to write one with the notion of a series. In each subsequent book, more is revealed about Octavia and we see her trying to cope with her dear mother suffering from progressive dementia, and attempting to make the right decision about romance midst a murder enquiry. I also wanted to create really unusual murders and reveal more information about likely suspects, so I devote a chapter delving into each person of interest.
ST: And where and can we buy the books you have out and your upcoming book, THE KING’S DAUGHTER ?
MC: Dark Eden Press is my publisher for the Victorian Courtesan’s Memoirs trilogy.
I CAME UP STAIRS is out now from Dark Eden Press.
Dark Eden Press is my publisher also, for the DI Octavia Cambridge Mystery series:
A BRIBE AGAINST THE INNOCENT
A LION FROM THE FOREST is scheduled for March release:
Samhain Publishing has scheduled THE KING’S DAUGHTER for release on February 5th: Link
This is a fantasy romance that takes place in medieval Eire. A dark sorcerer is secretly spinning a web of black spells around the King’s daughter. To achieve happiness and attain her destiny as woman and witch, the maiden must conquer evil and ultimately face her own terrible blunders.
ST: How did you and your publishers come together?
MC: After years of rejection that my tales did not agree with accepted romance formula or my writing was ‘too different’, I submitted to epublishers where far more chances are taken with concept and style. Here, I would like to make special mention of Dark Eden Press. The publisher contracted my tales as they hold a belief in distinctive voice and unique style. Without them, most of my books would still be simply manuscripts.
ST: What made you decide to be a writer, and specifically, why noir detective mysteries along with historicals? The genres seem worlds apart.
MC: I suppose my answer to why I became a writer is the same as other authors; I felt it in me from a young age and had notebooks filled with my scribbling. Then I needed to give it up and make my way in the ‘real’ world until I could not deny my truest desire.
Why different genres? I enjoy exploring the lives of women through the ages, almost becoming the heroine in my mind’s eye. My aim is to convey the language and style of the period to evoke the feeling of being immersed in a particular time.
The Victorian Courtesan trilogy begins in the 1860’s and I wished to capture the era in the heroine’s view of her world and chose to write the memoirs in first person.
My noir contemporary detective mysteries are a huge challenge, requiring not only a complex plot of horrendous murder and the unraveling of clues, but I have chosen to explore each character intimately in alternate chapters beginning with the Prologue. This entails finding the most meaningful moment in their lives and how it has impacted on who they became, then weaving this into mystery. DI Octavia Cambridge is featured in the first chapter and every second chapter after, ending with the Epilogue. I use the differences in speech in my mysteries also, to convey individuality to the characters.
“The King’s Daughter” is written, where possible, using words and phrasing from Middle English to capture the essence of 1000 AD. I attempted to write the tale without modern words and found most from before the 12th century are still in use, only the spelling has changed or the root meaning has altered slightly.
ST: How long have you been writing?
MC: Give or take, seven years…I took a year off about four years ago as my submissions were either rejected or the publisher folded and I needed some time to regroup. It helped a great deal just to garden or paint, and curl up with a book. Eventually, I became inspired once again.
ST: How many books have you written?
MC: Written or accepted for publication? You see, I wrote a few contemporary romance suspense novels and one farcical tale of an odd detective firm before penning two Detective Inspector Octavia Cambridge Mysteries and plotting two more. Then I penned THE KING’S DAUGHTER. When that book was completed, I was compelled to write A Victorian Courtesan’s Memoirs. Again, the Prologue came to me, this time in the voice of the heroine that became the first book, I CAME UP STAIRS. Before I was half finished the lengthy novel, I knew her tale would become a trilogy.
ST: Which is your favorite and why?
MC: Each heroine is my favorite! They possess incredible strengths and dire weaknesses, but seek to overcome their troubles and find love. The path of life is not easy for any of us and although there may be smooth trails, my heroines often find the road terribly rutted and lose their way. It is the bravery required to keep going that I adore finding in each woman.
ST: Your books are wonderful. I’m happy to say that I’m the proud owner of several of your books and love everyone of them. I also bought some as Christmas gifts for friends. Looks like you need to get back to work, M.C. We’ll catch up with you in the morning if you’re available.
MC: I’ll be here!
January 24, 2008
The Write Side of Life
ST: Hi Everyone! We’re back with M.C. Halliday to learn more about her writing. What’s a normal day like for you?
MC: In the winter, I’m up at 6:30 every day and put coffee on to brew as my email accounts load and the dogs spend some time in the back gardens. Once I have coffee in hand, I spend an hour or two answering or sending emails, then I check my calendar and projects list before planning my day according to deadlines. I work until 4:00 or later, and then try to relax or catch up on household duties or errands. In the summer, I begin my day at 5:00 and head outdoors to garden in the early afternoon. My evenings are spent in the gazebo I erected in the far rear gardens, with my digital recorder at hand.
ST: With your busy life how do you find time to write?
MC: Oh, my life is dedicated to writing. I seldom holiday or do much else, I’m happiest when writing or researching or plotting. My tarot sign is Hermit and I think it suits me quite well.
ST: Are there any quirks you have or do before or while you’re writing?
MC: Atop a shelf on my desk, looking out a window to the northeast, stands a large fierce red dragon to ward off bad chi. That’s rather quirky to us in the West, isn’t it.
ST: Who or what encouraged you to write?
MC: Simple desire, compounded over years of suppressed need and I reached a point where it was do or die, literally. I had been suffering from physical ailments that flared most on my face (I looked like monster at one point) and went into a severe depression that worsened when I lost my lifelong Siamese companion, and sat with a bottle of pills asking myself, “What would make you NOT do this?” Immediately, the answer was writing. I quit my job, stopped dating and sought to heal with my deepest desire forefront.
ST: Where do you get the ideas for your novels?
MC: Always, a sudden inspiration comes to me. The words follow as though I hear a whisper as I write the prologue. Next comes the characters, which I seem to know inside and out as I begin. I can see them, hear the tone of their voices and sense their motivation. Then I look to the pivotal point in their life that creates who they are and why they feel/act as they do.
ST: How do you research your books?
MC: Thank heavens for the internet, especially in the last few years as it’s much improved. I can find hundreds of sources for much of what I would like to know before plotting: structure of the society, rights of men and women, clothing styles and fabrics and personal toilet, modes of transport and costs, industry and art, maps for the era and common names of people and places, language and speech patterns, entertainment and amusements, housing and furniture. Any facts or information must be confirmed from at least three other reliable sources. It helps a great deal when I have first hand knowledge of a place, such as London and all southern England.
ST: Who is your support group?
MC: My older sister was my first support. She has encouraged me through the last seven years and remains steadfast. My best friend is also an avid support and reader, she will beta read at any time and give her precious, totally unbiased opinion. Recently, I joined an online writer’s group that has also proved valuable.
ST: Thanks for all your time, M.C. I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
MC: You’re welcome and I’ll be here bright and early!
January 25, 2008
Author, Author, Tell Us More
ST: Good morning, M.C. Please describe your writing space.
MC: At one time, I had an upstairs office in the cottage but it proved too hot in the summer and too isolated; I was away from the many windows on the ground floor and the dogs wanting in and out at the back doors. So, I began to think…there was a large alcove off the kitchen under the high lofted ceiling that wasn’t being used. I had placed a deacon’s bench there but as it was away from the front and back doors, no one sat on it although it was handy for storage. I got rid of my wooden desk in the office and transformed the alcove with a glass L-shaped desk and an internet connection. The added bonus was the old office became another bedroom. (I adore guests coming to stay.)
ST: Sounds wonderful! Do you find writing to be fulfilling? If so, in what way?
MC: Writing is fulfilling for me, absolutely! There are voices, sometimes atrocities that must be written to release my demons, further my need to understand the world and explore motivations, fulfill my desire to stretch my imagination and find some answers through my characters.
ST: What’s your favorite part of writing?
MC: The moment of sudden inspiration, followed by the actual writing as it flows from me, the act of creating, really.
ST: What do you absolutely hate about being an author?
MC: I can’t say there is anything I hate, the reclusive work suits me. But if I was to pin point one area I have some difficulty, it would I be writing and editing books from different time periods on the same day. I can’t simply switch as I become immersed in the heroine of an era, seeing as she would, hearing as she would, thinking her thoughts and feeling her reactions in her particular era and situation.
ST: In your opinion what’s the most important thing for a new writer to learn?
MC: Most important, I believe is to find your voice and trust it. Style is so important and can transform a mere story into a tale with wings of light.
ST: Your website is beautiful. I recommend everyone cruise over and check it out. How did you decide on the content and design?
MC: Haha, like everything else I do, I thought of what I’d like: some beautiful art of women in history, lists of the series and single titles and some linked excerpts. Nothing complicated, very simple and on one long page.
ST: Why do you think a website is important for authors?
MC: Mainly, to find a book list, excerpts and what’s coming soon. Other than that, I don’t see the point of clicking here and there for added bits and bobs. That said, I have read that some readers enjoy the extras so perhaps I should consider it.
ST: I’m looking forward to tomorrow and learning what’s in the works for you. See you then?
January 26, 2008
Gazing into the Crystal Ball
ST: Today’s our last day with M.C. Please tell us, M.C., what does the future hold for you?
MC: Where is my crystal ball…really, I have no desire to do anything than write what comes to me…saying that, in all truth, it would be wonderful to see some of my books optioned.
ST: Is there any thing you’d secretly like to do that you haven’t?
MC: I would like to write the planned fourth book in the DI Cambridge series, on a remote Greek island for complete flavor! Octavia takes a vacation to a Greek Isle and unwittingly, becomes involved in the investigation a murder.
ST: What’s in the works for the future?
MC: Oh, lots! I have several outlines and works in progress.
Continuing the DI Cambridge Mysteries:
A MAIDEN BETWIXT THE DEAD followed by A HOLIDAY FOR THE BUSMAN.
Further to A Victorian Courtesan’s Memoirs:
I CAME ACROSS THE SEAand the last of the trilogy, I CAME TO RECKONING.
I also have a sci-fi romance in the planning stages, NEW WORLD.
Additionally, I have a niggle to write another medieval fantasy.
ST: WOW!! When will you find time to breathe? LOL. Thanks, M.C., for spending so much time with us. It’s been a great week and I’ve enjoyed learning more about you. The very best to you in the future and keep us posted on your future releases.
MC: I’ve so enjoyed being here, Sloane! And thank you, I wish you the best as well.