Interview with Evelyn Weiss

When did you first start writing?
A couple of years ago I was walking to a business meeting in London, when I was hit by a taxi. This led to knee surgery and some time off work.
A friend said "What are you going to do with all this free time at home? Write the Great British Novel?". So I decided to do some bits and bobs of writing, which came together as The Outcall. I finished writing it the day I returned to work. It may not be great, but it's a novel, and it's British!
Why do you write murder mystery novels?
It's nice to work to an overall format. The murder mystery format provide a framework - as it were, a discipline - for my writing. The framework must include my narrator/main character, other characters, a plot, clues, and suspects - who must have motive, means and opportunity! The final feature of the framework is: I'm a big believer in the Agatha Christie device of a denouement which (to mix metaphors) ties up every loose thread and accounts for every red herring. I think that readers want to feel they have a solution to every last bit of the puzzle that they've wrestled through for 300-odd pages.
On which subject: I'm not a fan of the herrings. As much as possible, I like every event and clue to tie in to the solution of the mystery. That "Ah-ha" moment when things finally make sense to the reader. Unless they've worked it out already...
I'm aware that Murder on the Titanic goes further than that. It's a big-canvas historical thriller as well as a murder mystery. That wasn't the original plan, but it just went like that while I was writing it, and I really enjoyed writing the action sequences and researching the background of pre-WW1 crime, espionage and terrorism.
There's also a "hidden story" within The Outcall. If you are familiar with some of the standard classics of English literature, or with Britain's most remote library, you may spot it...
Why do you write in the present tense?
I write for my own amusement, and I have no writing "technique". Writing for me is super-simple: I write words to describe the pictures and events which are happening in my head. Those pictures appear in the present moment, so I write in the present moment.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Speaking as a painter - for me, writing has a lot in common with painting. Getting something right needs observation, a kind of openness of vision to the world around me and the dreams in my head. Then, there's the attempt to convey something of that vision through a sketch, or a first-draft narrative. Then I apply the colours, which is like finding the right words to express what I'm trying to convey. Finally, there's standing back, seeing the picture as a whole and realising which bits may need tweaking - the editing stage.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Both The Outcall and Murder on the Titanic are set up for sequels. In between family, work, climbing trips and drawing and painting, I am writing Murder on the Western Front, Agnes Frocester's second set of adventures, when she enrols as a Red Cross nurse in World War I. My grandfather was one of the "Old Contemptibles"* - the British Army regulars who were involved in World War I fighting from day one until the end of the war. From my earliest childhood I remember the Pickelhaube (German World War I helmet) and bayonet, souvenirs taken from the German troops he captured. And my father was a Royal Air Force pilot in World War II - so I grew up, as it were, in the shadow of war. Researching the history for Agnes's second adventure has been fascinating, but the eyewitness accounts are even more harrowing than those of the Titanic disaster.
I also have the plot of a sequel to The Outcall in my mind, another adventure for Holly Harlow in London's seedy underbelly. Again I'm hoping that a murder mystery plot will puzzle and entertain readers while exploring some of the unspoken prejudices of our society.
Finally, I have a couple of more "cozy" mystery story plots in my mind. The premise is a familiar one: a London police officer, used to a high-octane working life, gets transferred to the sleepy Lake District... And of course - a murder happens, a mysterious drowning out on one of the Lakes. But no body is recovered... and an old lady tourist is the only witness. Did she imagine the whole thing?...
The problems is finding the time to write all this stuff down.
How do you approach cover design?
I'm quite a visual person, and indeed until my injury, I'd never have thought of spending my time writing, as opposed to walking or painting. So for me, one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing is creating the book covers and other visuals.
Creating the images, especially for Murder on the Titanic, has involved collaboration with some really lovely people, including the very talented models who appear in the images, and the kind support and advice of professional photographers! If anyone likes any of my cover images and would like to work with one or more of the models involved, contact me on Twitter and I can provide their contact details.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
It's a brilliant platform for independent authors who enjoy writing, who like to see their books appear as a finished product, but who don't want to spend time schmoozying agents and publishers. It also allows you to publish for free, which is wonderful. I have no desire to complicate my tax returns with income from sales!
What are your favourite books, and why?
Emma and Persuasion are both books I re-read every year. Just as philosophy is sometimes described as footnotes to Plato, in my mind, all fiction writing is really just footnotes to Austen!

I also truly love Mario Vargas Llosa's Real Life of Alejandro Mayta. The perfectly constructed and written novel. And it's set in Peru - land of my dreams.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Most important to me is my family, especially my spouse and two children. We're lucky: we spend a lot of time together, we have great holidays, and we all sit down together for meals - over which robust discussions take place!
I really enjoy my work, which makes use of my training in law and philosophy.
I have always loved the outdoors, and especially mountains, since I was very young. I've been lucky enough to walk and climb on five continents, including some peaks in Argentina that were previous unclimbed. The feeling of being the first person on Earth to walk into an unexplored valley high among the mountains was one that will always stay with me.
I draw, and paint in oils - mostly landscapes and nudes.
Published 2017-05-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Murder and Revolution
Price: Free! Words: 114,180. Language: English. Published: July 6, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Murder at the Tsar’s private palace... and sinister monk Rasputin is a suspect. The Russian Revolution draws Professor Axelson and his assistant Agnes into a terrifying web of intrigue and violence. Fleeing for their lives amid the death throes of two vast, ancient empires, they face horrors beyond imagination. And in a far-flung corner of the world, they find the answer to their mystery.
Murder on the Western Front
Price: Free! Words: 114,910. Language: English. Published: December 12, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(5.00 from 3 reviews)
A real-life Hell - the Western Front, 1915. Death is everywhere. In the confusion of combat, young American volunteer nurse Agnes Frocester witnesses something utterly unexpected... a murder. While an innocent man faces the firing squad, Agnes's investigations take her into the bohemian heart of Paris and across the battlefields of Europe - into the most deadly places on earth.
Murder on the Titanic
Price: Free! Words: 116,640. Language: English. Published: August 18, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Adventure » Action
(5.00 from 6 reviews)
As the Titanic sinks, a notorious playboy aristocrat is murdered. Professor Axelson and his assistant Agnes question the survivors under hypnosis, revealing a dark conspiracy. The quest becomes a breakneck life-and-death chase across an ocean and two continents... ...and Agnes finds, as the whole world stands on the brink of war, that she alone has the power to save it. Or destroy it.
The Outcall
Price: Free! Words: 108,080. Language: English. Published: April 20, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
(4.50 from 8 reviews)
Holly Harlow is intelligent, courageous and independent. And she works as a London call girl. When a client is murdered in her bed, she has to find the killer - before the police arrest her for the crime. Holly's trail leads from human trafficking to unbridled celebrity egotism and the corridors of political power. What she discovers is almost unimaginable.