Interview with Geraldine Evans

When did you first start writing?
I've always enjoyed writing. English was my favourite subject at school. But I only really tried (and failed) to write seriously in my twenties. I got into my stride when I hit thirty and finally got published six years' later.

Most writers have to serve a long apprenticeship. Yes, it's hard, with plenty of tears along the way. But if you have the 'write stuff', you'll stick it out. What else are you going to do? I knew I wanted to be a writer and i was prepared to do whatever was necessary to accomplish that ambition.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on several south London (UK) council estates. Not the greatest start for a would-be writer! You don't see too many haling from such locations. But did I let that deter me? Did I, heck. I regarded it as a challenge. Just as well I like a challenge because all during my dilettante twenties I just played around with writing, never finishing anything. It seemed I wasn't UP to the challenge...

Then I hit the age of thirty. There's nothing like another year creeping by to gain your attention and push your determination into overdrive. I wrote and completed a book a year for each of six years after that. All romances. All rejected by Mills & Boon, the publisher I was aiming at, though the last of the six did get published, but not by Harlequin/Mills & Boon. Anyway, after my next book in the romance genre received the thumbs-down, I got good and mad. I felt like murdering someone. So I did. No, this is not a real-life confession. I don't fancy doing jail-time. Besides, murdering people in fiction is much more satisfying; you can kill off all those people who rejected you but without the unpleasantness of having the police break down your door. And you get paid. What's not to like?

My council estate upbringing has been a major influence, not only on my (eventual) choice of genre, but also on my style. Although most crime novels seem to be written by the educated middle-classes and they set their novels in that milieu, I knew it wouldn't suit my natural style. I enjoy throwing some humour into my novels and, in my DI, Joseph Aloysius Rafferty, I think I hit on the perfect pairing for me. We have a lot in common. Both lapsed Catholics from large London-Irish families with a council estate upbringing.

I gave Rafferty a family who felt— if he must be a copper— he might at least have the decency to be a bent one. No reflection on my own family who are snow-white law-abiders to a man and woman. But that premise for the series has given me some fun sub-plots that have poor Rafferty getting into more trouble than a Victoria lady of the night sans the morning-after pill.

To add to his troubles, I've given him DS Dafyd Llewellyn for a partner. More moral than the Pope, Rafferty's educated, intellectual Welsh sergeant can be relied upon to look down his nose whenever he gets a whiff of the Rafferty family's erring. To Llewellyn, even the 'bargain'-hunting mothers of detective inspectors aren't immune from prosecution by the law.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The desire to earn a living! Is that so unreasonable, when I'd learned my trade through so many years and so many books and so many rejections? I wasn't one of these Johnny-Come-Latelys, jumping on the kindle bandwagon, hoping to get rich on the back of one book.

I'd been writing for years, had my first novel published in 1991. I have a pedigree and can number Macmillan and St Martin's Press, Worldwide, Hale and Severn House amongst my publishers. I've been a writer always.

I'd been a traditionally-published author through many years and eighteen novels and still had to have a day job to keep food on the table. That entailed years' of seven-day weeks and working through evenings, weekends and holidays. Frankly, I was sick of it. I didn't dare ask my late husband what he thought... I was even beginning to lose my love of words, which, at one time, would have been incomprehensible to me.

But I've always tried to keep abreast of what's new, which meant, as they're always in advance of old Blighty, that I read a lot of blogs written by American authors. It wasn't long before I hit on the blog of Joe Konrath! If you know Joe, you'll understand why the rest is history. Joe's a self-publishing evangelist. And he's right to be so. Because, as an indie, I earn more now in one month than I ever earned in a year of being traditionally published. Hell, I might be happy to write for my 'art' and live in a garret, but I still need to eat, I still need a roof over my head. And if you live in the UK, you'll be only too aware of how much it costs to keep warm.

Turning indie was the best thing I ever did. So, Joe, thank you, from the bottom of my heart. I can now afford to live. I can now pay my bills. Amazingly, I can even afford holidays! Good on yer, as our Aussie cousins would say.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
My income from Smashwords and the retailers to whom they distribute has increased, year on year. But, no, my income via Smashwords doesn't come close to my Amazon income, but perhaps that's because I've been so concentrated on getting my backlist eformatted that I really haven't had the time to investigate what they offer and how best I might make Smashwords' customers aware of my novels.

I think it's the same for most indie authors: Amazon started the digital ball properly rolling in, I think, 2007, and by the time I turned indie, late in 2010, it had gathered such huge momentum that it's not surprising it left other e-retailers or would-be e-retailers trailing in its digital wake.

But who knows what the future holds? Everything in the digital world changes so quickly it's hard to keep up. And, for indie authors, keeping tabs on their sales, book descriptions and readers' preferences, all takes up an awful lot of time, which is why distributors like Smashwords fulfill such a useful function.

What will the situation be in another two, five, ten years? That's anyone;'s guess. But I believe the Big Five publishers might try to by-pass Amazon and establish their own digital store, either separately or together. It could make sense for them to do that. One publisher store, made up of the Big Five (perhaps also offering a digital service to smaller publishers), could offer a real challenge to established players like Amazon.

I shall watch the developments with great interest.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I just love words and always have. I love stringing them together and making stories and music with them. But it took turning indie and self-publishing my backlist as ebooks to take me out of the traditional publishing doldrums and enjoying writing again. I'd got to the stage I really despaired and began to lose my love of writing. I despair no longer. :-) In fact, even though I'm a fresh widow and still missing George, my darling husband, I'm starting to enjoy life again. I know my sweetheart would be happy for me.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean everything to me. As I said, I'm a widow now and have been since May 2012. This means I no longer get an income input from my (late) retired husband. So I'm responsible for every bill. Sometimes, having the onus all on my shoulders, after half a lifetime of having a partner with whom I shared such worries, can seem overwhelming. Every good review, every sale, requires one person to bestir themselves and make an effort because they enjoy what you write. Most readers just prefer to read and don't choose to write reviews. That's okay. Reviews can be quite time-consuming. Often, if another author asks me to review their novel, my heart sinks because, to review properly, it's necessary to take notes while you read which takes you out of the story. If it's a really god book, I just want to read. So readers who DO take the time to review your books are worth their weight in diamonds. They ARE diamonds. Truly, if more readers who enjoyed a particular author's work would write a review (even if it's not of one of MY books), the average author's life would be so much happier. Not to mention easier and more flexible when it came to marketing. Because most of the big promotion sites like Bookbub and Pixel of Ink, etc, require a substantial number of four star reviews (even if they don't explicitly state this on their websites) to accept your book for a promotion.

The competition to get these reviews is becoming more intense. Some authors are very geared up to gain reviews. I, unfortunately, am not numbered amongst them! I find it hard enough to keep up with my email inbox, assorted power-blogs and the succession of rapidly-changing developments, that I find writing time difficult enough. So most of my digital work has just been publlished without a supporting fanfare. Perhaps when I am able to get back to the actual writing after spending the last three and a half years getting my head round formatting and digitally publishing all my backlist, getting to grips with Gimp photo-manipulation software, trying (and sometimes failing) to grasp the uploading requirements of certain distributors/retailers (some of which are Byzantian in their complexity), then, THEN, I shall have more time to properly launch brand new books.

I would like to take this opportunity to apologise to my readers who have been awaiting the digital edition of All the Lonely People and Asking For It (brand new #16 Rafferty & Llewellyn series, when I've finally finished writing the blessed thing!). There are just so many other aspects to the independent author's life, all requiring attention, that it's sometimes difficult to build in writing time. It's my ambition to become much more efficient at that. Fingers crossed.

Most of us don't make a fortune or expect to. We write because we love writing, not because we expect to get rich. For most of my writing life, which encompassed eighteen traditionally published novels, I had to have a day job. This is not unusual. In fact, it's the norm. The public read tales of J K Rowling in her castle in Scotland and equate that with the mass of authors. I can only give a hollow laugh as I contemplate my bank statement and wonder on what I should fritter the £1.99 that my overdraft says I have left to spend.

For a writer, the thought that even one person got something from their writing and felt ramped up enough to say so in a review, is incredible. It makes all the poorly-rewarded years of struggle worthwhile.

It's so funny: writers, like other arty-farty types, are regarded as a breed apart. But we're really not. We're only too human. As Shylock said in Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice: " If you cut me, do I not bleed?"

If you're a writer, you bleed. A lot. You're always getting cut. But if you're a writer, you have to write. You have no choice. That's all.
What are you working on next?
I'm still concentrating on getting the last of my backlist up on kindle. All the Lonely People is the last in my Rafferty & Llewellyn series to which I own the rights. I'm determined to get the thing digitally formatted by the end of June 2014. Once that's done and published, I'll be able to concentrate on the new one, Asking For It.

It will be wonderful to be able to get back to some new writing. I also have ambitions to write another biographical historical novel. Reluctant Queen, my novel about Henry VIII's little sister, Mary Rose, is my best seller by far in the UK, so it would be foolish not to build on that. Besides, I love history. Only trouble is, for research, I far prefer paper books. But my house can't properly accommodate my collection so they're stashed whereever I can find a hole for them. This, of course, means, laying my hands on the one I want can often prove a tad challenging. Things are always in the last place you look, aren't they?!
Who are your favorite authors?
Difficult question for an indecisive Libran!

I love crime novels (of course). I also love historical novels and historical non-fiction.

Favourite authors? I enjoy quirky authors like Ruth Dudley Edwards, Christopher Bookmyre and Cynthia Harrod Eagles, as well as the American creator of Stephanie Plum and her partner in crime and her Grandma! For historicals, I love Sharon Penman, Philippa Gregory and Jean Plaidy (who is the author who really introduced me to history and spawned my love enough to start me on historical non-fiction. And some of those tomes are VERY dense...).
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to paint portraits in oils and have done several of my family as well as some figures from history. I like to garden and mostly grow things from cuttings or seeds. I have an on/off love affair with photography and at one time fancied I might become the female David Bailey. However, my lack of steady application precludes that possibility!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Through other authors' blog posts, through browsing retailers and sometimes by personal recommendation. I rarely bother with newspaper reviews, unless it's for non-fiction, as I feel they are mostly biased towards middle-class tastes and are often a bit too airy-fairy for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was a thriller, involving dangerous chemicals and working-class heroes. Although I was able to relate to working-class heroes with no difficulty, I never managed to find out what chemicals I needed to include to make the story (such as it was) believable. I never bothered to send it anywhere as even then, I must have had a reasonable critical facility and realised it was unmitigated garbage from start to finish, although my characterisation wasn't bad. That was the only highlight.

But every author has to go through that steep learning curve. It's one of those professions where you just have to learn by doing and failing, doing and failing, again and again. I don't believe writing can be taught, unless it's non-fiction. I think fiction requires a whole different skill set and getting to grips with it all takes some considerable time, particularly for someone like me, who left school at sixteen after a basic education. But I'd always been an enthusiastic reader, which is another essental for the would-be author. If you haven't familiarised yourself, immersed yourself, in words, how can you expect to produce your own polished work? Finding that perfect, elusive word, is another challenge, one that thesauruses frequently fail to meet: the word I want is often not contained within their pages. Sometimes, I think I must have invented that elusive word myself! And why not? Other people come up with words which the dictionaries and thesauruses decide will hang around for a while, so include them, so why shouldn't writers?

Just think of some of the expressions brought into the language by popular shows on TV. For me, the word 'dipstick' for poor Rodney in Only Fools and Horses, resonates. Of course it helped that the actor playing the part was particularly long and thin!

Acquiring the necessary application and grit is another essential. I'd been writing, in an amateur way for a large part of my twenties; but it took hitting the age of thirty for me to get a grip and finally finish writing a novel. Again, this is the story of a lot of authors. It really is the 'Try, try and try again', profession!
Published 2014-06-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Rafferty and Llewellyn Mystery Series Boxed Set Books 1 to 4
Price: $4.99 USD. Words: 289,660. Language: English. Published: April 30, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Books 1 - 4 full novels of the Rafferty and Llewellyn series
All the Lonely People
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 76,290. Language: British English. Published: December 4, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
When Detective Inspector Joseph Rafferty visits his local pub for a quick drink, he’s looking to forget his troubles, not add to them. But Rafferty is not destined to enjoy his drink in peace. Because a man is found dead – stabbed in the pub’s car park – and a preoccupied Rafferty is to lead the investigation.
Love Lies Bleeding #8 in the Rafferty & Llewellyn British Cozy Mystery Series
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 10. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 71,850. Language: British English. Published: June 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
A most unlikely murderer, DI Joe Rafferty thinks when the slender and bloodied Felicity Raine stumbles into the police station and confesses to killing her husband. Felicity's entire demeanor proclaims her innocence. As does Felicity herself once she's consulted a solicitor. Rafferty sets out to discover who else in the Raine family stands to gain from Raymond's death. The answer surprises him.
Blood on the Bones #9 Rafferty & Llewellyn British Cozy Mystery Novel
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 9. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 71,760. Language: British English. Published: June 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Literature » Religious
'Nuns!' Gladly-lapsed Catholic DI Joe Rafferty, faced with leading a murder investigation at the local enclosed and secure RC Convent, where a body had been discovered in a shallow grave, was horrified that religion was about to re-enter his life. Distracted not only by the religious aspect, but also by the blackmail letter he had received that morning, Rafferty wasn't at his investigative best.
Death Dance
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,290. Language: British English. Published: May 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Adrienne Staveley had a husband, a stepson, and several lovers. And while other men liked her TOO much, her own menfolk had reasons not to like her very much at all. And as for her female in-laws... DI Joe Rafferty and his partner, Dafyd Llewellyn, had to sort through Adrienne's tangled love life to find just who had left her strangled on her kitchen floor.
The Wishing Fountain A Cornish Romance
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 53,450. Language: English. Published: January 8, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary, Fiction » Women's fiction » General
After ending an abusive relationship, Tessa Morgan hoped for a fresh start in Cornwall working as housekeeper to the elderly Emmeline Dolan. Eccentric, but kind, Emmeline made Tessa feel immediately at home. She thought she could put the unhappiness of the past behind her. But Tessa had reckoned without the fates and Emmeline's immediate family. Her new start looked set to come to a speedy end.
A Thrust to the Vitals
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 8. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 74,540. Language: British English. Published: July 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural
#10 iin series: Returning to his home town many years after his involuntary departure, to attend a civic reception in his honour, murder victim Sir Rufus Seward ignored the maxim that 'going back' is not always wise.
Bad Blood
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 7. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 63,450. Language: British English. Published: January 13, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
#7 in series: A killing in a secure apartment has DI Joe Rafferty wondering if wealthy widow Clara Mortimer is a victim of her ever-loving family.
Kith and Kill
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 71,120. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
#15 in series: The murder of the matriarch of a family of fashion designers on her ninetieth birthday has DI Joe Rafferty wondering if one of her family thought she'd lived too long, because there is a limited cast of suspects, nearly all of them wealthy Sophia Egerton's ever-loving family.
Dying For You
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 65,660. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
#6 in series: DI Joe Rafferty finds himself chief suspect in a double murder mystery -- and all he'd been doing was looking for love.
Absolute Poison
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 60,110. Language: English. Published: September 13, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
#5 in series: Another case for DI Joe Rafferty: when the tyrannical Barstaple is poisoned Rafferty discovers he was hated by most of the office - but did he really deserve such a horrible death?.
Reluctant Queen - The story of Henry VIII's Defiant Little Sister, Mary Rose Tudor
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 122,760. Language: English. Published: June 17, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Historical » United Kingdom, Fiction » Historical » Renaissance
Mary Rose Tudor, the youngest and favourite sister of infamous English king, Henry VIII, is nonetheless pushed into a State marriage with the old and sickly King Louis XII of France. At the French court, she is relentlessly pursued by Louis’ heir, the debauched Francis. In spite of her reluctant marriage and her would-be seducer, all Mary really wants is marriage to Charles Brandon, her true love.
The Hanging Tree
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 69,210. Language: English. Published: May 8, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
#4 in series: Inspector Joe Rafferty is disturbed when a bound and hooded body hanging from a tree in Dedman Wood is identified as Maurice Smith, a man once accused of four child rapes; thrown out on a technicality, the case had caused much ill-feeling in the town -- was a self-appointed executioner meting out his own justice on the legendary Hanging Tree?
Death Line
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 83,350. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
#3 in the 15-strong Rafferty & Llewellyn procedurals. Jasper Moon, internationally renowned ‘seer to the stars’, had signally failed to foresee his own future. Found dead on his consulting-room floor, skull crushed with his own crystal ball and, all around him, his office in chaos, the murder has DI Joe Rafferty wishing he had a Seer's vision. Because all he learns of Moon is contradictory.
Down Among the Dead Men
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 66,640. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
#2 in series: A beautiful vicitim, found dead in a meadow, uprooted wild flowers strewn about her and, in her hand, a single marigold, inclines Inspector Joe Rafferty to think the murder is the work of the serial killer over the county border in Suffolk - until he meets her family, that is - when he rapidly concludes that the murderer is much closer to home.
Dead Before Morning
Series: Rafferty and Llewellyn Cozy Procedurals, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 72,640. Language: English. Published: March 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
#1 of 15 Just-promoted Brit DI Joe Rafferty lands the case of 'The Faceless Lady', as the media has dubbed it. So he could do without his wily Ma's wheedling demand that he spring her niece's fiance from poky in time for their wedding. A critical Superintendent, a gung ho media who seize on the 'Faceless Lady' case and the latest tricksy family problem put Rafferty between a rock and a hard place.