Interview with Cecilia Peartree

Published 2018-12-22.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a very small village in Fife, Scotland. I tended to feel like an outsider there for much of the time as my parents, although both Scottish, had met and married in England, where I and my brother were born. One of my friends later pointed out that I hadn't quite lost my English accent even ten years after moving to Scotland.
I think feeling like an outsider is quite possibly an advantage for a writer as it encourages you to see things from a different perspective and to try to understand various points of view.
When did you first start writing?
Almost as soon as I could physically write, I wanted to write stories. The first one I can remember writing was when I was six years old. I sat at our dining-table all afternoon laboriously writing away with a pencil in a notebook which I still have somewhere. By the time it was getting dark, I had a story in four chapters and a lump on my finger where the pencil pressed against it - I still have that too.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love being able to spend time in different worlds where I can use my imagination to decide what happens - although another joy is actually creating the characters and letting them run away with the story themselves, or so it seems.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had been writing for years but without managing to get anything published, although I did feel I was gradually getting closer. I had written ten plays for children which had been performed by an amateur group. I had a novel professionally critiqued and I attended a couple of writers' conferences. However I am quite an impatient person in many ways and when it suddenly became easier to self-publish, I jumped at the chance rather than hanging around waiting for query letters to be answered and go through the whole, very slow traditional publication process.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have recently published 'Secrets of the Ice Palace', the 17th in my Pitkirtly Mystery series. Whenever I start on a new Pitkirtly story, it feels like coming home. I know the recurring characters very well by now and quite often their thoughts and dialogue run away with me and it seems as if they are writing the novel themselves without very much intervention from me..
However, I do need to write something different as well, and so I've already begun work on 'The French Heir', which is a sort of historical mystery set at the time of the Napoleonic Wars. This is part of a planned trilogy. I don't expect it to extend to 17 books but it end up at slightly more than 3!
Sometimes when writing a mystery novel I have a clear idea of who has committed the crime before I start, and sometimes (more often than not) I have a vague idea and then change my mind at some point. In the case of 'The Christmas Puzzle' I was only a few chapters from the end of the book when I experienced this sudden change of mind. I think the only other novel where it has come so close to the wire is 'A Reformed Character'.
What are you working on next?
I've already started work on 'The French Heir', which is a sequel to my historical novel 'The Heir to Marshingdean'.
I expect to write the next novel in the Pitkirtly Mystery series (Pitkirtly 18) in early spring 2019. Once I've made my new plan for the year I will know more about the sequence of events!
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was the place where I first tried out any of my work on a real live audience! I uploaded a short story ('Recycled') there as a sort of test run, setting it as a free download. I was thrilled when I noticed the numbers of downloads building up.
Another thrilling moment was when my first paid for sales from other outlets appeared in my account, especially the ones that showed more than one currency - I felt like an international author for the first time!
What do your fans mean to you?
I am very grateful to all my readers, and I suppose I can count the ones who have contacted me in some way as 'fans'. I particularly enjoy being able to interact with them on places like Facebook and my blog. They do help me keep on writing, although I have to confess I would probably keep going anyway! But maybe not quite as fast.
Who are your favorite authors?
Jane Austen, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Addams, M.C. Beaton, Loretta Chase, Lexi Revellian and David Wailing.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Haha - on working days, the need to go to my part-time job and earn a living!
On days when I don't have to go there, I get up a little later and write a few hundred words just after breakfast to get the day started properly.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I work part-time as a database manager, having reduced my working hours just recently, so that takes up quite a bit of time. Otherwise I chair a local committee and act as doorkeeper to two cats. I delve occasionally into family history research and I read a lot - usually on my e-reader these days.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I look at the recommendations on my Kindle first - if there are any I would like but don't have time for just now, I add them to a wish-list.
I look for more books by writers whose books I've already enjoyed.
I look at 'Indie Book Bargains' newsletter for ideas.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes, and I still have it (see above). It was called 'Penny and Peggy go to the Seaside' and that's exactly what it was about - based on my family holidays at St Andrews, but an idealised version.
What is your writing process?
I only need a plot idea and some characters to get started. The idea has to tell me where I think I'm going with the story, but sometimes not very much more than that. Once I have this and the characters, I will do any research I think I might need before starting to write, although there is always more to do along the way.
I don't let myself start writing until a sort of head of steam builds up, and quite often that is so effective that it carries me through the first couple of chapters. Once I start, I write methodically in bursts of several hundred words, trying to write something at breakfast time, lunchtime and in the evening. I always like to know where I'm going next before I stop for the day, and I try not to break at the end of a chapter.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
That's very hard to answer, because I can't really remember a point in time when I couldn't read and then suddenly could read. But I did love the Beatrix Potter books when I was small, and the first book I can remember really making an impact on me was 'The Tailor of Gloucester' - that was mainly because of the illustrations, which were mostly of mice sewing in tiny little stitches on beautiful fabrics.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to have a photograph on the cover of my Fife mysteries, so I usually have a look in my late brother's photo stash for something I think is more or less appropriate. For instance, the cover of 'Reunited in Death' shows a graveyard in Angus where one set of our great-great-grandparents are buried.
Apart from that I am always keen to make sure the text is visible on a thumbnail.
If I ever get round to writing the steam-punk novel I have somewhere in my head, I'll have to get a professional cover design as I doubt if my own skills are up to that.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Pride and Prejudice - such a lot in it. I can re-read it over and over, finding something different each time.
Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Addams) - always amusing but with kernels of deep truth in it.
Going Postal (Terry Pratchett) - as above.
Persuasion - again, such a lot in it. Brilliant characterisation.
Strong Poison (Dorothy Sayers) - classic detective story.
What do you read for pleasure?
Historical novels
Non-fiction - history or pop psychology
Mysteries - nothing too violent
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle 4
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Permanent freebie (achieved via Smashwords).
FB good for keeping fans up to date.
Describe your desk
Always more cluttered than I want it to be.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Latest books by This Author

The Spy Who Came Out of the Bushes
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 64,710. Language: English. Published: April 14, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
(4.00 from 1 review)
This is the 20th novel in the Pitkirtly Mysteries series. Maisie Sue's wedding is disrupted by shadows from the past, while Christopher fights against the inexorable intrusion of the future into his working life, and once again Amaryllis is not the only spy in town.
Five Short Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 13,790. Language: British English. Published: December 26, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
This is a collection of five short stories by Cecilia Peartree, author of the Pitkirtly Mystery and Adventurous Quest series. The stories are Apocalypse Ready, Recycled, A Romantic Quest, Special, and The Apocalypse Decoded.
Five More Short Stories
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 11,220. Language: British English. Published: December 23, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
This is a new collection of five short stories, of which three are set in Pitkirtly, home of the Pitkirtly Mysteries, and two are freestanding stories. The stories are 'Christmas Lights', 'A Very Secret Santa', 'Landscape of Terror', 'Conclusions' and 'The Wrong Idea'.
Careless Death
Series: Pitkirtly Mysteries. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 63,050. Language: British English. Published: September 6, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Mollie, the senior librarian at the Cultural Centre, gets involved in a series of unlikely adventures after being questioned by the police, while Amaryllis takes on a new rôle and Christopher faces the possibility that agents of a foreign power have targeted the Cultural Centre.
Unrelated Incidents
Series: Pitkirtly Mysteries. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 66,570. Language: British English. Published: May 27, 2019. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
This is the 18th novel in the Pitkirtly Mystery series. A series of unexpected and apparently random incidents takes place in and around Pitkirtly. Can Amaryllis provide an explanation that connects them all up?
Secrets of the Ice Palace
Series: Pitkirtly Mysteries. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 63,080. Language: British English. Published: December 17, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
This is the 17th novel in the Pitkirtly Mystery series. Penelope Johnstone can't help feeling a bit sorry for herself as she spends a significant birthday alone at home. But once she gets involved in a sequence of bizarre events such as being threatened by the driver of an ice-cream van, she no longer has any time to worry about that. And once Amaryllis joins in, things can only get more bizarre.
The Unexpected Suspect
Series: Pitkirtly Mysteries. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 63,120. Language: British English. Published: September 2, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
This is the 16th book in the Pitkirtly Mystery series. A stolen wheelbarrow gets Stewie into trouble through no fault of his own. Meanwhile, someone takes most of the computers from the Cultural Centre in broad daylight, but this doesn't stop Jemima from running another Family History day. If there's any connection between these apparently random events, Amaryllis is determined to find it.
Quest for a Father
Series: Adventurous Quests. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 63,540. Language: British English. Published: June 16, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Historical, Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
This is the 6th book in the 'Adventurous Quests' series of thriller novels set in the world of the 1950s, when people hadn't quite recovered from the war and were on the brink of being plunged into a cold war stand-off with Russia. 'Quest for a Father' takes Clemency and Andrew to Spain, at a time when recovery from war was even slower, and there were secrets and dangers round every corner.
Murder or What You Will
Series: Pitkirtly Mysteries. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 60,460. Language: British English. Published: January 20, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British
Little does Jock McLean realise that an encounter with a pack of dogs and their dog-walker on the beach is only the start of a sequence of events that will lead him to the dark side of Pitkirtly Island and beyond. His friends Christopher, Amaryllis, Dave and Jemima will also become involved before long in a case of murder, fraud, a dog home and an irresponsible vet. The 15th Pitkirtly Mystery.
Promenade with Death
Series: Pitkirtly Mysteries. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 61,930. Language: British English. Published: October 23, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Traditional British, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
(4.00 from 1 review)
This is the 14th novel in the Pitkirtly Mystery series, set in a fictitious small town on the coast of Fife. When an amateur theatre group plans a promenade performance on Pitkirtly Island in the dark - on Hallowe'en - this seems to Amaryllis like a recipe for disaster, so naturally she pays close attention to the project...
View their profile to see all of their books