Caz grew up in Coventry, UK, and spent her teenage years dreaming of moving to London and writing a novel. After fulfilling her first dream, it wasn’t until she moved back to Coventry thirteen years later that the writing dream finally came true when she won the Richard and Judy Search for a Bestseller competition with her debut novel, Sweet Little Lies. When she’s not agonising over snappy dialogue and incisive prose, she can be found swearing at the TV when Arsenal are playing and holding court in the pub* on topics she knows nothing about.
(*Which is exactly where my spy from the Coventry Writers’ Group found her!)
What is the title of your recent book? (In a nutshell what is it about?)
Sweet Little Lies tells the story of DC Cat Kinsella, a young detective within the Met, who starts to believe that her father may be involved in the murder she’s been assigned to and the disappearance of a teenager from the west coast of Ireland in 1998. It’s very much a police procedural at heart however it has strong domestic/family noir overtones as Cat struggles to balance her professional responsibilities and personal allegiances.
Can you tell us a bit about your experiences with the Richard and Judy competition?
The whole thing was utterly surreal in a magnificent way! From Richard Madeley calling me to tell me I’d won (and giving me Warwickshire pub recommendations!) to the day I recorded a podcast with them both, it was like looking at myself from the outside. HOW did this happen? Usually the lead-time between getting a book deal and seeing your books on the shelves is about a year, sometimes more, however winning the competition meant everything went into overdrive – I found out that I’d won at the end of January and then my book was in the shops by the end of June. Those six months were a complete blur of titles, covers, foreign rights deals, interviews, blog posts and a whole host of other things. I can’t see how 2017 can be beaten but I have my fingers crossed!
What impact has winning had on your sales and future work as an author?
It’s had a huge impact and I’m so grateful! So far Sweet Little Lies has hit the Nielsen Bookscan Top 50, hit number 1 in the Amazon eBook charts for nearly a month, been bought by Harper Collins for US publication, hit Audible number 1 in the ‘Mystery’ category, been optioned by Carnival Films (who make Downton Abbey and Whitechapel among other things) and was named Kobo Crime Novel of the Year. I’m so happy and proud of Sweet Little Lies sales and have my fingers crossed that I can replicate that with Book 2! Not long after the publication of Sweet Little Lies, Bonnier Zaffre offered me a new 2 book deal and I’ll be writing another two in the Cat Kinsella series.
What are the most challenging aspects of being a writer? And the most rewarding?
I’ll be honest, being a published author is all I’ve ever wanted so it’s hard to say that any of it is particularly challenging. Obviously some days the words just won’t flow or a scene won’t land on the page in exactly the way I’ve imagined it but you just need to push through on those days and remember that you can always edit later. I suppose the solitary aspect of being a full-time writer can be quite challenging but there’s always Facebook and Twitter where you can connect with other authors who are usually feeling the same.
The most rewarding aspect is definitely reader feedback – knowing that your story kept someone up all night or made them miss their stop on the bus is the best feeling!
What is your top tip for an aspiring writer?
Finish your first draft. It sounds like an obvious thing to say but so many people get hung up on perfection which means they end up with a fantastic half-novel that never gets finished. The first draft is literally just about spilling the story onto the page so don’t worry if it’s not feeling like a literary masterpiece. STOP editing as you go – the time to edit is in 2nd/3rd/4th/5th draft.
What are you working on at the moment?
Book 2 is in progress but as yet untitled. DC Cat Kinsella and Murder Investigation Team 4 are back for more dramas and Cat’s family will feature again. It’s a completely new case though and one that Cat isn’t personally attached to this time, however the events of Sweet Little Lies will still cast a shadow over her life (and potentially her career)
What do you like to read?
Anything and everything but I suppose about 80% falls within the crime and thriller genre. My favourite crime authors are Tana French, Gillian Flynn, Lynda La Plante and Ann Cleeves, however some of my favourite novels are from far outside the crime genre – The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer and Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes to name just two. Ultimately, I love anything that is truly character-led.
Where can readers find you (Which shops, Amazon links etc)?
Sweet Little Lies is still available in most good bookshops and some supermarkets. WHSmith, Waterstones and Amazon are probably your best bet. If you prefer audiobooks then it’s now available on www.audible.co.uk too.