Today we welcome author Isobel Starling to Bookwinked as she graciously agreed to let me ask her a number of questions about the person behind the books.
Hi Isobel and welcome to Bookwinked. To start the interview of, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you came to be an author?
Hello, thanks so much for having me on Bookwinked. I became an author quite by accident. I never had any ambition to be an author and the longest thing I’d written since school was my thesis. I trained as an artist and worked in the arts for over 20 years. A period of depression and ‘artists’ block’ made it impossible for me to keep working in the way I had done. I took 3 months off and most of that time was spent reading. One of the fantasy books I read had a M/M couple who loved one another but they author never let them consummate that love. The end of the story made me so mad that I decided to write an alternative ending. I put my fanfic story on Archive of our Own (AO3) and the feedback from readers amazed me. I then decided to write my own original story, that led to another, and another. I am now on my 18th book.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve written poetry since my twenties, but I’ve been writing novels since 2014.
What do you find most important when writing a story?
I think for the genre I write in the most important things for me are a balanced plot. I don’t write erotica but my sex scenes, when they happen, are graphic. I need to balance them out with the main story arc and write believable characters.
This is the question I always ask authors: where does the inspiration for your stories come from?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, it could be in an overheard conversation at the checkout, a man I see on the street, a news story, song… I’m open to whatever inspiration the universe sends my way.
Are your a planner and researcher when your write your stories?
Research is vital. I am an info-freak so I need to know my character, lifestyles, locations… methods of murder, effects of drugs/mental illnesses… EVERYTHING.
What was the hardest book you have written and why was that?
I’m currently writing a fantasy series “The Quiet Work”. Book 2 was the first book I ever wrote but I never published it because I was struggling with the ending. I’d hung on to book 2 thinking it was book 1 with plot holes, but what it needed was a whole new book before it to make the fantasy world and events make sense. Book 1 “Apple Boy” is nearly finished, book 2 “Dark Harvest” will need a good edit, but then it will be ready to go.
When you read for fun, what do you like to read?
I mainly listen to audiobooks these days so my choices are limited to what I can get in audio. I’m a full- time writer so I don’t want to look at another screen/page to relax. Audio works a treat. I enjoy thrillers, comedy, fantasy, police procedurals. I’m a huge fan of Terry Pratchett, and when it comes to the M/M genre, Harper Fox is one of my favourite authors and she always finds super narrators too.
You write predominantly thrillers, what do you think is the most important aspect of writing a thriller story?A thriller story is like an onion. The plot needs to be peeled away and revealed in layers. I aim to intrigue the reader and pull them in and make them want to pick up the next book.
Do you think reader interaction is important for an author?
I like getting positive feedback, of course, but I’m not so happy about demands for books to be finished NOW or being told where I went wrong- not that I can’t take criticism, I just don’t think it’s a readers place to try and police my creativity. In the internet age where author/reader interaction is expected it’s hard, if like me, you are an introvert, and find the whole marketing/interaction thing to be very much an alien experience. I do try, and when readers interact with me I am grateful.
What was the funniest thing to happen while writing?
I was sitting in bed, in the dark, completely in my writing zone when a spider fell from nowhere onto my keyboard and my instinctive reaction was to throw my laptop across the room. Luckily, I did not damage my laptop, but the spider is no more!
How much are you influenced by trends and other authors in the genre?
I don’t follow the crowd and I don’t write to market. I write whatever is inspiring me and keeping me awake at night.
Can you share what is next for you, writing wise?
I am writing “Apple Boy” (The Quiet Work #1) Its an LGBT fantasy series. Book 1 is M/M, book 2 has Bi/ MM and MF pairings.
I am also juggling that with writing “Powder Burns” (Shatterproof Bond #5) This book is at around 50k and at this rate will be the longest book in the series so far.
I have a couple of audiobooks in the works and my books “Back Where He Belongs” and “Sweet Thing” are currently being translated into German.