CRIMINALLY GOOD: interview with author Eileen Wharton

1) So, who are you & what have you written?

My name is Eileen Wharton. I have always told stories for as long as I can remember. I told the kids in my class that Batman was my uncle. I used to make my own books out of bits of paper and pins. So, I’ve always had a desire to be a published writer. I was extremely inventive at coming up with excuses for non-completion of homework and often invited friends to parties that didn’t exist.

I have five ‘lively’ offspring ranging from twenty nine to nine years of age. All the time the kids were growing up (spraying each other with Dettox, competing in gymnastics competitions, getting excluded from school etc. etc.), I wrote. I was awarded a Northern New Promise Award in 2002 and have won various prizes in National short story competitions. (Once beating one of my former teachers! Mwahaha).

I teach part-time at Greenfield community College and live on a council estate in Bishop Auckland. I have never eaten kangaroo testicles, am allergic to cats and have a phobia of tinned tuna. I write crime, humour and children’s books. The first in my crime series is called Blanket of Blood and is published by Bloodhound Books.

Check out my website, HERE; find me on Facebook, HERE and follow me on Twitter as @WhartonEileen.

2) Why do you write crime fiction?

I write crime fiction because I enjoy reading it. The dark side of the human psyche fascinates me. What makes one person an outstanding member of a community and another commit heinous crimes? Is it nature or nurture? I suppose it’s also one way (a safe way) of exploring the worst things that can happen to people. And I’m naturally inquisitive. I like to find out what happened, whodunit.

3) What informs your crime writing?

I have used real life cases that interest me in the past, almost unintentionally. I’m staying away from that now and working purely in fiction, though of course everything you see and hear influences you in some way.

I was really tempted to use a story I heard quite recently about rival families in a town near mine but I’m sure I’d be criticised for doing so, so I’ve resisted the temptation. I have worked with young offenders and some of the things I heard made my toes curl! My friend and fellow crime writer, Kerry (K A Richardson) works for the police so she’s my go-to-girl for any procedural questions I may have. If she doesn’t know, she knows a man or woman who does.

4) What’s your usual writing routine?

Routine? What’s that? If only. I just fit in writing when I can. Between school runs, teaching, signings, parties, conferences. I sometimes do timed writing with other northern Femme Fatales: KA Richardson, Danielle Ramsay and Sheila Quigley. We set up our laptops and text each other when we’re ready, do an hour, break for coffee, an hour then lunch etc. That works really well because we share how many words we’ve written and it appeals to my competitive side. I used to write in notebooks longhand then transfer to the computer, but I work straight onto the laptop now that I can type more quickly than I write.

5) Which crime book do you wish YOU’D written, and why?

I wish I’d written Mo Hayder’s The Birdman and The Treatment. They’re my favourite crime novels. Jack Caffrey is a flawed and fantastic character and Mo has a brilliant and warped mind. I love her writing style and she keeps you on the edge of your seat. When reading Poppet a later book in the series, I had to go round the house and close all the windows and make sure the doors were locked. Fabulous! When I grow up I want to be Mo.

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