|EGA's keen readers|
The Reading Group at Elizabeth Garrett Anderson School in Islington, north London interviewed Anne Cassidy for Crime Central. Here's the first half of the interview..more next week.
1. What inspired you to become a writer?
I love reading books. I read book after book and one day I wondered if I could write a story. I tried a few things but realised that I was just writing for myself. So I joined a writer’s group and for two years went every fortnight and shared my stories and poems. It gave me confidence about what I was writing. One day I said to myself, I’m a writer! Once I’d admitted it it seemed that the next step was to write a novel.
2. How did you get into crime/mystery writing?
I love reading crime fiction. I love the fact that there is a mystery which will unfold over 300 pages. The writer knows what the secret is but the reader has to find out. When I decided to write my first novel I was working as a teacher and I wanted to write about teenagers, using my own memories of being a teenager. I decided to write a murder mystery where two teens overhear a murder during a phone call. They decide to find out what happened. It’s called BIG GIRLS’ SHOES and is long out of print.
3. Are you planning on getting into other genres?
No, I don’t think so. The crime genre is a popular and I’ve still got lots of stories to tell.
4. What is your favourite book out of all those you’ve written?
I have two favourites. The first is LOOKING FOR JJ. This is because it was so successful for me. It’s my best selling book and people still come up to me and tell me how much they liked it. The other one is a book with an odd title STORY OF MY LIFE. It’s a crime thriller with a boy, Kenny, as the main character. It’s fictional but the boy, Kenny, was definitely based on my son so this book has a special place in my heart.
5. What is your favourite book overall?
I don’t have a single favourite book. I like lots of books at different times. I’ve just read REBECCA by Daphne Du Maurier. This is an ‘old’ book but I had never read it and I enjoyed it very much.
6. Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration is the wrong word. I get my ideas from real newspaper stories of crimes and terrible things that happen. I read something that moves me or makes me think a lot and so I file that away in my brain and it may turn into a story.
7. Like, Keren David's ‘When I was Joe,’ ‘Looking for JJ’ has a central character with an assumed identity. How did you research this?
I didn’t research it. I just tried to imagine what it would be like to pretend that you were a completely new person. To wipe away all links with the past, with the people you loved, friends and so on and start again, fresh. For some people it might be a good thing for others, not so good.
8. How do you choose names for your characters?
I work out the year they were born and then I go onto a website which lists the most popular names for that year. Sometimes I hear a name that I like a lot. I was doing a school visit and I signed a book for a girl called ELISE. I used that as the name of the main character in JUST JEALOUS.
9. Did you like writing as a child?
No, I was hopeless at school. I was terrible at English. I didn’t start writing until I was in my thirties.
10. Why do you like writing for teenagers?
I think it’s because I remember that time so well. Three or four years when I wasn’t a child and wasn’t an adult. It was a time of deep frustration and a sense of longing to be older. I hated school and for a while hated my parents (loved them again later). I felt that everyone had a better life than me and I wasn’t very easy to get along with. Oh, as well as that, I kept falling in love with unsuitable people. That’s why I remember it so well.
11. Do you have any relatives who are police officers?
(If you're part of a school reading group and you'd like to interview a crime writer, let us know and we'll try and arrange it. firstname.lastname@example.org)