by Claire Main

#98, 9 July 2007

An Interview with Dolores Gordon-Smith

UK Bookselling

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... and so onto interviewing Dolores, but what to wear? A sensible tweed skirt and jacket like Miss Marple? A 1920s' "flapper" style dress with pearls and a cigarette holder? A problem, this, as I don't smoke. Perhaps I should phone Dolores for a clue. I settle for jeans and a T-shirt and worry about how to convey my love of chocolate to Dolores. I arrive at Dolores' towers and ring the doorbell.

BOOKTHINK: Dolores, where are you from?

GORDON-SMITH: A former mill town near Manchester - near the Pennines. It's not exactly a tourist hot-spot, but it's a great place to live, the sort of place where, when you go shopping, you'll always meet someone you know.

BOOKTHINK: Tell us your latest news?

GORDON-SMITH: The second Jack book, Mad About The Boy? has been accepted by Constable and will be out next year. I'm very pleased with the amount of interest shown in A Fete Worse Than Death so far. These are exciting times. It's as wonderful as I thought it would be, and that's saying something.

BOOKTHINK: When and why did you begin writing?

GORDON-SMITH: I loved reading, and I've always written from being a kid because I wanted to make up my own stories. I wrote and produced SF fanzines as a teenager until I was in my twenties and sold a couple of SF short stories to Marvel and World. Then came a gap whilst I had my children - it's very difficult to concentrate on anything creative when you've got a young family, as it's a fulltime job and then some - but I always wanted to go back to writing.

BOOKTHINK: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

GORDON-SMITH: Writers and readers are two halves of the same coin. The first word I can remember reading for myself was "Princess." I was so enthralled I made up loads of stories about Princesses, and it sort of went on from there. I've always considered myself a writer, even if circumstances meant I couldn't write. Like P.G. Wodehouse said, "I don't know what I did before I was five." Just loafed, I suppose.

BOOKTHINK: What inspired you to write your first book?

GORDON-SMITH: I've always been interested in WW1, and when I saw a TV programme about the tunnels under the Somme, I knew this was the inspiration I'd been waiting for. The 1920s were deeply affected by the aftermath of the war - all the crazy gaiety, the dancing and the jazz was a reaction to the struggles of the previous few years - and I'm sucker for stories where the past influences the present. It's very much a 1920s' book though, not a war story in fancy dress. Detective stories in the 1920s were by and large well-written with a good plot and characters you could care about. Fête is a 1920s' detective story, and hopefully it does what it says on the tin!

BOOKTHINK: Who or what has influenced your writing?

GORDON-SMITH: Like many people, I have a library of favourite authors who I'd hate to live without. Chief amongst them are John Buchan, P.G. Wodehouse, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy L. Sayers and Agatha Christie. Then, too, having a family, a wide variety of friends, a succession of jobs and simply living where I do, all feed into the creative process.

BOOKTHINK: How did you come up with the title A Fete Worse than Death?

GORDON-SMITH: I'd originally called the book Poor Little Rich Girl (from a Noel Coward song). I wasn't crazy about it and my agent, Teresa Chris, said it sounded like a saga. She suggested A Fete Worse Than Death, a phrase taken from the text, and I really liked it.

BOOKTHINK: What books have most influenced your life most?

GORDON-SMITH: I've read so many I couldn't say, but The Chronicles of Narnia made me spend my childhood in wardrobes. I was always being ticked off for "rooting." Those books got me into a lot of trouble!

BOOKTHINK: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

GORDON-SMITH: Any of the authors mentioned above. Agatha Christie's plotting is just the tops.

>>>>>Click here for page two>>>>

Questions or comments?
Contact the editor, Craig Stark

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