Sunday, 18 June 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Jackie Baldwin

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Hi there, my name is Jackie Baldwin. I am a Scottish crime writer who lives in Dumfries, SW Scotland. 

1) Can you tell us a bit about your first book?

It is a police procedural set in my home town of Dumfries and featuring former RC priest, DI Frank Farrell who has recently returned to the town and is immediately faced with the murder of a priest he holds responsible for forcing him out of the priesthood and into a breakdown. He also has to investigate the abduction of twin boys from a local nursery and as the pressure mounts he must discover their whereabouts, whilst retaining his grip on reality, as events from the past come back to haunt him.

2) What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I knew I wanted to become a writer from an early age as I had been moved by so many wonderful stories and wanted to be able to give that experience to others. When I started writing the novel, Frank Farrell arrived in my head as a shadowy figure in a cassock but once I heard his voice I took him in a completely different direction. Sounds bad when you talk about hearing voices. 

3) How long did it take you to write your first book?

Too long! I started it around 2005 and finished it perhaps three years later but over the years I rewrote it a number of times. At one point I even put it away in a drawer for a few years when I became crazy busy with work and kids.

4) If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about your debut, or how you went about writing it?

This is a tough question. I did spend a ridiculous amount of time on my first novel. I was incredibly lucky that it paid off for me and it was published. However, had it gone the other way, then I would have been kicking myself for all the other novels I might have written in that time. I don’t intend to make that mistake again!

5) Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

It was traditionally published with a digital first imprint. I really admire those who self- publish and have the self- belief and vigour to make all that happen. For me, though, I felt I needed the validation. I needed someone independent to say to me ‘your book is good enough.’ Otherwise I wouldn’t have believed it.

6) Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Yes. Bash out that first draft as quickly as possible and don’t get hung up on editing as you go. It will change with every draft anyway. Keep the impetus going. Also, start to engage with social media immediately. Don’t wait until you are published like I did!

Tell us about your first…

7) Book you bought.

Hard to say as I grew up using the library rather than buying books but I do remember buying a second hand book on hypnotism when I was 13. 

8) Memory

Getting stuck under the couch as a baby. I must have crawled under then I stuck my bum in the air, my favourite pose back then, and got wedged solid against the underside of the couch. I still remember the feeling of being trapped and I’m not keen on small spaces to this day.

9) Holiday you went on

A week in Southerness with my mum which is a coastal area near where I live. I made friends with an English girl and we used to write to each other in the Puffin Secret Code.

10) Prize you won

A trip in the Barratt helicopter when I was 12 by entering a competition in the local paper. I was beyond thrilled, particularly as I was crazy about planes at the time. 

11) Album you purchased

Fleetwood Mac. ‘Rumours.’

12) Embarrassing moment you can remember.

I had just arrived in Majorca with my husband and two young children and we were walking around the pool which was free form. I was busy looking back telling them they had to be really careful not to fall in when I took an impromptu header myself, fully clothed, glasses, the lot, causing a mini tsunami. Kids were in hysterics!

13) Pet

Black and white cat called Suzy. 

14) Time you were in trouble

Being pursued by armed police in a ski resort in Italy on a school trip
 as one of the boys in our group had given them cheek. 

15) …time you had any independence

I was allowed to walk to the garage at the end of our road and buy some sweeties. Intoxicating! I can still recall the feeling as I looked back and could no longer see my house round the bend.

16) …toy that you recall loving

A stuffed Panda. It was loved to extent that it had no fur and one side of its face was flat.

17) Dish you cooked

Fray Bentos pie, and potatoes for someone I was trying to impress as a first year student. I had to phone my dad and find out how to cook potatoes first. I tried to pass it off as my own but he saw the tin in the kitchen.

18) Time you were really scared

I was in a serious fire at my school. We all got out safely but as we watched the school burn we were so afraid until they took the roll and were able to confirm all the pupils, teachers and elderly nuns were unharmed. 

Thank you so much Jackie for taking the time to answer my questions, I love your embarrassing moment and I would love to know if you managed to hypnotise anyone with your hypnosis book.

About Jackie Baldwin

Jackie Baldwin’s debut crime novel, Dead Man’s Prayer, was published by Killer Reads, Harper Collins on 2nd September 2016. She is currently working on the second in the DI Farrell series which will be available later this year.

Married, with two grown up children, she lives with her husband and their two dogs in Dumfries, SW, Scotland. She worked as a solicitor specialising in Criminal and Family Law for twenty years before training as a hypnotherapist. 

When not working, she enjoys long muddy walks with her two dogs in surrounding forests and, weather permitting, swimming in the sea.

Twitter - @JackieMBaldwin1

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