This month I posed a few questions to Laura Marshall author of Friend Request. You may remember that she was featured in my May newsletter? I had just read Friend Request and loved it. It’s about a woman who receives a friend request on Facebook, but the person who it appears to be from has been dead for over twenty years. The intrigue and confusion ramps up throughout the book until you have no idea who to trust. Wonderful stuff! It was interesting to catch up with her again to hear what she relies on in terms of comfort and space and how she finds and sets aside the time to get her words on the page.
Laura, what is the first book you remember as a child?
The first books I remember really loving were the Laura Ingalls Wilder “Little House” books. My Mum read them to me first and then later I read and re-read them all. I still turn to them for a comfort read now and again.
What is the most important element of fiction to you, as a reader – plot, character, location?
I do like a plot, which is why I love to read thrillers, which are nothing without a plot. I’ve read so many that sometimes I find other genres a bit slow, as I’m used to characters lurching from one exciting situation to another! Of course character is really important too – if I don’t care about the characters then the plot won’t hold my attention.
On the subject of plot, where do you get your ideas from? I loved the concept for Friend Request!
The idea for Friend Request had been brewing in my mind for a long time, but it was nothing more than a question: what if you got a Facebook friend request from someone you thought was dead? Once I finally started to write it, the story grew from there. For my second book, the initial idea for the characters came very loosely from stories my husband tells about a family he knew growing up. But again, the story is growing and changing as I write it, so I guess the ideas are just coming out of my twisted mind!
Are your characters based on people that you know or have met?
Part of Friend Request is set in 1989 when the main character is sixteen. While none of the characters are based specifically on any one person, my experiences as a teenager in the late 1980s definitely informed the story. Even though I’m now in my forties, that time feels fresh in my memory and was something I always wanted to write about.
Do you need any fixes when you’re writing? My editing fix is definitely chocolate biscuits!
Caffeine! When I was working full time and writing Friend Request I often got up at 5am to write, and it’s a habit that has stayed with me now that I’m writing full time. I find I’m very productive at that time, when there are no other demands being made of me. But I do need coffee.
What is your writing environment like, or can you write anywhere?
I can pretty much write anywhere. I have a desk in a shed in the garden where I can retreat if necessary, but sometimes I like a change of scene and go to a local café. I’ve written on trains, in the car whilst my son plays football, in trampoline parks while my children bounce – I’ve even been known to retire to bed with my laptop!
What’s the best thing about being a writer? And the worst?
The best thing is being paid to write instead of doing a normal job. I still can’t quite believe that this is my job now, that my lifelong dream has actually come true. So far I wouldn’t say there is a worst bit, but I am very new at this. Ask me again in a few years if I’m lucky enough to still be doing this!
If you could be a character in one of your books, who would it be, and why?
I don’t think anyone would want to be any of the characters in Friend Request! Actually, I wouldn’t mind being Sophie for one day only, just to know what it was like to be the beautiful, popular, bitchy one at school. Just for the day though.
Do you read any other genre outside crime and thriller?
I am, and always have been a huge fan of thrillers, especially psychological thrillers, but occasionally something tempts me out! I’m deep in writing the first draft of my second book at the moment, and have found that for the first time in my life I can’t read any thrillers or crime – I find that they are putting me off my stride, especially if they’re really good. So I’m currently reading The Essex Serpent by Sarah Perry and enjoying it very much.
Who is your ‘go to’ author when you want to read for pleasure.
It has to be Agatha Christie. The original and the best.