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On The Table Read, “the best book magazine in the UK“, author P.M.A. Hayes talks about the inspiration behind her murder mystery book, For Murder Press 3.
Written by JJ Barnes
I interviewed P.M.A. Hayes about her life and career, what inspired her to start writing, and the inspiration behind her new book release, For Murder Press 3.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
Since moving to Napier, (Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand) in 2015 I’ve been enjoying a quieter lifestyle. My partner and I couldn’t wait to leave our jobs and the busy city where we both worked for many years. The majority of my working life was spent in two different public hospitals where I worked as a clinical coder. Now that I’m retired I have more time to spend doing what I love – learning about writing and writing books, reading, relaxing and generally coming to grips with a different way of life.
In 2003, while working full-time, I read an article in a local paper about a course called: “How to Write a Novel” and realized that this was my opportunity to find out, because I had often thought about writing one, but had no idea where to start.
When did you take a step to start writing?
In 2003, although having a busy working life, I was inspired to enroll in the Novel Writing course, which was done by correspondence. After this I did a post-graduate course in Creative Writing, (having obtained a degree years before.) The Creative Writing paper was also done by correspondence and through an online website.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
During the first course, I began writing a novel and over the course of about fifteen years, ended up writing five altogether. I wasn’t really happy with any of them, and it wasn’t until I retired and moved away from a stressful lifestyle, and work environment, that I began to get a better understanding of the writing process and learned more about better ways to write.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
From the first idea to release of FOR MURDER PRESS 3, was just over three and a half years, although during that time I also self-published another book as well.
What made you want to write For Murder Press 3?
I wanted to create a setting and protagonist that left me open to write a series of books, that’s why I chose to write a murder mystery with a private investigator as the protagonist.
What were your biggest challenges with writing For Murder Press 3?
Firstly to decide if my protagonist was going to be male or female. Secondly what kind of murder mystery was I going to write? Thirdly how was I going to tell the story through my characters. I considered giving POV solely to the protagonist, but this seemed too limiting. Then had to decide if all characters were to be in third person. To start with my protagonist was going to be written in first person, but I changed my mind and made them all third person POV. Another challenge was trying to inject a sense of scariness and pace into my writing. I struggled with this, because what I thought might be scary, wasn’t necessarily nail-biting to others.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
I had a picture in my mind of a caring person, who had suffered and had to search for his own meaning in life. I was partially inspired by Hercule Poirot and Maigret, both of whom I think had the sensitivity I wanted my protagonist to have.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
This came from the idea of an Antagonist as someone whose life had gone astray and who had plenty of time to dwell on their fate and build grudges, even against those who had helped them out over the years. So he and his counterpart were people who still carried the hurts and scars from their pasts, and even though they both tried to make good in their lives, they finally gave in to their inner demons and followed the dark path to getting even.
What is the inciting incident of For Murder Press 3?
The inciting incident is the murder of a woman who has basically angered certain people, inciting certain ones to revenge. Her estranged husband becomes the police’s main suspect and he seeks help from Benedict Aberthorp, a Private Investigator, to find the real killer, fearing he will be the one who is charged with her murder.
What is the main conflict of For Murder Press 3?
The main conflict comes from those who Benedict finds all have a motive for killing the victim. He has to uncover their secrets before he can find out if the past has a bearing on the current murder. And those with secrets want them to remain that way. This causes the main conflict for the investigator.
Did you plot For Murder Press 3 in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
Some of it was planned, but other parts came along as I was writing. Once I had to tidy up my loose ends, some segments of the book came to fruition as a result.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did For Murder Press 3 need?
Yes, I had my book edited by someone else and also by the editors at Cranthorpe-Millner. It needed a fair amount of editing before it reached a publishable standard.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
I’d probably say to just write your story and don’t worry too much about correcting it until you are finished. Also get someone else to read it, don’t rely solely on your own judgement about whether it’s good enough or not, to be read by others.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
I am already writing Book Two of the Benedict Aberthorp series.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Yes, I’m proud of my book because I’ve seen it from its embryo stage to completion. I thought I’d have more time to devote to writing, once retired, but some days are very busy and I almost wish there were 25 hours in the day. Having said this, I often work better when I have less time, which seems like a paradox. And yes, it was definitely worth the effort.
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