Interview with Author Caro Ayre

05 Oct



Today’s Author Interview is with the lovely, talented author Caro Ayre from Kenya, who lives now in Somerset, UK. She is the author of two books – and more to come.

Caro, how would you describe your books to someone who has not yet read it?

This book is not so much about an illness, but about how the members of a family deal with or fail to deal with knowing one of them suffers from a life threatening condition.
This is an action packed adventure set in Kenya with a touch of romance.
Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
I hope that reading Breathless will give readers an insight to the problems created by Cystic Fibrosis, not just to the person with the condition but to the extended family. I also hope to raise money for research into this disease.
With my other book Feast of the Antlion, I wanted to give the readers a taste of what a wonderful place Kenya is. I was born there and was lucky to have experienced a magical childhood enjoying the wide open spaces and getting to see wildlife in its natural setting. I hope that I have conveyed some of the magnificence of the country in this book. If it makes people want to go and experience Kenya that would make me happy. All the settings are based on places I loved and knew, but the story is certainly not autobiographical.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started early writing tiny books for my dolls. I day-dreamed my way through school, reading everything I could lay my hands on. Class-work seemed less unimportant, much to the despair of my teachers. Many years later while in the process of restoring a huge house and garden, I took to writing to give myself an excuse to sit down. At first the challenge was to write enough to be able to classify as a novel. I didn’t really know what I was doing, but I kept at it. Then unsure what to do next, I wrote another, and kept going. It is only recently that I have taken the final steps towards publishing.
How did you get the idea for the novel?
Breathless started with the idea that I wanted to explore how a family might cope with one of them suffering from a serious long term illness. I wanted to see if it would make or break the characters. Discover who would cope and who wouldn’t.
The Feast of the Antlion I was trying to explore the ups and downs of creating a wildlife conservation sanctuary and keeping control of it.
Does your book have any underlying theme, message or moral?
I do hope with Breathless that readers will learn a little about Cystic Fibrosis and how transplants may be a sufferers last hope. If any reader feels inclined to sign the donor register as a result of reading the book I will feel I have achieved something worthwhile.
Are your characters based on real people?
I think all characters that any author creates are bound to have elements of people they know in them. I doubt anyone would recognize who I have based my characters on. I can usually picture the character in my head, but I don’t go so far as to find a photo of them.
Are your plots based on real-life experiences.
No there is nothing autobiographical about my books. But usually I know the locations well. I like to pick places and buildings I know and love, though I might move them to a different geographical location to prevent someone from complaining that I have described it wrongly.
How much of the book is based on real life (either yours or someone you know)?
When I started Breathless I knew nothing about Cystic Fibrosis other than it was life threatening and genetic. I never wanted the book to be depressingly about the illness, so chose to have Hannah, the daughter who has the condition, in good form because of her mother’s unstinting determination to keep her that way. I would have an idea, and then try to find out if that was something that a cystic fibrosis sufferer might do. I came into contact briefly with a lot of very helpful people online, who would tell me how they dealt with different issues. Their accounts sometimes made me explore avenues I had never considered before.
What would/could a reader or reviewer say about this book that shows they “get” you as an author?
“What else has she written?” Would give me joy!
Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
Being organized would have saved me a lot of grief!

Considering a book from the first word you write to the moment you see it on a bookstore shelf, what’s your favourite part of the process? What is your least favourite?
Holding a copy of the book has to be the best moment. The endless editing, not helped by my knack of putting nearly as many errors in as I took out has to be worst. There is also losing a lot of work because of a power cut and failure to keep a back up.
What scene or bit of dialogue in the book are you most proud of, and why?
In Feast of the Antlion there was a plane crash at the beginning, which considering I have no idea how to fly, worked quite well.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything about your book.
Not at this stage. Though with both books I may go back to write a follow up. But that might not be for a while. I have a couple of other books that I want to finish before then.
What genre have you not yet written, but really want to try.
My next book is heading for the Crime shelves. Not too brutal, but not too cosy either.

 How did you get published? 
The first book I ever wrote was picked up by an agent and reached committee stage at one of the well-known publishers. Sadly it was rejected, and the agent retired, leaving me back at square one. But the experience gave me the confidence to keep writing.Personal circumstances put writing on the sidelines for a long time. And when I got going again, the publishing industry had changed. Self publish had become acceptable and the arrival of Kindle and other similar devices made it even more acceptable.I decided that I must get the editing side of writing sorted, and set to work. I published Feast of the Antlion as a Kindle book first, but so many people asked when the paperback was coming out. I knew I had to figure out how to produce one. After a lot of online research I set up my own publishing house, bought a block of ISBN numbers, and chose to LightningSource as my printer. I have to admit I made a few beginners errors, but I am happy with the route I have chosen. I think what I love most about this route is that I have total control. No one can remainder my book, because I haven’t hit some impossible target set by someone I don’t know.
What general advice do you have for other writers?
Pick names carefully. Write them down. Know what nicknames they have too, and who uses them. Be sure of them before you get too far into the book. Nothing messes with your head more than a name change at a later stage. It is easy enough to make the changes on the computer, but much harder to get your head round them. Beware of names that are non gender specific unless there is a reason for doing so. For example, Chris, readers may think they are reading about a man, and then discover that the character is a woman which is disconcerting.  Be methodical. Have a plan and stick to it.
Do NaNoWriMo at least once.
Don’t worry if you get stuck on something, jump to another part of the story and carry on from there. The best character may not turn up until you are half way through the story, but if you don’t keep pounding it out you might never find him or her.
Each book starts with a different spark. The first draft I pound out the story, usually with too much back story about the characters and their families and why they are in whatever situation I have thought up.
What is the best part of being a writer?
Being able to decide what your characters do or don’t do, allowing them to be brave or foolish enough to do things you might not have had the courage to do yourself.
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
All the steps that come after the fun of creating the story. The editing, the formatting, but most of all going out there trying to persuade friends and family and then strangers that they should buy the book.
Where is the one place in the world you’d like to visit.
I’ve always wanted to go to Egypt, to the Valley of the Kings.
What are your favourite books?
  • Dr Zivago by Boris Pasternack.
  • The historical novel Katherine by Anya Seton.
  • And a recent addition Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.
  • The Far Pavillions by M M Kaye a wonderful story about set in India. It reminded me so much of stories that I had been told as a child. I love reading about distant places, different cultures.
How would a close friend describe you?
This is a difficult question! I asked a friend, who was sweet enough to come up with “generous and kind, determined, artistic, quirky polymathic, thoughtful, perceptive and caring” but that’s the kind of friend she is! I think I’d probably have come up with a book bore, bonkers and a bit of a hermit.
Where can people learn more about your writing?
From my website. which has a link to my blog and my books.
What is ONE thing you have done that brought you more readers?
Put a big pile of books on my hall table. My Bed & Breakfast guests are good customers.
What is the one thing that your readers would be surprised to know about you?
That I get to do all the jobs round here that require the tall ladder, including fixing parts of the roof.

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One response to “Interview with Author Caro Ayre

  1. caro ayre

    October 6, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Reblogged this on Caro Ayre.


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