Caroline England writes about her writing influences and inspiration.
"Writers are often asked what has inspired
their writing. For me it’s both fiction and real life.
I discovered Roald Dahl’s Switch Bitch
and his other short story collections as a teenager. I loved the intriguing
spiteful tales with their dark twists and surprises. Crime fiction has always been my first
choice of holiday reading, from Agatha Christie as a child through to Ruth
Rendell, Minette Walters, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin and more recently Mark
Billingham and Jo Nesbo. I adored Mary Wesley’s surprisingly risqué
stories and I’m a big fan of Maggie O’Farrell and Kate Atkinson’s contemporary
Though my novels Beneath the Skin
(published by Avon HarperCollins last October) and My Husband’s Lies
(out on 17th May 2018) are at the ‘domestic noir’ end of the crime fiction
umbrella, I think my writing has been influenced by the blend of the above two
genres, so I write about contemporary lives but with intrigue and
complications, love and betrayal, friendship and secrets. I certainly love to
explore what goes on behind closed doors!
I studied Law at university and worked
as a solicitor in Manchester, initially specialising in divorce and matrimonial
cases, later moving on to professional indemnity work, where I represented
lawyers, accountants, surveyors and other professionals accused of negligence.
These areas of my career have very
much influenced my writing. I met people at their lowest ebb, emotionally
stressed and exposed, having to bare their souls and admit to their darkest
deeds, sometimes keeping secrets and telling lies (like the characters I write
about!) It was a little like a being a therapist, I was seeing people naked,
effectively; raw, human emotion.
As a trainee, I was involved in
representing clients charged with crime. I accompanied my boss as a Duty
Solicitor, sat in on police interviews, visited prisoners in Strangeways and
spent many hours frequenting the local magistrates courts. Some of the ‘criminals’ were
bad people, but others were often young people who had lost their way.
People going through divorce are at
their nadir too. Sometimes they have to admit to horrible truths about their
own behaviour or make allegations against someone they once loved, or face the
heartbreak of adultery and betrayal.
Although an allegation of a
professional mistake might seem lighter in comparison, it isn’t necessarily so. It’s
often a frightening slur to one’s
name, a dreadful dent in a persons professional pride and reputation. The
allegation could arise in many and varied ways, sometimes relating to the
misappropriation of money.
When I left the law, I became a volunteer
mediator for the City Council, which again was fascinating. This time I heard
not one, but two or more points of view, two or more versions of truth, which
is very much what story telling is about.
I’m captivated by people and the human
condition; how we’re all different but the same, how we’re all flawed and frail
but put on a brave face, when there’s so much going on beneath the skin. If you
read my books, you’ll find such characters on the page!
"I’m captivated by people and the human condition; how we’re all different but the same, how we’re all flawed and frail but put on a brave face, when there’s so much going on beneath the skin."
I came to the writing game a little later
in life, but when I thought about it, I realised I’d always been ‘writing’ in a
way - as a child I had made up stories before sleep, then as a lawyer there had
been pleas of mitigation and statements, divorce petitions and pleadings,
detailed reports to insurers (that felt longer than a novel!)
Turns out my creative writing skills were
developed at work without me knowing it!"