Interview by Ceri Wheeldon
I caught up with Angela Dyson on the inspiration behind her debut novel, The Love Detective. It’s a very fun read!!!
I’m Angela Dyson. I’m 56 years old. I’m a dreamer, I’m a romantic (currently a single one) and I’ve recently changed my life having moved from London to Surrey to concentrate on being a full-time writer.
When did you start to write?
I started writing stories when I was a teenager and have continued off and on ever since.
What have been the challenges for you?
I always wanted to be a writer but never had the confidence to go for it full throttle until now. Self-belief has always been an issue for me (and for many women I think) but finally, at this age, I realise that there’s no longer time for excuses or for wimping out. I’ll probably never be truly confident, in fact I’m sure I won’t be, but……it’s now or never.
What did you do prior to this?
My career has been a mixed bag. Like my heroine in The Love Detective, Clarry Pennhaligan, I’ve been a waitress. I also worked for a record company, was briefly a plus-size model and then for twenty years owned and ran a business in Central London. This last just about covered the mortgage (but not always) and proved only to be a deadly combination of endless stress and mind-numbing boredom.
When was your first book published?
My debut novel will be out on the 28th September 2018.
What is the title of your latest book?
The Love Detective
What was the inspiration behind your latest book?
I have always been fascinated by the role of amateur detective. The artless inexperienced meddler asking questions, stirring things up and getting herself into trouble. I decided that the next best thing to doing it myself was to write about it.
What can you share with us about the plot – without spoiling the ending!
When Clarry Pennhaligan agrees to take on the role of amateur sleuth she has no idea just how absorbing poking her nose in to other people’s business can be. Or, when her investigations uncover a truly evil criminal enterprise, quite how dangerous.
Who are the key characters – and how do you hope readers over 50 will relate to them?
Clarry, the heroine is 26 years old and has a history of giving up. She gets things wrong, regularly screws things up but she’s likeable and relatable.
Flan, Clarry’s elegant and vividly alive co-detective is 70 years old. She has an enormous appetite for life and enjoys the attentions of two men both of whom she’s sleeping with. I think readers over 50 will instantly take to her because she is not afraid of who she is nor over concerned by what anyone thinks of her. She’s game on for adventure and thoroughly enjoys herself.
What do like the most about the character/s you have created?
The relationship between Clarry and Flan is one close to my heart. Flan is a hybrid of the female members (both alive and dead) of my family – The Love Detective is dedicated to them.
The restaurant, Abbe’s, where Clarry is a waitress also provides some of my favourite colourful cast-members. They work hard but they play hard too and have a lot of fun. Memories of my own waitressing days and of some of the warm and wonderful people I waited tables with were central to creating these characters.
Are there any key issues you wanted to draw attention to?
Clarry loves food and is a generously proportioned size 14. She is confident in her own skin. Whatever age we are, this, I believe, is something we all aspire to. To accept ourselves for who we are so we can get on and enjoy everything life has to offer.
What do want readers to take away having the read the book?
I wanted to create a world where the reader can escape to whether she’s on the daily commute, juggling the demands of family life, or curled up on the sofa with a glass of wine. I hope that the reader will lose herself in Clarry and Flan’s adventures and be eager to hang out with them again as the series progresses.
What’s next for you – will there be a sequel with the same characters?
The Love Detective is the first in a series. I am currently working on The Love Detective: Next Level.
What 3 tips would you offer women looking to write their first book?
1: Make a start. This can be surprisingly difficult. You have all these ideas floating around in your head but actually sitting down at the computer can be paralysing. Just do it.
2: Don’t over think it to begin with. Don’t worry about getting exactly the right word or the right syntax. Vomit out your ideas and tune it up later. Much of what you write won’t work but there will be little nuggets that you can play with and develop.
3: Read what you have written aloud. It doesn’t have to be to anyone but yourself. Get used to the sound of your own voice and listen to the rhythm of your writing. You will then make changes that can greatly improve it.
How do you feel about being over 50?
I’m learning to make friends with the age I’ve reached. And this, I hope, will be an on-going enterprise. I’ve wasted a lot of time regretting… not the things I did…. but the things I didn’t have the courage to do. But not anymore.
And this is a great moment to be over 50. The days of the world perceiving the older woman as past-it are over. That’s SO last century. We can start, change or quit careers; we can have new experiences, find joy in ourselves and in those close to us; we can treasure the lover we now have or let go of the one that is no longer with us or has ceased to enrich us. Whether we are single or in a partnership, with or without family ties, nowadays we can do anything we want. And look bloody good whilst we’re doing it! Good luck to us all.
Angela Dyson is the author of The Love Detective (£9.99, September 28 2018, Matador Books)