Writer Of The Week: Philip Carey


writer of the week

Pocket novel author Philip Carey is our Writer Of The Week.

His new work, written under the name Phillipa Carey, comes out on May 28th.

Tell us where the idea for “A Suitable Companion” came from?

I (re-)read “The Reluctant Widow” by Georgette Heyer, and thought getting into the wrong carriage was an intriguing start for a story.

Naturally I wouldn’t want to plagiarise another writer’s work, so I wondered how I might use a similar initial mistake for a different story.

The first house we lived in after we married was very close to Stony Stratford, now on the northern edge of Milton Keynes and bypassed by the Holyhead Road. It was a very busy place in Regency times.

Thirty stagecoaches per day stopped there to change horses on their way to Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Holyhead, etc. Then there were the east-west stagecoaches between Cambridge, Bedford, Oxford, Bath, etc.

When you add in all the private coaches and people on horseback, you can see it was a remarkably busy place. And how ripe for confusion!

How long have you been writing fiction?

Since 2009.

One day, one of my daughters came to me with a book she thought I might enjoy. It was “The Colour of Magic” by Terry Pratchett.

I did enjoy it, and starting reading all of his books. Five of his books contain a vampire who is the photographer for a newspaper. It is an unfortunate choice of profession for a vampire, as each time he uses a magnesium flash for the photo, he disintegrates into pile of ash!

My first attempt at writing was a short story for children, wasn’t very good, but I kept practising. With the assistance of the Romantic Novelists Association New Writer Scheme, I gradually got better at it until, in late 2017, “The People’s Friend” accepted my Pocket Novel “A Body in the Chapel”, which came out in June 2018.

Finally I was an author (though not quite Writer Of The Week yet)! Anybody else wanting to become an author should realise they have to keep practising until they get the hang of it. Although it need not take them 8 years, like me.

Who are your favourite authors?

Georgette Heyer, Mary Balogh, Louise Allen (who also writes reference books about Regency England).

Some of Georgette Heyer’s books are set in the area where I live, which makes them more interesting.

I don’t know why they are set here, she never lived in this area as far as I can discover.

What are your writing ambitions?

To get better and quicker.

Notebook or laptop? Blank wall or inspiring view?

I write on my desktop computer, but the novels are saved with an app called Dropbox, so there is a copy on the internet.

Thus, when I am travelling, I can take my laptop computer which has the same app, which means I can continue writing on the laptop from exactly the same point in the story.

I also have a notebook at my elbow where I make notes about the names of the characters and the time sequence of events.

Once, I realised I had used the exact same name for three different minor characters in the same story. I’m not very good at thinking of names.

I also find taking my dog for a walk is useful for thinking through events in the plot.

For everything you need to know about writing fiction for us, click here.

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

Tracey Steel

Having worked on a number of magazines over the years, I have found my perfect place on the “Friend” as I’m obsessed with reading and never go anywhere without a book! I read all of our stories with a mug of tea close by and usually a bit of strong cheese too!