Carmel McMurdo Audsley is an Australian Journalist, Editor and Author who lives in Brisbane with her husband Iain. They both had Scottish fathers, share a mutual love of Scotland and have walked in the footsteps of their ancestors in the country that they love to visit. As a Newspaper Journalist and Magazine Editor, Carmel has written, and had published, thousands of news stories and feature articles and has now turned her research and writing skills to digging up the past and breathing life into the characters she finds. Her first historical fiction novel, Ours, Yours and Mines, about the mining families of Ayrshire Scotland, was published in 2012 and captured the hearts of readers as the story unfolded about the harsh living conditions of the mid-1800s and the sad loss of life. Far Across The Sea continues the story. Carmel now devotes all her writing and editing time to producing Scots News Magazine for ex-pat Scots in Australia, and researching and writing historical fiction.
What inspires you to write?
I’ve spent my working life as Journalist and Editor, and have also worked as a Marketing Manager and Publicist, so I’ve been on both sides of the editorial desk. I am inspired to write because, simply, it is what I do. I have always loved the written word and am a voracious reader. The trilogy I am working on now is based on my family history. I started out just wanting to find out about the people who came before me, but when I started to piece together the information that I found, I knew that there were stories to be told that would be of interest to people other than myself. ‘Ours Yours and Mines’ and ‘Far Across The Sea’ are based in the mining communities of Scotland. They are real people, in real situations and I have enjoyed living in 19th century and early 20th century Scotland as the stories came together.
Tell us about your writing process.
Because I write historical fiction, the research comes first. Once I have all the information, the story comes next and most importantly the dialogue. I like to go behind the facts and figures and work out how people would have thought and felt in certain situations. As the names on pieces of paper come to life, I interact with them – inhabit them, almost – so that I am with them, whatever the situation. I immerse myself in the writing in the same way that I hope the reader will.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I listen and talk to my characters all the time. Sometimes when I’m editing, I will read a paragraph and think ‘is that really how Mary would have reacted?’, and I’ll think about it again. As the characters in both my books are ancestors, I feel a real connection to them and am honouring them by bringing their stories to life.
What advice would you give other writers?
Make sure your research is thorough and don’t rush the writing process. I hate hearing people bragging that they produce ‘a new book’ every six months. It takes at least a year to properly research, write and edit a novel. Remember, it is your name on the cover and you want to be proud of your final product. Take the time to read and re-read your story until you are happy with it. It is better to write one book that is appreciated by a few, than to write many books that are appreciated by a few.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
For my first novel, ‘Ours, Yours and Mines’, I received three offers from publishing companies, all offering dismal royalties, but expecting me to do most of the marketing myself. I have run a publishing business for 30 years – albeit newspapers and magazines – but I knew enough to realise that the service I would be getting for 11% royalties wasn’t enough. I decided to go with a publisher in America who offered me a higher royalty and I do all the hard yards in marketing myself. I say ‘hard yards’ because it is time consuming, but no one knows my book like me, so I am really the best person to market it.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
People will always read books. I’ve heard so many people say that they’ve gone on holidays with hundreds of books on their kindle readers, but they’ve forgotten about them – out of sight, out of mind. If you have a book on your night-stand, you are more likely to pick it up and read a few pages each night. Books rule!
What do you use?
None of the above 🙂
What genres do you write?
Historical fiction, biography
What formats are your books in?