Delighted to have with me on my blog today, none other than Marcie Steele! Some may know the author better as Mel Sherratt. Whilst Mel writes crime thrillers under her own name, Marcie Steele shows us the authors lighter side.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a meddler of words. Born and raised in Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire. I’m a romantic at heart and have always enjoyed writing about characters that fall in and out of love, have good friends to hang around with, and live in communities with great spirit.
I have written three books in The Somerley Series and the first in The Hope Street Series, The Man Across The Street.
I can often be found sitting in my favourite coffee shop, sipping a cappuccino and eating a chocolate chip cookie, either catching up with friends or writing on my laptop.
Welcome to bytheletterbookreviews Marcie.
As some of your readers are aware, you write women’s fiction under Marcie Steele and crime under your own name, Mel Sherratt. Do you find it hard to flick between genres and not get tempted to throw the odd murder into your romance books and likewise, romance into your crime books?
Ha, ha, that is such a great question, Sarah. I think they complement each other perfectly. Writing as Marcie and as Mel is like chalk and cheese. I do have to be careful not to go too dark for Marcie books, but I also think that women’s fiction has a place for it, if it isn’t too violent in nature.
Marcie’s books are very much about friends, romance and relationships, so there are bound to be a few arguments, but they are more about general day-to-day falling out. And making up is fun in them too.
As Mel, I have to turn off the tears. During my first rough drafts, as the books are emotional, I find most characters cry because they are in pain, so I have to remove a lot of those.
I am definitely more of a sensitive writer than a writer of violence, even though the two can mix quite well together. I can cry at the drop of a hat too.
Your latest novel, The Man Across The Street, was published on the 1st of January. What’s next in the Marcie Steele books and are you able to share what plans you have for her books in 2020?
I’m writing another Marcie book at the moment, but I don’t have a release date yet. I have six planned for now, with ideas for at least another four. I love writing as Marcie Steele.
Hope Street, where The Man Across The Street is set, did you base it on a street where you yourself have lived?
It was two-fold really. I lived on a row of terraced houses from the age of ten to fifteen, so I recall the neighbours being close, bonfires and barbeques and best friends galore. It was a really happy time and there was a great community spirit. Obviously at that age, I wasn’t privy to what went on behind closed doors though, so my view could be misconstrued.
But the real idea came when I was on my way to Harrogate Crime Writing Festival a couple of years ago. The trains were all delayed as there was someone on the tracks, near to Manchester Piccadilly. I was due to catch my next train to Leeds and was in a panic about missing it.
As the train was moving slow, I was looking out of the window and saw a street with terraced houses either side and, unusually I thought, a cobble-stoned road. The trains were about ten metres above the street so I could look down on them. And I just thought it was so lovely and so English, and my mind began to create a set of people who lived there.
So that became Hope Street. A row of terraced houses with a cobblestoned road in between them, and a wall blocking off one end, but with a disused railway above it.
Are you or your husband romantic and what’s the most romantic thing either of you have ever done?
We aren’t romantic at all, to be honest. But I quite like that. He buys me flowers when I’m low or just because, but we don’t celebrate things like Valentine’s Day or wedding anniversaries. I’ll buy him chocolates and aftershave when I go on work trips away. It’s more spontaneous.
At the same time though, a hug when you least expect, or the smile that says ‘I think you’re amazing’ is nice. So maybe we are more romantic than we make out. We’ve been together since 1993 and married for twenty years.
Do you think there is a place for romance in crime books?
That’s a difficult one to judge. I have four books in The Estate Series that are a mixture between crime and romance, and I couldn’t get any of those accepted by traditional publishers for being too cross genre. The Estate Series have happy endings – they are predominantly about women getting by with a little help from their friends, getting to the lowest points in their lives before turning them around. I love the series and would love to write more in the future, and yet they are a hard sell because of the cross genre. People who like my crime books don’t necessarily like The Estate Series.
So, yes I do think there is a place for romance in crime, but as most crime readers, at a guess, read the books to help solve the crime alongside the police, the romance often gets in the way.
With being a published as well as a self-published author, do you get much free time and if so what do you like to do for fun?
I don’t get a lot of free time as you can imagine. Even though I work with publishers, I have a lot of books of my own that need to be marketed and kept up to date. Plus there is the running the business side of things now. That takes up a lot of time too.
I’m lucky in the sense that there is only me and my husband, so I don’t have to look after a family and their needs. So my downtime is spent reading or binge-watching tv series. It’s hard to switch off when you love what you do.
I remember you posted some pictures of your office space a couple of years back, of which I had serious office envy. I think you may have moved since then. (No I promise I’m not stalking you lol). Can you share any pics of your new office? Us readers love to be nosy and love to see our favourite authors working spaces.
Ah, my lovely office I had to leave behind! I do love our new home, but my office is a lot smaller. Having said that, I live in a bungalow now and there is a larger spare bedroom that I could move into, but I don’t. So I guess I like this one. The downside is the tiny window so I can’t see the view. The upside is the tiny window so I can’t see the view. In other words, I get more done in this room.
I have lots of personal things around and plaques galore with motivational messages on them. It’s a nice space but equally I would love to put bookshelves in it. Having said that, the room would still never be big enough as I’m always buying books…
Will you be appearing at any book festivals or are you planning any book events for this year that you can give us details of?
So far this year, I’m appearing at London Book Fair on Thursday 12 March and at Lichfield Literary Festival, In Conversation with Noelle Holten, on March 27.
I have three events lined up that I can’t talk about yet (as always) and I’m also organising book signings in Stoke at the moment for my next crime novel, Liar, Liar. I had a great time at my local Asda, in Wolstanton, last year, which will be happening again, and I shall be at Waterstones, Hanley. Times to be arranged.
I may be doing an afternoon tea with Marcie and Mel in summer. I shall also be doing a couple of charity events locally, more details to follow later in the year.
I’m sure I will be at lots more events that are being arranged, even if I’m only in the audience. And as I will publish my twentieth book in 2020, I shall be arranging some kind of party…
Thanks so much for joining me today!