Today on Chick’s Rogue’s and Scandal’s I have the great pleasure of chatting with Charlie Laidlaw, author of Herbal Detective and The Things We Learn When We Are Dead. Have a seat and lets get to know a bit more about Charlie.
I was born in Paisley, central Scotland, which wasn’t my fault. That week, Eddie Calvert with Norrie Paramor and his Orchestra were Top of the Pops, with Oh, Mein Papa, as sung by a young German woman remembering her once-famous clown father. That gives a clue to my age, not my musical taste.
I was brought up in the west of Scotland (quite near Paisley, but thankfully not too close) and graduated from the University of Edinburgh. I still have the scroll, but it’s in Latin, so it could say anything.
I then worked briefly as a street actor, baby photographer, puppeteer and restaurant dogsbody before becoming a journalist. I started in Glasgow and ended up in London, covering news, features and politics. I interviewed motorbike ace Barry Sheene, Noel Edmonds threatened me with legal action and, because of a bureaucratic muddle, I was ordered out of Greece.
I then took a year to travel round the world, visiting 19 countries. Highlights included being threatened by a man with a gun in Dubai, being given an armed bodyguard by the PLO in Beirut (not the same person with a gun), and visiting Robert Louis Stevenson’s grave in Samoa. What I did for the rest of the year I can’t quite remember.
Surprisingly, I was approached by a government agency to work in intelligence, which just shows how shoddy government recruitment was back then. However, it turned out to be very boring and I don’t like vodka martini.
Craving excitement and adventure, I ended up as a PR consultant, which is the fate of all journalists who haven’t won a Pulitzer Prize, and I’ve still to listen to Oh, Mein Papa.
Frankie – Hi Charlie, Welcome to Chicks, Rogues and Scandals! Thank you for taking the time to chat with me today, Firstly, what five words would you use to describe yourself?
Charlie – Relaxed, stressed, intelligent, stupid, confused.
Frankie – If you could live in any era and place, when and where would it be? And why?
Charlie – I would choose to live exactly where I am now, because I like it here. But, maybe, sometime into the future. I know what the past looks like, and I don’t want to go there. But the future is an unexplored country.
Frankie – Who was your childhood hero?
Charlie – James Bond.
Frankie – What is your favourite time of the year?
Charlie – Spring, because it’s full of promise.
Frankie – Out of all your work, who is your favourite character and why?
Charlie – I think that would be Lorna, the central character in my latest book, The Things We Learn When We’re Dead. All books involve resolving conflict, and hers is all inside her head – she’s idealistic but driven also by ambition. The book is all about her coming to terms with herself.
Frankie – Where does your inspiration for your books come from?
Charlie – I’ve absolutely no idea. The inspiration for this book came on a train journey from Edinburgh to London, which was apt as Edinburgh is the only city in the world to have named its main railway station after a book. When I got home, I write the first and last chapters. That first chapter has changed out of all recognition, but the last chapter is pretty much unchanged.
Frankie – Fascinating. What three tips would you pass on to an aspiring author?
Charlie – First, read everything you can in the genre you want to write in. If you don’t read, you can’t write.
Second, practice, practice and practice. Writing is like anything else: the more you do it, the better you become.
Third, don’t be put off by failure or rejection. Keep faith in yourself.
Frankie – Thank you, Charlie for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with me today, I have just one more cheeky question, just for fun . . . What is your all-time favourite naughty but nice food?
Charlie -Chocolate croissants.
Thank you again for taking the time to chat with me today.
The Things We Learn When We’re Dead is a modern fairytale of love and loss. It’s about the subtle ways in which we change, and how the small decisions that we make can have profound and unintended consequences.
On one level, the book is a simple story of a young woman’s life. But, for those readers who want to make the connection, The Things We Learn is also a retelling of The Wizard of Oz: how a young woman in ultimately tragic circumstances comes to reassess her life and find a new beginning.
Rosie McLeod, pub proprietor and a gifted herbalist of some renown, is thirty-nine and holding, but only just. The talons of her fortieth birthday are in her back and her bloody, bloody husband hasn’t laid a lustful hand on her for months. She sets out to discover whether her husband is having an affair and, as the story unfolds, to solve a murder – before she becomes the next victim.
If you want to find out more about Charlie and his work then check out the links below.