Carmen Reid

3 Books

Carmen was born and brought up in a chilly and windy corner of Scotland in the depths of the countryside.

This may explain her lifelong phobia of cows and abiding interest in cities, department stores, books, the cinema and newspapers.

She is currently working on her eight novel for grown-ups and her third novel for teenagers. Well, she likes to keep busy.

Carmen did once study English Literature at University College London, but, ignoring everything she’d learned, she spent most of her 20s working as a local, regional and then national newspaper reporter.

Knowing deep down that she was supposed to be an author not a journo, she left her day job to have a baby and write her first novel. (Hey, and just four sleepless, penniless years later it was published!)

Although there is a corner of her heart that will always belong to London (property developers welcome) she now lives in Glasgow,

Scotland, with her husband, Thomas, and two children, Sam and Claudie, plus Jimmy the (lunatic) Jack Russell and Clive, Orangey and Gurkha, the fish.

Fortunately her hobbies are cooking, cleaning, arguing about whose turn it is to walk the dog, clean the fish tank, take out the rubbish, do the laundry... and so on.


Interview with author Carmen Reid

Introduce yourself:

Hello, I’m Carmen, I’m a writer who lives in Scotland. I’ve written 18 novels now. Eleven are women’s fiction with a romantic comedy style and a definite interest in fashion. Seven are books for teenagers, including Codename Coco which is something different for me:

the story of a 15 year old girl who joins the Resistance during the Second World War. It’s inspired by real events. She will be  at the Antwerp book fair on Saturday November 8th.

Do you always want to become a author?

It was definitely one of my goals. I also wanted to be a journalist (tick) a Mother (tick) a ballet dancer (fail) and to win an Olympic gold medal (also fail.) Now, I’m still interested in writing, of course, but also new adventures.

What do you like the most about your work?

I love the actual writing. Turning vague, dreamy ideas into characters and plot which both become very real and very gripping to me is one of the hardest but most rewarding jobs I can think of. Finding the exactly right words is an on-going challenge, along with editing, editing and trying to make all of my work my best.

Any dislikes about your work?

It is lonely. There is just no getting away from the loneliness. I spend too much time talking to my imaginary friends!

Can you tell us about your working day(how does it look alike)?

When I’m hard at work on a story, I make tea and open the computer at 9am. Then I pretty much have a typical working day till 5pm. It’s a mixture of writing, editing, researching and emailing, along with quick chats with friends and readers on social media. Much tea is drunk and I always walk my dog just before lunch.

 I usually have a plan for the day: a certain number of words written or edited and maybe a blog post to write. I also do some work for my husband’s company to vary my week. Sometimes deadlines lead to working at night and over the weekend.

Finishing a book means very intense involvement with the story. Special days are book tours or events when I get to meet readers and talk about my work. These are always a wonderful change. In between books, it’s important to get out, do different things, read widely and be inspired for the next story.

 What can readers learn from your book?

My books always feature strong, independent heroines who think for themselves, follow their own path and overcome obstacles to reach their goals. I hope that all of my stories are optimistic and hopeful.

 With some of the books, it’s done with humor. Codename Coco is much more serious. I hope she inspires readers to always stand up for what is right and to never give up hope.

Do you focus on a specific target group( readers) while you are writing?

First and foremost, I write for myself. What do I want to read? What am I interested in? But yes, I’m thinking of myself as a grown up or myself as a teenager depending on which age group I’m writing for. The people who enjoy my books are always a little like me, I think!

Your book Did the Earth Move? was published in 2003. How did people react on this book?

This was my second book in the UK. It was very successful and reached the top ten fiction bestsellers. Lots of readers have told me they really enjoyed the story and it helped them through difficult times. It helped me through difficult times too when I was writing it and it was wonderful to get such a great response.

Cross My Heart appeared in 2013( Codename Coco 2014 in Holland) where did you get your inspiration from for this book?

Inspired by a newspaper article, I began to read about the incredibly brave teenagers who served in the Resistance and I knew it could make a really good story which today’s teenagers might love to read.

All sorts of chapters and events in the book are inspired by real stories and the terrible and incredible things which really did happen then. The funeral, the ‘dream food’, the air-drop, the camp – these are all based on reality.

Are you writing a new book?

Yes, I’ve just finished a new story for my grown up readers. It’s about a 45 year old woman who has to start over.

How were you discovered as a writer?

I worked as a journalist for six years, then I sent my first book idea to an agent in London who liked it very much. He encouraged me to write the whole novel and when it was finally ready, he sold it to a publisher. I’ve carried on writing and being published ever since then.

Do you have any writing rituals?

There must be lots of tea. I prefer to work in silence, although sometimes music will keep me going if I’m struggling to hit a deadline. I make plans for stories in pencil involving many sheets of paper: there must always be a full plan! But I write on my laptop as it’s so much easier to make changes.

Can you tell the readers about your education?

I went to a small school on the east coast of Scotland, then a girls’ boarding school in Edinburgh. I went to University in London to study English Literature.

Did you enjoy your study time?

Not always, to be honest. When I was younger, I had lots of struggles with depression and with ‘fitting in’ or ‘belonging.’ At school and university I often felt like an outsider. From my twenties onwards I became a much happier person.

Can you survive on writing alone, or are there other activities you need to do?

I love to write, but I also love to hang out with my family and friends. After a day of writing I really need company and a good laugh. I also try to do other things in my week so I don’t become too lonely or isolated.

What will you be doing after 10 years?

Writing, of course… but other interesting things too.

Are you religious?

I’m really interested in that spiritual side of humanity, but I don’t practice any religion.

Your hobbies are?

Reading, hanging out with my children, regular gym sessions and lots of conversation.

All Carmen Reid's Books

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