"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!" (Mary Quallo, St Louis)

"Who in their right mind wouldn't want to read a book by Mark Barry!"  (Mary Quallo, St Louis)
Coming next week - Carla Eatherington

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Author and blogger Carol Hedges is...around The Cauldron!

Inhabitants of the Twitterverse, at least this little segment of it, will have noticed the effervescent wit of Carol Hedges - author and keen, active blogger - around the place. 

Rumoured to be extremely helpful and supportive of other Indies and active in her local community, I had always wanted to invite her around the Cauldron and was introduced to her quite recently. 

Her books are popular and, as you will see, she enjoys a good laugh and a joke. I caught up with her as she bedded in the roses somewhere in the south of England and we spoke via the Wizphone. 

Here's what she had to say.

Tell us a bit about yourself, Carol. Including something you have never so far revealed in an author interview on Indie!

Well, Mark, I’m a nearly 65 year old grandmother with amazingly dyed red hair and all my own teeth....checks...OK, 2 crowns. I’m a lot taller than I look on Twitter and I sound like a seven year old on helium. None of this ( apart from the hair) is observable on any social media site but can be attested to by friends who’ve met me. And  I’m fairly sure there is some new revelation in there somewhere....

Whereabouts in Britain are you from? I hear you are very much a creature of the South?

I was born in Welwyn Garden City, which was one of the ‘’new’’ garden cities built after World War 2. I went to London University (Degree in English & Archaeology..very useful when planting potatoes .. I can do superb trenches). I worked in London for many years (Librarian), moved to Watford, where my daughter was born and now live in Harpenden. Just south of Luton. Or North of London.

In what genre do you write?

Currently I’m writing a series of Victorian Crime fiction novels, set in London in the 1860s. They feature the same two detectives, the odd running characters ( some of them walk ) and lots and lots of new ones.

What’s your latest?

The latest published one is Honour & Obey ... the second in the series. It looks at the marriage market at the time (and it was a market!)

Can we have an extract please?
Opening extract from Honour & Obey (publ. Crooked Cat Books, Nov 2014)

London, 1861. An evening in early spring, and it is raining. But
this is not the sweet spring rain beloved of romantic writers.
This is rain on a mission. Relentless rain that falls with a steady
patience as if it has got all night. Rain with the volume turned

Rain corrugates windows. Rain drums off roof tiles, the
water falling in torrents from leaky gutters. Rain whips the
surface of the muck-encrusted streets into thick brown soup.
Rain coats ancient brick buildings in a slimy sheen of wet. Rain
glugs and gurgles into drains and culverts.
Stand awhile in the shelter of this doorway and listen. The
noise of the pelting rain is almost drowned out by the great
cacophonous cauldron of sound swirling around you. Horsedrawn
omnibuses clip and clop, and slide on their steel wheels.
Arguments break out amongst the shapeless huddled crowds
hurrying to and fro. At the corner, a ragged soaked drunk raises
his voice in discordant song. Church bells ring the quarter-hour
in disunited chimes. A dog howls. It is an evening not to
venture abroad, you might think. But you would be wrong.
In the building opposite, a door suddenly opens and a young
woman appears. The building is old, brick-banded, and rundown
in appearance. The paint is peeling and several of the
lower windowpanes are cracked, and streaky with rain. It bears
the hallmarks of a lodging house, where rooms can be rented
cheaply and the landlord lives elsewhere.
The young woman wears a neat but shabby dress, a shawl
and an uninteresting bonnet. She carries a wrapped bundle
under one arm. Her complexion is pale and pinched,
bespeaking a lack of regular nourishing meals. She glances up at
the sky, grimaces, then sets off determinedly. Her name is Violet
Manning and she is a dressmaker.
You will meet her again, very soon. But not as you see her
And the rain keeps on falling. It falls upon a semi-detached
villa on the outskirts of New Camden Town. The villa is owned
by Mrs Lucinda Whitlow, widow of the late Nathaniel
Whitlow, owner of a piano factory. In its time the house has
known the laughter of children, the bustle of family life. Now it
is a boarding house for professional gentlemen, overseen by Mrs
Whitlow (widow), who has a false front of black curls, a false set
of yellow teeth and a false smile.
At Mrs Whitlow’s, for a moderate outlay of cash, the
professional gentleman can avail himself of a bed, use of
ablution facilities and privy, together with breakfast and an
evening meal. Mrs Whitlow’s cooking is in a class of its own.
Her cabbage is always boiled for exactly one hour. She makes
pastry you could tile roofs with, and her gravy possesses a thick,
glutinous quality rarely seen outwith the river embankment at
low tide.
Mrs Whitlow’s lodgers have just finished their evening meal
of scrag-end of unidentified animal served with soggy potatoes.
Now she is busy clearing away the plates, helped by the
undersized maid of all work.
“Knives and forks in the basket, girl,” she snaps. “Then
scrape them plates into the pig bucket.”
The maid comes from the local Foundling Hospital. She has
a name, but Mrs Whitlow prefers to call her “girl.” It saves time.
She drops the cutlery into the basket and eyes the plates
hungrily. Several of the lodgers have left unappetising scraps of
“Hurry up, girl,” Mrs Whitlow commands. “I ‘aven’t got all
e Foundling scrapes the plates into the rusty iron bucket.
Her stomach rumbles. Footsteps sound in the hallway. Mrs
Whitlow darts to the door. One of the lodgers, the new young
man who only arrived recently, has just descended the stairs and
is heading for the front door.
“Going out, are you, Mr Err...?”
Mr Err is indeed going out. He has on a long dark overcoat
and his hat is pulled low over his face. He makes no reply,
merely opens the front door and disappears into the pouring
“Manners!” mutters Mrs Whitlow.
She goes back to clearing the plates, and persecuting the
Evening lengthens. Lamplighters begin their rounds. Shop
windows are also lit, displaying their rich contents to the rainsoaked
passers-by. The magic light of a millions gas-lamps draw
the flâneurs – both men and women – like moths to its
flickering flame. For there are particular pleasures to be had at
night, when the streets become a glittering gallery of images and
Sometime later Mrs Whitlow’s lodger will return, will let
himself in with his key and will quietly climb the stairs to his
room. Sometime later the brightly lit shops will shutter-up, and
the streets will empty out. Sometime later, Violet Manning will
be brutally murdered, and her body will be dumped in an

You have more than one book.  For marketing purposes on the Twitterverse, do you think it is better for sales and brand awareness to hammer ONE book ad infinitum?

I hope I never hammer anything, other than the odd nail, crookedly. It’s actually easier to have more than one book on the go and best to have a series, especially if you are a crime writer. People who read crime fiction like to read everything by a writer they enjoy. 

And as for my technique, if I have one, I think it can be divided into: 1. Sell everybody else first. 2. Sell YOURSELF as a brand next. 

People buy from writers they engage with and find interesting. Nothing is more likely to detract from sales than a writer endlessly and robotically putting out promo after promo. If you visit my Twitter site, you’ll find funnies, pics (frequently of cake), other people’s stuff, amusing posters etc etc. 

And I chat. Lots.

Follow Carol on Twitter HERE: 


You are very active on Twitter? Can we follow Carol Hedges anywhere else?

I am also on Facebook ... though I’m more selective as to whom I ‘’friend’ as I had a nasty incident recently where someone claiming to know several of my friends was actually posting malaware. FB shut down my site and I had to clean it. So now, you have to be a friend of a friend to be my friend. If you see what I mean.

I like your covers. What advice have you got for Indies who don’t invest in a cover designer?

Thank you. I really am proud of them. They are designed by David Baird, a local graphic artist, and the husband of one of my friends. So that makes them extra special. 

There are a few ‘’secret’’ things in the covers...you have to look carefully and compare each one. Not saying any more. I’m not an artist, so I don’t know what advice I can give. 

I DO remember going to a talk at the RNA where a cover designer showed us several covers (different genres) all featuring the SAME bloke! 

It is worth paying out for a good cover artist: it doesn’t cost the earth, and they do know what looks good on the various sites. NEVER try to draw your own!

If you knew how like an endless Moroccan bazaar this marketplace was going to become, would you have done something else instead of write novels? Or are you compelled?

I always wanted to write, and I have been lucky enough to enter the Moroccan Bazaar when it was more like a corner shop. 

So I have grown up with it. I am also lucky that I find it fun. I love being on social media, I love blogging and meeting other writers and people from all over the world. It is far more immediate than it was when my first novel was published. So I’d be here, whatever. And I hope I’ll be here for a few years more, until the braincell gives out.

What else do you do apart from scribble?

I have several jobs, as I’m still waiting for my books to reach blockbuster status. I tutor GCSE and A level students. I invigilate public exams at a local secondary school. 

L-Plate Gran - Carol's Ever-Popular Blog HERE

And, as those of you who follow my ‘Adventures of L-Plate Gran’  blogs know, I look after my little granddaughter two full days a week. World save-age may come later... if I can fit it in between jobs.

Three favourite books, two favourite CDs and favourite film?

Anything by Dickens, or Tobias Hill (cheating). 

The Best Dickens Novel?

Anything by Blondie or Paul Simon ( more cheating). 

And Steel Magnolias. OK, psychoanalyze that!!

Invite your big hero to lunch. Where and what would you eat?

Now then, I’m going to go off piste again. My big hero is a heroine .. a real one, and it is my lovely daughter. She spent 3 years in Afghanistan working for SOCA, enduring some hair-raising exploits, most of which she can’t share as she has signed the Official Secrets Act, and ending up with her name on a local Taliban list. 

After returning to the UK, she not only worked but joined the Territorial Army, which involved full Boot Camp training.

Now she manages to hold down a high powered job in government security as well as being a wife and the best mother I know to Little G. I’d take her to The Ritz for afternoon tea. 

We’d have little crustless salmon and egg and cream cheese sandwiches, tiny warm scones with clotted cream and jam and plates and plates of lovely cakes and fruit tarts.

And finally, what do fans of Carol Hedges have to look forward to in 2015 and beyond.

November 2015 is when Death & Dominion, the third Victorian crime novel will be available. And I’m currently writing the fourth: Murder & Mayhem. After that.........who knows?

Carol, it's been an absolute pleasure to talk to you today and I, and the Wizardwatchers, wish you every success in the coming years.

Thank you, Wiz. And the same to you.


Carol has her first tattoo - featured on the BBC

Carol is also the author of the popular
Spy Girl series - which I didn't know
when I picked up the Wizphone! 

Carol's Cauldron Spoon


  1. Wiz, Carol's books ROCK. And I can verify the tall lady on helium thing, as I have met her. And soon, once again it will be...

    da-da- daaaaa...

    Carol Hedges is.....THE INVIGILATOR...

    or INVIGILATOR II - the return, starring Carol J Hedges (as seen in the Wizard's cauldron)

    (I still have the photo from last year!!)

    1. ha ha ha. I can't wait for that! Available at a Twitter Feed near you :-) Thx T. :-)

  2. What fab interview - I love finding out more about my favourite writers and Carol sounds like a blast - even if she does sound like a seven year old on helium :D

  3. Thanks Green Wiz..this was fun....hope I left everything tidy.....

  4. Great interview, I enjoyed reading it very much...and I love Steel Magnolias too!

  5. Nothing better than a feisty interview between two smart, funny, creative people! Loved it. And look forward to catching up with Carol's work. Thanks, Wiz, for once again introducing me to a fascinating artist (an artist who's female, older, witty as all get-out, and clearly indefatigable just makes it all the more icing on the cake!).

  6. Grandmother power is the best! Great interview. Best of luck with sales, Carol.

  7. Fabulous interview, and fabulous writer, mother and gran with it, not to mention being a complete HIPster ;) Carol's books are brilliant! I can testify to that having now read four of them!

  8. Hi both, I followed Carol over here and can vouch for her supportive friendship and unfailingly entertaining twitter presence. Gosh I didn't realise you had two more books in the pipeline. At least the two of us never get the time to get bored, right?!

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  10. Great to find out so much more about you Carol, entertaining as always and I loved the excerpt - I am definitely looking forward to getting to that on my TBR list :-) What was the tattoo of, may I ask?

  11. Thanks Lorraine and Mary Ann ..I see myself as a beacon of hope for the over 60's. That's when I'm not seeing myself as an exhausted elderly senior with half a braincell somewhere

    1. Go, Carol go, you are a beacon of hope and an inspiration to those of over 60 -the best time of our lives!

    2. Me an'all, Carol. Great interview. I'm still trying to convince people that writing books is "Work".

  12. Great interview, love that you got a tattoo.

    1. I have 2 now...both quotes from Shakespeare

  13. As an octogenarian author and fan of Carol's, I can vouch (not that she needs it!) for her expertise at writing, both blogs and books! She has just the right, sometimes indefinable, touch which takes a book from the 'quite good' to the extra special. Her 'Honour & Obey' was an excellent read and her humorous blogs are a must! I fly a flag for octogenarian writers, but she certainly had the edge for the over 60's!

    1. Anonymous you have made my afternoon!! (I think I know who you are and I admire you immensely. If I can be still writing in my 80's I'll be very pleased.)

  14. Brilliant interview. Carol brightens my day on Twitter and Facebook

    1. Thank you Shelley....he asked the right questions!

  15. Fabulous interview, Carol and Mark. I thoroughly enjoyed adding flesh - figuratively speaking only! - to the person I'd got to know on twitter.

    1. I could do with a bit more flesh...since taking on Little G it is falling away fast!

  16. A fabulous interview you two! Enjoyed this one and learning more about the wonderful Ms Hedges...I always want to say Madam Hedges as sounds more of a force to be reckoned with and appropriate but then it also sounds a tad dodgy, so I dare not...well, not usually anyway ;-D

  17. Fabulous. If only it was possible to find out what Carol's on, and bottle it.

    1. coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. There. Now you know.


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