Who is Evie Hunter?
That’s an easy one. Evie is Caroline McCall and Eileen Gormley.
How did you come up with the name Evie Hunter?
Penguin asked us to come up with a pen name. I used to work as Helen Hunter when I was reporting for the newspapers. Caroline’s grandmother was Evie Elliot. So we split the difference.
Is it difficult to write a book by collaboration?
It has its challenges, but it’s fun too. The big difference is making sure we have the same vision of our main characters. Of course, as with real life, the other character can surprise you.
Sometimes we end up yelling at each other over where the story is going or how our characters behave, but it’s never personal.
Was there a structure as to the direction the story would take?
Oh yes, with the insane deadlines we have, it’s essential we know where the story is going. As it is, the plot changes when we write, but we have planned out the structure of the story so we know where we’re going. We start by developing the characters and outlining the story, then we meet at least once a week to fine-tune what we will write that week. We can’t afford to write stuff we are not going to use.
Were either of you ever surprised by the direction the other had taken the character?
All the time. It’s one of the big differences that a co-writer brings. She has her own idea of how the characters will behave and how they will react in certain situations. Sometimes I write what Caroline has written and go, “You bitch, look what you did to my guy!”
Were you excited to read what had happened since you last had the story when your turn had come back around?
Yes, it’s a bit like watching a television program and you can’t wait for the next episode to see what happens next. You know where the story is going, but are dying to find out how it gets there.
You ladies certainly seem to know your stuff when it comes to self-defence and weapons, how much research did you have to do?
I love that sort of research. I get to meet experts in their field and ask them all sorts of questions and to try out their weapons. I’ve done some martial arts training myself, and grew up in the country where people had shotguns and rifles. My father had crossbows and bows and arrows. I learned the hard way that you do not shoot arrows straight up into the air.
What was your favourite part of the story?
Oh, I think that has to be the bits in the croft when Flynn expands Summer’s education. Hey, when you’re living in an isolated croft with no electricity, you have to find something interesting to do.
Is this the end of the line for all characters in the story or did I possibly see a hint of another story between Andy and Sinead?
My lips are sealed. But some of the characters in this story will ride again. Literally!
(Luckily for us Caroline forgot to seal hers 😉 )
Did you ever imagine when you signed up for a creative writing course, that it might bring you to this point?
When I started Patricia O’Reilly’s course, I was completely burned out. I felt I had no creative juices left at all. I would have been happy if I had managed to write a short story. I would never have foreseen a single novel, never mind this.
Why do you think women have become more open about wanting to read erotic stories in the last couple of years?
Yes, I think that’s the biggest contribution that 50 Shades of Grey has made. Women can now admit to reading erotica and not be considered weird. Of course, they’ve been reading this stuff for years. Ellora’s Cave sells 190,000 books a month, so it’s a huge market. But now it’s mainstream, not an invisible genre.
Do you have a motto that you live by?
If not now, when?
The Pleasures of Winter sold more than 50,000 copies, were you surprised at all by its success?
I was amazed by the numbers. It was odd, because we sweated bricks writing it, and it took over our lives for months, then when it finally appeared on the shelves it was almost an anti-climax. It looked so small beside all the other books, and we wondered if anyone would actually read it. Hearing that fifty thousand people have read it is astonishing.
What advice would you give other people who would love to start writing?
Just do it. Don’t wait for inspiration or the perfect time or the perfect office. Sit down and write and keep writing until you have written a book. But write because you love it, not because you think your book is going to make you millions.
What is the best advice you were ever given (any topic)?
I hate this sort of question, so many people have given me awesome advice. But I suppose the best one is the simplest one: Just get on with it.
Do you get nervous as you are approaching release day?
Not so much release day. The time I worry most is when we’re getting the story finished, so that we have it done on the date Penguin are expecting and then we’re on tenterhooks waiting to hear what Patricia Deevy thinks about it.