Welcome to my September Q & A. Today I’m happy to be featuring, friend and author Trish Power who writes under the pen name of Alex Craigie. Her recent release, Means to Deceive, a psychological thriller, which I’ve read and reviewed, is her latest release.
Alex Craigie is the pen name of Trish Power.
Trish was ten when her first play was performed at school. It was in rhyming couplets and written in pencil in a book with imperial weights and measures printed on the back.
When her children were young, she wrote short stories for magazines before returning to the teaching job that she loved.
Trish has had three books published under the pen name of Alex Craigie. The first two books cross genre boundaries and feature elements of romance, thriller and suspense against a backdrop of social issues. Someone Close to Home highlights the problems affecting care homes while Acts of Convenience has issues concerning the health service at its heart. Her third book. Means to Deceive, is a psychological thriller.
Someone Close to Home has won a Chill with a Book award and a Chill with the Book of the Month award. In 2019 it was one of the top ten bestsellers in its category on Amazon.
Eighteen months ago, Gwen Meredith left the job she loved and came back to Pembrokeshire to help support her irritable and increasingly confused grandmother.
But someone is pursuing a vendetta against her.
As the attacks become more malicious, her old anxieties begin to build.
She’s attracted to her new neighbour who is keen to help…but can she trust him?
When those closest to her are threatened, her desperation mounts.
Who can she trust?
Gwen has a dark secret of her own.
Can she even trust herself?
My 5 Star Review for Means to Deceive:
Top review from Canada
Reviewed in Canada on April 16, 2022
Gwen is having a bad day, many bad days. She is a teacher’s assistant who does not like the school principal, Ian, yet someone snapped a shot of her shaking his hand at an event and it became taken out of context, big time – internet big time, and a smear campaign ensued.
Gwen noticed an alcoholic, abusive father physically abusing his child. She tried to intervene and the man drove off with his child. Her alerting authorities angered this man and he began harrassing Gwen.
Dyleth has a crush on married principal Ian and believes Gwen is hot for the two timing married principal and spreads gossip.
Gwen had a boring, quiet life before these incidents happened. She moved in with her ailing, demanding, grandmother Edith less than two years ago to take care of her. The only good thing that has happened in Gwen’s life lately, was meeting her new next door neighbor, Ben. Ben becomes her shining knight in armor when all the weirdness, attacks and chaos begins. Is Ben too good to be true, or should we now begin suspecting him?
Strange and evil things are taking place at Gwen’s home. The abusive man is doing drive bys and knock knocks, someone lurks in her garden at night causing damage and painting vile words on her car and lawn. Gwen feels like she’s losing her mind when even the police aren’t doing much with her many complaints.
Gwen’s brother Gethin is having relationship problems at home and decides to come visit his sister and grandmother to help figure out what is going on around that house. He too is attacked one night, and once again, neighbor Ben manages to save his life.
A lot is going on in Gwen’s life and she begins to question her own sanity when too many strange things keep happening. Gwen also struggles with a childhood incident where she blames herself for her parents’ deaths. We’ll later discover that everything Gwen thought happened wasn’t really as it seemed.
If you are already curious as to what is going on, trust me, you will continue to feel that way as you will be eager to keep turning the pages to find out what is going on. Who done what? Is there a traitor among family? Is the principal or the abusive man responsible for all the chaos and accidents? Could Gwen’s developing relationship with Ben the neighbor be real or does he have ulterior motives? You will want to find out as Craigie takes us on a carefully plotted out story that won’t give us a hint until the very end.
Let’s Welcome Alex and get to know a little more about her.
I’ll begin by thanking you from the heart for for this great opportunity to share something about myself and my writing with all of your followers.
D.G. – I’m thrilled to have you over Trish. ❤
Do you have an interesting writing quirk or habit that helps you with your writing?
I suspect my whole life is a bit quirky!
There are several practical things I do to try and keep the words coming. For instance, I have a small pile of paper on my desk that has only been used on one side. I fold each sheet in half, blank side outermost, and when a new idea comes to me when the flow is going well, I grab one of these pieces of paper, scribble the idea down and then forget about it to stop it intruding. When I’ve written myself to a standstill, I come back to peruse the idea and decide what to do with it.
In a similar vein, some of my best ideas come to me in the night. Sadly, come the morning I’d remember I’d had a wonderful line or brilliant way to tie-in a new section but had forgotten the details! Turning on the light to write them down certainly meant that I remembered them, but didn’t make for a great night’s sleep for me or my husband… Now, I have a similar stack of used paper on my bedside table with a pencil resting on top of it. When an idea surfaces, I write it down in the dark. Quite often, I’ll have several different things occur to me and I have to try to recall how far down the page I’d reached with the last comment. It doesn’t always work and it’s well nigh impossible to untangle two or more lines of writing scrawled on top of each other.
The ‘half asleep writing’ frequently extricates me from a tricky dilemma I’ve written myself into. My other method is to go into the garden and do some weeding. There’s plenty of weeding to be done and so I never run out of material! There’s something about mindlessly pulling stuff out of the ground that sets the subconscious free to untangle things.
D.G. – Lol Trish, I had to laugh because I use a similar method. When I’m writing and following thought and think of something else I want to add, I add it in the margin – don’t forget, I write longhand. As for night thoughts and not wanting to disturb, you could open your Kindle and use the backlight to shine upon your paper without disturbing hubby. That may work better. Tip: I keep my Kindle on low light at night so it doesn’t keep me wide awake when reading late at night.
Do you find your writing is geared towards a specific audience or do you just write what inspires you to write?
Frequently, my writing is driven by a need to share experiences that concern me. That does sound self-indulgent and “worthy”, but it’s what was behind many of the short stories for magazines that I wrote when the children were tiny. I wrote about peer pressure, domestic abuse, inequalities – that sort of thing. There were others that I wrote simply for fun and they were well-received, too, but those were a pleasure to write and there wasn’t that driving need to pen them.
My first novel, Someone Close to Home, was written because I’d been visiting family and friends in the generation above me in a variety of care homes and what I saw was so upsetting I found myself crying at one point, not in sorrow but in rage. This book crossed so many genre boundaries it was a nightmare to categorise. I decided that my next book would sit nicely withing a recognized niche. It was a romantic suspense/psychological thriller about a young woman damaged by guilt from the past who found herself in increasing danger from someone in the community. Means to Deceive was started when the first book was being sorted for publication. But…
… it was the end of 2015 and the situation in our health service was bothering me. Our NHS has been a gold standard model throughout the world, but parts of it were being hived off to private companies and the core of it wasn’t being maintained. So, I stopped the second book and went off on another social grouse! This was Acts of Convenience, but it had to be shelved for several years because my mother developed two different forms of dementia that made writing impossible. When I did get back to it, I ended up with another published book that didn’t sit nicely in a category. So I dug out Means to Deceive again.
D.G. – No doubts our connection is kindred spirits. We are both people bothered by social injustice. Although I say it out loud in nonfiction, you work those issues beautifully into your fiction.
Do your books have messages in them? If so, what are the messages you feel are well received by your readers?
Well, after that last answer, I’m sure you can guess my response!
Someone Close to Home was written in the first person because I wanted readers to be able to identify with the situation where you leave your home and all the possessions you’ve acquired over your lifetime and end up in one cramped room totally dependent on the goodness of others. Most of the staff I came across on my visits were absolutely brilliant, but all it takes is someone who treats you like a commodity – or worse – to turn it into a nightmare. I’ve had so many people write to me about their shared experiences that I know this situation isn’t restricted to the UK. I wrote about residents who were unable to feed themselves, having their food left on the tray in front of them only for it to be removed untouched by someone (tutting) later. That resonated far too often with people. The concerns I’d classify as abuse were also horribly familiar to others.
Acts of Convenience takes the central character Cassie from 2017 to 2055. She’s a nurse and she and the family are at the sharp end of the consequences of expedient legislation made by successive governments. It reflects my concerns about cutting funding for the treatment of the elderly and chronically sick, working conditions, the exploitation of our information and privacy by unscrupulous companies, the manipulation of media, our exposure to foreign hacking – loads of things that concern me! Because Cassie eventually joins a group to expose the corruption she’s witnessing, the book begins as social description and ends as a thriller. I was so unsure of it as a format, I haven’t tried to market it but I’ve had some terrific responses from people and may decide to do so some promotion in the future.
In similar vein, I realized that my romantic suspense/psychological thriller, Means to Deceive, was becoming hijacked by my concerns about social media and so I made a conscious decision to nip that in the bud and stay within the traditional genre. Instead, I’ve transferred my concerns about the abuse of social media into a novella called The Bubble Reputation which I’m polishing at the moment to get it ready for publication.
D.G. – I am looking forward to eventually reading your two other books, which currently are resting on my reader. As you pointed out the content, and had previously warned me of the content, and due to the too much I myself have witnessed with my husband’s frequent hospital visits, I’m not yet ready to read such content. But I am looking forward to your new, upcoming book!
What’s your favourite mode of writing – computer, hand written, dictation, and why?
My mode of writing has evolved through the years. When I was six, I wrote with a stubby pencil in an exercise book. The pencil was replaced with one of those “new-fangled” biros when I was a bit older.
The short stories for magazines were hand written in a big notebook and then transferred to my portable typewriter to send for publication. Typing then was considerably tougher than it is today! For a start, you had to properly jab the keys to get the letters to hit the paper. There was also the dismay when you reached the last line of a page and made a mistake. I never feltI could send a copy with the offending error blotted out in that bright “Bay Watch teeth white” corrector, and so I’d roll another page in place and take it from the top again.
We bought a secondhand electric typewriter in an auction and it was so touch sensitive, I’d written a whole line of “T”s before I managed to add the “h” and “e” of the first word. It was so easy to use but it didn’t remove the irritation of making mistakes. Writing by hand was less frustrating.
Then we come to computers. Oh my! To be able to correct errors was a delight in itself, but it’s also blessedly easy to move things around, change vocabulary, check for overused words and insert new material that improves a section.
When mapping out a novel, I always start with a pen and paper because it’s easier to
brainstorm that way, but for the actual text it has to be my trusty laptop.
(Here I must add a caveat: when saving my precious work at the end of the day, I add the current date to the title. This prevents me uploading an older version or, worse, overwriting one. Learn from my bitter experience!)
D.G. – So nice to learn that you too write longhand, even to start. As you know, I’m a dinosaur who writes her books, reviews and blogs in longhand first. Lol. And thanks for your last tip, adding the date. Don’t get me started how many times I found myself creating new copies with edits. Oye! ❤
How do you promote your work? Do you find marketing and social media overwhelming?
Overwhelming doesn’t come close!
I’m from that generation that was castigated for “blowing their own trumpet”. I find it really hard to sell from that point of view alone.
I’m only on Facebook. (I tried to get to grips with Twitter but reading the guides to it were like wading through molasses in concrete boots.) Everyone who knows me also knows what an eejit I am when it comes to Facebook. I feel anxious every time I have dealings with the site (daily) because I don’t know if I’m following etiquette correctly or posting where I should. I could do with someone to go through it with me in short sentences composed of simple one-syllable words. An example of my stupidity is that I haven’t had any notifications for at least four days. I wondered if everyone was on holiday (!). When I dug deeper today, I discovered hundreds of posts, some of which were important. I’ve been on the help site but, despite thinking I’m fairly competent in the English language, I still don’t understand what’s going on – or what on earth a push post is.
It’s also a source of shame to me that I don’t have my own blog where I can post other people’s reviews. I don’t know how you do it and still find the time to exist. Our three children and seven grandchildren all live within a few miles of us and can drop in any time (still socially distanced) in our garden. They fill my days with delight. I also have several health issues that mean that when things are bad I need to slope off to bed. These are my excuses, but I know that others who manage blogs have families, full-time jobs and other commitments.
My admiration and unbounded gratitude go to people like you, Debby, who give me the
oxygen of publicity in a form that I can handle. Well, to be honest, I’m not handling it -you are! It must take considerable time and trouble to organize this promotion for me and I can’t stress how much I appreciate it, particularly as I know you have your own writing projects on the go.
Sally Cronin is also a tireless promoter of authors which must cut considerably into her own writing time. Diana Wallace Peach is yet another terrific writer who goes out of her way to review and boost those of us without big publishing companies behind us. There’s really too many supportive people to list here but I have to give another shout-out to Judith Barrow and Thorne Moore who give me a nudge when there’s a review about me on Facebook that I’ve missed, and who post those same reviews for me. I really do need that Facebook lesson!
D.G. – First, don’t beat yourself up about ‘fakebook’ (as I prefer to call it, lol). They are forever changing their set up. Most of us don’t get our notifications until days or weeks later. They have taken away all the easy ways for us authors to navigate our pages. I, along with several author friends have discussed this and have given up posting on our author pages, or our author pages, period. We are a supportive community, and I so appreciate the sharing and help from others when I too need it. I will second what you said about Sally. As for me, I’ve been a multi-tasker all my life and spent a lot of time learning the tediousness (Is that a word?) of social media. But trust me, I, along with others, have certainly had our share of technical blog issues. I am grateful to have Colleen Chesebro as a Sister/Friend who always comes to my rescue when things get out of control. It does take a village sometimes. I love promoting other authors and giving back, so it’s worth the work for me. ❤
It was a pleasure having you here today Trish. I do hope readers will check out your addictive books.
Excerpt from Means to Deceive
The blisters have burst and some of them are seeping blood. I’d been so desperate to
obliterate the obscene writing that I’d worked through the pain but now the sensation is
making itself known and I suck my lower lip between my teeth and clamp down on it.
Ben speaks quietly. ‘I didn’t appreciate the extent of the damage. This must hurt like the
I shake my head and release my lip. ‘It’s just a few blisters.’
‘Well, let’s get some antiseptic onto them and then see about covering them up. I’ll try to
be as gentle as I can.’
He opens an antiseptic wipe and dabs my damaged palm. For someone with such large
hands he has a remarkably light touch.
‘I’m afraid some of this is down to me.’ He continues dabbing at my palm which is now on
fire. ‘That shower will have softened the skin allowing things to get this bad.’
I shake my head. I’m trying to keep the pain hidden and don’t trust my voice. He picks up the cream and applies a coating that quickly brings the fire down to a smoulder and then he fixes a clean white dressing in place.
‘Right. Time to do the other one.’
He takes my left hand and studies it. Mine is pale and tiny in comparison with his.
‘These don’t look so bad. They’re still raw but they’re not bleeding.’ He starts to dab at them. ‘I think you’ll get away with some plasters on these.’
I say nothing, watching as his hands continue to work methodically and efficiently. There’s something soothing, almost mesmerising, about the process and it comes as a surprise when he announces, ‘There. I think that’ll do.’
‘Thanks. You were right. It was quicker and easier this way.’ I don’t know what else to say and that familiar gaucheness overcomes me. ‘You’ve obviously done this sort of thing before.’
‘I’ve a younger sister who was always getting herself into scrapes.’ His mouth tightens into a straight line and he busies himself putting things back into the green tin.
The kitchen door opens and Claire bustles through.
‘Right. Well, that’s me finished, Gwen.’ She notices the two of us sitting together and
adds, ‘Sorry, I didn’t realise you had your young man here.’
Our response is instant and she simply nods and carries on as normal. ‘Well, your grandmother’s comfy. She wouldn’t have a shower but she’s had a good wash, eaten most of her breakfast and she’s watching TV now.’ She heads for the door and turns to add, ‘Don’t forget she has an appointment with Dr Kumari at 4.30 this afternoon.’
A groan escapes me. ‘Thanks, Claire. It’d gone completely out of my mind.’
‘It ain’t surprising, my dear, after all the …er…’ The words drift off and I appreciate her tact but squirm at the knowledge that she’s aware of what’s happened. ‘Well, I’ll leave you to it then.’ She takes another couple of steps and then stops again. ‘Will you be able to get her there? Without your car, I mean?’
I can feel heat flame my face. ‘Yes. Don’t worry. We’ll be fine.’
‘There we are then. I’ll see you again on Tuesday. Bye’
Ben hands me the tin and I cross to the dresser and replace it in its drawer. I stand with my back to him, giving myself time to recover from this latest blow. How am I going to get her to the surgery without my car? Can I afford two taxis?
I turn back to Ben. ‘Many thanks for all your help. If there’s anything I can do to repay you, please let me know.’
It’s a dismissal and he knows it. He clicks his fingers at Atticus who chooses to obey him and crosses to his side. But he’s hesitating.
‘What will you do without your car this afternoon?’
‘I’ll get a taxi.’ I’ve made my voice light and assured. ‘It’s not a problem.’
He heads towards the door, Atticus lolloping faithfully at his heels, but he pauses and then comes back. ‘Look, I need to book myself in with a medical centre and I may as well do that today as I have to be in town this afternoon anyway.’
‘No. It’s all right. We’ll manage.’
He runs a hand around the back of his neck. ‘Are you always this obstinate?’
I’m stuck for an answer. Part of me is bristling at the accusation while the rest of me is shouting that his help in this would be a godsend.
‘Gwen, I’m going into town later. It would be no bother at all to give you and your grandmother a lift to the centre. It’s up to you.’
I swallow my pride, audibly. ‘Thank you. It would be a great help.’
He gives a nod of his head. ‘Right. If I come round at about ten past four will that give you long enough?’
‘That would be perfect.’
‘And I’ll come in to the centre on my way back from dropping off some plans at the office,
sign up and drop you back home again.’
I open my mouth to protest, notice the humorous challenge in his eyes, and meekly thank him.
Alex’s upcoming book:
Coming soon! – The Bubble Reputation!
An unscrupulous editor does a hatchet job on Emmie Hobson, based on weasel words such as ‘our sources say’, ‘an insider confides’ ‘friends disclose’, etc. Social media picks up the baton runs with it, unleashing hateful rhetoric that threatens Emmie and all that she holds dear…
D.G. – Looking forward to reading it Trish!
Find Alex on Social Sites: