Author Interview: Candida Spillard

Hello, dear readers! Today I’m bringing Candida Spillard, author of The Price of Time, which came out last year!

Some people have a Guardian Angel. Some aren’t so lucky, and have a Guardian Devil.

And lifelong green campaigner Verity Player of York has just come face-to-face with hers: evil genius Stan ‘Satanic’ Mills.

He’s the mastermind behind the spread of an idea so simple – and so fundamental to everyday life – that few people would think to question it.

But Verity has long ago grasped its infernal logic. She knows it as the mechanism that lurks behind humanity’s apparent death wish. And now, facing its creator, she’s the only mortal who can fight to make him halt it before its final, devastating phase.

Her struggle pitches her into a surreal game.

Desperate, she bargains for a sporting chance. But this comes at a price: the forfeit of her precious conscience if she fails to strike the first blow by New Year… (via Amazon)

Hello, Candida! Welcome to the blog! Tell us a little bit about yourself!

First of all, I’m chuffed to make an appearance on your blog!

I came late to this writing lark. Although there are a couple of satirical pieces from my mis-spent youth floating around, nothing serious happened until about 2012 when someone, in all innocence, asked me ‘What do you know now that you wish you’d known at 18?’. I could only think of the opposite: things I was happy to have been unaware of in those days. Like climate change, AIDS, various films I’ve regretted having seen… and one other. Yes: that. The theme that lurks behind ‘The Price of Time’.

It lay far outside my field – and yet it didn’t. I’m gifted (or cursed, depending on your perspective) with an almost lethal curiosity: I couldn’t drop the idea. I wrote sketches. I wrote a whole series. It became an addiction: I wrote every day. I already had a blog (‘The Year-Long Lunch Break’, about the joys of frugal living: it’s still on-air) so I started another. The episodes I wrote in it evolved, by and by, into the novel.

And before taking to writing, what did I do? Well, it happened that our family spent a year in the USA: in Seattle. And the USA, for reasons I could only dimly understand at the time, was Space-daft. Space got everywhere: films (‘2001’), TV (‘The Impossibles’), school lessons, even food – my schoolmates’ pack-ups came in boxes decorated with planets, astronauts and superheroes (many of whom came from space). I got into Space – not literally, that would have been too difficult! I got into the science behind it: physics. Whether in astronomy, meteorology or radio communications, it formed thirty years of my career. Seattle has a lot to answer for!

What is your favorite description of your books?

This is kind-of cheating because I’ve only the one book published so far. I’m pleased that people who’ve read ‘The Price of Time’ seem to like it! It’s been described as ‘imaginative’, ‘a page-turner’ and ‘totally you’ and I’m happy with all of those.

Also, at least one reader has mentioned they never really understood face-blindness (prosopagnosia: difficulty in committing a face to long-term memory) until they ‘met’ Verity, the main character.

What is one of your biggest strengths in writing?

I hear voices. Literally: when I’m writing dialogue I can hear the characters talking. The accents, the rhythm, even the spaces between the words. Apparently this is unusual. But everybody who reads my writing says the dialogue’s lively and realistic.

What was your last five star read? What made it a five star read?

It has to be ‘The Radleys’ by Matt Haig. A family of vampires try to live the quiet suburban life and of course run into trouble. I mean, how do you even get to school if you can’t stand daylight? What do you eat to keep healthy when blood’s off the menu? What would the neighbours say if they found out..?

I read it having already finished the first draft and edits of ‘The Price of Time’ and saw in it the same surreal collision of mundane, everyday locations and unearthly, supernatural characters that I’d enjoyed portraying in my own work. And to cap it all the Radleys live in Bishopthorpe, a village a few miles from York: literally just down the road from me!

What other projects are you working on?

I’m working on two novels at the same time, which may or may not be a good idea…

First, ‘The Price of Time’ will have a sequel. Our unlikely heroine Verity, mortified with guilt at having been ‘persuaded’ to work in an unethical industry for just one week, volunteers to assist in a new version of the infamous Milgram experiments (clue as to her role: she has a bad heart and she ‘screams good’). Once there, she finds herself locked in a basement lab, with her only chance of escape being agreement to help with a new technique for ‘humane interrogation’…

Second, and in a different vein, ‘it’s Steampunk, Jim, but not as we know it’: This novel grew out of a short story of mine recently published in the anthology ‘Steampunk Universe’ (strap-line: ‘We keep getting told that steampunk is not diverse. We keep proving them wrong’).

The action takes place two hundred years in the future, in Russia. A runaway dissident bearing a secret from his own country arrives in St Lenins (formerly St Petersburg), having had to flee his previous hiding-place in a village in the Siberian forest. The city’s Commissar offers shelter but local law guardians White Watch, suspecting his motives, enlist the help of Katya, a night huntress from the village, to track him down. Katya (who by the way is, as her villagers say, ‘not the marrying type’) discovers the Commissar intends to blackmail Harry, realising he can use the secret invention in his scheme to enslave the city’s women.

Then Katya, colour-blind and out of her element in summertime St Lenins where no night comes, herself falls victim to blackmail: from White Watch…

What’s one thing that would surprise people to know about you?

I became a bit of an expert at putting up chandeliers. Don’t ask why. We’d just moved to a rather classy flat in Glasgow – not unlike the one in the film Shallow Grave, but that’s Edinburgh (oh, and there weren’t any dead bodies in ours). I decided I’d put up our chandelier. I was 7 months’ pregnant. I climbed the ladder barefoot – better grip, so I wouldn’t fall. I got careless: the live wire touched the metal frame I was holding…

A ‘click!!’ came from the junction-box in the hallway – Scotland had just saved my life! Why Scotland? I later found out that at the time, north of the border wiring regulations were stricter than in England: they were ahead of us introducing circuit-breakers instead of old-fashioned fuses (fuses don’t always work fast enough).

By now you’re likely thinking, but heck, why would a physicist make such a basic mistake? Unless you, too, are a physicist…

What do you do to break out of writing slumps?

The next person I happen to meet, I ask them for a word. ‘Just give me any word, at random’, I say with an innocent smile. Then I stash the word for when I get home: it’s my next writing prompt!

Where is the best place to contact you?

The ‘contact’ page of will send a message straight to my email inbox, which I peruse daily.

Where should readers start when it comes to your writing?

I’ve had some short stories published on free-to-read sites including Mad Scientist Journal (who also publish great anthologies) and Daggerville Games, who used to run a monthly flash-fiction contest which had the best ever prompt-words.

There are also tales of mine lurking in anthologies: apart from the one in ‘Steampunk Universe’ I’ve also had stories published in ‘Behind Closed Doors’, and ‘Our Day of Passing’.  

You can find links to all of these on one page:  

If you had a burger named after you, what kind of burger would it be, and what would you want to be on it?

Definitely organic and ethically-sourced! But not vegetarian I’m afraid. Giving up meat as a student gave me anaemia: hence my sympathy for Matt Haig’s vampires!

It would have Lamb (from Cumbria), cheese (from Lancashire) and asparagus (from Yorkshire) on dark bread (from Russia) and it would be called THE NORTH REMEMBERS.

What do you like to do when you aren’t reading, writing or editing?

I work on my plot: the kind made out of square yards of earth, for growing things on. Yorkshire produces great globe artichokes, rhubarb and asparagus!

What should readers know about you before reading your work?

I was very nearly born in a small country railway station, where my parents were living while waiting for the builders to finish our new house. I think that explains it all.

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