Q&A with Gemma Metcalfe, author of Trust Me.

One phone call. Two lives. Their darkest secrets.

Lana needs to sell a holiday, fast. Stuck in Tenerife, in a dead end job, she never expected a response quite like Liam's.

Thousands of miles away a phone rings. Liam never intended to pick up, he's too busy choosing the quickest way to die. But at least someone should know the truth before he goes, even if that someone is a stranger.

As time runs out, both are drawn to the other, expressing thoughts they never thought they would share.

When you're about to die will your secrets even matter?

Today on Hummingbird Reviews, I'm delighted to be welcoming author of Trust Me, Gemma Metcalfe, to the blog on publication day for an author Q&A. I'm very excited to get chatting to Gemma, so without further ado, let's get this Q&A rollin'. Welcome to Hummingbird Reviews, Gemma!
Please introduce yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? And what's your shoe size?
Unfortunately, my shoe size is a boring size 5 ;) My name is Gemma Metcalfe. I am thirty-one and I'm originally from Manchester. Seven years ago, I did the classic Brit abroad thing and fell for a barman whilst on holiday in Tenerife (actually he's not Spanish but from the less exotic shores of Derby). We are now married, living in the Tenerife sunshine and parents to two fluffy hooligans, Dora and Diego. I am a primary school teacher at a British school here in Tenerife, and of course an author.

Your debut TRUST ME is published today by HQ Digital. What is it about?
TRUST ME has a unique premise in that the whole story centres on a phone-call between two strangers. Lana, a single mother to five-year old Amber, finds herself on the run in Tenerife, working in a dodgy, backstreet call-centre selling holidays. After an incredibly difficult morning, where her boss threatens to sack her if she doesn't make a sale, she cold calls Liam. Liam, thousands of miles away in Manchester, wasn't expecting a call. He is busy deciding on the quickest way to die. As the two connect, they begin to slowly reveal their pasts, revealing secrets they never thought they would.

How do you hope readers will feel while reading TRUST ME?
I guess the most important thing for me would be for readers to deeply connect with both Lana and Liam. I love both of these characters (and yes I am aware that they are a figment of my imagination), but to me, they feel real and I can relate to them. I hope readers will also feel that deep connection.

If you were to describe this book in the same way you'd describe the weather, what would you say?
Oh, this book definitely changes like the British weather! Right in the middle of the thunderstorm, the clouds part to reveal glimpses of warm sunshine. It's definitely not all doom and gloom.

When did you first begin writing? What was your first book about?
I have always loved to write and I had attempted to write a novel a number of times. They were never quite good enough, and I always ended up ditching them after a few chapters. TRUST ME was actually the first novel I wrote in full, so I'm still a little shell-shocked that it is now published.

What goals do you have for your writing?
Having my work published by HarperCollins is already a massive goal, one which last year would have seemed a pipedream. I have always been of the mind-set that I will take one step at a time, and be grateful for everything that comes my way. I will continue to write, and strive to make each novel better than the last. Of course a New York Times Bestseller would be marvellous ;)

Which authors inspire you?
So many to mention! Like most writers, I am an avid reader. In my teenage years and early twenties I was a huge fan of crime novels (Martine Cole, Kimberley Chambers). In recent years, I have swayed more towards the thriller genre, enjoying the works of B.A. Paris, Mark Edwards and Lisa Hall. I am also a huge fan of Amanda Prowse - what that woman does with words is pure genius.

Describe your writing style in three words.
Honest, direct, fast-paced.

What themes do you focus on within your writing? Will it be different with each book?
Well, I have only written two (TRUST ME and my WIP) and they are both about real people, finding themselves in difficult situations. All of my characters are complex, often making poor life choices while being decent human beings at their core. I think I enjoy delving deeply into people's mental health, and bringing out their raw emotions, fears and dreams.

Once you've an idea firmly in place, what is the next step you take?
I'm not a planner. I find it incredibly difficult to sit and plot anything. I normally have a vague idea (normally an ending) and everything spirals from that. It normally means I have to re-write things a lot as new ideas form, but it works for me.

Do you have a favourite part of the writing process?
Yes - the ending.

Are there any techniques/methods you use when it comes to plotting?
No, if I sit down to specifically plot my mind goes blank. Normally new ideas come to me whilst I am supposed to be watching TV or having a conversation with somebody (I have an awful habit of switching off reality).

Have you ever had to tackle writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Yes, quite a lot. When I was writing TRUST ME, nobody was waiting for the manuscript. It was totally in my hands and therefore if I had writer's block I simply didn't write (which is most probably why it took me two years to complete). My WIP is much harder, as I have deadlines and therefore no real time to wait around for writer's block to pass. I therefore just force myself to write, even if what I write has to be massively edited or changed.

Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration for TRUST ME came from my own life. For five years I worked in a call-centre here in Tenerife and whilst I studied for an MA in education. Of course I have hyped up the call-centre and the characters in the call-centre massively in the book, but lots of it is based on things which actually used to happen.

What does a typical day in your life look like?
I am a primary school teacher so between the hours of 9-4 I am in my classroom, being 'Mrs Metcalfe,' to my bunch of nine year olds. I adore teaching, and working in Tenerife is amazing. Of an evening, I am either planning lessons or writing, similar to weekends. People are often surprised that I don't have a tan!

What part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
I think like many writers, the middle part of the story is hard going. Normally, the beginning is full of tension and excitement, setting the scene and so on. My endings are always mapped out, so the middle is where I really have to dig deep, ensuring that the tension is building throughout, and the storyline is all coming together.

How do you come up with your titles?
TRUST ME was originally called 'The Call'. I really liked that title but HQ felt that TRUST ME would be better suited to the thriller genre. I now love the new title, and feel it really suits the book. For my WIP, I've decided to leave the title in the capable hands of the editors.

When it comes to creating your characters, what's the first step you take?
Again, this is difficult. I don't sit down and write character profiles like I know a lot of authors do. Instead, I have a vague idea and I begin to write from that character's perspective, and they begin to develop on the page. In my WIP, my main character is a twenty-year old called Frankie. Initially, she was sassy, confident and beautiful. As the writing has progressed, she has moulded herself into somebody much more insecure, with serious trust issues and hang-ups. As I get to know the characters better, through writing from their perspective, they always surprise me.

Have you ever taken a research trip? If so, where did you go?
No, I have never taken a research trip. TRUST ME was very close to my own life and experiences, and therefore I didn't really need to research very much. However, it is something I may need to do in the future.

Do you set yourself word-count goals?
No! Even as a published author, I still try and write for fun and only when my creativity is flowing.

What is your definition of success?
Interesting one. I'd say to achieve your own dreams, whatever they may be.

What is your definition of happiness?
To be loved and to love, and to be able to say 'I gave it my all'.

Which do you find the hardest, the beginning or the end?
The middle!

What's the best piece of advice you ever received?
Be yourself, because there will never be another.

What one piece of advice would you pass on to another writer?
Write a book you want to read.

Tell us an author who is on your auto-buy list.
Lisa Hall.

If you were to write in a different genre, which would you pick and why?
Maybe comedy. I love to see the humour in situations.

What are you working on at the moment?
My WIP is about two ex-care kids, Frankie and Kay. Now early twenties, they share a terrible secret, one which means they have to hide in the shadows, never revealing who they really are. One evening, Kay suddenly disappears, and as Frankie desperately tries to find her, her past and present begins to collide, with devastating consequences.

Now for some quick-fire questions:
Coffee or tea? Tea.
Summer or winter? Summer.
Bath or shower? Bath.
Sweet or savoury? Savoury.
Holiday in the city or the countryside? Countryside.
Text or call? Text.
Facebook or Twitter? Facebook.
Sunrise or sunset? Sunset.
TV or movies? TV.
Wine or beer? Wine.
Cats or dogs? Dogs.
Chinese or Indian food? Chinese.
Pasta or cheese? Cheese.

About the author.

Gemma Metcalfe is a Manchester born author who now lives in sunny Tenerife with her husband Danny and two crazy rescue dogs Dora and Diego. By day, Gemma can be found working as a Primary school teacher, but as the sun sets, she ditches the glitter and glue and becomes a writer of psychological thrillers. An established drama queen, she admits to having a rather warped imagination, and loves writing original plots with shocking twists. The plot for her debut novel, TRUST ME, is loosely based on her experiences as a call centre operative, where she was never quite sure who would answer the phone...

You can find Gemma Metcalfe on Twitter.
You can purchase your copy of TRUST ME here.

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