I’ve been asked to participate in My Writing Process blog tour day, when writers answer questions about their writing process. Last week, fellow Indie Romance author, the lovely and very talented Pauline Barclay posted hers. You can check it out at http:// paulinembarclay.blogspot.com Thank you Pauline for inviting me to join.
What am I working on?
I’ve just finished my third novel ‘The Scarlet Thread’ which awaits the editor’s red pencil, and despite promising myself to chill for the next couple of months and attempt to learn Spanish, an idea popped in to my head and I found myself tapping out the first chapter of ‘Frangipani’ which takes place between 1937 and the late 1990s and follows the life of Iona Beaumont the daughter of one of the scions of a successful trading company in Singapore. As I was born after WW2 I will have to do a considerable amount of research to make the plot authentic, but having lived in Singapore, I am familiar with the country and its people.
Iona is very loveable but feisty and flawed – as we all are. The consequences of her youthful actions will resonate over time and come back to haunt her. And that’s all I can tell you because I have massive writer’s block at the moment – Iona is sulking because I’ve banished her to her grandfather’s gloomy house in a small village in Surrey and refuses to cooperate with me.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
A difficult one. I’m not sure that it does. I write Romance / Women’s Contemporary novels which tell a great story and handles thorny issues like child abduction, illegitimacy, depression and spousal abuse with sensitivity and compassion.
My protagonists’ life journeys may be universal but that is precisely what makes them so appealing. The reader can readily identify with the dilemmas and reactions and, as the plot progresses, agree or disagree with the decisions. Readers see the saga right through to the end and witness how the consequences of their youthful experiences’ impact on their mature characters.
Why do I write what I do?
I love to tell a good story set in eras and locations with which perhaps a reader might not be familiar. I believe a novel’s settings of time, location and circumstances influence the plot. The central characters drive the story but the locations and the era bind them together providing colour and atmosphere – the essential backdrop to the plot along with heightening the story line and adding drama. Without that combination my characters’ experiences would have no context and therefore be meaningless to the reader. Today bearing a child out of wedlock is the norm in pretty much any strata of Western society, but in 1968 it was shameful, particularly for Nina the daughter of a Catholic diplomat in ‘Kilingiri’ and Midge whose father was a High Court judge in the ‘Scarlet Thread’. The locations and the societies at that time are so important to the story they became like individual characters, and once readers are drawn in by the beauty of the background, the story will, I hope, fall gracefully into place. I have been told that the descriptions of Hong Kong and Singapore, Thailand and India have enabled people to relive memories of their personal experiences of the times and places.
I’m not a prude but I prefer to write love scenes that are tender and passionate without pointing out explicit details as per a sex manual!. A continuous theme in my novels is family, forgiveness and unconditional love.
How does your writing process work?
Inspiration for my novels comes from all sorts of sources … the lyrics of a song, a memory, something I’ve heard on the news or read in books. None of my novels are autobiographical but of necessity some of the characters’ experiences are familiar as one writes about what one knows unless the story is set on another planet or includes aliens and vampires. I have huge admiration for the imagination of such writers!
Once the germ of the story is embedded, I draw up a list of characters, dates and locations and give my protagonists a backstory, get to know what makes them tick. I find it best to make character profiles with information about personal appearances, likes and dislikes, goals, hopes and fears, friends, family … everything that makes a character believable. It should prevent howling errors re continuity but occasionally I slip up. Thereafter I do masses of research using books, the internet or by asking questions of people whose experiences might be appropriate. I know how the story will end but what happens along the way is not set in stone. My characters drive the plot (unless they are sulking like Iona!) tell me where they want to go, often just as I’m about to fall asleep or when I’m in the shower or preparing supper. I have a good memory (unless I’m searching for missing car keys) so I don’t jot down the inspiration the moment it arrives. That would be awkward when in the shower or driving along Sheikh Zayed Road in Dubai.
If I said I sit at my lap-top at 8.30 every morning and type for hours without a break, I’d be fibbing, but I like to get something down every day. I edit as I go along, in as much as I check I haven’t repeated phrases or said the heroine has blue eyes when she started the book with brown. I usually write 5,000 words more than I have to. This gives me room to delete the extraneous gubbins (usually descriptions of which I am hugely fond) without feeling I’ve axed lynch-pins. When the novel is complete I leave it for a couple of weeks before disciplining myself to edit rigorously. Seen with fresh eyes my beloved words aren’t as precious as first perceived so I delete quite happily before emailing the manuscript to pre-readers. Although criticism of my baby is never easy, I appreciate brutal honesty and can rely on three wonderful pre-readers to tell it how it is. Then the manuscript goes to an editor and I play the waiting game …
Next week the following authors will tell you about their writing process. Do check out their blogs.
Seumas Gallacher says he is … ‘an escapee from a long time-served career in the world of finance, the oldest computer Jurassic on the planet, astounded by success in his new-found love… self-publishing crime thrillers, with over 75,000 downloads to date.’ www.seumasgallacher.com
Malika Ghandi says ‘I am a mother of two boys, and a wife. I live in the UK, and work from home writing my books, seeing to the school runs, and home life. I have always wanted to write, and be an author, and now I have finally done it! I am also an avid reader, my all-time favourite at the moment being The Hunger Games.’ http://malikagandhi.wordpress.com/