This is my writing process, part of #mywritingprocess blog tour
I was nominated by Jude Brown: a friend and fellow writer, who never fails to make me laugh, with or without the aid of Guinness. In fact, she’s been known to make me cry with laughter after drinking only highly diluted Orangina – that’s the power of this woman!
Jude is a writer of contemporary fiction, whose short stories have been widely published. She is also the recipient of many awards: semi finalist for the Raymond Carver Short Story Prize 2012, short-listed for the Bridport Short Story Prize 2013 and short-listed for the Fish Short Story Prize 2013. After completing her MA writing at Sheffield Hallam University, Jude became a winner of the Northern Writer’s Award 2013 for her novel, ‘The Dangerous Sun’. With this impressive list of accomplishments, I expect agents will soon be fighting to represent this talented author. I look forward to seeing, ‘The Dangerous Sun’ on the shelves very soon.
Find out more about Jude on her website: http://www.judebrown.co.uk
To read Jude’s blogs and find a delicious recipe for banana curry visit: http://bananacurry.com
So here goes! These are my answers to the #mywritingprocess questions:
1. What am I working on?
I am touting around ‘Into the Snicket,’ my first crime/thriller novel, which is about domestic abuse and murder. An early version of this was submitted to editors via my last agent. At the time, I was flattered to obtain representation so early in my writing career, although I was naively unaware of the importance of marketing and genre. In my desire to please, the novel became a mixed bag of crime, literary and whatever anyone else suggested. Editors praised it for being atmospheric, utterly compelling and powerful. However, the consensus was that the pace was too slow for crime. I began to work on the overhaul, which took six months of re-writing and tinkering until I’d found a marketable style. It’s taken me a while to understand this business and for my confidence to grow, but I feel the novel is now ready for crime representation. In the past, I thought, I’d wasted opportunities. I look back now and realise that all those other versions of ‘Into the Snicket’ were necessary drafts: a lesson in writing, the hard way.
2. How does my work differ?
I’m interested in dissecting the psychology of protagonists and antagonists. Once I’ve got into their minds, I can hear their voices and for this reason I prefer to write first person. This enables me to describe their tension and create atmospheric situations, which is what I enjoy. My novels unravel crimes via witness, victim and/or murderer’s viewpoints rather than through the official investigation. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t love reading great police procedural novels, such as Denise Mina’s, The End of the Wasp Season AND who doesn’t have a soft spot for Mark Billingham’s, Tom Thorne?
My writing combines subjects I studied for my degree: feminism, criminology, politics, sociology and psychology. Into the Snicket has proved to be a difficult nut to crack: a crime novel, written in first person, where the protagonist isn’t cop, forensic investigator, witness, victim or murderer. I suppose this wasn’t an easy way to begin my writing career and I deserved all the obstacles that have come my way!
3. Why do I write the way I do?
I’m drawn to the crime genre, because I am incensed by a great deal of things which go on in this world and, on a more personal level, I’ve been subjected to injustice on far too many occasions. I am an amicable and caring person (honestly), so for someone as nice as me, crime writing is a great way to vent fury! Be aware that if you upset me, you’ll become my next fictional criminal – the one who’s going to be hung, drawn and quartered.
I was a sensitive child who liked to please everyone, but I suffered speech impediments and was incredibly shy as a result. Writing became a way to express myself without embarrassment or fear of ridicule. In recent years, fictional revenge has given me a great boost in confidence. I've finally found my vocation. Now, I'm never lost for words.
I admire Donna Tartt’s work and emulate Andrea Badenoch, whose novels I’ve recently discovered - I would say these are the closest to mine. In ‘Rush of Blood,’ Mark Billingham interwove the murderer’s pov in between the six suspects, which is a similar format to the ones I use. I’m inspired by Dickens, Du Maurier and the Bronte’s who wrote atmospheric novels with memorable characters. For this reason, I enjoyed, 'Woman in Black' by Susan Hill. I found the adaptation to stage and screen worked well. My third novel was originally written as a play and Into the Snicket’s unreliable narrator has the perfect voice for radio. I find scripts easier to write than short stories, which always become long stories - the reason why I have written more novels than anything else.
4. How does your writing process work?
It would be nice to start the day with a visit to the gym, followed by a facial and manicure. Sadly, I have no time for pre-writing pampering sessions. And anyway, there isn’t any point - by 8.30, I’ve bitten all my nails and pulled out my hair, because I own an antiquated laptop that’s slow to start up in a morning. Obviously, I do empathise with this elderly machine, as it takes me a while to become fully operational too. I require a pot of tea and several mugs of coffee before I begin. I do wash and get dressed on writing days, but only because I have to take the kids to school.
On my return, I’ll have another coffee, taking the opportunity to check Twitter, Facebook and Emails. I’ll feed the cat and do some ‘bare minimal’ housework. Then me, and the laptop are fired up and raring to go. Once I start, I have no motivational problems, because I only have a few hours before the whirlwinds get in from school. If I’m on a roll, I will go back and finish it off, working well into the night.
Now that I’m looking for crime representation, I focus on one of three things: the next novel, competition entries or agent submissions. If I’m tired I’ll edit. If I’m feeling creative, I’ll create.
When I take time out to visit museums, galleries, libraries, or go for a stroll, I’ll observe people, locations or read, but I can’t write in public spaces. I’ve become highly protective of my unpublished work and for very good reason. There’s always a chance that someone’s going to look over my shoulder and pinch my ideas. Still, I can always get my own back and turn them into a fictional corpse....
Thank you for reading my writing process. For next week’s blog tour, I would like to introduce Michael Moon and Matt Wingett
I first met Michael on an Arvon novel writing course in 2008. He had already published ‘My Camino,’ so he was a great inspiration during our week in Lumb Bank. This beautiful book is an account of Michael’s 500 mile pilgrimage to Camino de Santiago, which he completed in 30 days at the age of 67. A few centuries earlier, his ancestor William de Mohun had undertook the same pilgrimage, in the year 1280!After serving in the military as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Royal West African Frontier Force, Michael took on a variety of temporary jobs which, he affirms rounded out his education. His first fictional novel is described as a captivating ghost story, based on real and extraordinary experiences of the writer. ‘Moonshadow’ uncovers a medieval secret that has lain dormant for seven hundred years.
Michael informs me that he is writing more ‘Moon’ novels, with two in progress. If that isn’t enough to be getting on with, Michael is looking for an illustrator as he plans to publish several children’s stories. Anyone interested? Visit: http://michaelmoonauthor.com
Matt Wingett was recommended for this blog tour by fellow writer, Lynne E Blackwood.
Matt writes stories and blog entries about Portsmouth. He describes his home town as, ‘village-like and extraordinary’. “Every step along it’s cramped roads has a story attached, or a bizarre piece of history.”
Matt used to write episodes for the television series, The Bill and has crafted a stage production, Sing Sing Sing, at The New Theatre Royal, Portsmouth. He is the author of several books including, ‘We’ll Meet Again’, where a real 1940’s singing trio called The Three Belles, uncover an old wrong that they must put right. This novella is described as a ghost story with a difference - that will keep you guessing until the end.
To discover more about Matt visit: www.lifeisamazing.co.uk/about-me/
NOW OVER TO MY TWO VERY INTERESTING NOMINEES, WHO WILL POST THEIR WRITING PROCESS AND TWO NOMINATIONS NEXT WEEK.....