Monday, 31 March 2014

The Writing Process

I was asked to take part in The Writing Process Blog Tour by Barbara Scott-Emmett, a talented novelist whose latest work, DELIRIUM: The Rimbaud Delusion, will be published through Triskele Books later this year.

The idea of the tour is that all the writers who take part answer the same four questions about their work and their writing process, and together they form a great electronic blogging chain in the ether! You can read Barbara’s blog (and find out more about her writing) here. I have asked Trish Nicholson, Nik Morton and Joan Fallon to grab the baton from me – read more about them at the end of this post.

What am I working on?
I’m currently splitting my time (and sanity) between two, no three, maybe four, major projects.

Let me explain: as Lorraine Mace, my debut novel for children, Vlad the Inhaler, is due for release this week. The publishers are very keen to see the next in the trilogy, so I am working flat out on getting that to them by the end of March.

I am also working on a new children’s series: sort of Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) meets Buffy (without the vampires). This will feature a young boy who gets saddled with a ghost who bullies him. Together they have to fight off all the dreadful supernatural entities I can think up and save the world at the same time.

As Frances di Plino, my D.I. Paolo Storey crime series seems to have found a strong fan base and the publishers have asked for the fourth Paolo book. Looking for a Reason will carry forward the lives of the main characters, but as with each of the first three books, the crime being investigated is completely different to anything in the earlier novels.

And then, returning to my Lorraine Mace persona (the real me) I have a literary novel that has been on the back burner for so long it’s a wonder it hasn’t shrivelled up and died. One day, I keep promising myself, one day I'll write The End on that book.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Wow, what a difficult question!

The crime series is different to many in the genre because it is character led, rather than plot driven. In most crime novels, the plot is the be all and end all of the writing. I like my characters to develop over a series, so that what happens in their private lives affects the way they interact with each other and also impacts on the crime solving aspects of each case.

With my children’s novels, I wanted to concentrate on issues that matter to children: bullying, being different, having to cope with the fallout from adult’s actions. At the same time, I wanted to create characters who readers will care about, but who are themselves different and so don’t ‘fit’ into mainstream lives. From the initial feedback I’ve received on Vlad, it seems I’ve achieved that.

Why do I write what I do?
Quick answer: because the damn voices in my head keep nagging me to tell their stories.

Longer answer: because each book reflects issues I care about and want to bring to the attention of my readers. Novels are meant to be entertaining, and I hope mine are, but that doesn’t mean they have to be light and fluffy.

In all my works of fiction I deal with the unpleasant issues so many of us have to face on a daily basis. I try to portray those issues in a way that will make people think about the lives of others, even if only for the time it takes to read the book.

How does my writing process work?
It starts with my husband writing a day by day programme for me each month. My day job consists of running my private critique business, working as a mentor to novelists, managing three international writing competitions, running writers’ workshops, my regular columns for magazines, being a short story judge and critique provider for Writers’ Forum and various other writer-related activities that seem to take up a great deal of time.

I dump all this information on my long-suffering husband and he then plans my month so that everything gets done when it should – and somehow rearranges the universe so that I have time to write my novels.

Because I have so many other activities, I have to be really disciplined when ‘creative writing’ appears on programme. I set myself a word target for those days and will not leave the computer until I’ve reached my goal.

I tend to work to a rough outline, so that I know before I even open the file exactly what needs to be covered in the chapters and scenes for the day.

Before I became so busy (in fact, before I was published) I used to write when the muse deigned to visit. I no longer have the luxury of waiting for her to arrive. I now have to reach out and grab the muse by the throat and make her sit next to me during the hours allocated to my novels. I keep her tethered to my office chair, just in case she tries to sneak off.

It seems to be working!

As promised at the start of this post, here are the three baton carriers for the next stage of The Writing Process Blog Tour.

Dr Trish Nicholson (@TrishaNicholson) began her thirty-year writing career as a columnist, feature writer and author. She writes short stories and narrative non-fiction, and is currently published by Collca (UK). Among her recent titles are: Inside Stories for Writes and Readers, a companion on creative writing, and Writing Your Nonfiction Book: the complete guide to becoming an author.

Nik served in the Royal Navy. He now lives in Spain. He has sold many short stories and edited several books and magazines. His book Write a Western in 30 Days has been a bestseller. This year sees publication of Wings of the Overlord, a fantasy quest jointly written with Gordon Faulkner, The Magnificent Mendozas, his sixth western for Robert Hale, Sudden Vengeance and Catalyst, both crime thrillers from Crooked Cat.

Joan Fallon was born in Scotland, but grew up in England. For many years she was a teacher and later a management consultant specialising in Behavioural Studies.  In 1998 she moved to Spain, where she began to write.  Her novels centre on a strong female character and explore the emotions and relationships of the protagonist.  Being a History graduate, Joan enjoys setting her novels in a historical context, researching either English or Spanish history.

Trish, Nik and Joan will answer the same four questions next week (7 April 2014). Do visit their blogs to discover more about the writing life and the process of creativity.

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Alison Runham said...

I like the sound of a Randall & Hopkirkesque series :) Interesting! I do find myself chuckling whenever you write about your husband organising your schedule. My husband is the least likely candidate for 'Organiser of Alison Runham's Writing Workload' that I can think of! Often he couldn't tell you what I'm writing, let alone when it has to be finished. But he is my own live-in IT Support Specialist - and worth his weight in gold in that capacity! So I can't complain :)

Lorraine Mace said...

Ah, now that's where my wonder husband falls down. Any computer problems are down to me to sort out! Still, from my point of view, I need organising, which Derek does. It's a winning combination.