Everyone on the tour has four questions to answer about their writing process. Sophie's is definitely worth a read. Her writing process involves hopscotch. Gosh. Go HERE
What am I working on?
I’m writing two short stories and having a final read of my latest novel before sending it out. Madrigal is a time-slip novel centred round a contemporary vocal ensemble and the C16th Italian composer, Gesualdo. He is famed for his music, which some, such as Stravinsky, say is the work of a genius centuries ahead of his time. Others find the gruesome murder of his wife and her lover more intriguing.
My novel explores what happens when the menace of Gesualdo begins to undermine the singers of his music today. In the historical thread the story is from the point of view of Sylvia, a servant girl whose witness statement is on record. While rehearsing Gesualdo’s music, my contemporary heroine, Lisa, feels that her family and friends, particularly Jon, the love of her life, are becoming more secretive and distant. Is she imagining it when she sees blood on her music? Is her quartet being haunted by the dead hand of Gesualdo? What is the connection between a macabre manuscript from the Renaissance Naples and Exeter Museum? Lisa has to find out. I hope readers will too!
The in-between novels period is a strange mixture of relief, sorrow – I miss my characters! - and anticipation as I begin to plan the next one. I try to channel all that nervous energy into writing some short stories and keep a list of ideas on my desk that I add to during the months of novel writing. I don’t usually write two at once, but they are very different so there’s no chance of muddle.
How does my work differ from others in the genre?
If I look back at the novels and stories I’ve written, by far the majority are about music and musicians. This isn’t very surprising in the light of my own professional training as a music teacher. I still do a little teaching, although my performing days are over. The hours I used to sit at the piano are now spent in front of a screen. My musical experience, however, is proving a valuable resource. Most people like music! It isn’t only the actual music that has been inspirational – in the story that I have in the forthcoming Romantic Novelists’ Association showcase anthology Truly, Madly, Deeply it was my experience of taking music examinations that gave me the idea. What would it be like for an adult taking their very first grade?
Why do I write what I do?
I like people! I want to know about their hopes and fears, their relationships. I know what moves me, what inspires me, what makes me shrink in anxiety and fear. But each of us is unique. The myriad ways that we conduct our lives is an endless source of fascination to me. Stories seem to be rather like the ‘working’ of a big mathematical problem. I write to make sense of the world around me. In the midst of life’s chaos, a story attempts to make order.
How does my writing process go?
Let me count the ways…sigh. I sometimes wish there was a regular structure to my days, but one of the joys of my life is that no two days are the same. Because I’m so busy, I’ve taken to writing a To Do list on A4 paper for a couple of days ahead. At the top it says something like Finish story or Finish chapter. Of course, what happens is that finishing the chapter or story might take all day and the next! If I’m writing a dramatic or highly charged scene, I often pace round the house, run up and down the stairs several times (good exercise for the sedentary writer) and make cups of tea that don’t get drunk.
My writing kit consists of:
A notebook for my bag. It has to be small A5 or A6, thin and with a stiffish cover. If it's too heavy I won't carry it about. They also get very tatty in my bag so I like to replace them often. The current one is a little darling, especially as some of the cherries are sparkly - see pic
Post-its in many colours for ideas and plotting. I have lots littering my desk.
Scrap A4 paper and a clipboard for diddling about with ideas when I’m sitting on the sofa - see pic above.
A Macbook Air – my darling, my baby, the best thing I’ve ever bought. Necessary accessories are an external drive backup and a gmail account for emailing myself all the work I did that session.
Also required for my writing process are hours and hours and hours…
What about my fellow Exeter Writer, the very excellent Elizabeth Ducie? How does her writing process go?
Find out next Monday 10th February at the next stop on the tour HERE