Since writing The Sister I’ve become a little bit obsessive about quizzing other writers, hoping to glean a nugget of wisdom that will bring some structure and sense to my somewhat disordered days. Jane Isaac has written four books, her latest release Beneath the Ashes is available to preorder now. Jane kindly found time to chat over coffee and cake.
– Jane, I managed to write The Sister without it impacting too much on my family life and business, but now I’m writing book two and navigating the edits and marketing for book one I’m finding life quite frantic. How do you structure your time?
Ha! I’m not sure my life has a structure at all. I write part time and fit it around the day job, my family and a very naughty Labrador.
– I find writing at home quite distracting. There’s always the temptation to put a load of washing on or stare aimlessly into the fridge. Where do you write?
I work from home, mostly. We have a family PC in the lounge and I also have a laptop which I use on the sofa, at the table, in bed, or out beside the pool while my daughter has swim class. Most of my writing is done in the evenings and weekends.
– I try to aim for 1000 words a day. Sometimes it’s more, sometimes it’s less. Do you have a minimum word count you try to achieve?
I don’t worry too much about daily word counts. I tend to work in scenes, usually a few at a time, and slot them into my script as I move forward.
– That makes sense. I think I put myself under too much pressure to force words out sometimes rather than stopping at a natural break. Some writers I’ve spoken to have schedules to ensure they keep to deadlines. Is that something you do?
A schedule? What’s that? I do try to set myself deadlines, e.g. I want to be halfway through my current book by the end of…… , although life does have a habit of getting in the way sometimes.
– I know what you mean and sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. My ‘researching’ often ends in my buying something from Amazon. Do you research before you start writing?
When I’m writing, what I concentrate on at any one time depends wholly on my mood. If the words aren’t flowing, I’ll do some research. If I’m struggling with a scene, I’ll put it to one side, work on another and come back to it later. Failing that, I’ll relax and read someone else’s book!
– I’m loving the publishing process. Seeing the stages a book goes through before it hits the shelves. It was daunting at first to be utterly absorbed in book two and have the edits for book one ping into my inbox. I put aside book 2 completely while I edited book one but I think next time I might try to write a small amount of new material each day to keep the flow going. How do you approach it?
I find edits all consuming, so I tend to take a break from writing new work, focus on them until they are finished, then clear my mind and get back to the script I am working on. It’s the only way I can cope with them!
– I’m organising a launch for The Sister, and the thought of doing a reading, public speaking in general, terrifies me. Is it something you enjoy?
Naturally shy, I dreaded events in the early days. I still suffer with nerves, but do really enjoy getting out, meeting people and talking books. It gets easier with time and book people are so lovely.
– Perhaps I’ll have a large glass of wine first!
Haha, you’ve caught me nursing a sore head this morning after the village book club last night. Wine and books are the perfect combination, sometimes too good!
– I feel I need a drink before I go on Goodreads! My reviews have all been so lovely so far and learning what people like about The Sister is proving really valuable in helping me shape book two. I’m steeling myself for the inevitable bad reviews that will come though. How do you cope?
Don’t dwell on them. (I’d love to say don’t read your reviews, but nobody does that). Some people will love your book, some won’t. Every writer gets bad readers. Glance at them if you must, then move on and work on something new.
Thanks so much Jane. It’s been lovely chatting.