Novel writing – creating that hook – Author Live Chat

 

On Sunday at 8pm GMT I’ll be over on Facebook doing an Author’s Live Chat for The Fiction Cafe. I’ll be discussing the importance of beginnings and creating that hook when you write. In preparation, I’m sharing the opening of my latest psychological thriller, The Surrogate, today.

Whether you are a writer, or a reader, do come over and join us. It will be lots of fun and I’ll also be giving away signed books.

Later

There is a rising sense of panic; horror hanging in the air like smoke.

‘They’re such a lovely couple. Do you think they’re okay?’ says the woman, but the flurry of emergency service vehicles crammed into the quiet cul-de-sac, the blue and white crime scene tape stretched around the perimeter of the property, indicate things are anything but okay. She wraps her arms around herself as though she is cold, despite this being the warmest May on record for years. Cherry blossom twirls around her ankles like confetti, but there will be no happily ever after for the occupants of this house, the sense of tragedy already seeping into its red bricks.

Her voice shakes as she speaks into the microphone. It is difficult to hear her over the thrum of an engine, the slamming of van doors as a rival news crew clatters a camera into its tripod. He thrusts the microphone closer to her mouth. She hooks her red hair behind her ears; raises her head. Her eyes are bright with tears. TV gold.

‘You don’t expect anything bad… Not here. This is a nice area.’

Disdain slides across the reporter’s face before he rearranges his features into the perfect blend of sympathy and shock. He hadn’t spent three years having drama lessons for nothing.

He tugs the knot in his tie to loosen it a little as he waits for the woman to finish noisily blowing her nose. The heat is insufferable; shadows long under the blazing sun. Body odour exudes from his armpits, fighting against the sweet scent of the freshly cut grass. The smell is cloying, sticking in the back of his throat. He can’t wait to get home and have an ice-cold lager. Put on his shorts like the postman sitting on the edge of the kerb, his head between his knees. He wonders if he is the one who found them. There will be plenty of angry people waiting for their post today. ‘Late Letter Shock!’ is the sort of inane local story he usually gets to cover, but this… this could go national. His big break. He couldn’t get here fast enough when his boss called to say what he thought he’d heard on the police scanner.

He shields his eyes against the sun with one hand as he scouts the area. Across the road, a woman rests against her doorframe, toddler in her arms. He can’t quite read her expression and wonders why she doesn’t come closer like the rest of them. At the edge of the garden, as close as the police will allow, a small crowd is huddled together: friends and neighbours, he expects. The sight of their shocked faces is such a contrast to the neat borders nursing orange marigolds and lilac pansies. He thinks this juxtaposition would make a great shot. The joy of spring tempered by tragedy. New life highlighting the rawness of loss of life. God, he’s good; he really should be an anchor.

There is movement behind him, and he signals to the cameraman to turn around. The camera pans down the path towards the open front door. It’s flanked by an officer standing to attention in front of a silver pot containing a miniature tree. On the step are specks of what looks like blood. His heart lifts at the sight of it. Whatever has happened here is big. Career defining.

Coming out of the house are two sombre paramedics pushing empty trolleys, wheels crunching in the gravel.

The woman beside him clutches his arm, her fingertips pressed hard against his suit jacket. Silly cow will wrinkle the fabric. He fights the urge to shake her free; instead, swallowing down his agitation. He might need to interview her again later.

‘Does this mean they’re okay?’ asks the woman, confusion lining her face.

The trolleys are clattered into the back of the waiting ambulance. The doors slam shut, the blue lights stop flashing and slowly it pulls away.

From behind the immaculately trimmed hedge, hidden from view, he hears the crackle of a walkie-talkie. A low voice. Words drift lazily towards him, along with the buzz of bumblebees and the stifled sound of sobbing.

‘Two bodies. It’s a murder enquiry.’

 

You can find The Surrogate on Amazon here and The Fiction Cafe on Facebook here. See you on Sunday!

 

Why I was SO grateful to go back to school – My visit to Northants Uni

Recently I received an email from the University of Northampton asking if I’d be willing to go in and be interviewed by the media/journalism degree students to talk about writing and following your dreams. I felt a pang of excitement and instantly my first thought wasn’t what I could offer them, but what I could learn from them.

At the risk of sounding ancient, I’m from a generation of girls who weren’t often encouraged to go to University, and we were sometimes actively discouraged. The 80’s may all have been about bold make-up, big hair and shoulder pads, and although women nailed power dressing (I really NEVER nailed power dressing btw) the advice I got from my careers advisor was still to become a secretary. Regular hours, steady pay, and I’d always be home in time to make my future family’s dinner.

During my visit I was struck by the sense of purpose in the University, the determination in the air. Yes, I’m sure there are parties, drinking too much and those who don’t appreciate what an incredible opportunity it affords them being there, not just education wise but in terms of personal growth and life experience, but the students I had the pleasure of meeting had something I was sadly lacking as a teenager. Confidence. The belief they could work within the field of their chosen careers. A quiet determination to succeed that has taken me over 40 years to cultivate myself.

It was a real privilege to visit and I came away feeling inspired and hopeful. You hear so many negative things about our younger generation it was a pleasure to spend time in the company of creative, ambitious, young adults who I have no doubt can do anything they set their mind to.

 

 

 

Flash Fiction – Hope

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Image courtesy of Sandra Crook

 

Dampness seeps through a hole in my shoe as I trudge one exhausted foot in front of the other. There’s no-one to rush home for.

I’m so tired.

On the bridge I pause, staring down into the crashing water below. Would anyone miss me?

I’m so lonely.

A soft mewling breaks my thoughts. A wriggling sack next to the railings. I tug it open and lift out a shivering kitten, bones protruding. He licks my hand. My heart swells. It’s been a long time since I felt needed.

“I’ll call you hope.” I whisper as I tuck him inside my coat.

 

I thought nothing could top 2016 professionally but appearing on TV last night, albeit briefly, to talk about writing, being published & mindfulness was such a great experience and an amazing start to the year. You can watch the 3 minute clip here. Or read my blog piece about it here

Hope was written for Friday Fictioneers. A weekly 100 word story challenge inspired by a photo prompt. You can join in and read the other entries over at Rochelle’s blog here

Appearing on TV was an incredible experience – Talking writing, mindfulness & chronic pain.

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Last Thursday I was at a 50th birthday party in Yorkshire when my mobile rang.

‘Is that Louise Jensen?’ asked an unfamiliar voice.

‘Yes.’ I said, one hand clamped over my ear, as I headed for somewhere quieter.

‘This is ITV. Congratulations on your second novel, The Gift,  reaching No.1 in the UK. We know your debut, The Sister also reached the top spot. It’s quite unusual for an author to have two number ones in a year. We would like to come and talk to you. Is that ok?’

My mouth dried as I looked around the kitchen searching for hidden cameras. It had to be a joke. Next door I could hear laughter from the party, or were they laughing at me? Paranoia kicked in and I tripped over my words.

‘’You want to interview…..me?’ I refrained from laughing hysterically or telling them I’m the least remotely interesting person they could choose.

‘Yes. Tomorrow morning.’

img_0369Cue a frantic three-hour drive back to our Christmas chaos house where my husband ran the hoover round at 2 am, and rationalised that at least if it was a joke, we’d have tinsel-free carpets.

The next morning we waited anxiously. I’d already made my teenage son get showered and dressed ‘just in case’.’ He’d recently completed a Level 3 BTEC in Media and I thought he’d find the process interesting, if they turned up of course, but none of us really thought they would, until there was a knock at the door.

The morning passed by in a flash. Claire McGlasson who conducted the interview couldn’t have been nicer and put everyone at ease. My son was allowed to help with the filming and lighting and I felt incredibly relaxed as I chatted about writing, mindfulness and chronic pain. I found it fascinating that it took two hours of filming for a three-minute segment. No wonder movies take so long to make!

There were sound bites of my clip throughout yesterday and the full segment was shown in the evening and I watched it while clutching a large glass of wine. It’s something my family will always remember and I’m so grateful we got the chance to do this. It was a fabulous way to kick off 2017.

You can view the clip here.

Does writing books get easier? Author to author chat with Claire Seeber

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Writing The Sister was such fun. There was no pressure, no deadlines, no expectations. Signing a three-book deal is something I am still super-excited about and very grateful for, but the prospect of writing two more books to a deadline is a little daunting.

It was with great relief I settled down for a chat with Claire Seeber. Claire is currently editing her sixth (sixth!) thriller and having just devoured her latest novel, The Stepmother, in one sitting, I couldn’t wait to bombard her with questions.

Claire, six books! I can’t imagine. That must be an amazing feeling?

It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing it long enough to have written six books! I’m just very grateful anyone still wants to read them!

I’ve found it quite emotional leaving behind the characters in The Sister to begin something fresh. How did you find writing a second book in comparison to your first?

Er..my 2nd book BAD FRIENDS was actually the book I started writing first! I was working full-time as a TV director when I had the idea, inspired by a programme I was making at the time (the book is about a TV producer who gets stalked by someone possibly very close to home). I wrote a few chapters and then left it on the shelf. When I got my first deal with Avon/ HC a few years later, I needed a 2nd book synopsis to prove I’d got more ideas up my sleeve, and BAD FRIENDS was it. Having said that, I remember being taken out to the River Café by my first editor (those were the days! Now it’s a Nandos!) and she asked me what I wanted to write about next, and I said ‘infidelity’. Simple as that, but I think that must have been for my 3rd book NEVER TELL. My books are meant to be in part about things that ‘matter’ as well as being hopefully a bit thrilling.

You certainly achieved that blend with The Stepmother. I’m feeling a lot of pressure to produce something that will be as well received as The Sister has been. How hard was it for you to write a second novel.

I think I was lucky that it wasn’t more difficult to find an idea – I certainly know the ‘2nd book syndrome’ can be horrible, and I was definitely worried that I wouldn’t deliver a book my editor liked as much as my first. Luckily she did – but it didn’t do as well as my first, ironically – though then my 3rd, NEVER TELL, did really well thank goodness.

That’s good and now book 6! I keep looking at the paperback of The Sister which sits on my bookcase and I can’t imagine how thrilling it will be to see another cover on with my name on it. Thankfully the idea for book two came to me as I was wrapping up book one but I’ve no idea what will come after this. Do you have ideas for future stories squirrelled away or do you take it one book at a time?

I always have lots of ideas scribbled down – I’ve learnt that if I don’t write something down IMMEDIATELY, I will forget! If I have a cracking idea at midnight as I’m dozing off, and convince myself I’ll remember in the morning – well I won’t!!! Many an idea’s been lost that way. When it comes to a new book, I sift through things in my head and my notes, and see what feels most important to me at the time, most current etc. Usually I will have a discussion with my editor about what I am writing next, and what she thinks is the best plan too – and that will push me in one direction or another. We don’t always agree, it has to be said! So more ideas, yes! Not sure if they’re any good but I’ve got them!

I have scribbled notes but when I come back to them I can barely decipher my writing! So reviews…. Although the reviews I have been sent for The Sister have all been very kind I’m trying to finish a decent draft of my second novel before I dive into Goodreads and find out what everyone really thinks. I’m not expecting everyone to love it, of course, but I’d rather have the second book written before I read anything that will potentially knock my confidence as a new writer. Did you write your second book before or after you published your first and do you think that makes a difference?

I wrote it after I’d written the first book LULLABY. As I’ve said, I’d had the idea beforehand for BAD FRIENDS, but I think I scrapped those early chapters and started over. I was on a tight deadline with Avon, and I remember it as a pretty stressful time; we’d just moved house into a complete wreck and I had two little boys under three at the time. It was pretty tough to find the time to write it!

Wow – when my boys were that age it was a challenge to even get dressed sometimes! Your reviews are brilliant. Do you feel the pressure to keep up the same standard or are you more relaxed about writing now?

Ah bless you! I could find you some bad reviews! There’s always someone out there who will say something bad; but I have learnt to take it on the chin, though that’s been a relatively long process.   It’s too soul-destroying to take it all personally; we have to realise that the internet breeds critics and everyone thinks they’re entitled to their opinion, (which they are, of course, but there are polite ways of criticising aren’t there?!). I’ve also learnt that people have very different reactions to the same book and that’s normal.

A thicker skin is something I’m going to have to work on I think. I feel quite protective of my characters. With The Sister I wrote Grace’s story as it flowed. I never once thought about genre or marketing. I never intended it to be anything other than what it was. Now, I’m aware I have signed a deal to produce two more psychological thrillers. Do you find genre is something you are very conscious of as you write?

Well, I suppose I’d made a conscious decision with LULLABY that I was writing a certain type of book and I knew that ‘crime’ in general was the biggest seller of the time (I needed to make some money, I had a very feckless now-ex husband & a baby I was desperate to stay at home with). Remember though, this was back in 2004 when the ‘domestic noir’ of today didn’t exist. When I was first looking for an agent in 2005, having written LULLABY, I found they were unsure what bracket I fitted into: it wasn’t straight crime as they knew it. It seems really odd now to remember meetings at Harper Collins HQ where they were unsure what readership to market, and had pie-charts and things about demographics! Then Gone Girl came along and the market EXPLODED!! But that was after my first 4 books had been published!

 In answer to your question, I knew I wanted to write what I called psychological thrillers (of course they’re called that generally nowadays), and those were stories with strong female protagonists, who had to deal with some frightening scenario in their ordinary lives, and usually had some kind of relationship issues/ romance thrown in too. So it wasn’t a genre I had particularly chosen, more a type of book I wanted to write, because I liked reading it. The closest contemporary books to what I was writing were Nicci French, when I started out. My ‘genre’ in my mind was a combination of lots of things – dangerous, scary, but a bit comic too, with a hint of romance often (though not always) – and about why people do bad things to each other.

That’s something that has always fascinated me too. I’m not very good at planning, I don’t even know what I’m having for lunch. Working to a deadline I think I need to be more organised. Do you outline your plots?

Yes and no. It’s a good idea to, I think, if you are on a deadline, because it can be easy to go all over the shop if you don’t. I did with my first, because I’d never written a whole long book before, and it meant I knew what was coming next. I did with THE STEPMOTHER, my new book, because I was under a lot of time pressure. In between, not always!

Planning is something I want to explore. I feel it has been a massive jump, writing for fun in my bedroom to writing to a deadline. How do you feel the writing process has changed for you from your first book to your sixth.

It’s definitely not so much fun, to be honest, once it’s a ‘job’ – as you’ve found out! Though the paradox is that you know someone wants it at least! My first book was very much escapism: I used to disappear into the world and it was a break from washing dishes and changing nappies.   I still do disappear into it, to an extent, but with a different mindset eg knowledge of deadlines/ realities of knowing I’m not the next best-selling Agatha Christie etc!

I think Agatha Christie is definitely in a league of her own! There’s plenty of books around on how to create a good thriller. Is there a formula?

I always write the best book I can; I want to write to a certain standard and to keep the pages turning for the reader, that’s the key to thriller writing, in my mind.   Not too ludicrous a plot, and page-turning! With characters the reader can believe in, if not necessarily like.

 Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with me Claire.

You can find out more about Claire’s (6!!) books here.

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Author chat with crime writer Jane Isaac

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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.

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– 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.

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Author Chat – Kerry Fisher

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After The Lie is the story of how a teenager makes a mistake in the 1980s, then spends the next thirty years trying to keep it a secret, not even admitting the truth to her husband and children. She suffers the consequences of her small lie growing more toxic as it passes down the generations until the original secret is nowhere near as bad as the betrayal of lying to everyone for so long.

This was the first book of Kerry Fisher’s I had read and I was absolutely gripped. Kerry has such a unique writing style, refreshingly original and not a cliché in sight. It’s one of those books that feels a real treat to read. In real life Kerry is bubbly, articulate and just a little bit bonkers and I was thrilled she could spare the time for a chat.

 

– Kerry, I absolutely adored reading After the Lie, it’s one of those stories I wanted to carry on and on.

– Thanks, Louise. I’m thrilled to hear that because I battled with this story. I really wanted to show the difference between parenting in the 1980s and today. The 1980s weren’t so long ago but the landscape has changed so dramatically. I remember getting told off at school for saying, ‘Blimey’ whereas I’m just relieved if my teenagers steer clear of the F-word! I’m so grateful that I grew up in a pre-internet age without my mistakes being plastered all over Facebook. I’m always trying to impress on my children that anything you post on the internet is there forever but I’ve no idea if it sinks in. *Cue horrendous selfie fiasco*

– It is such a worry isn’t it, bringing children up in this digital age. I’m sure my Mum did have more to worry about than how many times I fell off my bike, or whether I’d be back in time for tea but 2016 can be a very frightening time for Mums can’t it? I both love and loathe the internet and it’s a constant worry how to keep my children safe.

– I’m actually a bit like Lydia in the book as far as the internet is concerned. I stop short of hacking into their Facebook accounts but I have a rule of no phones or iPads upstairs and all computers in the kitchen. I recently had a horrendously embarrassing conversation with the guy who came round to sort out our broadband – I asked for parental controls and he read out a list of the types of websites to block. He was about twenty-three and started to blush, which set me off and we both stood there staring at the floor, saying, ‘Porn, yep, sex, yep.’

– That’s so funny, Kerry! I can imagine Lydia from After the Lie doing the same. I found her so real that a few days after I finished your book and had a tough decision to make regarding parenting my teenage son I found myself wondering what Lydia would do and I made my decision based on what I thought her response would be. How do you develop your characters?

– All my novels are very character driven. In this book, it was Lydia’s mother who came to me first, someone controlling and obsessed about what other people think. I wanted to see what effect a mother like that would have on a daughter and what coping strategies the child would have to develop to survive her upbringing.

I tend to have a rough idea of the characters and their basic characteristics but without wishing to sound pretentious and all ‘struggling artiste’, I have to plunge into the story to see how they develop. I always keep in mind as I write the sorts of personality traits that are liable to create the most conflict – after all, no one wants to read about happy people because it’s boring!

– That’s true – I sometimes feel guilty for giving my characters such a hard time but it’s interesting to see what they’re made of.

I’m finding it a constant balancing act juggling editing my first book with writing the second, while working and raising a family. I’m sure that if it weren’t for my husband we wouldn’t eat half the time at the moment. Are you structured with your time?

– Louise, I guard my writing time quite ruthlessly – although people tend to assume that if you’re writing a novel, you can take a day off when you want, go out for lunch, meet friends for coffee, I don’t do any of that except on very rare occasions. Because I have a naughty Lab/Giant Schnauzer who assumes that I am there purely for her own convenience, I escape her by dropping my kids at school and going straight to Starbucks where I write for three hours. Then I walk the dog and try to stretch out my neck and shoulders after being hunched over a computer all morning. In the afternoon, I get on top of my life, deal with the admin side of publishing, blogs, marketing, publicity and try and get a few more words down before the children get home.

– Every moment is precious. When you wrote your first book did you ever dream you’d be published four times?

– I wasn’t sure I’d ever be published at all! I self-published my first book, The Class Ceiling, after despairing of ever finding an agent or a publisher, but that kick-started everything for me. I proved there was a market for the story and it was re-published by a traditional publishing house as The School Gate Survival Guide. I don’t take anything for granted though – editors and tastes change and what’s popular today might be old hat tomorrow. I’m just enjoying the moment – it’s a real privilege to have my books reach readers and I still feel an absolute thrill when readers take the time to write a review or contact me to say how much they’ve enjoyed one of my books.

– It’s been so lovely to chat, Kerry. Thanks so much for your time.

– Thank you for inviting me onto your blog!

 

UK: http://amzn.to/1ST8uWC

US: http://amzn.to/1WTpJpe

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Author Interview with Louise Walters

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Louise Walters is enjoying well deserved success with the phenomenal reception of her debut novel Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase. She found time in her busy schedule to answer a few questions about the writing process.

What was your starting point for your book? Did you have a firm idea of the plot when you started or an idea you played around with developing?

I had a few starting points: a suitcase I own with a label with “Mrs D E Sinclair” written on it; my experiences of working in an indie bookshop, The Old Hall Bookshop in Brackley, which my bookshop in the novel is based on; and a letter I once found in a book from a Polish squadron leader written at the end of WW2. I put them all together in my imagination, mixed them up, tweaked stuff,  and ended up, eight years later, with my first published novel.

How did you develop your characters? Did they evolve naturally or did you start off with a character sheet?

I thought about them for quite a long time and just tried to “see” them. Along the way I did a character questionnaire, similar to those that actors use, to try and sort the characters out in my mind. But that was quite late in the eight year process. I just had to get to know them first, and write about them and re-write, and re-write…. I regard them as real people, which sounds strange, but that’s the only way for me.

I see you graduated from the OU was that in creative writing? How important do you feel writing courses are?

My degree is in Literature but the last two courses were in Creative Writing. They were pretty useful, not least because they introduced me to new writers.

How structured are you when you write? Do you have set days and times. Do you set yourself word or time targets per week?

No targets. With five kids life can be hectic and unpredictable, as you know, so I don’t have daily word counts. I write most weekdays for anything from 1 to 5 hrs. School holidays are a bit different… then I switch to working in the evenings and sometimes at the weekends.

Not having an office at home I tend to have to room hop according to what my family are doing, although I do like it to be pretty quiet. What environment do you like to write in?

I can work pretty much anywhere as long as I have my laptop.

Could you please tell me a little about the drafting process, i.e. do you just write anything and then review it when finished or try to get it right as you go along?

Hmm. I try not to be too picky with a first draft, especially if I’m feeling “inspired” and want to get that story written down. But sometimes I edit as I go. The bulk of my writing on Mrs S was actually re-writing, editing, polishing.

If you think of something that would fit in later in your book would you write it out of sequence or just make notes.

Whichever. I have ideas in the strangest of places and at odd times, I’m sure you do too! I do go back and forth in my editing too… I have a notebook full of stuff like “chapters 37, 40 and 42 too weak. Nothing happens. Add stuff.” That’s a genuine example from my current notebook for my Work in Progress (WiP).

How many drafts of your book did you do before you were happy with it.

I’m not sure I am happy with it! There are always things I think I could have changed – but it’s too late now. It went through several edits… I didn’t completely re-write, but changed enough things to warrant saving it as a new draft. I got up to 22 of those. Then I had further edits to do once I found an agent, and then a publisher. It can feel as though you’re going to be stuck editing for ever. But working with an editor was the best experience, and I learned a lot about writing from that. An editor really helps to whip your work into shape.

Thanks Louise, it has been really interesting to hear a published author’s perspective on the writing process, it has given me plenty to think about.