Today I’m taking part in the #MyWritingProcess the international blog tour where writers follow a thread across the blogs of lots of different fellow wordsmiths. The task is quite simple, once nominated you answer the same four questions as those that have gone before you.
I have been nominated by the very lovely and multi-talented Jan Edwards who is an editor for Alchemy Press. Jan also writes short stories, fantasy novels and is also the author of the deliciously dark novel Sex, Lies and Family Ties under the name of Sarah J Graham.
So, the questions:
1) What am I working on?
As a features writer for an international magazine with a regular readership of over 180,000 people each week, I’m always working on something ranging from travel and culture articles to interviews and food and wine stories. On average I’ll have a monthly workload of fifteen different features to research and write added to this I still pitch ideas to editors of other English speaking magazines and trade press.
My first foray into the fiction arena spurned a novella called, Willow and the Motorway Horses, which tells the story of a small group of horses living next to Junction 10 of the M6 motorway near to Walsall in the West Midlands. In a bid to stay in their field the equine friends disguise themselves as other animals, thanks to the endeavours of the sewing machine operating pony, Willow. It’s written in the style of a children’s book with lots of hooks and repetition, however it is most definitely not suitable for children.
I am now working on a novel that has the working title ‘52’ but once complete will be called, Wasps in a Jar. It’s a comedy about Beryl, a woman with secondary breast cancer who after being given a one-year life expectancy decides to fill her final weeks doing something new; it is however definitely not a bucket list book.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Firstly because the story is told from the point of view of a fifty-nine year old woman and is written by a fifty-two year old man, whereas many similar works seem to be written by women. It’s not a misery-lit piece of fiction; at times it’s uplifting and funny and has in my opinion, enough moments of sadness to create a good balance.
As I come from a theatre and playwriting background, (I have had over 50 plays performed professionally), the story is very dialogue driven, as Beryl speaks direct to the reader. I think if used appropriately, dialogue can be as engaging as prose and my aim is for the reader becomes less of a voyeur and more of a participant in Beryl’s story.
Best selling author, Kate Long, once kindly described my writing style as ‘chaotic syntax’ which I have happily used to describe my writing style ever since; maybe that in itself makes it differ from other works in the same genre.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I write comedy because I seem to have fallen into that niche through playwriting: Eighty-five per-cent of my catalogue is comedies. I would love to be able to write a gripping thriller full of brooding machismo with the odd femme fatale thrown in for good measure. But the truth of it is, I’m much more of a picnic in the lay-by kind of writer who is more at home with folk in buttoned up cardigans and the odd Bedlington terrier thrown in for good measure.
I am an observer of people: downright nosey some would say, and so I like to write about the eccentricities that exists in us all; no matter how mundane a situation is, I think if you look hard enough you’ll find some comedy lurking in the background.
4) How does my writing process work?
Having a modicum of OCD means my writing has to be organised. For my non-fiction work, obviously I have monthly deadlines which I have to work to, so I need to divide my time equally between research and copy. I say equally because if you give yourself too much time to research you end up going off at a tangent and never start to write, so limiting your research time means you don’t have time to get side-tracked.
With fiction, I have to plan it too. I work out what will happen in my story, divide it into chapters and then write a brief for what will occur in each chapter. I find this helps me to stay focused and keeps the linear plot in my head so when I come to sub-plots, it can feel like I’m writing something new. Another bonus is, if I get stuck on a chapter I can leave it and write another one and come back to it later. For example with, Wasps in a Jar, I wrote the first half of the novel in sequence, chapters 1 through to 26 but then out of synch I wrote chapters 38, 41 and 48. I wouldn’t suit every writer, but it suits me.
I now nominate, Flight of the Uberbites, author Gabriele Martin, who I have known since meeting her at a beach party in Italy four years ago. Hopefully Gabriele will answer the same 4 questions before March 15 and pass on the thread to another writer.