White Bodies is the new novel from author, Jane Robins and is due to be released by HQ on 28th December 2017.
‘He’s so handsome and clever and romantic. I just wished he hadn’t forced Tilda under the water and held her there so long.’
Callie loves Tilda. She’s her sister, after all. And she’s beautiful and successful.
Tilda loves Felix. He’s her husband. Successful and charismatic, he is also controlling, suspicious and, possibly, dangerous. Still, Tilda loves Felix.
And Callie loves Tilda. Very, very much.
So she’s determined to save her. But the cost could destroy them all…
Sometimes we love too much.
I’ve reviewed the book below and we also have an extract but first, Jane joins me to chat about going from narrative non-fiction to psychological suspense. Thank you for joining me, Jane. Over to you.
When I was young (just out of university young) I thought ‘one day I’ll write a book’ and I think I had in mind a novel, though I’m not sure what type of novel. Then I shelved the idea for twenty years because, like most of us, I had to make a living. I became a journalist and worked for some great organisations including The Economist, the BBC, and The Independent. It was only when I found myself, in my early 40s, with a small child and wanting to work from home, that I allowed that dream of writing a book to resurface. At that stage I didn’t feel able to write fiction because I couldn’t afford two years or so, with no income, writing something that might sell for a very low sum, or not at all. It was simply too risky. With non-fiction you sell your book to a publisher on the basis of a proposal, and get a chunk of money up front.
Writers rarely talk about the financial side of their careers – the filthy lucre. But the truth is that most of us are not prepared to starve in a garret for our art. It’s not that we lack commitment, I think. It’s rather that we’re not convinced that we have a talent so almighty that it’s worth sacrificing everything else. Not just our income, but duties to our friends and families and duty to be a reasonably productive member of society.
So, when I was offered a contract to write historical non-fiction, I was thrilled. Money up front! Working from home! Over the following years I unlearned my punchy journalistic writing style and tried to write in a more relaxed and lyrical way, hoping that the reader would be happy to stay in my company over hundreds of pages. I found it a very different craft from that required to hold someone’s attention for a mere 600 or 800 words – the length of a newspaper article.
From the beginning, I thought a lot about structure and how to present my historical facts in such a way that the story had a strong narrative pull. I wanted to introduce as much suspense and tension as possible without distorting the underlying, factual story. All three of my non-fiction books have a natural narrative arc – ending in dramatic trials. The first is about the crazy life of Queen Caroline who was put on trial for adultery by her husband, King George IV (the silly Prince Regent in Blackadder.) The other two are about serial killers – George Smith, The Brides in the Bath murderer, who faced trial in 1915, and Dr John Bodkin Adams, an Eastbourne family doctor accused of killing hundreds of his patients. He was tried at the Old Bailey in 1957.
It took ten years to write these three books, and by the end I felt sufficiently confident of my storytelling skills to attempt a novel. At last! Money was still a problem, but with my son now a teenager at secondary school I was able to take a part-time job teaching at the London School of Economics. With that income in the bank, I could spend my spare time writing White Bodies.by
His Guilty Secret is the latest novel from Hélene Fermont. It was released by Fridhem Publishing on 27th November.
Secrets & Lies Are Dangerous.
When Jacques’s body is discovered in a hotel room his wife, Patricia, suspects he has been hiding something from her.
Why was he found naked and who is the woman that visited his grave on the day of the funeral? Significantly, who is the unnamed beneficiary Jacques left a large sum of money to in his will and what is the reason her best friend, also Jacques’s sister, Coco, refuses to tell her what he confided to her?
Struggling to find out the truth, Patricia visits Malmö where her twin sister Jasmine lives and is married to her ex boyfriend. But the sisters relationship is toxic and when a family member dies shortly after, an old secret is revealed that shines a light on an event that took place on their tenth birthday.
As one revelation after another is revealed, Patricia is yet to discover her husband’s biggest secret and what ultimately cost him his life.
His Guilty Secret is an unafraid examination of the tangled bonds between siblings, the lengths we go to in protecting our wrongdoings, and the enduring psychological effects this has on the innocent…and the not so innocent.
For my stop on the blog tour today, Hélene and Fridhem Publishing have shared an extract from His Guilty Secret…
“I’m sorry I frightened you but we need to talk.” Patrik’s frustration was building. “You may think we can just continue like we are but I’m not willing to live like this any longer. I want you to return home where we can decide what to do next.” Clearly, no matter how hard he tried to get close to her and understand what she wanted from him and their marriage, Patrik knew that unless she was willing to put their relationship first they may as well get a divorce. He’d loved her for too long to just give up on their future together.
Pulling the towel tighter around her naked body, Jasmine replied, “I’ll get dressed first, if that’s okay with you?”
“Sure, I’ll wait for you in the kitchen and make coffee.” He sighed with relief. Perhaps she’d concluded they couldn’t continue like this too.
Five minutes later she joined him at the kitchen table wearing a white top and torn jeans, her bare feet and damp hair accentuating her vulnerability. Pouring her a cup of coffee and watching her take a sip of the hot liquid, he said, “I want us to give our marriage another go. Please tell me if that’s what you want as well.”
He held out a hand and reached for hers, his touch making her tremble with desire for him… withdrawing her hand, she replied, “I want the same as you…But your sister seems to be of a different opinion. You know, she even accused me of having an affair! Matilda’s never approved of me from the start. She told me Ruben saw me with some man in a bar not so long ago, a client whose name escapes me. Since when do I answer to your sister?” Jasmine was terrified he’d believe Matilda over her.
“You don’t answer to anyone except yourself. The reason she and Ruben worry about me is because she knows how miserable I’ve been for quite some time.”
“Great! So you’ve confided in them behind my back?” Jasmine replied in an angry voice, livid they interfered in her personal life.by
Hi Georgia. Thank you for joining me today to talk about your book, We Were The Lucky Ones. What was the writing experience like for you considering this book was based on family history? Did you feel a certain responsibility toward the story?
I felt a huge sense of responsibility! It was important to me to do everything I could to capture my family’s experience in a way that did them—along with the time period—justice. I tried not to leave any stone unturned in my research, and I thought long and hard once the research was complete about how best to bring the story to life. I was nervous, to be honest, to share the finished product with my relatives, as there was no audience whose feedback mattered more to me! Luckily, the family has been incredibly supportive, and has responded to the book with nothing but love and appreciation.
What is your writing process like – are you a planner and how do you approach the editing of your novel?
With a story of such broad scope (the Kurcs’ paths spanned seven years and five continents), I knew I’d need to take a methodical approach to my writing process. I began by dropping my research findings into a timeline, which I color-coded by relative so I could track who was where/when. From there I created an outline for the book, then chapter summaries, then finally began the process of putting the story to paper. I kept the manuscript close for years as I edited and polished before finally gathering up the courage to pass it along to a few close acquaintances, then to a freelance editor, and finally to an agent.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I love to write in the mornings, once my son is off to school. I also enjoy wearing headphones while I work. Even when I’m alone in my office I’ll slip on a pair, as I find the extra bit of quiet puts me in the proper headspace to write, and helps to drown out the annoying little voice in the back of my mind that likes to remind of the (non-writing) to-do’s I’ve chosen to ignore. If I’m in a writing rut, I’ll try working at a coffee shop, or on my sofa (if I have the house to myself), or in the library—often a change of scenery is just what I need to boost my creativity.
If you were only allowed to own three novels, which three would you pick and why?
That’s a tough one! If I had to pick, I suppose I’d choose City of Thieves by David Benioff—a fast-paced and brilliantly-told story of the author’s Holocaust-era family history that inspired me years ago to tackle my own book. I’d also pick Wonder, a Y/A novel (although I’d argue one equally suited for adults) about a young 5th grade boy with a facial deformity, struggling to fit in. And finally, at the risk of sounding self-centered, I suppose I’d pick my book, so I could share it someday with my children (and their kids, and so on). I’ve read We Were the Lucky Ones more times than I can count, but I find with each pass, my own everyday “problems” seem a whole lot less daunting, and I’m reminded of just how lucky I am to be here. I hope someday my children (and future generations) will take away a similar perspective and sense of gratitude.by
Have you ever wanted to immerse yourself in the world of magic, witches and wizards?
The British Library is currently offering a very magical opportunity to explore divination, potions and discover enchanting creatures.
Harry Potter: The History of Magic exhibition is a unique experience which includes rare books, manuscripts and magical objects from the Library’s own collection that captures traditions of folklore and magic all of which are at the heart of the Harry Potter stories.
Open until 28th February 2018 and in partnership with Bloomsbury, this exhibition also includes original drafts and drawings (on display for the first time,) by J.K Rowling and Illustrator Jim Kay who is responsible for the recent beautiful illustrated editions of the Harry Potter novels.
The Ripley scroll explains how to create a Philosopher’s stone, you can gaze at Sirius in the night sky and there are hand-coloured pictures of dragons, unicorns and a phoenix.by
Part of the battle when writing is having faith in yourself.
The internal editor can be a very harsh critic. I know I am my own worst enemy when it comes to my own writing.
Whilst doing National Novel Writing Month this year, I struggled enormously to keep that pest of a nagging voice at bay long enough to get some words typed.
The advice many writers have given when doing interviews for this blog is to have faith and to not get too obsessed with making the first draft perfect.
One exercise I have found to be helpful when I’ve had trouble telling the editor in my head to kindly shut the hell up, is to open a new word document or find a blank piece of paper and just write.
However, the twist is that I close my eyes. It’s quite a fun thing to do.by
It’s my final stop on the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas. Joining me today is Matthew Redford, the author of the short story, Who Killed The Mince Spy?
Tenacious carrot, detective inspector Willie Wortell is back to reveal the deviously delicious mind behind the crime of the festive season in this hugely entertaining, and utterly unconventional, short story.
When Mitchell the Mince Spy is horrifically murdered by being over baked in a fan oven, it falls to the Food Related Crime team to investigate this heinous act. Why was Mitchell killed? Who is the mysterious man with a long white beard and why does he carry a syringe? Why is it that the death of a mince spy smells so good?
Detective Inspector Willie Wortel, the best food sapiens police officer, once again leads his team into a series of crazy escapades. Supported by his able homo sapiens sergeant Dorothy Knox and his less able fruit officers Oranges and Lemons, they encounter Snow White and the seven dwarf cabbages as well as having a run in with the food sapiens secret service, MI GasMark5.
With a thigh slap here, and a thigh slap there, the team know Christmas is coming as the upper classes are acting strangely – why else would there be lords a leaping, ladies dancing and maids a milking?
And if that wasn’t enough, the Government Minister for the Department of Fisheries, Agriculture and Rural Trade (DAFaRT) has only gone and given the turkeys a vote on whether they are for or against Christmas.
Let the madness begin!
“This is taken from the beginning of Chapter 1 where we are first introduced to Mitchell the Mince Pie who is working undercover and who is danger from a mysterious man with a long white beard.”
The soft sound of castanets drifted across the morning daybreak as effortlessly as a butterfly meandering over a garden in summer.
Except this was no summer day.
It was a cold, brisk December morning. A frost had settled overnight, not too thick to be troublesome, but thick enough to mean that car windscreens needed to be scraped with whatever device the driver had to hand. For Mitchell it was the back of an unused library card which he had found lurking in his wallet, not that he could actually remember signing up for one in the first place. No matter, it was coming in useful now.by
Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.
The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can. Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.
The scene is a truck. It’s nighttime and apart from the truck, the road is deserted.
Your character can be of your own choosing. There is a gun and a rusty nail on the passenger seat.
The date is 8th December 1985….
Continue the story.by
Recluse Millionaire, Reluctant Bride by Sun Chara has been released today by HarperImpulse.
Is his reluctant bride a business risk or a personal necessity?
Stan Rogers, recluse millionaire, must negotiate a risky deal with Stella Ryan, the exotic beauty from his past, to gain custody of his son. But how can he close the deal with her, the one and only woman who flips his switches and pegs him as the enemy?
Martial artist Stella knows she should steer clear of Stan, the man who had shattered her heart and could still destroy her. Four years have passed since their hostile business deal, and now, the American financier is proposing holy matrimony…but she’s the reluctant bride wondering, what’s he up to?
To celebrate the release of her new book, Sun Chara and HarperImpulse have shared an extract. Enjoy!
“Doesn’t look like snow to me, not by a long shot,” she said again. “At least not for another couple of months.”
“We like to be prepared in case it’s early this year.” He hauled himself off the sofa and reached out for the blanket and pillow.
She clutched them tighter, like a protective device. “What about trekking to the limo and driving from there?”
“Not in this darkness, unless it’s an absolute emergency,” he said, tone flat. “Dangerous, especially if you’re not familiar with the trail.”
“To me, this is an emergency.”
“Not enough to risk a broken leg in a pot hole? Be serious, Ms. Ryan.” He raised a brow. “What’s one more day going to matter? You could leave early tomorrow without risk.”
What he said made sense, but she didn’t have to like it. She certainly didn’t want to stay shacked up with him, miles from anywhere. It was time to be proactive, and get her own ticket outa this sticky mess.
“You’re invited for dinner. Minni ’ll—”
“I’m not hungry.”
His indifference infuriated…then she glanced down at the bedding in
her hands. Odd, she hadn’t had them when she first lay down by the fireside.
She frowned, and an image pushed its way to the forefront of her mind. Somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, she’d felt a gentle hand lift her head and slip the pillow beneath…cover her with the blanket. She thought she’d been dreaming but—
“Did…uh…you bring the blanket?”by
I can’t quite believe it’s time for another gift guide. It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I compiled the one for last year. I love looking at people’s various gift guides as you’ll possibly come across the perfect present for someone.
This guide is for writers and readers and I’ve picked some things I know I would love to receive.
The first gift I have found is this fantastic Bespoke Book Subscription from The Willoughby Book Club.
There are options for a three, six or twelve month subscription. It’s tailored to the person getting the subscription so whether the book lover in your life is into romance, classics, mystery or sci-fi, this subscription has you covered.
It comes in a gift tin with details on how the subscription can be activated and each month, a new book will arrive gift wrapped.
These pencils I think would make a wonderful stocking filler for the reader and writer in your life. This very cute and colourful book lover pencil set are five 2B lead pencils.
Embossed with gold foil, each one has a different phrase: ‘Just one more chapter,’ ‘Read More Books,’ ‘I like Big Books,’ ‘I’d rather be reading,’ and finally the classic ‘Once Upon a Time.’
There’s also a handy eraser on the end of each pencil. These particular ones are available via The Literary Emporium.by
A final (finally!) blog post prior to publication!
Firstly, I owe a huge apology to Laura. I’ve been promising this new post for what would seem like to her (and is) yonks now. No excuses, though believe me, I’d like to use a few…I simply haven’t gotten around to it. To say it’s been busy would be to put things mildly, though that’s mainly been down to the day job leaving me so tired at night. That isn’t likely to change anytime soon, so I’m following the advice I’ve always been given about writing, and making the time.
So…news time. As of the time I write this (the 3rd December), my debut book will be released in less than two weeks, December 16th to be precise. I’m toying with the idea of actually being awake at midnight for a change just so I can watch it go ‘live’ on the download sites. As of yet, I can’t make my mind up if this is a dumb idea or not? I kind of expect, if I don’t stay up, to wake up to find it’s all been a dream and I’m not getting published. You wouldn’t believe the amount of my writer friends who’ve told me how stupid I’m being when I say that.
Yes, as of quite shortly, I will have accomplished a major dream and joined the ranks of the published writer, and have earned the right to call myself an ‘Author’. And I’m still waiting for it to fall down around my ears. Can’t help it, sorry. A big thank you has to go to Laura for supporting me on this site over the last few years, she’s absolutely wonderful and has always been there for me. I can only wish her as much luck with her own writing. You know where I am!
And what’s been keeping me so busy? Apart from the day job, that is. It’s all been a little bit of a rush job the last few months, getting things ready with the book. I’d been told that this may be the case by my publishers but I had no idea how much of a rush job it would turn out to be. You see, my Editor was ill for much of the last few weeks when I was supposed to get the edits through, so it was a case of hurry-up-and-wait and then ‘get-these-back-to-me-by-when. I think I got the edits in and out, and in and back and out in a space of about two weeks of mayhem. Not too much to do in the end, though a few plot inconsistencies were uncovered in the process. Nothing major, apart from revealing a couples grave at the end who’d been nice and alive all through the book. So, see, minor.by
My next stop on the 12 days of Clink Street Christmas has arrived. Author Daisy Mae_224, the author of Dating Daisy shares her traditional Christmas. Over to you, Daisy Mae_224…
I’ve decided honesty is the best policy. If you are reading a Christmas blog, you probably expect to read how much I love Christmas. How I can’t wait for it to come round – again. How I love the preparations and the traditions etc… Well – you may just be disappointed.
I really dislike Christmas! And I am not Mrs Scrooge either!
– So now, I’ll try and explain why –
For starters, I’m not religious. I do actually like that part of Christmas however, as that is about story-telling, kindness, and involves the Nativity, children, and singing beautiful Christmas carols. It is rather magical to light candles in a church and sing Hark the Herald at the top of your voice on a cold winter’s evening.
It’s the commercial side of things which are so abhorrent. Somehow we are all caught in a trap of “finding something someone might like.” Also, even those little stocking fillers cost a fortune. And the vast majority, beautifully packaged they may be, will just end up in land fill sites. Having cleared out and downsized from my 6 bedroom house a few years ago, I am in fear of clutter. Never again will I be doing all that!
Let me say up front it’s not so much the cost. I’m a generous person and I love giving things to people and spreading a little happiness. It’s just that when the world is full of starving, poverty-stricken people, how can we the rich of the Western world, be quite so greedy. It makes me feel so uncomfortable. I don’t like opening my presents as I feel so guilty about that. I sit with a pile next to me and watch everyone else open theirs, and I just don’t want to do it.
The sad fact now is that as I am divorced and my parents have died, I can’t think of Christmas as the family occasion it used to be. I miss my parents, especially at Christmas. My children divide themselves up for a day each between myself and Voldemort. There is always a big row about which day is for who, and I dread it.
Then there’s the food. It isn’t a great Christmas to be sweating in the kitchen over an enormous and gastronomically fashionable Christmas dinner. How often have I downed a few gin and tonics one by one, stuck in the kitchen, while everyone else is laughing in the lounge. Because it’s supposed to be such an amazing dinner, it’s very stressful. Mostly they can’t all decide on one meal, so I’m trying to cook a turkey, a ham and a salmon for example, all at the same time. It just doesn’t work! And I’ve never been very good at gravy!
I have to say I like to plan the day so we don’t just “sit around looking at the tea cups!” Last year, soon after the children arrived on Christmas Eve, we went out for lunch at a New Forest pub, following a dog walk on Canada Common. When we got home, we all jumped in Edward’s amazingly hot, clean, sparklingly fresh, hot tub with a few mugs of tea.by
It’s time for the 12 Days of Clink Street Christmas and today, author C.J. Bentley joins me with her book, The Shield which is book one in the Finder Series.
People lose their belongings. That is a fact of life. It can happen by accident, but sometimes it can happen when you put them in a very safe place and forget where that safe place is. Not many people are good at finding them again.
A young, gutsy girl with a kind heart, who’s searching for her own identity growing up in the 1960s, just happens to be very good at finding things. Can she be the one to help return whatever is lost – anywhere and at any time – to its original owner?
With the help of a beautiful yet mysterious wise woman and a chivalrous knight she does just that. She finds and returns his shield, lost in battle, which unbeknown to her holds a secret that is important to his King, the safety of the Kingdom and the life of the daughter of his best friend.
The Shield is the first story in The Finder Series, taking our heroine on extraordinary journeys back in time. Her first adventure takes place in Medieval England in 1340 where she meets King Edward III, his wife Philippa and their son, who will later become the Black Prince.
C.J. Bentley has shared an extract from The Shield with us today.
“Can you lot see that dust cloud over there?” Jeanette was facing the field and had to move her head to where she meant as her hands were full. “It looks as though it’s coming this way I wonder what it could be”.
“Sometimes you get dust clouds when there hasn’t been much rain, the wind whips up and disturbs the dust, you know a bit like in the desert, mini tornados”, Richard liked his geography just as I liked my history. As we were so intent on carrying the heavy shield between us and joking as to who the first person to let go would be, we didn’t notice what was happening in the distance.
“Can you lot move around so I can see, my back is where you are looking,” Hugh turning studied the dust cloud for a while, “looks like a horse coming towards us don’t you think?”
“I think you must be eating lots of carrots if you can see a horse that far away,’ Linda moved her head round and watched the dust cloud approach, “do you know Hugh I think you are right it is a horse with somebody riding it and quite fast, looks like some sort of a flag flying too”.
“I think we should put this down and run,” Richard looked quite scared.
“Don’t be daft you lot, it’s probably one of the girls from the riding stables riding towards us trying to frighten us, if we stand our ground she will stop”. I wished I felt as confident as I sounded but something about the ‘cloud’ coming towards us reminded me of something, something, or someone, it couldn’t possibly be what I thought it was.
The way the person confidently rode the horse and looked to be encased in shiny armour which flashed as the sun hit it, the white horse moved in a colourful swathe of material in blues and reds, swirling around his legs as he galloped towards us. The shine of the rider’s metal suit of armour. The long pole from his foot to past his head, which was encased with a plumed helmet, was flying a coloured flag on the top. It all reminded me of my favourite book, ‘Ivanhoe’. What we were looking at was surely an apparition, my imagination playing tricks on me, but on the others too. Strange we could all see it, so no apparition then.by
A big welcome and hello to Corrie Jackson and the blog tour for her new novel, The Perfect Victim which was released by Zaffre on 16th November.
Husband, friend, colleague . . . killer?
Charlie and Emily Swift are the Instagram-perfect couple: gorgeous, successful and in love. But then Charlie is named as the prime suspect in a gruesome murder and Emily’s world falls apart. Desperate for answers, she turns to Charlie’s troubled best friend, London Herald journalist, Sophie Kent. Sophie knows police have the wrong man – she trusts Charlie with her life.
Then Charlie flees. Sophie puts her reputation on the line to clear his name. But as she’s drawn deeper into Charlie and Emily’s unravelling marriage, she realises that there is nothing perfect about the Swifts. As she begins to question Charlie’s innocence, something happens that blows the investigation – and their friendship – apart.
Now Sophie isn’t just fighting for justice, she’s fighting for her life.
Corrie and Zaffre have kindly shared an extract from The Perfect Victim today. Enjoy!
I wiped the rain from my eyes and lurched towards the hut nearest the forest. I ran my torch over the door; it was padlocked. I pressed my ear to the door but I couldn’t hear anything over the wind. I did a circuit of the building; no windows, no other way in except through the door. My fingers tightened around the rock; I’d have to bash open the padlock.
‘Kate!’ I raked the darkness with my torch but I couldn’t see her. My gaze fell on something on the ground and I crouched down for a closer look. Was that blood? I inched forwards, following the trail with my torch beam. It ran across the gravel, in the direction of the forest. I hesitated for a split-second then turned back towards the hut. As I did, my torch landed on a man, standing ten feet away from me, his hands jammed in the pockets of his waterproof.
‘What are you doing?’ The wind carried his gravelly voice towards me.
‘I – I’m looking for someone. A woman. I think she’s inside this hut.’
He edged towards me, on the tips of his toes. ‘That’s not possible, Miss. I’ve just been in that hut. Nothing but farming equipment in there.’
I tightened my grip round the rock and shone my torch in his face. I couldn’t see much; he was wearing a woolly hat, and his chin was buried in a scarf. ‘Then you won’t mind showing me.’
He cocked his head to one side. ‘And you are?’by
Hi Isabella, thank you for joining me today. Can you tell me about what your typical writing day is like?
Thank you for having me on your blog! My typical writing day consists of waking up to my children’s chatting and playing, getting them dressed, preparing breakfast and taking them to school. Then, when I get back home, I sit in my office and start writing. I am most productive in the morning, when I have a clear mind, and feel the most motivation. After my children come back from nursery and school, I have to find any moment I can to continue writing; after putting them to bed, when they are at activities, and any other moment I can find – which isn’t always easy.
What’s the best and most challenging thing about writing your first novel?
The best part of writing The Beta Mum, Adventures in Alpha Land, was when I felt like I had written a really good passage, and thought people would enjoy it. I once laughed at what I wrote, which is usually a good sign. They say that if you are bored writing then your reader will be bored. You have to keep the writing alive and fun if you want your reader to continue reading. If I can move someone to feel something when they read my novel, that is success to me.
The most challenging? The entire process is challenging! Writing the book, word after word, until you finish typing the last word. Then the editing. And more editing. Then sending it off to agents and publishers. Then, once it has been published, promoting your book and trying to get sales. It is like an intense obstacle course over years.
What’s your favourite word and why?
That’s difficult for me to answer! I don’t have a favourite, I like all words, whether simple or complicated. To me, each word has a purpose, a meaning and a place, so all of them are important in their own way.
What was your writing process like from your idea to final draft? Did you plan? How did you approach the first sentence?
When I first started writing my novel, The Beta Mum, the story line was completely different than this one and it also had a completely different title. I had a general idea of what subject I wanted to write about – the Alpha mums in a nursery setting in west London – but the plot changed completely after I started the Faber Academy novel writing course. There, I received a lot of input, both positive and negative, and I found a new story to tell. I also learned about writing an outline and now in the future, I will always work with a basic outline. We also learned about writing our first line and our last line and how to make them count. It was an invaluable experience and I learned so much.
What advice do you have to keep motivated?
Sit on that chair and write. Word after word. Even if it is ‘bad’ writing, it can be edited in the future, but it gets the creative juices flowing and helps you re-enter your world. The worst you can do is not write at all. Even if on some days you don’t feel like writing, you have to push yourself to write. And your first draft is meant to be bad! So don’t worry about writing ‘badly.’
Which three fictional characters would you want round for dinner and why?
Daimyo Toranaga and John Blackthorne from the novel Shogun. It was one of my favourite novels growing up and is an encyclopedia of knowledge about Japan. It is exotic and beautiful and so foreign, I would have loved to be a part of it. I tried to learn Japanese from that book! And one final character on a completely different note, Carrie Bradshaw (from the book Sex and the City by Candace Bushnell), because I think we would be good friends!by