Hi! Thanks for having me. A lot of my ideas begin with an image and in the case of The Silence it was the image of a woman jumping into the sea with her toes pointed downward. I’d been reading a lot about gaslighting – a covert form of emotional manipulation – and how easily it could be used to isolate someone from their friends and family.
The two ideas came together almost at the same time. Stella (the central character) is a former child star and I liked the idea of her trying to untangle herself from her former fame.
What were the challenges of writing this novel?
Ha. All of them. All the challenges! Time, for one. I squeezed writing The Silence into every moment my daughter was asleep and then again when I forced myself to wake up early. It’s the commitment, I think. Financial, emotional, mental.
Sometimes the story was so suffocating I would happily have drop kicked my computer into the sun. Other than that, you know, it was a breeze!
What’s your writing day like? Do you have any writing rituals?
A cup of tea. We live in a cold, cold house and so in the winter I started writing in bed with a hot water bottle so now that is where I write 99 percent of the time. I’m told it’s terrible for my sleep hygiene but I’m stuck in it now.
I work in a library, so I write in between the end of my work day and school pick-up and then again in the evenings. There’s a lot of opportunity for procrastination so I try to be really disciplined.
Which fictional character would you like to meet and why?
This is a great question and I’ve got two terrible answers for it. One, is Nanny Ogg’s cat Greebo from the Discworld novels but only – only – when he turns into a piratical man. The other is all the kids from the Losers club from the novel IT, the people I most identified with as an adolescent.
NK: My husband is a huge fan of The Discworld and I also think he would like to meet Greebo.
In your opinion, what’s the most important thing to remember when developing characters?
Personally, I like to see flaws in a character. Jealousy, anger, bitterness. I need to see them as human and I need to care if they live or die. That’s what carries me through a book. I don’t neccessarily need to relate to them but I do need to know they’re not entirely whole. That helps, for me.
Which author has made the most impact on you as a writer?
STEPHEN KING. I did a jokey tweet once how if he was to die in suspicious circumstances I would be top of the list of suspects. I bang on about him all the time and you should see my bookshelves – ugh. I love him so much. I read Cujo very, very young and it had such an impact on me, as well as ensuring I chased that very particular thrill in fiction the rest of my life.
He writes incredible characters and often puts them in fictional locations that I can conjure up in my mind’s eye effortlessly. He’s also incredibly prolific, and once wrote a novella so frightening I threw the book across the room. (‘The Long Walk’ under the name Richard Bachman).
Your writing process – do you do much research and planning? Do you edit as you go or wait for a final draft? What are the benefits to your approach?
For me the first draft is always the story in one horrible lump. Get it all out. When I started writing I never planned or even had an ending in mind but I’ve learned since that what works for me is having a rough idea – usually a sixteen point plan – so that I don’t veer off as much as I’m wont to do.
No research goes into the early drafts unless it’s absolutely integral to the plot, and no edits until I’m happy with the storyline. If I edit as I go I never move forward – I get stuck by some phrasing I’m unhappy with, or decision I’ve made, and then I agonise over it for a month before discarding the whole thing. Keep. Moving. Forward.
Do you think characters or plot is more important when writing?
For me? Character. I’m in awe of those books which are so precise and tightly plotted, almost with mathematical precision.
When I read a good twist I sit there like what is this witchcraft? I find it really, really hard. I think a lot of people think I punish my characters but honestly, sometimes it’s fun just to see what they do!
What’s your favourite word and why?
Oubliette. I first heard it in the film ‘Labyrinth’ and immediately took it and put it somewhere safe in my head. It’s delicious to say – ooo-blee-et – and fun to spell and of course, there’s that sinister meaning to it which I love so much.
NK: I agree. It’s a fabulous word from a classic movie.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Keep going. God, that’s so trite, isn’t it? It’s such hard work though. You know what? Here’s Stephen King, (obvs) with the best advice for writers I’ve ever heard:
“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. There’s no way around these two things that I’m aware of, no shortcut.”
Daisy Pearce was born in Cornwall but currently lives in Sussex. After spells living in London and Brighton, Daisy had her short story ‘The Black Prince’ published in One Eye Grey magazine.
Another short story, ‘The Brook Witch’, was performed on stage at the Small Story Cabaret in Lewes in 2016.
She has also written articles about mental health online. In 2015, The Silence won a bursary with The Literary Consultancy, and later that year Daisy also won the Chindi Authors Competition with her short story ‘Worm Food’.
Her second novel was longlisted for the Mslexia Novel Award. Specialist subjects include: ghosts, poltergeists and the perfect red lipstick.
Say hi to Daisy on Twitter: https://twitter.com/DaisyPearce3000
The Silence was released by Thomas & Mercer on 1st March 2020. Click to view on Amazon UK.