Taken from Love. Writing. Life:
- What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always been an introspective person with the most vivid dreams and stories that would play out in my head like a movie. Writing is a natural progression of that. It is also therapeutic.
- How long have you been writing?
Since I learnt to write the written word by hand.
- When did you start writing?
When I wrote the first letter of the alphabet as a child.
- Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Children go through stages and I was no different. Primarily I write for me. I am a writer, there was never a “wanted to be” I just am.
- What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Write for yourself. Read a variety of books within your niche and a bunch of non-fiction that will improve the experience of a reader. Think it. Feel it. Experience it. Do not be afraid to try new things and never, ever, let any troll hurt your writing. Ignore the world when you begin. Find your way of working. Learn from other authors (look up their blogs) and be prepared to put in the work.
- How do you handle writer’s block?
If I experience writers block, it is usually down to a few reasons – busy home life, exhaustion, my brain is out of whack (manic episodes / insomnia / mad dreams), my environment isn’t feeling just so. I am unprepared or too many distractions. So I deal with these issues first and foremost. Then, I pick a calm and quiet time; surround myself with candles, have a boiling bath, a glass of wine and make lists (lists helps my brain refocus).
- What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Truth. It must be felt, understood and mentally experienced by the reader. So I go through the mental movie montage as I write. Readability; it must flow well, be well written and not overly complicated or lost in detail.
- What comes first, the plot or characters?
For me, personally, characters. Like mental ghosts they usually start the journey for me.
- How do you develop your plot and characters?
When I feel inspired and have the characters in my head, I mind-map or list what is going on with them, who they are, how they feel. I tend to also create a character centric playlist to delve more into their heads when I am writing them. Plot, I work out pace, a basic outline, what I want to happen and begin weaving it in to eachother. I edit a lot.
- How do you come up with the titles to your books?
I find titles hard to pick. Some are play on words, some hint or link to storyline.
- When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I have always considered myself a writer.
- Describe your writing space.
I have a room/office (not my bedroom) and I have a special xxl bed desk as well as a laptop with wireless keyboard and mouse. My space can be anywhere. Next to me is a bedside table with a ton of redbull and candles.
- What time of the day do you usually write?
During the school hours and if I need to get writing done (like the character in my head is not leaving me alone) when kids are in bed. They are too distracting and mum-mode is not conducive to great writing. Plus when my kids are at home, I like to wholly concentrate on them and keep the house from turning into a hovel.
- Describe a typical writing day.
I get up, I write. I stop. I spend time with family. They go to bed. I catch up on something (stream series) and sleep. Then repeat.
- What is the most difficult part about writing for you?
The distractions and delving back in after you’ve had to leave it for awhile. Oh and editing!
- What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
SUPER busy. As writer, you aren’t just writing. You are keeping up with socials to trying to keep everyone and everything functioning and alive.
- What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I use music and imaginative movie moments in my writing; the character becomes as real as I am.
- Do you hear from your readers much? What do they say?
I do hear from a few people. It’s usually to get another book done or opinions.
- How do you do research for your books?
Reading non-fiction, reading Reddit. Looking up real experiences. Details of places (real places) and ensuring that there are multiple elements of truths there. Some characters are based on people I know but changed enough so that they do not actually realise that it is them. I use parts of myself too. Unless your stories are 100% or close to – which stories rarely are – you should always do research. There’s no excuse not to.
- What are the tools of the trade?
A good up-to-date computer, a Office subscription (includes Onedrive for backups), fast, unlimited internet. A good phone. All the social medias, a website, epic imagination. Willingness to learn.
- What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?
That I am satisfied with myself. Readers like my work and I have things to be proud of. I can be very pedantic with my own work so if I am happy and feel it is good, then I feel like I am successful.
- Are you on social media and can your readers interact with you?
I am on all the social medias and welcome interactions of a friendly kind. Though I get sent A LOT of dodgy pictures. And no, I never return the favour.
- When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc) scene, how do you get in the mood?
Depends on what I am trying to accomplish. I focus on that emotion. I surround myself with emotive affecting music. I think of what I am writing and act some of it out, see it in my head and try to make it as real as possible for myself.
- Writing can be an emotionally draining and stressful pursuit. Any tips for aspiring writers?
It depends on the writer; you might be the type that needs regular breaks to refresh yourself or the type that has to complete a taxing part of your project before you can recover. Learn what helps you and do it. Be kind to yourself if it puts you into a spiral and eat / drink well.
- How do you deal with emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you are writing the story?
I let myself feel every inch of it. I face it like I face my own demons. I want it to be real, even the super uncomfortable parts. So I throw myself head first into it and recover after. Then I re-dip my finger back in, when editing. Though my editing tends to be more about paragraphs, grammar, flow, research, etc.
- How do you handle literary criticism?
Good, proper criticism is a blessing. It will improve you and that is how I see it. But there are those that criticise for the sake of cruelty. You have to learn the difference so that you know who / what to ignore. Some people take pleasure in trolling. Don’t feed the trolls. Move on and don’t take it to heart. Also be aware that not everyone is going to like or get your writing. Writing is subjective, like painting. Be confident in yourself and what you do. Good criticism is pure gold.
- How much ‘world building’ takes place before you start writing?
My writing takes place in the real world, involving places I know. I research but it’s more character centric.
- Is there lots to do before you drive in and start writing the story?
If your premise is there, and a good idea of what you are doing. Just do it. You can always edit and improve later. That’s what draft 1’s are for.
- When writing a series how do you keep things fresh, for both your readers and also yourself?
I look at writing books like having a three course meal. The first book introduces the world. You leave open threads that can be revisited in book two: which is the main course and book three is either a continuation or the final course that works it all out. You can then branch off and tell the untold stories of the characters or delve into beginnings or endings. It is fresh each time you write a book. Limit your repetitiveness unless in a paragraph or less, to remind the reader and add something new.
- What was your favourite part, and your least favourite part, of the publishing journey?
Best: getting it done and edited (editing takes ages)
Worst: all the intricate details that aren’t just writing a book.
- Do you find it more challenging to write the first book in a series or to write the subsequent novels?
The subsequent as you have an epic part two but it’s moving on to getting it written and remembering the important details of part one. Especially when you have had a lot of distractions and need to actually sit down and get it done. You need to get back into that headspace of book one. You need to do it justice and you need to ensure you are getting the world right.
But you will do it. Because it will stay in the back of your head until you do.
- Describe your perfect book hero or heroine.
Strong, passionate, real, has a past. Is well rounded. Personally I like the darker side of things so she’s either a part of something dark and dangerous or is dark and dangerous. Not written in a cliché way or actions not described in a way that makes you shudder from the lack of understanding of the character or how a real person would actually react. If a character is written well, then I want to know more and see their actions and story like a movie in my head. Perfection is subjective. My perfect book character is written well and accurately to the story.