Your new novel, The Gessami Residence, has just been released. You must be very excited about that? I am very excited about it. It’s a great feeling being able to hold the finished product. My first novel which was released last year was a big milestone for me, but this novel has been just as exciting to release. I can’t wait for people to start reading it.
What is this new book about? It’s about mature women still wanting to live life to the maximum. Being in your forties is a great stage in your life and these women want to make sure that they continue to enjoy it. They decide to have a girl’s holiday after not being able to take a trip together for over three years, this is due to varying circumstances. They drink a little too much, eat amazing food, relax together and there is some romance too. Most importantly they are away to spend time together, four best friends, and that really means something to them.
What inspired you to write this story? My friendships with my closest girlfriends inspired me for this book. We still take trips together, laugh, cry, eat and drink together (a little too much sometimes), but I cannot put a price on these friendships. I would in all honesty be lost without them.
How long did it take you to write this second novel? It took approximately eight months. I was already well into writing this book, when my first novel was being sent to print. Two books in one year is pretty quick going, but as I had been writing for a while and I had both of these stories and characters clearly fixed in my mind for a long time, writing them was quite therapeutic. It was good to get it all onto paper. So this is why they were both completed in the same year.
How do you create your characters? Once I have a basic idea and outline of a character, I find it easier to imagine what that character is saying or doing by forming a visual representation in my head. This can be in the form of an actor or actress, or a friend or family member. Once I fix that image in my head, I can replay what I have written – a little like playing a film. If it doesn’t flow then it usually gets changed, but visualising their expressions, manor, and way of speaking the lines I have written, helps me immensely. Having some kind of visual representation in my head helps me gain the full impact of a character that I am creating and I can then watch them grow.
Do you find yourself reading a lot of other books to get new ideas for your books? I like to read for sheer enjoyment, although it is hard to fit it in sometimes until a holiday appears. I like to see what imagination other authors have and I find that reading does inspire me to write. I don’t however read other people’s work, just to get new ideas for my books. I find I can be driving, or just have woken from sleep, or someone can simply say something and an idea can spring into my mind. It’s an exciting way to start a new book journey. Reading and watching films just makes me want to write my own inspiring stories.
Computer or a pen and paper? I adore writing with pen onto paper. Ideas flow better when you write them down and it feels a great deal more personal than typing. I always do an outline plan for characters, places, book names, plot and so on. It’s great to see an idea developing on paper, I don’t think that you get the same vibe from a computer and so my house is filled with notepads and pens.
Kindle or Paperback? Absolutely a paperback. I don’t own a kindle and although they are a great device for books, particularly if you want to take quite a few on trips with you, there is nothing like the feel of a book in your hands. The turning of the pages, the smell of the print and the feel of a book are all part of my reading experience. I just wouldn’t get that from a kindle, so they’re not for me.
Do you have a writing routine? I try to do a little every day. Even if it is brainstorming ideas down onto paper. Having a family and running the family home, working part-time and having dogs, keeps me fairly busy. I always have a notebook with me to scribble new ideas down. My aim is to get a few pages a day completed, even if the next day I delete or change most of what I have written. I love to write and so any spare free time that I have, I dedicate to writing. In an ideal world I would spend three full days a week writing, but that unfortunately doesn’t usually happen at the moment.
Do you need anything specific to help you write, like a favourite pen? I love to write in my kitchen as it has spectacular views, through large windows. Writing in a bright and light room in my favourite place helps me. That being said, I do think that I have an addiction to stationary shops! I love notepads, pens – particularly fountain pens and fine liners, pencils and post it notes. I always have an array of these on hand. Writing with nice pens on lovely paper is always a delightful experience.
Why do you love writing? It’s complete escapism. The characters and places are an adventure and its great fun seeing them develop and come to life. Once an idea keeps popping into my head, I have to get it onto paper. It’s hard to ignore those ideas that keep recurring, without getting all of the initial points onto paper, even if I am not ready to start that book just yet. It is quite normal for me to be writing one book and I be writing down ideas for other books.
What’s next? I am working on a story aimed at teenagers. I love a little bit of fantasy, so there will definitely be an element of that within. Having two teenage boys myself, it’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off them. Plus, of course, I have first-hand experience of their ‘adorable traits’.
Which Authors books do you like to read? I am a real romantic and find myself drawn to those stories mainly. I love Jojo Moyes books, Nicholas Sparks never fails to disappoint and Cecelia Ahern has released some adorable books. That being said, I do diversify and try other books too. I usually have two or three from the charts that have taken my eye. These can vary in genre – so I am always trying new authors too.
Do you have any writing tips? I think that all writers have their own unique way of getting what they want onto paper. However there are a few basic tips you can follow.
- Find your own unique style of writing. Trying to copy another author doesn’t tend to work, it is good to be different.
- Although it doesn’t always go to plan – if you are serious about writing, try and have dedicated times that are just for writing. It doesn’t matter if it is just a page or two. It’s good practice getting those words onto paper.
- You don’t have to start at the beginning! I usually know the majority of the story and the ending first. The rest will develop after your initial ideas. The characters will take you on a journey that may change numerous times during that first manuscript, but that is part of the excitement of writing.
- Only write if you really feel like you want to. If you are ill, or not feeling inspired at a designated time, then leave it for a while and go back to it. Some of the known great novels have taken years to develop, so no one is asking you to achieve the finished product in a matter of weeks. I can sometimes have a few days of not writing if my head is not in that creative space, but when it kicks back into gear – the ideas flow. It is good to take a break.
- Write about what you know. If it is something that you are passionate about, you tend to put your heart and soul into it. So, the genre is usually down to what you are drawn to and usually read yourself. There is no point in creating a book about a young wizard with numerous issues to deal with, just because someone else has done it! Be truthful and write from the heart, even if it’s fantasy – but be original. In other words don’t write for the sake of thinking that’s what you should be writing – it will show in your work.
- Feedback is good, so ask people that you respect – family, friends, editors, journalists to look at your work. It is hard to hear criticism, but sometimes it points out simple things that need tweaking for a better response. Constructive criticism is good. It helps you to gain confidence in your work and makes you achieve a higher standard.
- Lots of planning. Any ideas about your story – write them down. I have notebooks everywhere with pages dedicated to characters, places, names etc. You will forget all of your ideas if you don’t take note of them, plus if you need to do any research – it is good to have all of the information in one place.
- Believe in yourself. It is so important, even after rejection you need to stay focused and positive. The more you learn the better you will become. A good reference point is to look at first attempts at writing and then at the stories you are currently working on. I promise that you will be surprised by your progress. It’s like any job – to get better you have to keep developing, training yourself and moving forward. It doesn’t matter how long that takes, as long as you get there in the end.
Be inspired by everything around you – good luck and happy writing.