Sunday, 30 December 2012

The Next Big Thing

Thanks to Jan Edwards for nominating me as one of her writers who are going onto great things. Another thank you too to Barry Lillie who awarded me the same honour.

Now that the baton has been passed to me, and I've already mentioned two people previously nominated, I'm going for five fresh nominees. These, like the above, are people whose careers you should watch, because they are all immensely talented in their own fields and more than deserve to be The Next Big Thing.

So here goes:

Krishan Coupland
Guy Rowlands
Jonathan Clarkson
Paul Gubbins
Elisa Green

To be honest there are more people out there I would have liked to add to the list, but the rules are to choose only five and I have a sneaking suspicion that I've already bent them a little. So if I haven't mentioned you, think Renegade Writers, it's not that I don't think you're good, brilliant, or deserving of success.

Now to the questions:

1 What is the working title of your next book?

That's "House of Shadows" which is at the being considered by my agent stage. Currently, however, I have "Dragonfire" a kids book 8-12 range, but adults love it too being promoted on Kindle. This is basically aimed at anyone who is suffering from Harry Potter deprivation.

The most recent of my short stories to be in an anthology is "The Satan Stones" in "The Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders."

2 Where do your ideas come from?

Places often inspire my stories. The inspiration behind "House of Shadows" is a sinister old house that looms above the estate on the outskirts of Bristol where I lived as a child. The city has provided the background for many of my stories as has the Devil's Ring and Finger, ancient stones in Shropshire.

"Dragonfire" however is based on my family and friends. My daughter Posy was the inspiration for Polly and her brother David and sister Lucy, as well as their partners and half brother, all play important roles, all with their permission of course.

3 What genre does you book fall under?

"House of Shadows" is a supernatural, time slip novel. "Dragonfire"a Harry Potter if there is such a genre, kids' fantasy if not.

4 What actors would you choose to play the parts of your characters in a movie rendition of your book?

This was hard as I'm not sure the rules allow actors from all different eras, though given the subject matter of "House of Shadows" this ought to be possible. Still this is my 21st Century list: Ann Hathaway as Jo, but with blonde hair, Colin Firth as Richard, the older but still sexy husband, Katie McGarth as Sophia an incarnation of evil and revenge and David Tennant for Nicholas. He has the looks and he is such a brilliant and versatile actor.

5 What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

At Kingsfield where past and present dissolve and melt into one, Jo must fight for her future and her very soul.

6 Will your book be self-published or represented through an agency? 

Hopefully my agent will be able to sell it in the traditional way, if not "House of Shadows" will be unleashed upon the internet.

7 How long did it take you to write the first draft?

Years. The book has been gestating for a long, long time. The first version I planned when I was about twelve and it has developed from there. There has been constant drafting and re-drafting until I asked Jan Edwards to look at it. Her pertinent comments sorted out the basic flaw in the structure and that was it. I can recommend her critical eye to anyone needing an honest appraisal. Also thanks to Beta Reader Rachel Hallett.

8 What other books would you compare this story to?

"Labyrinth" by Kate Mosse and "The Lady of Hay" by Barbara Erskine.

9 Who or what inspired you to write this book? 

KingsWeston House in Bristol.

10 What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

Glimpses of Bristol's history and heritage of the Slave Trade and of course the central character, who is a strong and determined woman who forges her own path through life. And there's sex too.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

November challenge.

Or NaNoWriMo as they call it. Although I've not done it officially, this is the second year I've challenged myself to write 50,000 words of a new book in a month. And I did it. In fact I've written, to date 60,roomintheroofwriters638 words. Impressive or what? Well it might be, or on the other hand it might not. I have, after all, no idea whether the 60,000 words so far are any good. What I do know, however, is that I am loving this way of working.

Every day I set myself a reasonable challenge. Some days I can do 3000 words other only 1000 will be possible. It depends on what else is happening that day. Until I've done my quota there is no checking my e mail, going on Facebook, or Tweeting. Oddly enough not only do I not miss this but I've also come to see how much of my time I was frittering away answering the odd e mail, or following an interesting link. There is time set aside for this, but it happens later in the day.

When I write, I don't edit, I don't think. All I am concerned with is moving the story forward. And developing character. For me this has been one of the most interesting outcomes of this freer way of working. When I began I had a plot, and characters, but my male lead was vague, undefined. I couldn't quite get a handle on exactly who he was. As I wrote however Lanyon came to life. I could see and hear him.

The same thing happened with the narrative. Whereas before I had everything planned to the last detail, this time I'm letting the story go where it will and it is leading me into some unexpected and exciting places.

What will happen with the first edit  I don't know. I don't know how much of the book will remain. The main characters will be there and the problems they face and need to resolve.

For me this is a completely new way of writing. It feels more creative and liberating. It's also faster. Whether the agony will come when the editing process sets in I don't know. What I do know is that this is how I'm going to work in future.

First draft in a month, first edit in another month.

Who knows what I will achieve.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Fifty Shades of Grey: My view on erotic writing.

Here it is for anyone that might have missed it. My words of wisdom on the whole Fifty Shades phenomenon. 

With thanks to John Woodhouse of The Sentinel for his great interview over the phone, I quote, 

Feeling the effect of Fifty Shades by John Woodhouse.

Extract from an article in The Sentinel Magazine…15. 09.12

What does it take to be a top class erotic author? What’s the blueprint for the next EL James?
       One person who’s tried her hand at the format is Misha Herwin. The Basford writer wrote The Devil’s Music for the Black Lace brand that dominated the market in the 80s and 90s. That was 20 years ago and now a successful children’s author, she almost takes it as a compliment that the story was eventually rejected.
        “It came about,” she recalls, ”because I’d sent off another novel I’d written and someone who read it said I wrote good sex scenes- they suggested I try Black Lace.
       “I actually wrote a historical black magic, erotic novel, but the problem I found was how do you fill an entire book with nothing but sex? There’s got to be a story and there’s got to be people and relationships.
      “I thought there’ll have to be a good sex scent in every chapter-surely that will be sufficient. But the problem is how do you keep that going? How, when you are telling a story as well, do you sustain it? It’s complicated.
       “To write an erotic novel is not as easy as people might think. It’s actually very difficult to do it well. You can’t just write endless sex scenes, there has to be a narrative. You could say that it’s to EL James’s credit that she managed to keep the story going.”
       The other difficulty for any writer thinking they can make an easy killing is how to walk the fine line between the erotic and the pornographic.
       “Erotic fiction is a different genre altogether,” says misha. “It’s about sensuality whereas pornographic writing is simply the biological and the physiological. Erotic fiction might imply something whereas the pornographic is just graphic sex. I haven’t read all of Shades but from that point of view it seems quite pedestrian.”
       Misha, a member of the Renegade Writers’ Club a 15-20 strong group which meets at the Red Lion in Hartshill, still has the manuscript for The Devil’s Music, but it’s a genre she’s left far behind. The married mother-of –three is now an established and successful children’s author. Her output is still quite hot- but only because it features dragons.
      Indeed she wonders if, in all the fevered Fifty Shades chit-chat, we haven’t missed a somewhat startling part of the story. “I find it worrying that children can pick it up in a supermarket,” she says. “There’s no “special” shelf in a bookshop, no watershed like on TV. I’ve heard of kids as young as 12 and 13 reading it. Is that the picture of sex we want them to see? I think that’s a problem that’s not been thought through.”

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Life gets in the way.

"What is the point of a blog if you don't post at least once a week?" Danni at Bookblogtours asked the question on Facebook recently. She's right, of course. If you're  not communicating with your followers and the rest of the world, you may as well be scribbling in some dogeared diary which you keep hidden at the bottom of your underwear drawer.

Blogging, however, takes time and life has a habit of getting in the way. 

For me the priority is going down to Bristol as often as possible to visit my lovely granddaughter. Maddy is nine months old now and she is changing rapidly and I want to be as much part of her development and growing up as I can possibly be. Not so easy when you live so far away.  

Then there was the Edinburgh Festival.  Fantastic three days which I wouldn't have missed for anything. If you haven't seen Rob Crouch in "Oliver Reed, Wild Thing" catch it if you can. Same would go for "Female Gothic," a one woman show far scarier than "The Woman in Black." And "The Road That Wasn't There." Shadow puppets, singing and story telling from Trick of the Light a group from New Zealand.

Not only were the shows brilliant, but the city itself is magical in ways that set the imagination going. 

Creatively revived, if somewhat exhausted, it's time to get back to the writing. 

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Dragons in Macclesfield.

Great to do a reading from Dragonfire in Macclesfield this morning. Really enjoyed getting the feedback from the kids and I'm hoping that in return for hearing my story they'll send me theirs.

Good publicity too and every little helps if you've got books to promote.

So many thanks to Elisia for setting it all up and here's to the next one.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

House of Shadows.

What do you do if a respected beta-reader and good friend tells you your book isn't working; that the structure is all wrong?


Rethink.  And start to plan, not one, not two but three new stories.

Thanks Jan.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Getting it write

Marking time has come round again.  I mark GCSE English Literature and once I get going it's fine.  At the moment however I am  waiting for my first sample papers to come back from my team leader to tell me if I am marking at the correct standard, or not. This is making me very, very nervous.  My record is good, I've been trained, so why the panic?

Because I don't like getting it wrong.

And what has this got to do with writing?

Well everything.  I think it is one of the reasons why I find it hard to promote my work and why I can dither over what exactly I want to write and when I'm going to do it.  I have at least two ideas for books, but at the moment I can't decide which one I want to start.  Which is the best route to go down? Should I go with my books for adults? My kids books? Short stories? Play?  At least I don't have to worry about poetry, because I don't do that.

All this worrying takes time and creative energy. It wastes hours of what could be productive and enjoyable work.  I know, deep down, I would be better off just getting something written. However, I suffer from the curse of getting it right, which is why for the next few weeks, or until marking is done and dusted, I'm going to be a little short tempered and edgy  

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

What we should be doing

"Catherine, Caffeinated" <> 
A brilliant, no holds barred blog which tells you as it is.  It's certainly made me look at what i'm doing re-books and promotion. Can recommend it to anyone who writes. 

Monday, 9 January 2012

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

New Years Resolutions

OK it's a bit late, January 3rd, to start making resolutions, or at least to admitting to them. What I do think is a brilliant idea is to make a list of the past year's achievements as my friend Jan has done. See a truly inspirational list at