It seems ages since I wrote any new creative work! I made the decision back in November to publish a couple of novels that have been lurking on my computer and have spent the last couple of months rewriting and editing these, as well as coming to grips with everything I needed to do to in preparation for uploading to Amazon. It’s been an interesting journey. Even just trying to write straplines for the covers provided me with unexpected insights into my own work! And I’ve now decided that focusing on this (essentially my ‘elevator pitch’) before I start writing future novels might sharpen up my writing considerably. It could stop me, for example, from haring off in the wrong direction and having to delete thousands of words. However, I’m thinking about my next big project at the same time. I’d love to go back to where I started and have another go at writing a novel set in India during the war and around the time of Independence. I wasn’t experienced enough to achieve what I wanted ten years ago – maybe I’ve honed my skills a bit since then.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My heroines are resourceful women who find themselves in difficult positions, usually both at work and in their private lives. Work takes up at least a third of our lives (well, for most of the working population, at least), and it always forms a strong background to whatever challenges my heroines (and heroes) face – which also involves research. I write on several levels and set lots of hares running, so I hope my readers will find plenty to get their teeth into! In Face the Wind and Fly, for example, Kate’s husband is a novelist, so there’s a novel within the novel as he uses his writing to work out his fantasies…
Why do I write what I do?
I suspect the answer to this is the same for many writers – I can’t help it! I’ve written professionally for most of my working life, as a journalist and as an editor of corporate magazines, so you might think that the return to fiction has freed me up. Not so! Fiction has tighter boundaries and places more demands on a writer than any other type of writing I know. But the opportunity to create a world, then occupy it, is richly rewarding.
How does your writing process work?
Starting a new book is hell for me. I take ages to work out what I want to do, how it will work, and who my main characters are. Perversely, minor ones pop up easily! I work very slowly for the first half of the book as I get everything straight in my head and as the characters develop and deepen. From then on it gets faster and faster. A full-length novel takes me around eight months, but I wrote the last 30,000 words of the latest one in four days!
On 13th January, My Writing Process visits three writers well worth exploring. They are:
For too long, Rosie used her writing skills to produce training courses and marketing copy but escaped corporate world to pursue her first love – writing romantic fiction with a sense of humour and, sometimes, a sense of the ridiculous. When not writing, she loves reading, even in the car (talking books, she’s not completely reckless) and has notched up countless unnecessary miles as a result.
LINDA MITCHELMORE, who has written hundreds of short stories and who now also writes novels, published by Choc Lit.
Would you class me as a slow learner? I didn’t learn to ride a bicycle until I was given one for my fortieth birthday. I didn’t have my ears pierced until I was fifty-five years old. I had just had my sixtieth birthday when I learned the joy of grandmother hood…and at that age when the Beatles asked ‘Will you still love me…?’ I had my first novel published. Three hundred or so short stories and thirty or so magazine features preceded that novel, but it took a while! Life and gardening and walking and cycling along French canal paths got in the way. Now all those things get in the way of writing. C’est la vie!
Gilli Allan started to write in childhood – a hobby pursued throughout her teenage. Writing was only abandoned when she left home and real life supplanted the fiction. Gilli did not go to Oxford or Cambridge but, after just enough exam passes to squeak in, she attended Croydon College of Art.
She did not work on any of the broadsheets or in television, but has done a variety of slightly less prestigious jobs. She was a shop assistant in several West End department stores, selling wigs, shoes, children’s fashions and accessories. She has also been a beauty consultant, a bar-maid and did a job with no title which involved spotting American tourists in London and persuading them to go on a free guided tour that culminated in a lunch at the Hilton. There they had to endure a high pressure pitch selling real-estate in Florida! Gilli worked longest and most happily in her dream job as an illustrator in advertising.
She only started writing again when at home with her young son, but her first two finished novels, Just Before Dawn and Desires & Dreams, were immediately accepted by a mainstream publisher. The publisher ceased to trade and after a period in the wilderness, Gilli went independent. TORN and LIFE CLASS are available both as e-books and in paperback. FLY OR FALL is currently only available in e-format, but will be published in paperback in the New Year. Gilli has been a school governor, a contributor to local newspapers, and a driving force behind the establishment of a community shop in her village. Still a keen artist, Gilli regularly attends a life-class near her home in Gloucestershire.
Gilli and her son Tom have recently collaborated on a children’s book to be published by the British Museum Press, to coincide with the upcoming 2014 Vikings exhibition. He has written and Gilli has illustrated The Tale of Harald Hardrada – The Last Viking Adventure.