Here come the four questions about my writing process…
What am I working on?
I’m working on the edits for my first traditionally published novel, The School Gate Survival Guide (published by Avon on 3 July), as well as writing my third novel, where I deal with my fascination about family secrets. I’ve always been intrigued by the idea that families start off with small inconvenient things that no one is allowed to talk about and then the secret gathers moss down the generations until it’s huge and far more distressing when it’s finally revealed. This one is actually the fourth novel I’ve written but only the third likely to meet a reader. My first, the snappily titled Wives and Cows from Your Own Country was less a novel than a series of characters wandering from a restaurant to a beach and back again in search of a story to star in. As they would say on Twitter: #drivel
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It’s always tempting to start disappearing where the daylight doesn’t shine when you start to talk about genre, influences and your own selling points. In order to retain a few rays of sun on my face, I’ll keep it brief: I write commercial women’s fiction but if I had to pick out something, I’d say that I am brutal about portraying honest ‘real’ emotions. When people read my first drafts, they often find my characters are a bit harsh because I never back away from unattractive feelings that people don’t want to admit to experiencing.
Mainly though, I’m not so bothered about being different, more hoping not to be laughed at.
Why do I write what I do?
I love writing about ordinary people. Human beings are so funny because they never see themselves as other people see them. Do arrogant bores regret monopolising the conversation while their audience slowly slump to the ground, eyes rolling back into their heads, desperate for a stray fork to jab into a buttock to shock themselves awake? No. They simply puzzle over why there was an inexplicable rush to the bar to drink more of that dreadful wine when they were just getting to the crux of the solution to the Eurozone crisis, the reform of the benefits system, the superiority of the latest Range Rover.
Since I started writing, no excruciating social occasion is ever wasted.
How does your writing process work?
I may have to use the term ‘work’ rather loosely. I start off with an idea for a character, usually a woman trapped in a situation she doesn’t want to be in, either by her emotions or her environment. I know how the novel starts and I know how it ends and I have few scenes in my head to get me from A to B. I’ve tried to plan, but I find that I can’t write the damn book until the characters start to evolve, and for me, they can only do that once I start putting them in situations. Inevitably this means I get to the halfway point with a plot wobbling like a tray of fine stemmed glasses and I’m not sure whether I’m going to trip and smash the lot or manage to make it to the safety of the table. When I start running round the kitchen in my slippers shouting, ‘We’re doomed’, I usually send the whole lot to my writing buddy, author Jenny Ashcroft for an honest appraisal to get me back on the right track.
Next week, there is a huge treat in store – next on the blog hop are:
Claire Dyer, literary author extraordinaire
Claire Dyer’s novels, The Moment and The Perfect Affair are published by Quercus, as is her short story, Falling For Gatsby. Her poetry collection, Eleven Rooms, is published by Two Rivers Press. She is undertaking an MA in Poetry at Royal Holloway, University of London and lives just outside Reading. You can find her blog at her website: www.clairedyer.com
And Puffin Diaries Sarah, fabulous adoption blogger
Sarah is the adoptive mum of two boys behind The Puffin Diaries. Her blog is full of the highs and lows of her family life, writing about adoption, living with depression, her love of cooking and all things creative, plus lots of photography. Sarah is also co-founder of The Adoption Social, a site that promotes and supports the adoption on-line community.