First of all, a big thank you to Laura Wilkinson for suggesting that I take part in this tour. Laura writes two very different types of fiction – erotic romance (her first book in this genre All of Me is about a passionate affair between a 38 year old actress and a twenty something businessman. It is billed as an explosive, unforgettable ‘cougar-cub’ romance). She also writes serious fiction. Public Battles, Private Wars is out in the spring. It’s a story of a young miner’s wife in 1984; of friends and rivals; loving and fighting, and being the best you can be. Now I have to answer four questions about my writing process
1) What am I working on?
Quite a few things
I am busy editing Strictly Come Writing – an anthology of short stories, poems, novel extracts and memoir in aid of the Martlet Hospice in Hove written by 15 writers. The USP (unique selling point) is that at the end of each section the authors explain where the original idea came from so readers can see how it has grown and developed. Strictly will be be published at Easter.
I am also working on a print version of Back to Creative Writing School. I’ve been very encouraged by readers’ response to the ebook version and I want to bring out other titles under the Creative Writing School banner in 2014.
And then there’s fiction…my first novel came out in 2008 and I have left it a long time to do a follow up, but it is almost ready to go out. Like ABC is the story of three Irish women in the late 1980s whose friendship is tested when a bomb explodes in an East End pub and a brother of one of the women is accused of planting it.
I was Writer in Residence for two years on a wonderful Heritage-funded project at Brighton Unemployed Centre, an inspirational community centre. Out of that project came a 200 page oral history of the Tarner area of Brighton called Knock On Any Door and we are now working to ensure that it has as wide a distribution as possible.
I also teach creative writing in London and Brighton so I am writing lesson plans and appraisals all the time…that can be pretty creative
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmm, it’s difficult to know how to answer that. I enjoy playing with language and I don’t think we should let poets have all the best literary tools to themselves. There’s room for rhythm and repetition in prose (but perhaps not rhyme); for clarity and compression and careful selection of vocabulary; for caring how a sentence sounds when spoken aloud and how words rub up against each other. I also strive for simplicity. At its most basic, I prefer short sentences to long ones, unless they are Dickensian sentences that pile clause upon clause for affect.
I value George Orwell’s six rules for writing especially:
Never use a long word where a short one will do
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
I think my mother would have summed that up with one succinct phrase: Don’t show off – pretty good advice that I try to follow.
3) Why do I write what I do?
A lot of what I write is informed by the fact that I’m a child of immigrants. It’s been a big influence in my life but, having said that, like most writers I can’t always pin down where a character comes from or trace the origins of a scene. I don’t so much use my own life experiences as a resource, but tap in for locations and atmosphere, for a sense of a time that is not now. The actual story often comes from issues that I’m interested in exploring through the challenges my characters are forced to face. A Good Confession was about two nice, decent people breaking the rules of their religion and their community. What compromises do you accept? How much are you prepared to lose?
4) How does your writing process work?
1000 words before lunchtime and then the rest of the day is my own. I wish.
Life gets in the way. Washing gets in the way. And then there’s email…and blogs.
NEXT WEEK ON THE BLOG TOUR
Born and raised on Long Island, NY, he has spent most of his life wandering his own imagination in a blissful haze. Occasionally, he would return from this world for the necessities such as food, showers, and Saturday morning cartoons. One day he returned from his imagination and decided he would share his stories with the world. After his wife decided that she was tired of hearing the same stories repeatedly, she convinced him that it would make more sense to follow his dream of being a fantasy author. So, locked within the house under orders to shut up and get to work, Charles brings you Legends of Windemere. He looks forward to sharing all of his stories with you and his wife is happy he finally has someone else to play with.”– give a 1-2 line bio and link to their website. You’ll need to find three other writer mates to ask to do the same a week after you, and so on and so forth…