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Friday, 28 February 2014

It's in Paperback!

Now available in paperback, Fly Or Fall by Gilli Allan

You may know that FLY OR FALL has actually been out in the world in Kindle format since last year.  I’d been working on it, editing it, proof-reading it, formatting it and generally getting it ship-shape all summer. By the end of August it was ready to go and I clicked publish. But I’d organised no fanfare for the launch as I had another project on my radar which, if given the go ahead, would monopolise my full attention. The green light was given and at the beginning of September I embarked on doing the illustrations for the children’s book THE TALE OF KING HARALD - The Last Viking Adventure. I’ll be blogging about King Harald, and how and why I became involved with him in due course, but for now I only mention him to explain why FLY OR FALL had a very quiet birth.

I enjoy the Christmas holiday so much that there’s an inevitable cliff-face of anti-climax to fall down every January. And this January was worse than most. I’d finished my illustrations before Christmas so January stretched ahead, grey and bleak. As well as the lack of light and the short days, we had unremitting, record-breaking rain and gales, particularly in SW England, where I live.  The only option was to fully occupy my mind by starting to prepare FLY OR FALL for publication in paperback

I am not very techie, but I’ve done this through Create Space twice before, so as long as I take things slowly and keep checking and rechecking, I’m fine.  At last I was content that I’d done as good a job as I could.  Now all I needed to finalise was the cover. I’d already designed a cover that I was happy with for the Kindle but knew from past experience that the design/art programmes on my PC and my level of expertise are not of a sufficiently high spec to produce a professional quality print-ready cover. Luckily, as a member of our Famous Five Plus group we have the wonderful Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics. Cathy has helped me in the past when, between us, we produced a fabulous cover for the paperback version of Life Class, which was as faithful as it could be to the e-edition
Despite the constraints of the print design programme - poor Cathy Helms kept having to explain to me how the colours and the fonts cannot always be accurately matched across the two mediums (digital and print) - she again came up with a marvellous cover which preserves my original concept. I expect Cathy would rather not deal with a rank amateur and wishes she could design from scratch with no interference, but in my view we have a good working relationship.  I am eternally grateful. FLY OR FALL went live (in paperback) on Amazon, over the weekend

Can the allure of the unknown ever overcome the fear of stepping away from solid ground.
Wife and mother, Nell, does not welcome change but when change is forced upon her and she finds herself in an unfamiliar world of casual infidelity, can she avoid temptation?
When her whole life is turned upside down, everything she believed in is challenged, and an unlikely but doomed love blossoms from the wreckage, can she survive?

Available both in Kindle and in paperback. 

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Madalyn Morgan Shares her Writing Process

Madalyn Morgan, author of Foxden Acres share her Writing Process with Famous Five Plus

What am I working on?

I’m reading research books for my third novel, China Blue, while writing book and author blurbs for my second novel, Applause, which I plan to publish on March 25.

Mock-up of the book cover, which has gone to Avalon Graphics LLC

Applause is the story of Margaret Dudley.  It is the second in a quartet about the lives of four very different sisters during World War 2.  In the early years of the war, Margaret leaves Leicestershire to live with her husband in London.  She works her way up from usherette to leading lady in a West End show.  Driven by blind ambition Margaret becomes immersed in the heady world of nightclubs, drink, drugs and fascist thugs – all set against a background of the London Blitz.  To achieve her dream, Margot risks losing everything she holds dear.

As an Indie author I have to do my own publicity.  The first thing I do in the morning, after flicking on the kettle, is turn on the laptop.  While it's boiling - the kettle that is, not the laptop, I check my emails.  With my first cup of tea I look through Twitter and while I eat my breakfast, I check Facebook.  The novel I'm promoting is my first, Foxden Acres.  It's about Bess Dudley, the oldest of the Dudley sisters.  Although it takes us to London and Dunkirk, the main story is set on a country estate in Leicestershire with characterful land girls and recuperating servicemen, during the Second World War.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?

That’s a difficult one to answer.  I'm not sure it does differ.  Having said that, my process of creating characters might differ because I was an actress for 35 years.  (I'm still a member of Equity).  I get the same buzz finding the truth in the characters that I write about as I did in the characters I played on the stage or television.  For me the two processes are the same.  My characters have to be real.  I need to know them and find the truth in them; make them believable.  Characters in a play are not born the second the curtain goes up, any more than the characters in book are born on the first line of chapter one.  I write my characters a biography; give them a past and hopes for the future, which may or may not be told, even in back story.  They have had a life right up until the moment they step onto the page.  When the curtain rises, or the book opens, the characters have lived for twenty, thirty, or however many years.  It is never the first minute of their life.
Also about genre: My first four novels are set during and just after the Second World War, so I guess they are Historical, and part of a Family Saga.  Having said that, they are all very different.  Foxden Acres is a about the strength of women and how they cope and move on after loss.  Applause is about ambition and what lengths a woman will go to to achieve it.  China Blue is a real love story set in the worst possible conditions, and Bletchley Secret is about theft and deception – and the past coming back to haunt.  Therefore genre is an odd thing, don't you think?

Why do I write what I do?

They tell you to write about what you know.  So, if I was to tell you that the first novel I plotted and outlined was a contemporary story about an actress of forty-two and an actor of thirty, you might put two and two together and make a racy five.  Forty-Two into Twenty-Eight Won't Go was going to be the book I couldn't publish while my mother was alive.  Reading it today it's more, Jack and Jill than Fifty Shades.
The second book was a biography about my mother.  I was fascinated by how much women had come into their own between and during the wars - and with mum being a young woman in World War II she told me all about her life at that time.  She would talk for hours about her friends, her job degreasing magnetos, and how after a day working in the factory she and her pals would all cycle off - the hems of their dresses pinned to the shoulders of their coats - to a dance in a nearby village.  I sent her biography to a literary agent once who said it was strong and interesting.  However, because my mother was unknown, and so was I, I should turn it into a fiction. 
It was around this time that my mother said she would like to give back a brass aeroplane to the Polish pilot who had made it for her in 1940.  Unfortunately, he had died, but I found his son.  He was delighted to have the Wellington Bomber, a replica of the plane his father flew in the RAF.  It was this, as well as stories she told me about her father being the head groom on a country estate that gave me the idea to write four different stories, about four different sisters.  So, that is why my first four books (two written and two plotted) are set during the Second World War. 

How does my writing process go?

I'm a strong believer in a plot.  I'm not sure how many writers have the plot of the next book wake them up in the night before they've finished writing the last, but it happens to me.  I also name the chapters as I write, and list what’s in them, so I don’t repeat anything.
Usually the ideas knock about in my head for a while.  I'm nearing the end of one project when the next tries to get in.  For instance, I was line-editing Applause last week for twelve hours a day.  Stupid I know.  Sitting for that long is so bad for your legs, and after working that intensely it's impossible to wind down when you get to bed.  However, two nights running I was kept awake by the plot of China Blue, the third book in the saga.  I was so tired the first night it happened that I tried to ignore it.  I tossed and turned and didn't get up. The second night I put my glasses on, took my notebook and pen from the side of my bed, switched on my small torch and stuck it between my teeth.  Can’t be doing with a light on at three o'clock in the morning.  After writing down what was in my head I still couldn’t sleep.  I was too excited.

I plotted Foxden Acres and Applause.  However both changed – took on lives of their own – as their stories developed.  The characters changed too, as their personalities developed, I'd have been disappointed if they hadn't.  So the plot and the characters can change, but not the timeline if a novel is set in a well-documented time in history like the Second World War.  A strong foundation or a hindrance?  However you see it, you have to use it and embrace.  The other three books in my quartet have to be time-lined – and not only with events in the war, but with each of the other books.  Although each book will stand on its own, and can be read in any order, there are times when the sisters are together – especially in the first novel – so I keep a tight day-diary.  One page per event and chapter, times four.  A page for each book, labelled with a different coloured tag.

The Dudley sisters’ day-book

The most important thing I do, after I've written the story and edited the first draft on screen, is print it out and read it aloud.  As I read, I mark what needs to be cut in red, and what needs to be developed in blue.  Then I write, or rewrite, and edit again.  The final edit is a line edit.  Happy with it now?  No.  I print it out again and I read it again.  When I get to the stage where I think it’s ready to publish, I send it to a proof reader to make sure.  I also have it professionally uploaded to Kindle and to a POD publisher.  This time it will be CreateSpace.  Before it goes live, I proofread the Kindle version and then the paperback.  I want my book to be as well written as I can write it, and as well produced as any book on the shelves of WH Smith or Waterstones. 

Foxden Acres on Amazon, Paperback & Kindle:
Madalyn Morgan - Fiction Blog:
Madalyn Morgan - Non-Fiction Blog:

Madalyn Morgan - Website:

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Tanya J Peterson Shares her Writing Process

Author of Leave of Absence, Tanya J Peterson shares with Famous Five Plus, My Writing Process:  A Look at How and Why I Write Novels about Mental Illness

I happy to say that I have just completed a novel, and it’s in the publication process now.  The release date is yet to be determined, but it should be available in the spring of 2014.
I’m excited about this novel.  Entitled My Life in a Nutshell, it’s the story of Brian Cunningham, a man living with debilitating anxiety and depression.  It’s told from his point of view, so readers can see what life is like for him through his mind.  Brian is yanked out of his very small and restrictive comfort zone by seven-year-old Abigail Harris, a little girl who’s bounced from one foster home to another since she was two years old.   I’d write more but instead will leave you hanging in order to avoid revealing too much.

The genre of my writing is contemporary fiction, which is an extremely broad category, and the novels within are varied.  It’s difficult to state why one novelist in such a huge genre is different from another. 
Perhaps my works are unique for their mission (more on that in the next question).  I use fiction for non-fiction purposes.  Actually, Leave of Absence was selected as a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Awards 2013 competition in a contemporary fiction sub-category they dubbed “Faction,” fiction based on fact. 

My goal, through my novels, is to change the way the world thinks about mental illness and the people who experience it.  I’m hoping to help increase both factual understanding and empathy.
Fiction is a powerful vehicle for teaching fact.  People connect to characters in novels, and they empathize with them.  Commonly, people transfer their empathy to real-life human beings.  So I use fiction as my medium for humanizing mental illness, for deepening empathy and compassion.

I begin with what to me are the biggies:  theme and character.  I ponder what I’d like to focus on, what theme I want to illustrate, and then I envision the characters who will help me do this.  While I do brainstorm as I create characters, I typically end up “feeling” them rather than “thinking” them.  For example, with Leave of Absence, I wanted to show life in behavioral health hospitals, and I wanted to portray schizophrenia and major depression.  In My Life in a Nutshell, I wanted to show how very debilitating various forms of anxiety can be.  With each story, I pondered, often with my eyes closed, almost in mediation, how that would play out.  As I did this both times, characters came to mind, and with them, deeper issues than I already had in mind.  Once I know the characters, I spend time with them in my mind, and it doesn’t take long before I’ve bonded with them and feel close to them.  After all, if I don’t feel a closeness to and an empathy for my characters, how in the world will readers feel it?  And isn’t my whole point to build empathy and understanding?
Once my characters are firmly established in my heart, it’s time to delve into their specific difficulties.  While I do have a Master’s degree in counseling and am credentialed as a Nationally Certified Counselor, and while I do live with bipolar 1 disorder and experience anxiety, I never, ever, think that I know it all.  That would be absurd! I enter the research phase, a phase I never fully leave until a manuscript has been revised by me, edited by a professional, revised by me again, and re-edited by said professional.  Research is an integral part of my writing process.  So are brainstorming and sketching and revising.  With each and every chapter, I begin by reviewing where I’ve been and where I want to go.  Each chapter, as I write, is a step in how the characters are going to get where they need to be. 

Writing, while challenging, is great fun.  Positive psychologists speak of flow, the period in which one is fully engaged in what he or she is doing.  In flow, one is focused, and all other thoughts, worries, stresses, and other negative things fall away.  Finding flow is important for mental health and well-being.  I find my flow when I write.  Hopefully, that helps me achieve what I’m writing for in the first place:  understanding of mental illness and empathy for those who experience it. 

Tanya's Link…

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Chris Longmuir Shares her Writing Process

Chris Longmuir shares My Writing Process with Famous Five Plus  #mywritingprocess

I was recently asked to explain my writing process. The first thing I asked myself before I put my fingers on the keyboard was – How on earth do I explain something as mysterious as my writing process? I’m not even sure I understand it myself. But, nothing daunted, I’ve had a go, so let’s get started.

1) What am I working on?
As you probably already know I’ve written three books in The Dundee Crime Series, which to my surprise have been tremendously popular. I’ve also written a historical saga set in the 1830s. Now you might think given the popularity of The Dundee Crime Series, my new book would be number four, a contemporary crime novel set in Dundee. But you would be wrong. Oh, the book is set in Dundee, so no surprises there. And it’s crime, again no surprises. But it’s a historical one this time – got you! You see, I decided to combine my two interests, crime and social history, into a new novel which might just be the start of a new series.

The story was inspired by Dundee’s first policewoman, although that is where the similarity ends. My policewoman starts out in London, but is sent to Dundee at the request of the Chief Constable. When the women police (a voluntary force) were formed in 1914 she was one of the first to join. And like a lot of the early policewomen, she has a suffragette background. I bet you didn’t know that the origins of the women’s police included suffragette organisations, such as the Women’s Freedom League (WFL), and the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). Anyway, she gets sent to Dundee and is immediately embroiled in a murder with satanic undertones, while at the same time fighting against prejudice from the male police force.

This novel was originally written several years ago and it was one of the twenty winners of an international competition for the best crime novel by an unpublished crime writer, all this was before I was published. However, a succession of editors insisted on changes which tore the heart out of the novel, and in my opinion completely destroyed it. At the end of the day it had become such a mess that it wasn’t published. So, this year I have torn it to pieces, completely rewritten it, and I hope my readers will like it. The revision, edits, and proofing are all now completed. I use two editors, one edits for content and the other for grammar. These editors are far superior to the ones supplied to me by the publishing firm that organised the competition, so there’s no danger the book has been spoiled. In fact, I think it’s looking pretty good.

Oh, I almost forgot to tell you the title, well, it’s The Death Game, and it is almost ready for publication. It just needs the cover. My cover illustrator, the talented Cathy Helms of Avalon Graphics, is working on that now, and is coming up with some brilliant concepts, so I reckon I’ll have it on sale as an ebook at the beginning of March, with a further paperback launch in June.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
All writers think their work differs from that of other writers, and I certainly wouldn’t want to mimic another writer, no matter how successful. I write in different genres, but considering I’m known mainly as a crime novelist, I will focus on the Dundee Crime Series. As far as I’m concerned I think this contemporary crime series does differ from many others. The books are often listed as police procedurals, but although many of my police characters remain the same in each book (it would be a nonsense to change the Dundee Police Force each time), they are not really the main characters. My main characters are the victims, the suspects, or the perpetrators, which means the books also fit into the noir genre. The other thing is that each book is different because the police are not the main characters. Night Watcher is a revenge thriller. Dead Wood is a cross between a police procedural, and a woman in peril thriller. While Missing Believed Dead is a psychological thriller as well as a police procedural. I like to get into the heads of my characters, and the more twisted the character, the better.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I suppose I write about what interests me. I’ve always been interested in social history, not the kings and queens and lords and ladies stuff, but how the ordinary people lived and survived in times gone past. So that’s where my saga and historical crime comes from. As for my contemporary crime, I suppose that’s because it has always been my favourite reading, from my teenage devourment of Agatha Christie, on to my more modern favourites Jeffrey Deaver, Val McDermid, Mo Hayder, Denise Mina, and loads more.

The suspense in my writing probably originates from my horror phase, starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and on through James Herbert, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. Koontz in particular is a master of suspense. The darkness of my characters arises from my interest in psychology and what makes someone do something evil.

I’m sure there are many more influences, but those are the main ones.

4) How does your writing process work?
This is a really difficult question to answer because I really don’t know. I’m what is known as a pantster. I do not plot or plan the book I am writing, which I am told is unusual for a crime writer. I start out with one scene involving a character and take it from there. I write the scene, and then play the “what if” game, and so the next scene is born, and I carry on in that fashion until the end of the book. I reckon if I can’t surprise myself by what will happen, then I won’t surprise the reader.

One thing I do believe is that a writer has to write. It’s like any job of work, there may be days when I am not in the mood, but I have to force myself into the chair and force my fingers onto the keyboard, or if you’re a pencil and paper writer, you must grasp the pencil firmly and write. It’s possible what has been written may have to be junked, but it is important to keep the writing muscle active. It’s like any other muscle – you use it or lose it.

The other thing that is really important is the editing phase, and I don’t mean checking for spelling and grammar mistakes. Editing is dissecting what has been written and deciding if it can be improved. It involves a lot of rewriting, and when I am satisfied it’s as good as it can be, I send it out to my editors whose opinion I value.

Thank you for visiting and reading about my writing process.

Chris Longmuir

Monday, 24 February 2014

Get Hooked on this Brilliant Series!

Get hooked on a series for only 99₵ / £0.64!
I love writing a series. Perhaps because I’m in love with my characters. I absolutely must know what happens next. I have to know how their past traumas and tribulations affect them down the road. I need to know that they learned from their mistakes, and that they are able to take those lessons into their futures. I need to know what kind of parent a wild child will become, what kind of demise the evil one meets.

I need to know all about the characters' secret pasts and motives. I need to experience how people face challenges, deal with past pain, come to accept their own mortality.

That’s why I’m so excited about the release of FIREWALLS, the third in my BackTracker series—following on the heels of THE TRAZ and FATAL ERROR. It lets me and my readers once more touch base with the characters we've come to love. 

As the BackTracker cast embarks on their new adventures, FIREWALLS breathes new energy and meaning into the past experiences of Katrina, and Shrug, Chad and Sergeant Kindle. Relationships evolve. Careers take hold. Mistakes are made, lessons learned. Hearts are broken.

In FIREWALLS Katrina, my young protagonist, matures—sort of. In some ways.  And, as in real life, all my characters are engaged in a desperate search for love.

In celebration of the release of FIREWALLS - Book 3 in the BackTrackerSeries, the first book in the series THE TRAZ, is on for a special price for a few days only. Go ahead. Try it out. 

Get hooked on a series for only 99₵  £0.64! 

 “I recommend this dark and compelling story”

"The whole thing ends on a knife edge..."

“After reading THE TRAZ I came away wanting more!”

 “The first of a series, igniting an appetite for the sequel” 

Although the special pricing is only available from Amazon, all my novels are available in paperback and multiple eBook formats from all fine online bookstores. If you can’t find them on the shelves of your local bookstore or library, you can ask to have them ordered in for you.

Saturday, 22 February 2014

HUG A BOOK with Lizze Lamb

Hug A Book is sponsored by

It’s HUG A BOOK and this weekend it’s with Lizzie Lamb


You could win a Kindle copy of
Tall, Dark and Kilted

Meet Lizzie

Lizzie Lamb - After thirty four years as a primary school teacher, Lizzie decided it was time to find out if she had it what it took to become a published author. Leaving the chalk face behind, she toyed around with various romantic sub genres before deciding that rom coms were her ‘thang’.

She joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association and spent the next few years honing her craft. It was at an RNA Conference that she met Amanda Grange (Mr D’Arcy’s Diary) who was self publishing her back catalogue on Amazon -quite an innovation at the time. Mandy encouraged Lizzie to write from her heart and not to focus too overtly on what she ‘believed’ agents and publishers were looking for.

After some deliberation, Lizzie formed the New Romantics 4 with three other members of the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme and went down the self-publishing route. It was the best decision she ever made. With help and encouragement from Mandy and the other three members of NR4 she finished Tall, Dark and Kilted and published it as a paperback and formatted it for kindle download on all amazon sites in November 2012.

Since then she has written and published Boot Camp Bride and has designated November 2013 her promotional month. Boot Camp Bride has won Lizzie a nomination in the New Talent Award at the forthcoming Festival of Romance. Watch this space !!

Details of Tall, Dark and Kilted

Fliss Bagshawe longs for a passport out of Pimlico where she works as a holistic therapist. After attending a party in Notting Hill she loses her job and with it the  dream of being her own boss. She’s offered the chance to take over a failing therapy centre, but there's a catch. The centre lies five hundred miles north in Wester RossScotland.

Fliss’s romantic view of the highlands populated by Men in Kilts is shattered when she has an upclose and personal encounter with the Laird of Kinloch Mara, Ruairi Urquhart. He’s determined to pull the plug on the business, bring his eccentric family to heel and eject undesirables from his estate - starting with Fliss. Facing the dole queue once more Fliss resolves to make sexy, infuriating Ruairi revise his unflattering opinion of her, turn the therapy centre around and sort out his dysfunctional family.

Can Fliss tame the Monarch of the Glen and find the happiness she deserves?

Available for Kindle & paperback

paperback UK
kindle UK           -


Two hours later, Murdo pulled off the main road and started a long slow descent, leaving the mountains behind and following a minor road flanked by a mixed plantation of pine and deciduous trees. Eventually he stopped and pulled off the road, turning round to Fliss he gestured at the stunning view in front of them.
‘There she is: Tigh na Locha, Fliss. The House by the Loch
‘Oh God.’ Isla laid her head on her arms on the dashboard. ‘Dead man walking,’ she intoned, as if thoroughly dejected by the thought of the life she’d left behind in London.
‘Don’t be such a drama queen, Isla,’ Cat slipped in one last dig as she and Fliss clambered out of the Land Rover with Lassie hard on their heels. 

From their vantage point, the mountains behind them were hidden by trees and Fliss could see soft, rounded hills that swept all the way down to a large loch. The colours were dazzling; the green of the hills and trees, the blue sky reflected in the deeper blue of the loch and the ochre of the sandy beach, which gave way to paler sand near a pebble path. The shore line dipped in and out of the expanse of water and in the distance, at vanishing point, the opposing shores appeared to link hands, cutting the loch off from the sea.

And, way below them, nestled in the trees with a wide lawn leading down to the waters’ edge where it became a beach, was Tigh na Locha. Solid, ancient, a slice of Scottish history complete with white painted turrets and stepped gables, and with a look of permanency that said: ‘I’ve been here for a thousand years. Wha’ dares challenge me?’
After the car journey, the view of the loch was balm to her soul and Fliss let out a long, shuddering sigh. Unasked for tears prickled her nose and blurred her view. ‘It’s beautiful,’ she said, a catch in her voice. Then she whispered softly so that no one could hear: ‘I’ve come home.’

Lizzie’s Links
twitter: @lizzie_lamb

twitter: newromantics4

There is a Kindle copy of Tall Dark and Kilted up for grabs if you would like to review this great book!
Please leave a comment below for a chance of your copy..... good luck!

Friday, 21 February 2014

Gilli Allan Shares Her Writing Process

Gilli Allan shares , My Writing Process, with Famous Five Plus 

1)     What am I working on?
If only I knew.  Plots only reveal themselves to me gradually, when I am actually in the process of writing a book. (The denouement of TORN, only resolved itself when I was within two chapters of the end.) Before I start I will have the characters plus their sketchy back-stories, as well as the initial scenario in which they come together, but that’s it. Typically, I have to commit to writing a book while I still have only the faintest notion of where it’s going and how it’s all going to turn out.
This little trot around the houses is a diversion. I am not going to give you an over-view of the untitled book I am due to start writing any minute because I can’t. All I can tell you is that - currently - I am planning to write a culture clash novel.  In brief Academia meets TOWIE or perhaps Time Team meets Educating Rita.

2)     How does my work differ from others of its genre?
It’s hard to be objective about your own work, isn’t it? Had I done Eng Lit at A level or University, I might be better able to deconstruct my books.  All I know is that the style of my writing IS different from other writers of relationship/romantic fiction. I wish it wasn’t. I have always wanted to find another author I can compare myself to. It would have made life easier over the years.  Any suggestions welcome.
It is far simpler to tell you what my stories are not, rather than what they are, but I have taken on this challenge so I’ve got to try. My books are ultimately romantic - very romantic in my view - but they are not conventional ‘romance’. They’re contemporary stories about believable people with flaws, preoccupations, problems and difficult relationships, who have to negotiate their way through a recognisable and sometimes uncomfortable world. I’ve sometimes called them ‘love stories for grown-ups’.
I am grateful to Lyn Sofras (Manic Scribbler) for the following quote from her review of LIFE CLASS.
 “What makes Gilli Allan's stories unique is their sense of honesty, of gritty realism mixed with a little twist of magic. They take me out of my comfort zone and make me face up to aspects of life it's usually easier to ignore.”

3)     Why do I write what I do?
This is probably the hardest of all the questions to answer. There are few writers who can turn their hand to any genre with equal enthusiasm and success.  Most of us, I suspect, have a particular bee in our bonnet, that drives us to write what we write. Can you imagine Katie Fforde suddenly inspired to write sci fi, or Anna Jacobs to write blood and guts urban thrillers?  But what is the trigger that impels us to set off in the individual direction we choose?
Though I loved the Brontés, Austen and Heyer I’ve never felt the urge to write historicals. Though I now read thrillers and murder mysteries I’ve not been tempted to delve into forensics or police procedures.  I used to enjoy J G Ballard’s early science fiction, but I’ve never been inspired to create my own dystopia. Mervyn Peake’s ‘Gormenghast’ trilogy is a favourite all-time read, but his fantasy world is so perfectly realised, anything I could dream up would only ever be a pale imitation.
When I started to write it was the damaged hero I was interested in. In every favourite TV programme or novel, the hero would be wounded at some point. The handsome prince, the cowboy, the ‘Red Indian’ brave, the knight in armour brought low by their injuries, was a very powerful and moving image for the pre-pubescent Gilli.

The heroine’s role in the story was always to minister to his wounds and ultimately to save him.  When I started to write my own stories, they centred on wounded war heroes, leather-clad motor-cyclists involved in horrific accidents, drug addicted pop-stars. As I grew older, I no longer needed a physically damaged hero, psychological torture was sufficient, which possibly explains my love for Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment.
I can perceive this dark thread still running through the books I write. My characters need to be fully fleshed out and to carry with them the damage and burdens of past mistakes. I’ve obviously got a sadistic streak!

4)     How does your writing process work?

At last an easy-peasy question!  Two word answer. It doesn’t.
Perhaps I should explain.  I have no routine. I am totally undisciplined.  I write when I am in the mood, unless.........
Beginning a new book is ghastly. There is always something else that is more urgent. Emails need answering, there’s shopping, ironing or gardening to do.  Being a ‘seat of the pants’ style of writer, the opening chapters of a new book compares to a weary trudge through an impenetrable forest, in deep fog, with a sucking bog underfoot ...  until the story begins to come alive.  Once that has happened, routine and discipline is what I have to impose on the rest of my life. Forget the housework and the social networking, writing down the story which is unfolding in my imagination is totally compulsive. It is all I want to do.
I was once told that to be a writer you have to have an obsessive personality. I’m not sure if it’s true of everyone, but it’s certainly true of me.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Pauline Barclay's Writing Process

Pauline Barclay shares her Writing Process at Famous Five Plus

What am I working on?

Now this is a question I keep asking myself! Seriously I am working on, book 5, the working title is, In the Light of Day. I would be fibbing if I said writing this story was a walk in the park. In fact I have deleted more words than are left on my laptop. Why you might ask? The simple fact is I know the start and I know the end, the middle part is testing me, but only because my characters are developing. As they develop they often take me down a road I had not thought about or they say things I had not expected from them. For me it is like getting to know a new friend. The more you see and talk to each other the more you learn about them. Bertie and Kitty Costain are my new friends. The difference between real friends and my new characters is that I am, with their help, going to take them on a journey. It will be a journey that will be filled with emotion and regret because their story is about addiction, not in the sense of drugs or alcohol; there are many other additions that take over people's lives. And like all addictions, eventually lies and secrets will no longer be able to be contained. In The Light of Day (working title) is due out in 2014 - that is if I stop deleting all the words!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Now how difficult is this question? For me very difficult!
I don't write books like Fifty Shades of Gray, nor chic-lit or murder mystery thrillers. I never step into the paranormal or fantasy, so what do I write?

I write books about events that happen, events that change people's lives forever, including those caught up in the maelstrom. I'm emotional and passionate with my writing, I want my characters to sit at your side, steal your attention and sweep you up in their story. Stories that will bring tears to your eyes, have you laughing out loud and sometimes, what they share with you, will stay  in your hearts for a very long time.

Why do I write what I do?

I feel I am being tested with these questions! I guess my answer is that I love to write about life, but more importantly I like to get into the emotional side of my characters. I want to know what makes them who they are. I want to show their darker sides, their softer side I want them to reveal that they feel pain as well as joy. I want to bring out their strengths and their weakness. I want to test them against each other and more importantly I want the reader to feel everything they feel as if they were in that person's shoes.

How does my writing process work?

If you have an answer to this, please tell me! Simply, I don't have a strict writing process, though when I write it is normally the afternoons. By this time of the day I have managed most of my responsibilities and appointments. But even when I am not physically writing, I am constantly running ideas and having conversations with my characters in my head and yes, they do talk back! Normally when I start a new book (WIP) I have a plot. In principle it is the start and end, though by the time I reach writing the end, my original idea for the end has change. I love the initial draft, though it does take me a very long time to write as I am inclined to go back if I change anything as I want to get the thread of the story right. This happens far too often, but for me I need to do this. I save every version and by the time the first draft is written I am well into double figures on the saved versions! I guess my process is simply to enjoy writing my stories. It may not be the correct way. However, for me it is my way and is more often than not filled with enjoyment as I journey with my characters.