Last week, I was asked to participate in a ‘blog roll’ by my friend and fellow author Rosalind James, a very successful author in the romantic fiction genre with her hugely popular Escape to New Zealand series among others. I greatly admire Rosalind for her beautiful writing and her settings in lovely locations. Her writing and mine go together very well, as we both write romantic themes, laced with humour and sensuality. I was very flattered to be asked to take part in this blog roll by Rosalind and said yes immediately. You can read about her own writing process here
The idea is to describe my writing process and how I produce a book so here are the answers to the questions:
1. WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
I have just published Hot Pursuit , the third and last in the ‘Hot’ series set in Kerry in the west of Ireland. At a bit of a loose end after that, I saw that my friend, crime writer Pete Morin, was looking for a writing partner for his new Boston crime series. As I have done this before and produced two detective stories with Ola Saltin, I chatted a bit with Pete about it and, before I knew what was happening, had agreed to co-write with him, adding the twist of Boston-Irish political corruption to this series. We started work on the first draft a little over a month ago and have already produced 30000 words, which is amazingly fast.
But, as with all co-writing, there are lulls when you have to wait for your partner to write up a scene or do corrections, so, as I didn’t want to disappoint my romantic fiction readers, I decided to work on a romantic comedy at the same time. It seemed a little daunting at first, but now I find myself changing between two completely different modes of writing quite comfortably.
The new story is set in France and I have a new heroine, Flora McKenna, who gets a job in an estate agency in Antibes, a lovely little town on the Riviera.
2. HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
Not an easy question to answer. It’s difficult to assess one’s own work, but judging by reviews and comments from readers, I think it’s partly the humour that often include bitchy one-liners- you know, the things you’d love to say in real life but don’t dare… Also the settings, as I have a very visual mind and like to describe scenery and draw the reader into the world I create. My stories are also set in foreign countries, where I draw on my own globe-trotting life for inspiration. My heroes are not usually alpha-males either. So, in a nutshell, my specialities are: humour, scenery, exotic locations and a different type of hero.
3. WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I WRITE?
I kind of fell into this genre with my first book, Diplomatic Incidents, which is now an e-book with the title Duty-Free. I drew on my experiences as the wife of a diplomat, using many of the rather ridiculous things that happened during my efforts to be ‘diplomatic’. Then I saw that the formula of romance + comedy suited me very well as I’m both romantic by nature, a bit of a day-dreamer but I also like a good laugh. I hugely enjoy this kind of writing and after thirteen novels, find it comes quite easily.
4. HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Uh, oh… Well… Difficult to describe really. Sometimes I have an idea for the next book as I finish the previous one, but more often than not, the ideas come after a week or so of thinking about different themes and settings. Then I sit down and write a chapter or two into the first draft to see if it all works.
There are two kinds of writers; pantsers and plotters. I’m a ‘pantser’, which means you write kind of by the seat of your pants and don’t work out a plot or outline before your start, but just charge ahead and go wherever your imagination takes you. The ‘plotter’ kind of writer shudders at this and can’t understand how you could possibly write a whole book this way without a detailed outline. But I find it’s a great and very fast way to get the first draft of around 70000 words down in about three months. You just write and write, piling everything in and at the end of three months you have a story with a lot of possibly very bad writing- but it’s a story! My favourite part of writing is going back to the beginning and making it shine, adding dialogue, correcting mistakes and fleshing out the characters. Most of my writing is done early in the morning, and later in the day, I go back a bit and do some revisions.
The most magic part of my writing is, when I am so inside the story and the characters that I forget time and place and wake up in a daze hours later, wondering what happened to the time. Writers call that being in ‘the zone’ and it’s a wonderful, inspirational feeling.
5. AND ANOTHER PART OF THIS QUESTION, HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS NOT WORK?
I have never experienced ‘writers block’ but sometimes I get stuck in a story and don’t know what should happen next or what my hero/heroine should feel and say. That doesn’t worry me. If this happens, I usually take break, go for a walk or do something else. While doing this, new ideas pop into my head or I get a kind of ‘aha’ moment when I know exactly what to do.
But if I’m stressed or worried about something in my personal life, writing has to stop for a while. That feels hard and I reluctantly tear myself away from my story and deal with the problems or wait until I feel calm and ready to get stuck in again. The bottom line is not to worry if you can’t write for any period of time and be very sure you can start again, however long the break.
PASSING THE TORCH, OR WHO’S NEXT?
I was thrilled that two of my writer friends whose work I greatly admire agreed to follow me in this blog roll.
The first was Imogen Rose, whose amazing YA paranormal books have been hugely popular all over the world, entertaining young adult and older readers alike. Initiation, The first book in the Bonfire Chronicle series is a good example of this talented author’s work. You can find more about Imogen here:
I’m also delighted that Mary P. McDonald, author of the famous Mark Taylor thriller series, will be sharing her writing experience in this blog roll. Mary has been very successful with her thrillers and is now branching out into romantic suspense with Seeking Vengeance
Mary’s blog: http://www.mpmcdonald.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MPMcDonaldAuthor