The Writer’s Blog Tour baton has been passed to me by Suzie Grogan, author of Shell Shocked Britain: The legacy of the First World War for Britain’s mental health and I am extremely grateful to follow her entertaining contribution. I admit I am a virgin when it comes to such things, and that’s not something one easily admits to in public. But given my glittering predecessors: Suzie, Angela Buckley, and Jenny Lloyd to name just a few, I feel privileged to be undertaking something like this for the first time, so here goes.
What am I working on?
Too many things! I need to learn to focus on one thing, but I am engaged in three projects: to complete a poetry book about the sea; to finish a literary novel called The Analysis of Beauty, and to put the final touches to another novel about vampires. Rather than jumping on the back of the current zeitgeist I actually began the vampire novel, now entitled In London, Where The Vampires Sing about seventeen years ago. I had written a substantial amount, but for some reason lost the manuscript – unusual for me because I keep all my journals and papers safe – and had to restart it. Both my current novels are set in the world of the theatre, I figured I may be able to sell one of them! So for each project I’ve taken a different approach, one literary and one commercial.
In London, Where the Vampires Sing (excerpts here), is an historical paranormal novel set in 18th century England, telling the story of actress Kitty Lacey, an ambitious, intelligent young woman, orphaned when she was a baby and mysteriously left on the steps of the Little Hay theatre in London. Adopted by loving parents, she decides to join one of the companies at the Covent Garden Theatre and meets the enigmatic Count Filippo Gaetano Cremona, a tall, energetic, Venetian singer with a furtive past. A series of inexplicable events leads Kitty to doubt her own sanity, and when she meets actor Edmund Champness and his wife Evelina, everything she thought she knew about herself is questioned and tragedy follows…
The other novel The Analysis of Beauty is like a child: it grows slowly. And it’s my child. It is named after a work about understanding art by William Hogarth, who I am sure will not mind me stealing the title, after all he inspired some of the themes.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I write as if I am inside the heads of my main protagonists. I believe without dark shadow motives there would be no stories, so why not explore the motives deep in the minds of the characters? This is why I enjoy foreshadowing, metaphor, and ambiguity – I am not keen to give away any of the story when delving into the psychology of what makes a character, and therefore the tale tick. I am also not overjoyed by too much exposition or description either, it can kill a story – though my fiction is not without either – just the psychology and the actions of the characters remain to propel the story towards it’s conclusion.
Why do I write what I do?
I have a passion for poetry, literature, and history so I try and bring all three disciplines together. I recently released a book of poetry and prose called The Sea of Conscience, it spanned thirty years of writing, some of which was about mental illness, but other pieces were about art, opera, music, and history.
Wiser people claim not to let their mental illness define them, but it has infiltrated every area of my life, so it’s hard not to. It creeps into my writing from every corner and I fight it with a sword of words, however I hope my love for history will win through and The Analysis of Beauty will show a different side to me.
How does my writing process work?
It’s like pulling teeth! I don’t write easily thanks due to the aforementioned mental illness. I need to free myself from the need for perfection and just write, but I find myself mulling over every detail during first draft – this is because I want to leave the clues of foreshadowing and feel I can’t do it in draft.
At the start of the process I make sure I have a body of research to help and inspire; then I work out scenes in their running order, but which are always subject to change. I write the first chapter in full, as close to final draft as possible, then in theory write the other scenes before writing bridge parts between the scenes to make chapter beginnings and endings. It sounds chaotic and it is.
When writing poetry, my best poems are written in under two minutes and they emerge already formed; I will change the odd word. The exception to this is a poem called Amor Hereos, an Arcadian love poem which took a month to write its twenty-three verses!
Now is the time to pass the tour over to two wonderful and talented writers. Please visit their blogs and get a taste of what they have to offer:
Chris Harrison – Blog: The Opening Sentence
Chris Harrison published Malandanti, his second novel in the Toten Herzen series, on Midsummer 2014. Having given up writing in 2000 he was bitten by the bug again in 2012 and hasn’t stopped. Which is bad news for his freelance work! Chris is a landscape architect and designer based in Lancashire and when he isn’t describing the latest shambolic exploits of the rock band ‘murdered’ in 1977 he’s out fellwalking or watching subtitled films.
Stevie Turner – Blog: Stevie Turner Author
Stevie Turner always writes from the heart. Her stories have more than a touch of realism about them, and it is said that she has undergone many of the experiences she writes about. However, she always leaves it up to the reader to discern which parts of her novels are true!
Stevie lives in East Anglia, UK, and works as a medical secretary. If she’s not working or writing, she’ll be walking in the countryside.