Thanks so much to the exceptionally talented Kerry Drewery for tagging me in the #My Writing Process meme. Check out Kerry's website and blog here http://kerrydrewery.tumblr.com/ and get thee hence to your local bookshops, preferably Waterstones but I'm not biased or anything and purchase Kerry's utterly amazing YA books; A Dream of Lights; nominated for the Carnegie Medal and shortlisted for the The North East Teenage Book Awards and A Brighter Fear; shortlisted for The Leeds Book Awards.
I used to feel a bit of a fraud calling myself a writer because I am not a published writer unless you count the hundreds of reviews and articles I have had published in various parts of the internet. I don't feel like that anymore. I am half way through a novel, it's my fourth. The first three remain unfinished. I don't see that as failure I see it as practice. Through each book I have worked on I have learned more about myself and my own writing process.
Q1. What am I working on?
I am currently working on a novel set in two time periods. One storyline is in the aftermath of WW1 and features a former soldier who becomes involved in the Irish War of Independence and a British nurse also a veteran of the western front who travels to Ireland to look after her aged aunt.
The modern story thread features a historian working on a book about "Big Houses" in Ireland and a reluctant heir to one of those big houses. I don't want to say too much but there are secrets to be revealed and there is a love story.
Q.2 How does my work differ from others?
This is a hard question and something I have asked myself over and over. I think one thing that maybe hasn't been examined by many writers before is the relationship between the Irish and the British and what unites us rather than separates us. Also there are a number of books appearing at the moment that look at the aftermath of the Great War but I want to see how that affected Ireland's fight for freedom, how loyalties changed so fast and also the legacy that remains almost a hundred years later. Until recently many Irish people didn't talk about their ancestors who fought in The First World War, it was almost shameful. I had relatives in both World Wars as well as relatives who fought in The Irish War of Independence and I am proud of all them.
Q.3 Why do I write what I do?
I suppose some of the answers to this question lie in my reply to the previous one. I have always been interested in the effect history has on the present as I believe history is all around us, in the streets, the buildings and the people who have lived through it. I have an intense curiousity about the past which a degree in history hasn't quenched. I also like to write about the choices people make and the destiny they make themselves.
Q.4 How does my writing process work
Firstly and most importantly I have learned that I need to plan. Planning (for me at least) involves lots of long walks mulling the idea over in my head and the purchase of new stationery although I don't really need an excuse for that, like books stationery is an addiction. A fresh new notebook is the place to jot down ideas, mood and other things that I want to include in the story. Often I will get an idea when I am not near the nice new notebook so many of my ideas will end up jotted on scraps of paper from around the house, from work or from the general notebook that I carry in my handbag. Once I feel that I have enough fuel to light the story on fire I will plan a rough outline. I know from previous experience that rushing straight into the story without a plan can end with me writing myself into a corner. Once my outline, including the ending is complete I can start the first draft. I tend to research as I go along which can send the writing off in new directions and that can be distracting so I've tried to leave the research aside for now and just get on with the writing, so far it seems to be working and I can correct errors later.
I am going to tag some other writers on twitter to answer these questions next, I don't know who will reply so I'll update when I find out who's in.
A little update I have tagged Irish authors Niamh Boyce and Hazel Gaynor and will post up their replies asap