Writing Process Blog Tour

The wonderful  Rebekah Lattin-Rawstrone invited me to join the Writing Process Blog Tour, answering the questions below before nominating another writer to continue.         Rebekah’s dark and provocative novel, Home was published by Red Button Publishing earlier this year. You can find her blog post on the writing process here.

Below are my answers:

What am I working on?

For the last year I’ve been working on my second book, provisionally entitled Dark Tides, and due to be published in March next year (Arrow, Random House).

It’s a novel about love and loss, grief and redemption, and centres on Freya, a woman whose husband and son disappeared in an accident at sea. Plagued by the past, she returns alone to the lighthouse in the Hebrides that she and her family called home. But once there, isolated and her mind beginning to unravel, she finds that the haunting is only just beginning.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

I don’t think either of my novels can be easily categorised or fit squarely within the confines of a specific genre. Rather I combine elements of different genres and hopefully create something new in the process.

My first book, The Medici Mirror, is a ghost story, focusing on an architect and a discovery he makes while renovating an abandoned shoe factory. Yet it is also part historical fiction, slipping from the present day to sixteenth century France and the occultist dabblings of Catherine de Medici, scorned wife of the King. There’s also a Victorian murder mystery subplot thrown in for good measure.

Dark Tides is also a ghost story yet again it’s partly historical – Freya’s narrative being punctuated by that of Edward, a soldier, dispatched to the Highlands by Cromwell in 1653, alienated and harbouring demons of his own.

 Why do I write what I do?

I’ve always been drawn to the dark, the magical and mysterious, and I’ve loved ghost stories from being a child – experiencing the thrill of fear at what flickers at the periphery of our vision, what lies just beneath the surface.

I’m also fascinated by history, the past’s impact on the present and the imprint that events and people leave behind them – whether that be the impression made upon the bricks and mortar of a lighthouse by those who once inhabited it or the vibrations still felt in the present day by a murder in an old shoe factory centuries earlier.

So for me writing is really bringing together these two passions.

How does my writing process work?

On days which I can dedicate purely to writing I try to write 1000 words. This is a target I’ve built up to over the years. This might take a couple of hours on a good day or a whole day (that feels as long as a year) on a bad one.

I don’t plan a novel in a huge amount of detail but I work from a general outline of the story that’s specific enough to keep me on track, in theory at least, but loose enough to allow the story to develop in its own way.

I tell myself at the outset that the novel will flow seamlessly from beginning to end. In practice, of course, it never does. There is prevaricating and meandering. I go off track and down blind alleys. Characters have conversations I never envisaged and pop up in places where they really shouldn’t be. Sometimes this works, at others it doesn’t. A lot of cake is eaten whatever the situation. There are times of despair when I think the words will never come together and joyous days when they feel light and flow easily. And eventually, even though at times I thought I’d never get there, I reach the end.

Next week you’ll be able to read about the writing process of the inspiring David Charles Manners. David’s first book, In the Shadow of Crows, was first published in 2009 by Reportage Press. His second book, Limitless Sky, was released by Rider Books/Random House in June 2014 and has been earning some fantastic reviews. Check it out!