Firstly, many thanks to Abi Burlingham who nominated me to take part in the Grand Blog Tour for creative types. The whole point of these tours is to encourage new visitors to your blog so if this is your first time at my particular madhouse, hello, welcome and please come again. If you’re a regular visitor you already know not to put your hands near the cage bars and under no account to feed the exhibits. Unless it’s chocolate. Unless it’s chocolate for me. And booze. And….ahem.
Each participant in the blog tour has four questions to answer, so here goes.
What are you working on?
I have more projects on the go than is healthy. To get me actually writing I work on a little bit of “Senga McGurk’s Guide Tae Glesga: An A to Z.” Senga has appeared in a couple of short stories I’ve written and I liked her so much and found her so easy to write I thought I’d give her a starring role in her own book. For the 2013 A to Z Blog Challenge I wrote my own guide to Glasgow. It wasn’t all humorous but I thought if I rewrote it in Senga’s own inimitable voice, it couldn’t be anything but funny. It’s a good project to get into for those days when I think I can’t write.
My main book is a story I’ve had bubbling away for years and years. The Knife Thrower’s Assistant starts just before the second world war and is set in southern Italy. Aurelia Miele and Tony Di Stefano are childhood sweethearts until the day the circus comes to town and Aurelia’s heart is pierced by knife thrower, Vincenzo Barone. Aurelia follows the circus – and her heart – while Tony gets caught up in the gangs of Naples and life under Mussolini. Life doesn’t turn out exactly as either had hoped and when the young lovers are reunited years later when the circus returns to Aurelia’s village…well,you’re going to have to wait to find out what happens.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
To be honest, I never thought I’d write a romance. Although this isn’t a straight romance – I think I’d describe it as literary fiction and there is more than a touch of magical realism in its voice. And it’s set in the past so does that make it historical fiction? Does it belong to a genre? Who knows. I find it so difficult to categorise fiction. I hope that my own voice comes through my writing enough to make it unique and that this is the difference which will make mine if not stand out, at least earn its place on the bookshelf.
Why do you write what you do?
Damned if I know. I know that if I go too long without writing I get antsy and restless. I do write a lot of humorous stuff because I love to make people laugh. I also like to make them cry…that sounds so bad. I like to make people FEEL, to leave their own lives for just a short while and join me and my characters in mine. I’d like to think that my readers return to their own lives with a smile on their face, even if they are smiling through the tears.
How does your writing process work?
I’m a visual person which is why I am a photographer too. Most things I write come to me as a vision – not in the sense of an epiphany, but an image will sometimes just implant itself into my head. Sometimes the image changes the more I think about it. Sometimes the initial picture is so strong, so insistent that it just won’t budge until I’ve worked out why the image is there, what the story is behind it. If it’s an idea worth pursuing the opening and closing scenes will usually come to me quite quickly. I’ll then spend weeks if not months mulling things over, usually while working on something else. I’m a planner and like to plot out at least the key scenes where Important Plot Points have to happen. If theme and metaphor haven’t become apparent before, this is the time I give thought to that too and think about ways in which I can extend these and give the story more depth.
Then it’s a case of thinking the idea is rubbish or not writing it because it’s such a good idea I don’t want to ruin it and a proper writer should do it instead. But I get down to it eventually. I need to learn not to edit as I go along as this really holds up the whole process. So if anyone has any advice on that, please let me know!
And in case you’re wondering, the opening line of The Knife Thrower’s Assistant is as follows:
When Aurelia Miele was fourteen years old she fell in love for the last time.
I’m not telling you the last line. You’ll have to wait for me to finish the book before I give that away.