Tag Archive: interviews


Morning all! And have we got a treat for you!

Today’s guest post is courtesy of the lovely MT McGuire (and the Ely Marrow). Author of humorous fantasy Few Are Chosen (which I’ve read and did enjoy) she has come on the blog to show off her shiny new cover – look further down the page and admire the Dangermouse-ness thereof!

Writer, mother of a 2-yr-old, driver of a shiny Lotus and inventor of the flying snurd, she has shared with us the following wisdoms for your delectation…

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 Name: M T McGuire

 One-sentence biog: M T McGuire is 43 years old but still checks inside unfamiliar wardrobes for a gateway to Narnia.

Blog  Facebook Twitter: @MTMcGuireAuthor

Author of: Few Are Chosen, K’Barthan Trilogy 1

Genre/s: Humorous fantasy, if you have to pin me down but don’t ask me to tell you an age group or I may have to kill you. It’s aimed at a type of person and a mind set.

Available from:

E Book: Amazon UK:    Amazon US:   Smashwords:    Barnes & Noble:

Paperback:  Amazon UK   Amazon US   Barnes & Noble   The Book Depository or get a signed copy from www.hamgee.co.uk

One-sentence summary:
OK, I can’t do the book but I can do the trilogy, which goes like this: A cowards falls in love and thinking with his trousers sets out to win the girl, if he wants her he’ll have to save the world… but can he?

When you write, do you have a routine or habit?
No, I have an addiction. Writing, for me, is like a bad crack habit. If I don’t manage to write a certain amount each week I go a teeny bit mental. More than a teeny bit as McOther and McMini will probably attest.

What kicks off the book – a character, a situation, a plot-point?
Usually music. I will be listening to a song when I’ll see something in my head and think, ‘ooo that looks interesting’ and take it from there.

How much do you know in advance?
The beginning, a couple of emotional flashpoints or moments of extreme violence, a bit of conversation and the end.

Do you write character notes or background information?
Nah it’s bad enough having it all banging around in my head without trying to write it all down. If I had time to do more than the bare minimum pukkha writing I might.

Do you do research and how?
I try to establish parameters and rules which the plot, the science and the world I’ve created must stick to.

Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot?
Oh they run away. Completely. The Pan of Hamgee, the male lead in the K’Barthan Trilogy was a bit character originally. Someone for another character to have an amusing conversation with in gaol. The minute I typed his name, he took over. I don’t think I’m the only writer this happens to.

Do you have clear visuals of places or characters?
Very but it’s not always easy to describe. The pictures on my website of my characters are exactly how they are in my head (only badly drawn).

When you have writer’s block, what do you do?
Draw the characters, market my previous book, or write something else, even if it’s just long tracts about how I can’t write.

Are you indie or trad-pubbed?
Indie.

What made you go that route and why?
To be trad pubbed it needs to be immediately obvious how my work could be marketed and what box it fits into. It’s clearly commercial but it doesn’t obviously fit in a box. Also I need to find an agent. I did try for a year after finishing Few Are Chosen during which time I managed to get polite ‘no’s’ from 5 of them. I do appreciate they’re busy and I can imagine the pressure they are under but I’m 43 now and I decided that I would quite like to see my work in print before I die. So I published it myself.

How long since you published your first book?
A year and a bit. K’Barthan 2 is due out next spring. Thank you everyone for waiting patiently. Writing and looking after a toddler does not make for a quick sequel.

Is there anything you wish you had known before you started?
The above. Oh and make your first book stand alone. Only start with a series if you are a complete nutter.

If you were starting from scratch today, is there anything you would do differently?
Pretty much everything although I’m happy enough with the way it’s turned out.

What is the most important thing for you about having your book published?
That when I have bludgeoned people into it – usually at gunpoint – nearly everyone who has read it likes it. I find this slightly amazing and I am waiting until the moment when the bubble bursts and I get covered in soap!

What are your views on self-publishing?

I think it’s brilliant.

From where I sit, it looks as if the publishing industry has trouble investing in new talent. Long ago, in a galaxy far away, I worked in an industry which comprised many small companies, much the way publishing used to be. However, the many small companies were gradually bought up by five or six big ones, much the way publishing has been. Having experienced working in that model, I can imagine what goes on. In my field a product which was considered a money spinner for a small company suddenly became a loss maker when we were part of a group. As a big group, we had higher overheads and costs so our products had to make a consistent 30% of operating profit to break even. Some of our products made 5% or 10% and they were binned or the rights sold off. I can’t help wondering if this has happened in publishing. I’m guessing that if it is, it might explain why nothing seems to be countenanced in publishing unless it’s a sure fire monster bank.

On the upside. I guess that means something has to come out of the woodwork which can and will make those lower margin, niche-but-profitable books pay. Enter indie and self publishing. No-one in the industry is ever going to take a punt on my book but maybe, if I can build up a readership and a following, they will. And, if, after that, I am not the next J K Rowling, at least my books will be out there. Money is lovely (mwah ha ha haargh) but this is, essentially, about reaching people who will enjoy my books. If they do I don’t mind if there aren’t that many of them.

What are your views on e-books?
I think they’re excellent. They have no shelf life and they allow people like me, who have written a slightly weird book, to reach people who might enjoy reading it directly. And those people are there, just not in big enough quantities to appeal to a publisher.

Also let me just say how much I love e-ink. Please god let them make it in colour, so it’s like a computer screen only not. It’s saving me a fortune in paper and electricity charging stupid batteries because unlike reading on screen, it gives me that sense of removal required for editing.

E ink. Colour. Soon. With touch screen. Go on lovely techies. Kissy kissy. Please…

Do you have/are you considering getting an e-reader? which?
Yes I do. I have a Kindle, because I’m a sheep.
No-no, I’m not a sheep, honest. Actually, I didn’t think I would possibly find a use for a kindle but McOther wanted to buy me something for my birthday and he offered.. Round about that time, it occurred to me that if I write e-books it might be smart if I had a vague idea how they looked on an e-reader.

Now I have it I am delighted with it. Not only do I read more but I have access to lots of books I have absolutely loved which I’d never have been able to read without it. Indeed, I read one book in 2010 (I’m a stay at home parent with a toddler so time and head space can be thin on the ground). I bought an e-book reader in June 2011 and I’ve read about 15 books since. Not much, I agree but a hell of a lot more than I was reading before.

Did you have your cover made/work edited/proofed by someone else?

Yes, yes and yes.
Seriously, get your work proof read by a professional and don’t get it done on paper because if you do you’ll put a whole new raft of mistakes in when you do the alts. Get it done by someone who will correct the document. Blindingly obvious that but publishing gold and yes, despite a 12 year career producing print, it’s a nugget I missed entirely.

If you know a decent designer, get them to do the cover and think hard about what you want first. It took me about a year to realise what I wanted. Once I did, I discussed it with the designer and get something that was close but would also work commercially. They did a fantastic job. A Trouble Halved in Stratford-upon-Avon if you are interested.

What do you do to market your book?
Not nearly enough! Mwah ha ha haargh. Actually, I think it’s a good idea to have something out there free, more than a sample, a story. In my case I have some very bad shorts which I don’t know what to do with and a prequel to the K’Barthan Trilogy called Unlucky Dip. Don’t be daunted by conversion rates though. I reckon freebies work like a mailshot so about one in every hundred will buy something. That said, there are lots and lots of freebie sites so, in theory, you can get that hundred readers several times over.

Are you on any social media? Which do you prefer?
I’m on Facebook  and Twitter ( @mtmcguireauthor ). I also visit forums; kindleboards, mobilereads, amazon.co.uk, goodreads and the like.

What has proved your most successful marketing method so far?
Interviews, reviews and posts like this.

Have you read and enjoyed any other indie authors?
Mmm hmm.

Who? JA Clement, naturally, (JAC: clearly a woman of taste!) Danny Gillan, Lexi Revellian, Ali Cooper, Melanie Dark, Joyce De Bacco and I have a whole truck load in my to be read folder which I haven’t yet done.

Have you any tips for other authors?
If you’re self publishing, think about the basic stuff. Trust me, in my real world job I produced reams of print in a year and I assumed I would not be at home to Mr Cock-up. Unfortunately, when I produced my book, Mr Cock-up, his family and most of his relations took over my guest room for some weeks. There is a lot of really, really obvious stuff that I missed. Here’s a purler; when Few Are Chosen came out I didn’t actually say anywhere on the cover that it was part one of a trilogy. How stupid was that? Naturally, a few people complained about the end being a bit abrupt.

(JAC: Yes, well easy mistake to make, sure lots of people have done that. Er…well at least one person in the vicinity has done that!)

Are there any resources you have found really useful?
Yeh, Simon Royle’s indieview site.

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So there you have it, peeps!

MTM’s book is worth the reading, and you should all go have a look at it – and of course there is the short story Unlucky Dip if you just want to start with a small snippet.

So, in the run-up to Christmas what else can we expect? Next week we have a guest blog from Lexi Revellian, author of Remix, Replica and a new fantasy series starting with Torbrek and the Dragon Variation.

In Christmas week I’ll be writing my own Christmas post – and if you have any requests for that, leave a comment or message me on Goodreads!

And in January I will be bringing you assorted posts from other authors along with (I hope) a new release or so of my own.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to the mailing list (if you’re looking at this on https://jaclement.wordpress.com you’ll see the nice shiny “Get the gossip” button over to the right) then please do so, as apart from anything else I’ll be mailing out a discount code for Book 2 to anyone on the mailing list – and there may be advance review copies going, you never know….

In the interim though, have a good weekend, and if you have any questions for MTM or myself, please comment below!

See you next week:

JAC

Hey peeps –
ain’t we the lucky ones today?! For why you ask (or at least those of you who didn’t read the title do)??
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Because today we have a special guest post with the lovely Cambria Hebert, published paranormal author, fellow member of the Creative Reviews group on Goodreads (click the button over there on the right if you haven’t visited there yet) and general lovely nutter. This is her, look:
Hot chick with thiing for werewolves

Hot chick with thing for werewolves

Now boys, calm down (girls, she is just as lovely as she looks). She has kindly agreed to answer some questions for this blog to celebrate the release of short story Before, which will be released for your enjoymen and delectation on 18th November, no less and is a taster forher main novel Masquerade, due to hit the shelves on 16th December. Her blog is full of amusing and entertaining stuff, and her book trailers are WAY cool! Especially the one for the short story White-out which is frankly the best book trailer I’ve seen in some time. She is also one of the main culprits responsible for the Creative Reviews Charity Anthology, Christmas Lites, due out on Nov 26th,  so keep an eye out for all of these literary amuse-bouches.
So – let’s hear from the lady herself….

Name: Cambria Hebert

Title: Before

(more details  and frankly fabulous cover are at end of post)

Format: Ebook (no links yet)

One sentence summary:  What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect… Before.

One sentence author bio: Cambria is an author, blogger, latte sipper who loves werewolves and just knows a toilet snake is waiting to get her.

Links:

Website: http://www.cambriahebert.com

Blog: http://www.theunlockeddiary.blogspot.com

FB:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambria-Hebert/128278117253138

Twitter: @cambriahebert

1.  When writing Before what element did you start with and how did it develop?

Before is the prequel to my debut novel, Masquerade, so I used the novel as a jumping off point. Masquerade is based on Heven, a teenage girl who had the perfect life before there was an accident and she was left horribly disfigured on the left side of her face. She is then treated with caution and considered a freak. Heven can’t remember the accident or how she got her scars. Before is about Heven about her life before her accident and the trouble that is lurking in the background that she doesn’t see….

 2.  What was most difficult about writing Before?

The most difficult thing is that it is a short story and shorts are hard!!! Trying to pack some interest and action into such a short amount of writing. Also, I felt a lot of pressure to make it be enticing so people will want to read Masquerade.

 3. Do your characters do as you intend or do they run away with the plot?

They run away with the plot – always!! That’s why it’s so fun to write! Once I researched a character’s name for an hour, picked one out and then wrote the scene where the character came into the book. When he was asked his name he said something else!!! I was like all that time researching wasted! I couldn’t force his name because he never would have been quiet in my head. I would have insomnia!

 4. Why toilet snakes?

Imagine this: its one o’clock in the morning, you wake up and crawl out of bed, trudge through the dark and into the bathroom. You sit down on the toilet, half sleeping… and then a snake bites you! On your butt! Ack!!!  Always look before you sit. It’s a rule!!! Never get caught with a snake on your bum. It could happen. But it won’t happen to me, because I look before I sit. Yes, even in the middle of the night.

 5. Werewolves. How often do you have to groom them?

That’s the beauty of a werewolf. Sometimes they are hairy and other times they are hot men. Wait – not just hot – Hawt. Yup, gotta exaggerate that hawwt. Uh –huh. Anyway, when they get shaggy looking you can just either make them morph into their human selves or send them to the groomer. Or perhaps they can just run off into the woods and scratch themselves against a tree. Either way they are great for cold winter nights….

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 JAC: <bafflement. Fleas?>

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6. Brussel sprouts – why?

As in why would anyone eat them?? I don’t like them. I’ve tried to cook them, bake them, season them. They are gross. They taste like mini cabbages (which isn’t that what they are?) and cabbage is gross too. Sorry to all you cabbage lovers out there!

JAC:
Thanks to Cambria for answering those questions,even if the whole werewolf / fleaing thing is a bit of a worry….. So here are those links again in case you missed them!

Cambria Hebert
Didn’t get enough? Check me out on Tuesday nights at 9pm (EST)
 BEFORE – by Cambria Hebert
 Details:
Cover of short story by Cambria Hebert

What if your life was charmed and everything in it was perfect…

Before.

This is the story of my past. Of what things were like for me when everything was normal. Of what every teenager’s life is like. Clothes. Parties. Boys and summer vacation. What’s so wrong with that? I liked it. I was happy.

Until things changed. I changed.

I didn’t know that lies and secrets were about to take over my existence. I didn’t know there was someone out there, someone meant just for me. I didn’t know that I was about to go on a journey, a journey that would lead me to the girl I am today.

This is the beginning of the worst year of my life. Would I go back and change things? Erase everything that has happened to go back into these moments?

Not a chance.

This is a story of before.

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So once again thanks to Cambria for her fab interview, and best of luck with the exciting multiple releases over Christmas! And remember, kids, when she’s at the top of the NYT Bestsellers list – you saw her here first!
In the weeks to come – a guest-blog from CS Splitter, author of The Reluctant with hopefully some details about his new release The Willing, due out 21st November…. and a couple of other treats queued up between now and Christmas, so keep an eye on this space! And you never know, it’s just possible that I might have a new release in the On Dark Shores series for you before the end of the year….here’s hoping!
Upon which note I shall get back to my edits and leave you lovely lot to go look at Cambria’s websites (go on! I didn’t put all those links in for nothing!) Have a great week, peeps – and  when you’ve read Before, and indeed all the rest, don’t forget to leave a review!
Catch you later;
JAC

Hey all:

I am pleased to say that Jenn of “Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger” has asked me to do an author interview and giveaway on her site

Amongst other things, we discuss the Mother of the Shantar and her daughter Eliset, and I explain a little about the aftermath of the war between the Shantari and the Mardonese and why you hear so little about it for most of the first book, though it will feature heavily in the second.

If you’re interested (or if you want to enter for the chance of a free copy of  “On Dark Shores: The Lady” ) you can read more at

Frequent Reader, Infrequent Blogger

 NB: as an added bonus, if you’re quick you might have a last chance to enter her previous giveaway for a SIGNED copy of “The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa. You’ll have to be quick though – that giveaway finishes in the next day or so (the competition for “On Dark Shores” is open till 24th, so you have  a bit more time for that.

Hope you all enjoy the read:

JAC

Morning all:

For this week’s blog we are lucky enough to have been in touch with the multi-talented Lexi Revellian.  Her books are both residing in my Kindle and having read and enjoyed both I can  heartily recommend them. They are not easy to categorise but appeal to most, with their mixture of humour, action, believeable characters and (in Remix) some really kick-ass rocking horses!! If you’ve read them, you’re probably already looking forward to the rest of this post; if you haven’t read them, you should – you’re in for a treat.

On which note, I shall leave you with the details of Lexi’s books, and hand you over to her for the rest of the post.

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Title: Remix

Genre &  format: Mystery/Romance e-book and paperback

One-sentence blurb: A chance encounter with an attractive stranger, and Caz Tallis is drawn into a search for the truth about a rock star’s murder from three years ago…

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Title:  Replica

cover for Replica by Lexi Revellian

Genre & format: Thriller/Romance in e-book (paperback coming soon)

One-sentence blurb:  Beth Chandler is replicated in a flawed experiment; Beth Two tries to survive on the run, while the original Beth, unaware of what has happened, becomes involved with the spec op hunting her replica.

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Lexi Revellian

One-sentence biog:  Lexi is a jeweller/silversmith in London, and has written four books, two of them available to buy.

Website

Blog

Twitter: @LexiRevellian

Facebook

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Writing Replica

January 2010 my bike slipped on an icy speed cushion, and I hit the kerb and broke my shoulder. That accident changed my life for a while. Unable to cycle or drive, I walked between home and work, brooding. It was bitterly cold, and I wondered what it would be like to walk those dark and icy streets with nowhere to go, particularly if people were chasing you for some reason; how someone would react to suddenly losing her place in the world, how she would survive. I’d often thought, as a single mother running a small business, it would be handy if there were two of me. These ideas merged, and I started notes for Replica; biographies for the characters, snippets of dialogue, scenes, ideas, and photographs of locations. I researched the Royal Marines – later cut from the book – and the Security Service, also known as MI5, on the internet. The internet is a godsend to writers. I’m particularly fond of Google Street View, a way of visiting places without leaving my desk. (On the subject of research, I’m lucky that my daughter is a Jitsu blue belt and can help me with fights, and one of my friends is a doctor.) It’s interesting to look over these notes now, and see how much I didn’t use.

Once I knew the start and the finish and some of the characters, I started writing. Replica’s plot is one that could go many ways. The main male character, Nick Cavanagh, wasn’t in my original plans. The man Beth falls for was to have been much nicer, a disabled Marine, one of the Fubars seconded to the government research institute where she works. But he got elbowed aside by Nick (typical of him, I may say) who began by needling his boss in a briefing, and then got more and more important in the story until he became a main POV character. I also changed the end; I realized the ending I’d been heading towards was too obvious and anticlimactic.

The toughest thing about writing Replica was caused by my decision to write alternating chapters from the point of view of replica Beth in first person, while the other chapters are in third and varying POVs. I did this so the reader would never be in any doubt which Beth he/she was reading about, and it works, but every time I got on a roll I’d have to switch POVs with a crash of gears. It wasn’t an option to write all Beth Two’s chapters in one go, either, because I didn’t know what was going to happen.

My method is to think hard about a scene or chapter (the bath, driving or walking is good for this) then write it. If I get stuck, with no idea what to put next, I find bullet points have a miraculous ability to order my thoughts. I list what could happen, what I want to happen, what frame of mind the characters are in and what they want at this point. I like bullet points.

Replica’s setting is London. I prefer to use real places, so if anyone wants to do a Beth tour of central London, it’s possible. The derelict flat she lives in is real; I trespassed there while walking to work. Slightly unnerving, as it was vandalized and inhabited by a couple of squatters. I heard a cat meowing through a locked door as Beth Two does. The flats have since been bought, finished and sold. In my mind’s eye, I have a very clear image even of places I’ve made up.

About self-publishing

I think we are incredibly lucky that, just as mainstream publishing closes its doors to almost all new writers, we have this incredible opportunity with e-publishing on Amazon for the Kindle. Anyone can offer a book for sale, and discover whether people want to read it. There are no setting up charges. I don’t think it’s a problem that some badly-written books are being published this way, as they will sink out of sight. It’s more of a problem to get readers to notice a good book…

I’ve done all the usual things to promote my books, given that I don’t have a great deal of time to spare. It’s not possible to say which work and which don’t – possibly it’s all cumulative. I have a blog and a website, I tweet and struggle to understand my Facebook page, and I go on sites like KindleBoards, Amazon forums and KUF where each of my books has been chosen as Book of the Month. Word of mouth is the best way to sell a book, no question. I use Google Alerts to try to keep track, but that doesn’t tell you everything. Publishing has so many ups and downs, it’s a mistake to take the whole thing too seriously. If in doubt, write another book.

For both my books, I’ve done everything; editing, proofreading, formatting and designing the covers for e-books and paperback (I’m working on Replica’s paperback now). Most of this I’ve enjoyed, though it’s been a steep learning curve. My covers are getting better as I get to grips with Adobe Photoshop 7.0 – its potential is vast, its instructions incomprehensible, and I love it when it’s not driving me nuts. I’m really quite hot at lettering these days.

I’m fortunate in that I have a background in design, and all jewellers are nitpicky and precise by nature and training. I love being in control of artwork, blurb and pricing, and having access to all the detailed sales information Amazon provides. I would strongly recommend going it alone rather than publishing with a small e-publisher. A small e-publisher may seem the easy option, but you lose the main advantages of self-publishing without reaping any reward in the form of publicity. There is plenty of help and advice on the internet from people who have successfully self-published, and most indies are happy to share.

Since August 2010 I’ve sold 27,000 e-books, something I’d have found unbelievable a year ago. You need luck in any form of publishing, and I’ve been lucky. It’s fantastic to think of so many people buying, reading, and enjoying stories I’ve written. That thought always brings a smile to my face.

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So there you have it, people! Thanks to Lexi for her blogpost and thoughts on publishing – and what about the rest of you. Do you agree or disagree? Are you a firm believer in small presses for epublishing or do you have other experiences to share with us? Please comment below and let us know if you do. If you want to know more about Lexi, her books, her silvercraft (is that a word?) and see the fabulous pictures of her work, do check out her website.

Lastly, if you’re about before 10th June, check the previous post on this blog for a massive multi-book giveaway on Misty’s blog Unwritten; and with that I’ll leave you. Next week’s post is still tbc but rumour has it that author Lisa Hinsley might have something interesting to put our way, so watch this space!

In the interim, have a great weekend – and see you same time next week…

JAC

Hello all –

Welcome to this week’s edition of authorly Question Time; today’s victim guest is the multi-talented Julia Lee Dean, writer of plays and novels, actress, singer and occasional go-go dancer (depending on how many tequilas it’s been this time).  She’s just had poems published as part of an anthology and has performed by own monologues at London Bites and The Courtyard Theatre.

Her theatre company, Wired to the Moon Productions, is about to put on her play ‘Limbo’ as part of the Camden Fringe Festival in August, and having read that particular script through several stages of development, I can tell you that it is unusual, funny and poignant all at the same time, so if you’re likely to be in the vicinity, check out the company’s Facebook page for more info.

Also, writers needed! Julia is looking for writers for her next show – Stand Up for Shakespeare, which will involve parodies and sketches. If you would like to be involved, please check out the details at  http://penpoised.wordpress.com

On which note, I’ll leave you with her questions…

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Name: Julia Lee Dean

Author of:Limbo’

Genre/s:  Theatre

Publication Type: Play

Available from:  www.lazybeescripts.co.uk

One-sentence summary: Michael finds it hard to come to terms with his death; especially when his widow appears to be getting it on with his best friend.

One-sentence biog: Writer, actress, theatre producer & would-be Irish speaker

Links: www.facebook.com/wiredtothemoonproductions

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 Questions:  

When you write, do you have a routine or habit?

Not really.  I don’t start a new piece of work unless the first few lines or a particular scene are going over in my mind with such insistence I can’t think of anything else.  But if I’ve got an ongoing piece of work I’m a bit more studious.  Even so, I only write when I’m in the mood.  I suppose it’s one advantage of still having the day job: I can bide my time.  I don’t see the good in forcing myself, it wouldn’t be my best work and this profession is competitive enough without turning in second rate stuff.

 What kicks off the book – a character, a situation, a plot-point?

This always makes me sound like a madwoman but most of the time it’s like I hear a voice.  Characters form in my mind and start speaking to each other, I simply write down what they say.  Obviously I get to steer the conversations (most of the time!) but if you have characters with a story to tell, all you really need is a pen and a piece of paper.

 Do you plan the plot or follow it as it unfolds? How much do you know in advance?

I usually have a general idea with what I want to happen by the time I get to the end but that vagary is only really (arguably!) permissible with longer stories.  Certainly with short stories and playwriting, you have to have a good idea of how the thing’s going to end because all the action is leading to that point and you haven’t really got the space to diverge from the main plot in the way you have with novels.  That said, my latest play, ‘Is This Seat Taken?’ was based, very loosely, on a real relationship and the ending changed a few times according to how was feeling about that relationship.

 Do you write character notes or background information?

I do but only after I’ve got the characters.  Sometimes it’s like a character will randomly walk into my mind, take a seat and wait for attention (here’s the madwoman talking again).  I am quite lazy in a way, I don’t pick up a pen until I can hear the story they have to tell.  Then I might plot out characteristics and background.  Of the two I think background is more important; the characteristics of a character will come out in what they say and how they react.  Sometimes I note them down as an act of self-discipline but more often than not I’m not that disciplined.  I suppose what I’m trying to say is that a lot of what I do is instinctive: it doesn’t all trundle neatly through the processing part of my brain so it’s actually quite hard for me for describe my writing process without sounding worryingly eccentric.

 Do you do research and how?

Yes, books and internet.  Especially if it’s a period piece.  I wrote a novel a while ago which centred around an Anglican priest on the Western Front during the First World War.  I read bits and pieces from text books but what proved most helpful was a lovely book called ‘Somewhere in Flanders’ written by Rev Leighton Green which gave me a really good insight into the daily life of an army padre.  Also the German novel ‘All Quiet on the Western Front’ which describes life in the trenches and the thoughts of the soldiers really well.  While it’s important to get your facts straight, it is equally vital to get the sense of what you’re writing about right.  I’ve read novels and seen plays where the writer has clearly done an awful lot of research but can’t let any of it go.  It kills off the humanity of the story and what you’re left with is something akin to a school essay.  You might want to give the writer a gold star for effort but he/she hasn’t told you anything.

 Do your characters do as you intend or do they tend to run away with the plot?

They have a good go at running away from me!  Sometimes I give them a free rein to see what happens but in the end I will rewrite passages I’m not happy with.  If something I intended as a serious scene ends with the characters capering about and getting silly then I’ll get the big red pen out.  Occasionally it works quite well.  I was rewriting the opening scene of ‘Is This Seat Taken?’;  all the way through the play this guy’s going on about having children and yet there’s not a word of that in the first scene.  In the rewrite the female character, an actress, talks about a film about surrogacy she’s about to audition for and the conversation opens up.  That worked.  A lot of the time it doesn’t.

 Do you have clear visuals of places or characters?

Of places yes, though they often bear an uncanny resemblance to places I’ve lived in!  With characters I get a very strong sense of what they look like in terms of build, clothes, colouring but I can never look into their faces – I can see eyes and other features separately but never the whole face at the same time.

 When you have writer’s block, what do you do?

Anything other than writing.  I’m not into the “you must write everyday” thing.  I’ll write when I feel like it.  If it’s not happening with one piece of work I’ll work on something else until the first piece is ready for me (or I’m ready for it).  If the writing’s not happening at all I’ll sit and watch television or read a book.

 Your current work: Limbo, playing at Etcetera Theatre, Camden 19-21st August 6pm.

What made you decide to write this story?  

I wrote ‘Limbo’ about ten years ago.  I’d seen the tail-end of ‘Waiting for Godot’ and wanted to try something with two ghosts, of different backgrounds, comparing notes on life.

What element did you start with and how did it develop? 

I started with the duologue format and then added other characters.

Did anything change substantially along the way?

Nothing in particular.  I sent the play to Soho Theatre for their readers’ report.  Based on that feedback I was able to tighten the narrative and it then went onto win first prize in a local playwriting competition.

 Are any of your characters / places / situations based on real life? 

Yes, the character Agatha is based on my nan who died of cancer just as I finished my ‘A’ Levels.  Agatha knits throughout the play which was a deliberate reference to my nan.  There’s also a point in which she describes a woman serving sausage rolls at a party even though they’ve been nibbled by a cat.  That was true.  I remember standing in my nan’s kitchen looking into the kitchen of the downstairs flat in the next door house.  We thought it was hilarious.

= = = =

So there you have it; never partake of soss rolls in the Dean household – you heard it here first!

Julia and her company can be found  at the Camden Fringe with her play ‘Limbo’  and are looking for writers for her new show, hopefully to be taken to the Belfast Fringe. Further details are likely to be on her Facebook page, so do keep an eye on that – and if you’re going to see ‘Limbo’, give me a shout and I’ll see you there!

Thanks to Julia for her interview, and to you for coming back again.  Next week’s guest is the multi-talented Lexi Revellian who will be telling us a little about her new book, ‘Replica‘, and how she came to write that particular story –  so watch this space, and in the interim, have a great week!

Take care;

JAC

Morning all!

Just a quick link to tell you I have an interview up, for those who’s like to see it! Check it out at  LiteralExposure.com

…but of course, after you’ve read Barbara’s excerpt!

Have a good one;

JAC