Here’s where I question Karen about some insights and hints about writing. (I know this will interest many of my writerly friends, for a start!)
Welcome back, Karen! Now to the writing side of things…. 🙂
Q. Did you plan out the trilogy before you started writing Tallow, the first in the series? And how do you plan, on big sheets of paper, sticky notes?
I had the beginning, I knew that Tallow would become a courtesan and I have the end – everything in the middle is happening as I write…
So, I both plan and free form. I have sticky notes all over my computer, I have a corkboard in Scrivener, and I have scraps of paper, notebooks and all sorts of things scattered throughout the house and in my handbags.
How I don’t drive my very patient husband nuts is beyond me – I wake up in the middle of the night and begin to scribble stuff down. I open my iPad and send myself emails in the wee hours from bed.
If we’re walking the dogs, sometimes I stop, because I haven’t really been listening to the conversation so much as participating from a distance as my mind wanders and I come up with a plot fix, or character foible and need to write it down. If I don’t, I often don’t remember. Mind you, sometimes what seems like a brilliant idea at 3am is, in the cold light of day, utter crap! LOL!
Q. Are you a writer who can keep going with a first draft without stopping all the time? Or are you (like me) can’t resist a bit of editing as you go?
Both. I have to have a first chapter. Absolutely. I am linear. If I can’t craft a reasonable first chapter (the first chapter in Votive is the 9th version I wrote and, when I say version, they were all completely different), I can’t continue. But then I do try to revise what I did the day before and move on. However, when I get towards the end of a book, I just write…Fix it all at the end.
Q. What would be the best piece of advice you would give new and developing writers?
This was given to me a long time ago and it still stands out as the best I’ve been given (apart from read, read, read and write, write, write – the latter which implies, editing, deleting, revising etc.), is to read successful and unsuccessful books in the genre you’re writing in but read as a writer, not to lose yourself in the narrative.
Read to understand how the author has developed character, set place, created a ‘voice’, arrived at the tone, crafted dialogue. It’s a completely different way of reading – you deconstruct the book, analyse as a writer and pick up so many useful tips along the way.
Q. What do you wish you’d known before you started writing The Curse of the Bond Riders?
Because I’d already written a few books, I thought I had a good idea of what it was like to draw all the narrative threads together… Ha! I should have given myself more time… it’s a more precious commodity than I realised.
Q. What are you writing at the moment? A new series on the horizon we can look forward to?
I am just bringing the trilogy to a close with the third book, Illumination. It’s already far too long and I will have to cut it (over 200K!!!!) without losing the all-important narrative threads and making sure I tie them off satisfactorily (hence above comment).
After that, I plunge straight into a new series that is tentatively being called (and you read it here first): The Arwen Chronicles. This is for adults. It’s a story I came up with straight after Tallow– in 2006 as well (what was I drinking that year?). I have been steadily developing it and collecting my research. I am very excited about it. I also have another novel I will start after that which is set back in Italy and other parts of Europe and moves through time.
Thank you again, Karen. Like most authors, I loved hearing how you plan your stories and how you write and I’m sure many other readers on this blog will too.
All the very best with Votive – I hope the bookshops are swamped with readers clamouring for their copies. I’m over half-way through the book, and although trying to stop reading so I don’t finish too soon, I’m afraid it’s looming on the horizon!
More of Karen’s work as a social commentator. She also writes a regular column in Queensland’s Courier Mail newspaper.