My Thoughts Of Writing A Book…
What motivates you writing a book?
Stories I think up in my mind, stories I read about in real life, things I see which I can expand on, love, death, happiness, sadness, heroism, violence, all of those things make me want to write; to tell a great story, to entertain someone, to put a smile on a face, or to make someone think about something which they might never have done – these things help me whilst writing a book.
When writing a book what inspires you and why?
Just to tell a story, and to tell it well. To try and make the reader feel as you do; it’s a challenge, and life is full of them. To me writing is the biggest challenge; it’s one I would want to be able to win. Every time I read a good book, it makes me want to set about writing a book myself – but to write a good book, I want to make someone feel like I had just done when I turned the last page.
Who or what in your life has influenced your writing and in what way?
People influence me. There are so many characters that walk this earth, and each one has a story attached to them. You can look at someone, and suddenly there’s a story being formed in your head. You imagine where they were born, where they live, what terrible things they have done, or what great things they have achieved. They might be beautiful, or they might be ugly, male, female, young, old, all have a story.
What books / authors have influenced your life and writing and in what way?
To kill a Mocking Bird, Lord of the Flies and Birdsong. There are many more books I could speak about but these have had an influence upon me. All three had great characters who were brought to life, and became real the more you read.
Lord of the Flies is the only book I’ve read twice, its story is so strong, and the writer, over the course of 200 to 300 pages, makes each character change and they become like savages. It shows how powerful words can be.
I like all authors, because they do what I want to do, and they do it well, every book I pick up influences me. One author Philip Kerr has created a character named Bernie Gunther, a German detective. The stories are set before, during and after the Second World War and so far eight books have been written. The character is so real; he’s funny, intelligent, stupid, weak and growing old, so now I try to make my characters have more depth to them when I’m writing a book.
How has your environment / upbringing influenced your writing?
In a way, my Italian mother, and having family in Florence has influenced me a little, but my environment? No not really.
Have you developed a specific writing style?
No not yet, I’m still searching, I want to try and write in different styles for now until I find the one that suits me best.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Can’t think……….. If you asked my proofreader, she would say ‘not being able to tell the difference between THERE and THEIR!’
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Do you like to create books for adults?
Yes, but I would love to be able to write a children’s book, I think that would be a really big challenge.
How many books have you written?
Four short stories, and four novels, but Flood is the only one I have submitted to a publisher so far.
Which of your books were the easiest and hardest to write?
Swallows and Ice Cream I wrote in 14 days in a villa in Tuscany. The ink flowed from my pen, and several times I found myself alone while everyone else had gone to bed. The idea came while I waited for the hire car at the airport, and the final sentence was completed on the last evening.
Under a Tuscan Sky, I stumbled along, I enjoyed it, but I had too many blank days when I could not move it on at all. Those times were painful.
What was the hardest part when writing a book?
Making the story flow, moving it along at a good pace, but not so quick that you skim over a description of either a character, or their surroundings, and the ending, making sure you don’t make the readers feel you got bored and just brought it to a halt, without any thought to what had gone on before.
Which is your favourite of the books you have written, and why?
Maggie’s Eyes because it was the first book I thought through. I planned it, wrote about each character separately and planned the story with a beginning, middle and ending. Regardless of the fact that it took me places I did not intend to go, it was how I envisaged it would be. I liked the characters; when Maggie sits and talks to nine year old Summer, she sees her as the child she did not have and you know that if she did have children, she would be the perfect mother.
Which of your characters is your favourite?
Despite all her faults and frailties, Maggie is a good person, it was the first time I had invented a character that I felt came to life, and yet again, somehow she had a mind of her own; it was very strange.
Jet, the young girl in The Last Bus Home is also a favorite of mine, she grew and grew on me as the story progressed; I even changed the ending because of her. That’s the wonder of writing a book, you can change the outcome and the characters if you want to.
Which of your characters would you most / least to invite to dinner, and why?
Gina from Flood would be interesting, I think I could let her do the talking, but it would not be a romantic dinner. If it were to be romantic, then Maggie.
Cameron Carter from Maggie’s Eyes would bore me to death. Not that he would say too much, people like him have nothing worth listening to; no he would not be on my guest list.
How do you come up with the titles for your books?
Some just come to you, like ‘Maggie’s Eyes’. ‘Swallows and Ice Cream’ came towards the end and it just seemed obvious. ‘Under a Tuscan Sky’ changed so many times, Under Tuscan Sun, Under Tuscan Skies, but in the end it is what it finished up as. ‘Bookends’ because of the piece of music the boy played to Sue, and it was the guitar that had brought him out in the first place so it was an important part of the storyline. ‘Last Bus Home’, that came halfway through and Scott had been missing each bus to stay with Jet, but knew he could not miss the last bus, if he wanted to get home.
‘Flood’ was another obvious title, that’s what I called it from day one. ‘The Match’ was a simple title too, although I did worry that it might put off people who did not like football, as the story was not directly about football but I stuck with it.
Looking back, is there anything you wish was different about the books you have written?
I finish each book and reflect. I ask myself ‘Could it be better?’ and I will do so for the next ten if I write that many more. I am never satisfied, and never will be, it does not come naturally to me, my education means I have to work that much harder to achieve anything half decent, so the answer is yes, not the plot just the substance.
How important do you think villains are in a story when writing a book?
We are all villains in a way; all of us do things driven by jealousy, greed and stress. In a book the villains have a soft side, unlike the old western movies where the good wore white and the bad men wore black, sometimes it’s hard to tell the good from the bad.
When I write a bad person into my story, he is not bad on every page; a person might perform a bad act, yet for the hours and days before might seem to be normal, one of the good guys.
Yes have a villain and let people hate them, it helps drive a story, but make him real, the worst villain is the one who portrays himself as a good person, therefore deceiving all around him.
What are your current / future projects?
At the moment I am doing another short story about a guy, Carl, who is beginning to crack up. He has a wife and three young children; he also has a secret which will destroy him, his life, his marriage, his kids, and his job. Can he find a way out, or has he gone too far in to turn back? Suddenly everything he took for granted is now important; from a man in control, he is now a man totally out of control.
I would like to write a longer book incorporating the Native American Indians; a book about the early settlement in America. Someone on a journey from England in the 1800’s, going there and about finding this new life, these new people, but that might be a way off, as time is short when you work full time.
What got you interested in starting writing?
Reading, watching films, watching and appearing in plays, making things up and watching people’s faces; sometimes its call telling little white lies.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
Me, just me, and then a certain J. Hasler who has always believed I could do it.
Who or what influenced your writing over the years?
Other writers and reading what they have written.
What do you see as the current influences on your writing?
Me and the world.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging when writing a book?
Getting the idea for the story, that part can be fun, it can also be frustrating. The fear is, you start then find you’re losing interest. Now if that’s happening to thewriter then what chance has the book got?
What is your greatest strength as a writer?
Imagination I think. To be able to think through a story with its little subplots, twists and turns.
What are your goals as a writer?
Just one right now…..To be published. To continue writing a book that most people will love reading.
Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
I would love to write full time, and be able to travel to the places I want to incorporate into my story, whether they be home or abroad. To get better, learn more, maybe even take a course in writing to help; although at my age it might be too late.
Have you travelled much researching for your books?
I have used my love of Italy, and in particular Florence and Tuscany. I have travelled there on many occasions; I have family there, so I have used this setting in four stories. Maggie’s eyes, Under a Tuscan Sky, Swallows and Ice Cream, and of course Flood.
What do you find the hardest part of writing?
Description of beauty, I know what a lovely face looks like, I can visualize it, but somehow it does not come out the way I want it to. How people look is important to me because I can see them, therefore I want the person reading my book to see what I see, and I’m not sure it works for me.
In your opinion, what contributes to making a writer successful?
Luck plays a part in all our lives, so I don’t see why it doesn’t apply to a writer. But I think you need talent and confidence, I feel I lack in both.
What advice would you give to writers just starting out writing a book?
I don’t feel in position to give advice but just keep on writing, enjoy your writing and let your imagination flow when writing a book.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block when writing a book? If so, what do you do about it?
Yes, but in a small way. I found it best to walk away, leave it alone, then bingo, suddenly it’s there. It might be in the middle of the night, or driving down the motorway, or like with Swallows and Ice Cream, in the airport car park in Pisa.
Just enjoy your passion for writing books – never give up when writing a book, maybe leave it alone for a while but never give up.
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