Round about the time my first book came out, Martyn Bedford wrote Flip – a YA novel about a boy who wakes up in the body of a stranger. I loved Flip, especially for the voice of the boy, funny, confused, angry, desperate, Martyn got him pitch perfect.
Martyn’s got a new book out, Never Ending, the story of a teenage girl struggling with guilt, and I can’t wait to read it. In the meantime, he’s tagged me as part of a blog chain. Yes, a chain. A linking chain, rather than a ball-and-chain, I think. CJ Flood has answered four questions and passed the chain onto Terence Blacker. Martyn’s post is here, and now it’s my turn to answer the fiendish questions.
What am I working on?
I’m writing a dual narrative YA novel, provisionally titled This is Not a Love Story, which is set in Amsterdam. I’m just finishing the first draft for my ever-patient editor. It should have been finished some time ago, but I keep on having new thoughts about it. Just a few more chapters to go. (I HOPE)
I’m also still working on the musical adaptation of my book Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery. We recently had a week of workshops at the Arts Educational School, trying out new scripts and songs for the first act. I think it’s much slicker and funnier now, although we have had to get rid of some characters. It’s very helpful to have actors there to try out lines as you write them – in fact I could do with them when I’m writing a book.
On the back burner is my novel set in Canada. I have a first draft written, but it needs quite a bit of work – I’ll be onto it as soon as I finish the Amsterdam book. In the meantime I’m reading a wonderful book about the lives of Canadian pioneers, found for me by my friend and fellow novelist Sean Cummings.
How does it differ from others in its genre?
OK, difficult question. We’re back to This is Not a Love Story here. As the title suggests it’s not really a conventional romance – more of an examination of love, what it does to you, how to screw it up, and how to recover from it. That sort of thing. I’ll know more when it’s finished. I suppose I’m aiming more to ask questions about love than give answers. Give me a genre and I’ll try to subvert your expectations.
Why do I write what I do?
What a question! *beats head on desk*. Why? Why do I write what I do? Why don’t I write Harry Potter meets Fifty Shades and get mega deals from multiple publishers? Why don’t I write about nice middle class people falling in love and everything being lovely? Why don’t I write books set in exotic places, about war and misery, and win the Carnegie medal? Why?
I write what I write because I like it. I try and write something that feels true to me, and important, and I hope that readers will like it. Also, as my mother pointed out at numerous points during my childhood: ‘Keren likes to do things the hard way.’ And actually I don’t think I could do the other stuff.
How does my writing process work?
Well, it’s a mystery to me. Does it work?
These things I know:
I need an initial idea which has strong themes attached.
I need one or two characters and a strong idea of who they are
I need to write at least a thousand words a day
I can only cope with a very vague plan (plans bore me). I tend to write chapter by chapter. Sometimes I make a mini plan of about five chapters.
I write better in the morning than the evening. 7.30 to 9.30am is a great writing slot for me.
I write straight onto a laptop. I can hardly remember how to write in longhand.
I need positive feedback in the early stages, or I lose the will to live. I have to keep on reminding myself that the first draft is allowed to be utterly rubbish.
The internet crushes the writing process. So I need to go somewhere with no internet.
That’s it! I’m tagging Candy Gourlay, extraordinarily talented author of the very wonderful Tall Story and, her latest, Shine which blends myth and the modern day in a story which breaks your heart and gives you hope.