|The Sister Queens|
The idea here is to answer four questions, then pass the hat to other authors to answer the same--it's a great way to learn about some new writers. I'll tag my chosen at the bottom of this post. Don't miss them!
Ready? Let's go...
1. What are you working on?
I've just finished my third novel, The Tapestry and turned it in to my editor at Touchstone/Simon&Schuster. I love writing a series and so I eagerly signed on to writing a third book in one year's time. My first novel, The Crown, took five years to research and write. I left my editing job at InStyle magazine to devote myself to writing the second novel, The Chalice, and completed it in 14 months. Somehow I thought that even though I'd returned to magazine editing full-time, and I have two children at home, I could write a third novel in a year. I'm very proud that I finished my book--and excited about the story and the characters and the history I'm bringing to life--but it wasn't easy. Some things fell by the wayside, including my first opportunity to blog about my process. Sorry, Sophie! I expect to receive my editor's notes any minute, and then must jump on the edits of the book, to ensure it will be ready for a March 2015 publication date.
|Signing The Chalice at BEA|
My next project is top-secret. Sorry, my agent insists. But I can tell you that while it's also a historical thriller, it's a more personal story than anything I've written before.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
|Bishop Gardiner, antagonist|
3.) Why do you write what you do?
|Glenda Jackson, an unforgettable Elizabeth I.|
4.) How does your writing process work?
Because I come from the magazine world, I follow some of the principles of magazine writing. One is that the "lede," the beginning, is very important. With each of my novels, I worked hard on the opening paragraph and in particular the first sentence:
The Crown: "When a burning is announced, the taverns off Smithfield Square order extra barrels of ale, but when the person to be executed is a woman and one of noble birth, the ale comes by the cartload."
The Chalice: "When preparing for martyrdom on the night of December 28, 1538, I did not think of those I love."
In constructing my novels, I follow a loose outline. By loose I don't mean that I haven't any idea of where the book is going. I figure out major plot points and an ending before I start writing. But I think it's important to keep the writing open to improvisation, to surprises. I feel that when books are plotted in detail ahead and follow it exactly, the story has a faintly predictable air. When I am tapping on my keyboard and inspiration hits, it can lead to some exciting choices. It almost feels like someone whispering in my ear, "I'm here! I'm here!"
I believe in revising, that is another thing I bring with me from magazines. I never get writer's block, because I know that even the roughest prose can be revised and made smooth. But still, I can't write as fast as some other authors. Stephen King thinks novelists should be able to produce 2,000 words a day. Even if I have the whole day to write, I rarely can manage more than 500. It might be because my books are written in a specific style: first person narration, stripped of modern expressions. My engine simply runs out of gas after 500 words or so.
|Inspiration: The Cloisters Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art|
My favorite time to write is early morning, just before dawn. I listen to some music--I particularly like composers Trevor Morris and Wojciech Kilar--drink strong coffee and then fling myself at the keyboard. If I'm not happy with what I'm writing, I take long walks alone. When I need serious inspiration, I head for St Patrick's Cathedral or the Cloisters Museum of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
That's it! Please check out the posts from these wonderful writers next week:
Peter Andrews is a full-time, independent writer of speeches, articles, novels, screenplays, and blogs. He has dozens of short stories and hundreds of nonfiction articles in print. He has worked professionally in PR, and as a Web producer, speechwriter, and radio producer. He is the author of the popular How To Write Fast Blog, http://howtowritefast.blogspot.com/
Beth von Staats is a historical fiction short story writer and administrator/owner of Queen Anne Boleyn Historical Writers (www.queenanneboleyn.com). Beth's short story compilation focuses on the reigns of King Henry VIII, King Edward VI and Queen Mary I through the life experiences of Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, Thomas Cromwell and a host of other Tudor era historical figures. Some of her short stories are published on the website.