This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Suzy Cox is Deputy Editor of Cosmopolitan magazine and author of The Dead Girls Detective Agency.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
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I work full-time as Deputy Editor of Cosmopolitan. It’s a crazy, all-consuming job and I couldn’t love it more, but writing when I get home isn’t always easy as a result! That said, disappearing into the world of Dead Girls is kind of therapeutic after eight hours spent wrestling with features and flatplans.
When I’m on deadline, I try to clear 8,000 words a week. I have a deal with myself that if I turn my laptop on, I don’t turn it off again until the word count says 1,000. Right now, I’m trying to wrap up Dead Girls 2, so I’m writing every chance I get – on my phone on the tube every morning (you can do 400 words between Balham and Soho if you ignore the Northern Line loons), on planes, trains…
My husband is a freelance writer, so if it’s a weekend we agree our ‘hours’ and try to have breaks at the same time so we don’t go crazy.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
My friends are definitely more of an inspiration than celebs. Charlotte’s Living best friend Ali is shamelessly based on mine of the exact same name – that really helped when I was trying to write the scenes where she gets annoyed at how David’s dealing with Charlotte’s death. I just imagined my Ali giving him hell on my behalf!
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Growing up, I loved anything by Louisa M Alcott, Judy Blume, Paula Danziger and Virginia Andrews. I’ve read everything by Bret Easton Ellis, Truman Capote and Jonathan Coe. I wish I’d written Anthony Burgess' A Clockwork Orange – it’s so brilliant.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
With the first Dead Girls book, Charlotte’s story seemed to tell itself. I wrote the first two chapters, then the last two, so that I knew where I was going, and the rest just flowed. I’ve had to do a lot more planning with the second book – the plot’s more complicated, I’m introducing new characters and also setting up for the third and final novel in the series. There is currently an enormous sheet of paper on my living room door covered in 48 post-it notes which I’m laughably calling The Plan.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I’ve been working as a journalist since I was 16, when I started writing about bands for my local paper The Oxford Times. After uni, I worked on teen magazines, such as Mizz, 19 and Smash Hits, before moving on to Grazia, Fabulous and Cosmopolitan.
I’ve always been obsessed by teen culture and America – anything involving bitchy cheerleaders and I’m hooked – so when I met a book editor who was moving to New York to work for HarperTeen, I begged her to let me write for them.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That – even though you’ve created your characters – you can control them. Sometimes I feel like I’m herding cats. You just have to leave them alone and go back when they want to play nice again.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just do it! I know so many people who have a novel half-written in their head. That’s amazing, but you need to get it down on paper.
What are you working on at the moment?
Dead Girls 2. The first draft should be done by the end of July (for release in January 2014), then I’ll get moving on the final book. After that, I’ve promised myself a break. Though I do have an idea for another new supernatural teen series in my notebook that keeps calling…