This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Debs is chatting to Justina Robson – author of Natural History, Living Next Door to the God of Love and the Quantum Gravity series – about her upcoming novel, Glorious Angels, which has been described as 'a thrilling mix of science and sexual politics'.
I write for about an hour in the morning when everyone is out at various places – school, gym, childcare etc. That’s it.
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When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
No, not deliberately.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Bet Me, by Jennifer Crusie although I hate the categorisation that creates Women’s Fiction (as opposed to what??) and I didn’t include SF, Fantasy, Horror etc. I stuck to chicklit and romance because I thought that’s what you probably meant, but you might not have meant that. You might have wanted to include literary fiction by women. I wasn’t sure. I stuck to stuff that seemed to be at the most polar opposite to whatever Men’s Fiction is. You know, that war and science and…wait…ugh. There’s nothing good can come of this!
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I get some cockamamie idea such as ‘Let’s write about a society with religious oppression and have it invaded by some progressives who think they’re interfering for the sake of good…’ and usually I have some protagonist who appears – I know they’re the protagonist if they have a Voice and an Attitude of some kind. They usually appear with a couple of key scenes attached, like when they discover their cybernetic enhancements have just made them into a vehicle for a foreign agent to start interfering with their life and their world. I write some opening moments, such as the part where they get murdered, if I really want that to be the opening, and then realise it will be hell to make everything fit around that. Then I hack alternately with Write/Play Plotto/Get Diverted Into A Huge Plan In Scrivener until I have a draft finished.By that point the early sections have proved to be so awful I have rewritten some of them 25 or more times and the stuff in the middle up to five times. The second half is generally much smoother. I revise it as a whole unit once, then leave it and have other people read it. I revise it again as a whole unit and voila! It’s…over with.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I wrote stories as a kid, wrote two novels as a teen, stopped altogether when I went to university, started again afterwards and seven years after that I got my first novel published, which was about the 4th one I wrote.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That we are all making lots of money.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
There are many books on how to write novels out there to spare you the agony of remaking the wheel. Go read them to get a good idea of what you’re in for and then write every day until it’s done. Even if you can only write a few sentences at a time. Don’t rewrite at all, just keep going until it is finished. Find a group of other writers who can help you with useful criticism. Workshop your work, revise until you did your best.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing about a society with religious/political hierarchy who have used technology to make the world in their image. They get invaded by some progressives who think they’re interfering for the sake of good…
Your top five writing tips?
1. Write every day.
2. Find a person or group who can give you realistic helpful feedback on your work and use them.
3. Learn to divide creative time (writing drafts, dreaming etc) from editorial time (criticising your own work, fixing it up) – never use your mind to do both at once, you’ll stall out.
4. Read everything. Things you love, things you never read before, things you can’t stand, things that are like the thing you want to write – with these last ones look and see how they were made.
5. Have something to say.
Glorious Angels by Justina Robson is out now.