Jennifer Cryer's debut novel, Breathing on Glass, was released last year. Here Jennifer let's us see where she works and gives us some insight into her writing process.
start from many places, a first line, an overheard conversation, a character
who won’t leave them alone. I usually start from theme. For Breathing on Glass it was the idea that
what you do at work, day in and day out, influences the sort of person you are.
I play with ideas like this everywhere I go but some of the best times to muse
on them are when it is impossible to do anything practical. Rhythm seems to
help, on a train, running on the treadmill at the gym, walking. I speculate
about one of those swinging hammocks in the garden, strictly for work purposes,
of course, but the weather doesn’t seem to justify it, so I just fit this phase
of my writing into my daily activities.
story needs to be peopled with characters and developing them is more of a
deliberate procedure. What sort of people would live in this world? What would
their lives be like? I visit them, take them everywhere with me, think about
how they would react to all the things I see around me.
this it’s down to the hard work of plotting and writing and basically this
takes place in my office. It’s plain and bare, no music, hardly any colour
because I want the space to be the story world not mine. There aren’t any story
boards or plans or character studies on show because they are all contained in
files on my computer and when I write I open and then minimize all the ones I
think I might need, so the story feels kept together in its own home. If only
all those files would get together while I’m asleep and come up with their own
writing cycle usually begins in the late afternoon. As my own day ends and the
light begins to fail, the imaginary world becomes more real. I write straight
onto screen. Later at night when I am tired I relax in the chair, the only
colourful spot in the room, and let myself go. This is when I imagine what I
will write about tomorrow and I make notes in a spiral bound exercise book. I
use a pencil. There is something provisional about a pencil, compared with a
pen, which makes such an indelible mark that allows me to be freer and more
inventive. I take the notebook to bed and often wake in the night with a
startlingly clear idea of the way forward. It doesn’t look so clear in the
morning but I spend an hour or so in my office with a cup of tea sorting it out.
And the process begins again.