This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Isabelle Grey is an author and screen writer and her new novel, The Bad Mother, is out now. Here's our review. Isabelle has answered a few questions for our Novelicious readers.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I prefer to sit down at my desk and get started before my brain is fully awake. Maybe it’s to do with ‘left brain/right brain’, but I find that if I pick up where I left off the day before without very much conscious thought about how or where I ‘ought’ to be going next, it all flows much better. On the same principle, if I get stuck, I go and do some ironing while listening to the radio, and it’s astonishing how often I hear some snippet that sparks just the idea I need! If I run out of steam then I do all the other stuff on my desk that needs attention, and eventually go and stir and chop in the kitchen.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
No, my characters have to be able to run free! However, I do take notes from newspaper and magazine articles or TV documentaries. And I listen in to the conversations of strangers on public transport. As a screenwriter I like to catch the rhythm and humour in how people speak, especially if I’m writing about a specific area of work, when I try to talk to someone who actually does the job. Work jokes are always revealing, especially in the more macabre professions!
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Oh, impossible to answer! Jane Austen, of course. Pride and Prejudice and Emma are peerless, and I love the poignancy of Persuasion. I also love Edith Wharton, Edna O’Brien’s first novels, Daphne du Maurier, and a special, if rather sad, favourite, The Rector’s Daughter by F.M. Mayor.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I plan quite carefully, but then feel absolutely free to abandon the plan if it isn’t working or a better route presents itself. I stop and take stock about a third of the way in, re-shape the story if necessary, and then keep going. The third draft is usually pretty much there, and it’s my favourite bit of the process, when I begin to feel like I know what I’m dealing with.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I always wanted to write, and became a freelance journalist soon after leaving university. I also wrote several non-fiction books before starting to write television drama nearly thirty years ago. I’ve come to fiction relatively late.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s glamorous or exciting or necessarily well paid! Watching a novelist at work must be worse than watching paint dry.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Keep asking endless questions of your story and characters. Why is she like that? What does she want? Why? How is he going to get out of that? What does that signify? What does she really feel about him? Why? What happens now?
What are you working on at the moment?
A couple of TV projects, and also my third book for Quercus, a crime novel called Good Girls Don’t Die.