This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Katharine Swartz has penned over 25 romance books for Mills & Boon. The Lost Garden is her second novel for Lion Fiction. The story is set in a small vicarage in a remote village in Cumbria, and jumps between 1919 and the present day. Today she tells us a little bit about her writing process and journey to publication.
After the rush of getting children off to school, I try to write for about three hours in the mornings, while I have childcare. Then the afternoons are free for my kids and their needs.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I prefer not to base my characters on real people, because I think it can become confusing. And after awhile they feel so real to me I can’t imagine basing them on anyone but themselves!
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
It might be classed more as literary fiction than women’s fiction, but Small Wars by Sadie Jones is one of my favourite books. She writes about the minutiae of a woman’s life with such sensitivity and detail, and the story of a marriage in trouble is intensely moving without being melodramatic.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I try to plan a little bit; I like to know what the general arc of the story is going to be, although I also discover things along the way.I write chronologically from start to finish, and I revise the same way. I usually require at least two, sometimes three, drafts to get it right.
I started out writing for the women’s magazine market in England, which was a fantastic way to hone my writing skills. After seven years and over three hundred short stories, I moved to writing series romance for Mills & Boon/Harlequin, and then from there to women’s fiction. Each step has been an important part of my personal writing process.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That you can just bang out books and collect cheques – it’s a lot of hard work!
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Finish something. I’ve talked to so many would-be writers who get stuck trying to perfect the first chapter of a novel. Filling up a blank page with words is scary and sometimes disappointing, because it always sounded better in your head. You’ve got to push past that initial inertia and actually complete a novel or story or play – because you learn so much through the actual writing of a complete work. And even if that completed book never sees the light of day again, it will be worth it.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a women’s fiction for Penguin/NAL titled Now and Then Friends. It’s the second in my Hartley-by-the-Sea series, which is set in a small village on the Cumbrian Coast in England. The first, Rainy Day Sisters, is out in August.
The Lost Garden by Katharine Swartz is published by Lion Fiction and is out 2 July.