This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
We'd like to wish a very happy publication day to Laura Wilkinson who has taken time out of her busy book tour to pop over and chat with us about her latest book, Redemption Song.
Not sure I have an average writing day. Like many women, my life is hectic – two children, two Can jobs (I also work as an editor and mentor to developing writers), a filthy house and meadow-like garden which do occasionally have to be tackled. When I’m in the thick of a novel – i.e. when the first 10k words are down and I know where I’m going, or have proved to myself that the idea has legs – I write for a minimum of two hours each day. Some days I might write for twice this length of time and knock out three or four thousand words, but commonly I aim for around a thousand ‘good’ words a day. I begin by editing (loosely) the work I did the day before and then I jump right back in. After the daily word count is down I answer emails, mess around on Facebook and Twitter – I mean promote my work on social media – read, blog and do all the other work that comes with the job of being an author.
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I rarely use people I know and never for the leads. However – there’s often a ‘however’ in my interviews; I’m nothing if not contrary – there are a couple of minor characters in Public Battles, Private Wars whose backstory has been borrowed from family members – but I won’t say who they are! As for celebrities … well, I have been known to cast my books as I write and I keep Pinterest boards for my WIPs. My writing style has been described as visual and I do find having a strong mental image of my characters helpful, though they don’t have to be famous.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Phew, that’s a hard one – there are so many! Jane Austen is inspirational – my favourite of hers is Emma because I like flawed female leads – as is Daphne du Maurier (Rebecca – what else?). Of more contemporary authors, I’m a huge fan of Maggie O’Farrell – After You’d Gone is my personal favourite though it’s a hard call – Jojo Moyes (Me Before You), Rowan Coleman, Julie Cohen, Sarah Rayner, Kate Harrison … There are a great many inspirational authors out there; I’m constantly awed and humbled by the wealth of talent.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
My process has altered over time. I’m working on my fourth ‘Laura’ novel (I’ve written another two under a pseudonym) and these days I tend to plan much more than I did with my first and second novels when I would definitely have described myself as a total and utter pantser. However (see?), I’m still not a total planner. I begin with a ‘what if’ question and a character, or two, and I meet them as you would in real life – with an impression, followed by a conversation, then another, and I discover and get to know my characters as I write. I place them in difficult situations and watch how they react. I might have a direction I’d like to take them in but they will, sometimes, surprise me and this is, for me, one of the great joys of not planning too tightly. I tend to have a rough sketch of the story arc before I begin and I plan structure before I start now. Skin Deep (scheduled for publication 2017) is structurally complex and if I had not planned and thought about this before I began writing it would have been one almighty mess. In summary, I’m a flexible, partial planner!
Drafts – phew, this depends on the book. My first took about ten, maybe more, Public Battles, Private Wars came out pretty much fully formed so took only four drafts, as did Redemption Song. But as for Skin Deep … well, I’ve lost count!
What was your journey to being a published author?
After minor success with short stories, I won a debut novel competition and a teeny-tiny press offered to publish it. I was blown away because I only wrote it to see if I could write a novel, publication wasn’t on my mind initially. But, I’d found my form and knew that the novel was where I was most comfortable and happy. Novels are what I like to read best so that should have told me something. I can be a bit slow at times and I was suffering from ‘baby brain’ at the time.
That you become very rich and spend much of your time hoofing it down the red carpet or appearing on telly looking impossibly glamourous. JK Rowling is the exception and not the rule.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Read, a lot, and not only in your genre. Read like a writer. Study what makes a book work for you, and what doesn’t. Make time to write and then glue your bottom to the chair. Even if you can only write for an hour a day you’ll be surprised at how quickly those words will pile up to something novel-sized.
What are you working on at the moment?
My Jan 2017 novel, Skin Deep, is written so alongside working on it with my lovely editor, Greg, I’m writing a brand new novel. It’s very early days (15k into a first draft) so I’m loathe to say too much other than it’s about addiction and love – love between sisters and grandparents, as well as partners.
Skin Deep is another love story, though not a conventional one – to put it mildly! It follows beautiful artist Diana and Cal, a deformed boy. Both of them are seeking love and purpose, trying to find acceptance and their place in a world fixated with image. It explores obsession, concepts of beauty, and the legacy of parental exploitation. And if this makes it sound a little grim – it’s not. It’s full of wonder and joy, love and hope.