At this time of year we're all looking forward to long, hot summer days. Marie Laval's book, A Spell in Provence, has a perfect setting and today she's chatting to Debs about her writing process and her journey to becoming a published author.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I work as a full-time teacher so during term-time writing has to wait until I come home and look after my family, then finish my lesson planning and marking. By the time I sit at the computer I am usually very tired! When I am on holiday however, I love to get up really early before anybody else is up in the house, write in complete silence and drink lots of cups of tea. It's heaven!
When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
Not usually, although I do sometimes try and find photos of actors or sportsmen to inspire me as I write the story.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I think it would have to be the Claudine series of novels by French writer Colette, which were published in the early twentieth century. These were the very first 'grown up' novels I read and I absolutely loved Colette's style and the setting of the Belle Epoque in France.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I am guilty of diving head first with only a very vague idea of the plot and subplots. I always have a strong feel for the main characters, their motivation and personality, and for the setting of the story but the rest I make up as I go along. That's why it takes me so long to complete a project. I often have to backtrack and delete whole chapters, characters or storylines.
Every time I start a new story I promise myself to be more organised and to plan more, but I never do.
What was your journey to being a published author?
The first piece of writing I had published was a short story, and that was about twenty years ago. I carried on writing on and off after that, but when another of my short stories won first prize in a competition and yet another was short listed in an international award, I started thinking that maybe I could actually write in English and I could try writing a novel. The 'déclic' – as we say in French – was a workshop on writing romantic fiction which was organised by Calderdale libraries. It was so inspiring that I came home and started my first novel straight away! After a few (!) rejection letters, my debut historical romance was published by Canadian publisher MuseitUp Publishing. I will never forget the day I got the email with the contract attached. It was a wonderful moment!
That things happen quickly! Even after you sign a publishing contract it takes months of waiting, editing and proofreading before you finally see the book published. But then, what a thrill it is!
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Write the story you would like to read.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am completing the first draft of a contemporary romance set in the Cairngorms in Scotland before starting on the editing of my third historical romance, Dancing for the Devil, which will be released by Áccent Press in June.