This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Rosa Rankin-Gee, author of The Last Kings of Sark, spoke to us recently about her writing and her book, which we'll be reviewing here soon.
My best friend recently whacked me on my head because I said that I set the alarm for 9.05am (she had no right to do this – she only gets up half an hour earlier!). After breakfast, I tend to do ‘personal admin’, which is quite a horrendous phrase. Basically, I email and this magically engulfs hours. It’s normally late morning, and then again in the afternoon, when I go to a café, hopefully without internet, and resituate my head in the world I’m writing about.
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When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
Celebrities, no…unless you mean writers who are famous. In which case, yes, because if you want to be a writer, reading a lot is one of the only ways you might possibly have a chance.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?White Teeth by Zadie Smith was very important to me because it was one of the first books I read that reflected worlds I knew (I grew up next door to Willesden) and in such a full, fizzing, beautiful way. It’s also a perfect example of Women’s Fiction being everyone’s fiction – that book crosses generations and gender as easily as crossing the road.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I think, even though my first novel is now out in the world, I might not know my own writing process yet. It might be entirely different for the next one. I hope I hold true to this though: be fearless when writing your first draft. Because the coward / critic in you can always come out later.
What was your journey to being a published author and what made you want to write about Sark?
After I graduated from university, I went to Sark for 17 days with a friend to work for a lovely family. I took notes about the island – it’s a beautiful place, saturated in strangeness, only because of its commendable struggle to retain its traditions. There are no cars for example, and no streetlights. And so I wrote about it. The pivotal moment in the book’s story – the story of the book rather than the story in the book – was winning Shakespeare & Company’s Paris Literary Prize. I’ve never experienced happiness like that, and from it, came everything. An agent, interest from a publisher, and a feeling in my own mind that I might be able to do this.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That writers are anti-social. Perhaps the best ones are, but I am… not. If I don’t communicate in some way with another human for more than five hours, my brain starts to feel untethered.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Write a diary. You’ll never get writers block with a diary. And you’ll go some way towards stopping yourself from losing parts of your life (because forgetting is losing, really).
What are you working on at the moment?
That would be telling…