This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Alice's latest book is TEN YEARS ON.
1. Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
My average writing day goes something like this: get up, maybe write a couple of emails, send one or two tweets, have breakfast, take Darcy, my Lucas terrier, for a walk around 8.30 am. My dog-walking time is a great way to meet friends – I call it my office banter, but it’s also a really good ‘thinking time’ for my novel. I think it’s important not to sit at your desk all day long – I’d become stale. I write from about 10.30 am to 1.30 pm, while Darcy is sleeping by my side. I always stop for lunch, watch Neighbours! Then I might swim early afternoon, think of plot and ideas as I go up and down the pool, then come back and write for another couple of hours. I’d say, on average, I write 5-6 hours a day. I love my job – so often find it hard to switch off, especially when I’m really into the story.
2. When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I often talk to friends to get inspiration. They laugh when they see me get my notepad out! For example, Monday to Friday Man was inspired by my group of dog-walking friends. Ten Years On was inspired by one of my girlfriends who moved back to her childhood home, where she met an old boyfriend from her past. I don’t use celebrities. I’d love to meet George Clooney but I don’t want to write about him… Enough people do…!
3. What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice. I love her because she was witty, her writing often moving, and she was so clever with the development of her characters. I also feel a connection because I was brought up in Winchester, where Jane Austen died. On many of my walks, I go past her small Georgian house near the Cathedral Close. Finally, Darcy is named after Mr Darcy!
PS: If you’d asked me who my favourite fiction writer is this minute, it’s Jojo Moyes. I can’t remember loving a book as much as, Me Before You.
4. What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
There’s a lot of thinking and churning to begin with, wondering if I will ever think up a good idea for my next book. I have to understand why I want to write a story about ‘x’ and why would anyone want to read it. Once I know what the heart of my book is, I then research really carefully. In Ten Years On, Joe, the hero, runs a wine-tasting school, so I made sure I went on a wine-tasting course first (great fun, not exactly hard work). Once the research is completed, I dive in, and then write countless drafts. Sometimes it seems like a never-ending process, but as each draft takes shape, and you lose the drivel that you initially wrote, it becomes very satisfying.
Ironically my first book, A Will to Win, was the easiest to get published. It happened quickly. I wrote the story of my childhood passion for tennis, followed by a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis that cruelly meant I could never pick up a racket again. I was encouraged to write my autobiography by a family friend, and then secured an agent and Macmillan fairly quickly. It hasn’t continued to be quite so easy or straightforward! I’ve learned so much about the publishing business; the first thing is just because you get one book published, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the next book in print. Like any other author, I’ve had many rejections. Writing is honestly like a snakes and ladder game. My first book being published was a big ladder moment, but I’ve had many snake moments too!
6. What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
Just as I’ve mentioned above – that if you get one novel published that automatically means you’ll be published again. Another myth is that it’s glamorous! When you read my average day, you’ll see it really isn’t! But I’m not in any way complaining. There’s nothing else in the world I’d rather do.
7. What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Don’t be put off by people saying the market is tough. If you think you can do it, that you have a story that needs telling, then do it! It’s really important to believe in yourself because you will get knocks along the way. As long as you have faith in what you write, it’s much easier to accept and learn from criticism. And whatever the outcome, I don’t think you’ll ever regret writing your novel.
8. What are you working on at the moment?
It’s a secret. I’m really sorry but I can’t tell you. All I will say is it has a dog in it, it’s a love story, and I’m passionate about it!