This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Anouska Knight got a publishing deal with Mills and Boon after winning Racy Reads, a contemporary women's fiction competition on ITV’s Lorraine. Her new novel, Since You’ve Been Gone, is out now!
Well, it’s usually a three-part process.
Part 1 – where possible, deposit kids at school, Nanny’s, or in front of TV with a packet of Monster Munch if needs be.
Part 2 – wrestle with conscience over childcare arrangements and/or mothering skills
Part 3 – make a brew in son’s thermos mug (I have an annoying habit of letting drinks go cold) and head on up to my room where I can slob out on my bed with the laptop. I do occasionally work at the kitchen table but it gives me a sore rump plus I’m prone to eating more biscuits if I’m on the ground floor. I’m also easily distracted by things such as ringing house phones and good looking postmen, so I find hiding upstairs pretending I’m not home enables me to ignore calls and that sort of thing. Unless it’s my editor, of course. I would never ignore her calls. (Just in case she reads this)
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
This is going to sound terrible, but for looks it’s the famous lot, and for personality traits, definitely the people I know. I don’t mean that as it sounds – I do know some lovely lookers in real life, in case you’re wondering – but that’s the easiest way I can put it.
When I’m creating characters, I find it helps to have a visual point of reference and pictures of famous people are readily available. For example when I came up with Fergie in Since You’ve Been Gone, I found myself referring to images of Oliver Reed and Liam Neeson to help nail down various physical attributes. Everything else though comes from the observations I make of the people around me, either when chatting to them myself or watching the way they interact with others. They’re rich pickings.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I think favourite of all time is a tricky one, because depending on the age I am, the mood I’m in, all that stuff, I’ll get something different out of what I’m reading. One title that did strike quite a profound chord, was My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. I read this book shortly after my kid sister was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. At the time of her diagnosis, I had a 2 year old son and a new 4 month old baby. Suddenly, life became very fragile.
As a sister, I’d have done anything to help Mena through her illness. As a mother, I realised the hell my own mum was in, watching her child suffer. Seeing my own little boys, I found it very hard to comprehend the thought of any siblings having the lives of Kate and Anna Fitzgerald.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
Because of Since You’ve Been Gone and its unusual beginnings, writing my first novel was definitely a case of diving into a scene I felt strongly about first, then planning the rest of the novel from that. I tend to just go with the flow wherever possible really, but as a disgracefully disorganised individual, I am becoming aware of the merits of forward-thinking. The book I’m currently writing has had more of a planning stage simply because time has allowed it, but I think story writing needs to be fluid to some degree, otherwise you might head off unforeseen possibilities to develop additional plots or characters.
What was your journey to being a published author?
You mean you didn’t see it on the telly-box? I have backup copies in DVD format if anyone wants one? I think my aunt was making them for Xmas presents, but there’s probably a law against that so I’ll say no more.
To cut a very awesome story short, I entered the Racy Reads competition on ITV’s Lorraine back in January 2013 for the chance to win a publishing deal with Mills & Boon. By February, Lorraine had declared me the winner, by March I’d jetted off to LA for a lunch date with the delightful Jackie Collins, and by April I’d somehow submitted 97k words to my editor.
May saw the book going through the motions of copy-editing, proof reading etc, June saw me starting on the synopsis for book number two – did I mention they’d offered me two more books?! Whoo hoo!
Then finally, on the 16th July, Since You’ve Been Gone was released. It’s been an interesting year!
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
Hopefully, that a novelist needs to be a literary genius with an endless vocabulary and a brain the size of a water-melon. Don’t get me wrong, it probably helps, but I think overall, heart goes a long way. If you’ve got heart, your words will have heart too.
Another myth would be that being a novelist is an unattainable goal. I certainly thought of it that way. Turns out, I was wrong.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Do it. Pick up your pen or fire up your pc and get to it.
When I started tinkering at piano (I can’t play for toffee, but the point still stands) my Pa told me that Jools Holland had said ‘Play what you like, and like what you play.’ I think that’s sound advice for writing too.
Don’t get bogged down in the motions. You have to feel what you’re writing, so write what you feel, channel it into your work. Not everyone will like what you put out there, so – straight off – you might as well forget trying to please everyone. Write something that you’re passionate about, because it’s your novel at the end of the day.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on my second novel – now there’s a sentence I didn’t see coming last year – for release June 2014! It’s early days, but the book is centred around the themes of adversity, readjustment and the disabling effects of love.