This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
When Brigid Coady won the Katie Fforde bursary, she knew she couldn't give up on her writing dreams. These days, she writes YA series and rom-coms for HarperImpulse, the latest of which, No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham, is out now.
I try to ensure that my average working day includes writing. Most of my writing is done on the commute to and from work. I get up at 5am and I’m at Victoria Station just past 6am. I get the largest decaf latte from Starbucks and get on the 6.36am train. I know it is a ridiculously early start but it means I get a table. Out comes my iPad, the sound cancelling headphones and before we've left the station I'm writing. I get about fifty minutes concentrated writing in. On the way home in the evening, if I get a table I try and get about twenty minutes done.
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When you are writing, do you use any celebrities or people you know as inspiration?
I very rarely use celebrities as inspiration but I do use events or little things from other people as inspiration. In No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham, the hero, Jack Twist, has a brightly coloured suit lining, this was 'borrowed' from a lovely ex who wore a beautiful bespoke suit with a bright lining. It fitted the idea I had of Jack Twist perfectly.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
My favourite Women's Fiction book is Frederica by Georgette Heyer. I was brought up on Georgette Heyer and for years Arabella or The Devil's Cub were my favourites but as I grew older I realised Frederica is where it was at. She is a 'managing female' who doesn't see herself as a heroine. I loved the way she and the Alverstoke fall in love, both are fighting it and are unsure. She feels like a very modern heroine to me, it could be period chick lit.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
My process is I leap upwards and start my dive and then halfway through the air, as I’m about to hit the page, I start planning. I usually start with an idea, or a scene and then start writing. After a few thousand words, enough to get an idea of the voice and tone, I start to plan and look at the theme of the book.I always power through and do a very rough first draft, which will be very short. It is almost the skeleton of the book. Then I write as many drafts as is needed. Each draft I try and deal with a separate issue until it is done.
My journey was long!! I joined the RNA in 2003 but I'd already been trying to write for a few years before that. And if we add in the novel I started at seventeen… It has been decades. Over the years I had a few near misses with publishers liking my voice but not my stories. I was about to take a break in 2010 when Katie Fforde awarded me her bursary. After that I realised I couldn't take a break or give up. Ever. The end of 2012 was hard, I lost my job, and I couldn't concentrate on a full book. I started writing short stories to keep me writing but also for my sanity. I sent a short called The Last Kiss to Kimberley Young at HarperCollins, little did I know that HarperImpulse was about to be launched. Kim and my lovely editor, Charlotte Ledger, then commissioned me to write five more kiss stories. Then they asked for a Christmas anthology. I was on my way. Originally No One Wants to Be Miss Havisham was a short novel that I'd started back in 2008, I finished it in 2014 and sent it to Charlotte. She bought it but suggested that I doubled it in size! I have to say I blanched but I took it as a writing challenge.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
The biggest myth about being a novelist is that we all get paid the massive pay cheques <insert maniacal laughter>
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Do it! If you have the urge to write then start writing. But once you start it is a bit like selling your soul to the devil, you can't give up… because what if the next story, the next submission, the next agent is the one that gets you there? Proceed with caution, this becomes your life.
What are you working on at the moment?
I'm currently writing the first draft of my next adult rom com and revising a YA contemporary romance called Sugar Girl.