This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
First published in Just Seventeen magazine at the age of 14, Chrissie Manby has written 20 novels with her latest, A Proper Family Adventure, released tomorrow. Chrissie is here now to talk about her writing career, books she loves and finding inspiration in Poldark.
A Proper Family Adventure is the third book in the Proper Family series. The Bensons are back and this time they’re on a Mediterranean cruise! All the old gang are there: Chelsea, Jack, Granddad Bill. But they’re joined by some new characters, who have stories and secrets of their own. Though the book is part of a series, I’ve written it so that it can be read as a stand-alone novel. With backdrops such as Barcelona, Corsica, Rome, Florence and Gibraltar to the action, I hope it will bring some sunshine to my readers wherever they spend their holidays this year.
Where do you find inspiration for your books?
I find inspiration everywhere. There’s always a story to be found if you look closely enough, listen hard enough or just let your imagination roam. I’ve based stories on things I’ve read in the newspaper and conversations overheard on the bus. I’ve also been lucky enough to have the odd idea come to me in a dream. Eating cheese helps.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
There’s no such thing as an average writing day for me. I write at all times of day, anywhere I find myself. The one constant is word count. At the moment, I’m trying to write 2500 words a day to hit a July deadline.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
Of course. It’s great fun to cast the movie of your book as you’re writing it. Write now, everything I write stars Aidan Turner (Poldark). I can’t think of a better romantic hero.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
There are so many, it’s hard to choose but I do love Anne Tyler’s The Accidental Tourist, which is a wonderful study of love, loss and starting again.I read the last page of that book in a diner in New York. I was alone. I burst into tears. The waiter gave me a free glass of wine.
What female writer has inspired you?
I’m inspired by Lucy Dillon’s work ethic! She is very dedicated to her writing. I wish I had an ounce of her artistic integrity.
Can you give us three book recommendations?
The Accidental Tourist – Anne Tyler
A Hundred Pieces of Me – Lucy Dillon
That Girl From Nowhere – Dorothy Koomson
I used to dive in but these days I’m a planner. I use a method based on screenwriting principles. I even wrote an ebook about it. It’s called Writing For Love.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I was published for the first time in Just Seventeen. I was fourteen and I wrote a story called ‘Whatever Happened to The Wonderful Boy I Fell In Love With’ about a girl trying to break up with her boyfriend. She gives him a long, long speech about his shortcomings, only to realise that he hasn’t been listening because he’s wearing a Sony Walkman (which was the new, new thing!). I was worried that my school-friends would tease me so I published that story as Carolyn Lane. After that, I wrote about twenty more stories for Just Seventeen. Seeing them published gave me the courage to write my first novella (Inspiration, published as Stephanie Ash), which helped me to get an agent who got me my first deal with Hodder. The rest is history.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That anyone could do it. I believe the saying ‘everybody has a book in them’ to be true but not everybody is able to get that story out in a way that’s interesting to someone who doesn’t know them.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just keep writing. And don’t edit until you’ve finished a full draft. It’s too easy to keep going over and over the first few chapters. You have to push on to the end of the story and make the whole as strong as the beginning.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing A Wedding At Christmas which is about… It’s going to be published in November.