This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Today we put Gayle Curtis in the hot seat. Gayle's novel, Too Close is described as a twisted psychological thriller not for the faint-hearted!
Too Close is about twins, Cecelia and Sebastian who are brought up in a bleak old farmhouse by two very dysfunctional parents. A tragic event occurs which threatens their seemingly unshakeable bond for many years to come.
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Where do you find inspiration for your books?
We live near the coast and a walk along one of the beaches is hugely inspirational to me. I read lots of psychology texts, court cases and forensic reports as well as watching documentaries about crime. Although these materials don’t give me stories, they seem to trigger inspiration for ideas. I also collect old black and white photos and sift through those when I need to have a think. People who talk to you in queues often impart a little gem every now and again!
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I’m an early bird so I wake up around 5am sometimes earlier if I’m working on something or have a deadline. I love the quiet of the early mornings, there’s something magical about it. After I’ve made a cup of tea I usually work for a few hours and then go for a run or do a little yoga, shower and get back to it, usually until my eyes are blurry – that’s a good time to stop! I write long hand first, normally no more than ten pages before I transfer to the computer.
What book means the most to you?
Anything by Roald Dahl. It’s not just the wonderful stories he wrote but the emotions he evokes that you never forget. I still remember the first time I read The Twits and how much I loved it.
Which female writer has inspired you?
Sue Townsend. I can read her books repeatedly and I love the fact she wrote regardless of her situation, her passion to write prevailed in adverse circumstances. The Adrian Mole series still makes me laugh.
What are the best bits, worst bits and most surprising bits of being an author?
Seeing a character develop and a plot come together while you know you’re hiding a great twist. Blurry eyes! Anyone who takes the time to read and review something I’ve written.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I dive in with a prologue and then I write a chapter schedule. I don’t stick to the list but it really helps, especially when you return to the story for editing or need to change an aspect of the book. In the main I just write and then shuffle it like a pack of cards – chapter ten can always become chapter three with a few changes. I draw lots of spider diagrams for characters so I can remember hair colour, foibles etc. Three or four drafts, it depends how many eureka moments occur during the process!
What was your journey to being a published or self-published author?
Eight years ago, Paul Feldstein from The Feldstein Agency offered me a contract. While we were waiting to hear back from publishers, I self-published two novels on Kindle. The problem with this path is it can take you away from writing because you need so much time to market your work. I did a lot of free promotions! This all fizzled out when I busied myself writing two new books. February last year my agent bagged me a four book deal with BonnierZaffre.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just write. Just get on with it. Just do it! Even if you write for ten minutes a day to start with, something is better than nothing. Buy yourself a notebook and nurture it like a pet, it will make you prioritise time for writing and then it begins to feel like an important part of your day. Hone your listening skills too. Someone will always tell you something that might not seem important but however small, it can trigger a story. The other day, an elderly man in the street commented on the bare trees and winter months and it led me to think about something else completely unrelated. It’s as simple as that.
What are you working on at the moment?
Currently, the edit for The Suicide Watcher which is going to be published next June in eBook, paperback in December which is about a psychopath who coerces people into suicide. Years later a child belonging to the family of one of the suicide watcher’s victims is abducted and everyone begins to wonder if the two incidents are connected. In between edits I’m working on a new book about three dysfunctional sets of people/families who buy into a false new life set in a remote, abandoned holiday resort advertised to them as a gated community, but a fresh start in a new location doesn’t necessarily cool frayed emotions, in fact, for one of the residents, the insular and suffocating lifestyle causes their problems to escalate out of control.
Fascinating interview. Thank you so much, Gayle!