This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Joanne Harris, author of bestselling favourites such as Chocolat and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé, stopped by recently to talk about where she finds inspiration for her books and her writing process. Joanne's latest book, A Cat, A Hat and a Piece of String, is out now.
Everywhere. The newspapers; the net; overheard conversations; fairy tales; my travels; my friends; my family. No-one needs to look far for inspiration – stories are everywhere. It’s just a matter of learning how to spot them.
Can you tell us a little about your average writing day?
I get up around 7.00am. I might have breakfast and a run (I use the running app Zombies, Run to motivate myself). Then I go to the shed and work – it’s where I know I won’t be disturbed. I tend to run out of steam at about 1.00pm or 2.00pm – after that I do less demanding things, like editing or rewriting.
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?It’s a little like casting a play – I sometimes mentally cast people I know (from the screen or otherwise) in the roles of certain characters, but sometimes the character just appears without my knowing where they’re from. Often my characters are aspects of myself, or reflect facets of my own personality – it makes them easier to write if you can empathize with them on some level.
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I don’t really make a distinction between women’s fiction and the regular kind. My favourite book is Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables, which my grandfather used to read to me when I was young.
What female writer has inspired you?
Angela Carter. I love her dark fairytales and exuberant imagery.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I usually do two or three drafts, but I tend to hone the prose as I write. I don’t always plan everything ahead, but I do have a general trajectory. I like to read aloud as I go. It’s the best means of editing my work. And I don’t always write in a linear way – sometimes I write sections that I then move around to fit the shape of the novel.
What was your journey to being a published author?
Lots of work: an agent; a publisher; lots more work. And luck, of course. Lots of luck.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That novelists are different from any other kind of person.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just write. It’s the only way to improve.
What are you working on at the moment?
Top secret Stuff.