This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
The lovely Lucy Diamond has kindly answered some questions for us here at Novelicious. Her new book, Me and Mr Jones, is published on 6th June.
I have three children so the minute I am back from the morning school run, I make a massive cup of tea and sit at my desk where I faff around on the internet – I mean, write slavishly until three o’clock, aiming for 2,500 words in that time. Once a year, I go away for a few days, usually to the place the current book is set, and lock myself away with the laptop. With no distractions, it’s much easier to get on a roll and I can write 5-6,000 words a day like this. Extremely handy when a deadline is looming!
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
As a rule, no. My characters may have traits or catchphrases nicked from people in real life but they evolve into a completely different individual by the time I’ve finished with them. My friends are definitely wary of me using their stories in a novel though – often a particularly juicy bit of gossip is prefaced with “You’ve got to promise not to put this in a book!”
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Can I pick two? Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell and Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes are both fabulous: great characters and stories with real heart. If you haven’t read them yet, you’re in for a massive treat.
What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I envy authors who plan everything in advance but that doesn’t work for me. The only time I have ever fully mapped out a whole story (and God, it was excruciating), it just killed it off for me and I didn’t want to write it any more. For me, the fun is discovering what happens along the way. (Fun, indeed. I usually spend the entire first draft in a cold sweat of terror, wondering what the hell is going to happen in this wretched story and how on earth I am going to wrap it all up. Hmmm, maybe ‘fun’ was the wrong word…)
I rewrite constantly as I go along, always beginning a new writing day by going over and editing the work from the previous session. Once I’ve hit the end of a first draft (yay) I leave it a few weeks so that I can read the whole thing through with fresh eyes. Then I do a massive edit. For Me And Mr Jones, I basically ripped it all apart and put it back together again. (Quite scary but it definitely resulted in a better book.) I really enjoy this stage, trying to polish up every line, cutting out the waffle (there’s always a lot of waffle) and making sure each scene carries the story forward. My agent gives me feedback and I write a third draft, then it’s off to my editor for her thoughts, and a fourth draft. So four main drafts in all, plus a lot of tinkering.
What was your journey to being a published author?
When I left university, my first job (apart from working in a horrible pub) was as an editorial assistant at Random House. (I think Rowan Coleman was working there at the same time, although our paths never crossed!) This was the perfect training ground for a wannabe author – I not only learned how a book was produced, but really got to grips with the mechanics of a good story too, and the importance of structure, pacing and memorable characters. I also realised (more depressingly) just how many thousands of people sent in manuscripts, hoping to be published, and how fierce the competition was (is).
Undaunted, I wrote a book for teenagers and sent it to an agent under a false name. She took me on and the book was duly published… and from then on I was hooked. I’ve had over 100 children’s books published now, and Me And Mr Jones will be my seventh novel – and still, nothing beats the thrill of seeing your book, hot off the press and in your clammy little hands. Pure joy!
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That it’s non-stop glamour – parties, book launches and signings. IN MY DREAMS. The reality for me is that there’s a LOT of sitting at my desk in scruffy clothes and no make-up, scowling at the computer, eating too many biscuits and wondering if I can bunk off and go into town instead.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Go for it! If you need a push to get started, sign up for a creative writing course at your local college. (It worked for me.) Or try NaNoWriMo which runs every November (Google it). Finally, tell everyone you know that you are writing a novel. Then you’ll constantly be harassed by them asking, “How’s it going? Have you finished?” and the thought of having to confess “Um, I haven’t really got further than the title yet” will make you feel such a prat you’ll be FORCED to write it, just to get them off your back. Good luck!
What are you working on at the moment?
I have just finished Novel number 8 and am at that glorious stage between first draft and second where I’m not thinking about it at all. What I AM thinking about is what to write next: I have two ideas percolating in my head, both little more than one-sentence ‘What-if…?’s so far. The next step is to try and flesh them out a bit, and start thinking about characters. Exciting!