This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Author Rebecca Farnworth preiously worked as a celebrity ghostwriter. Her latest novel, Swimming Pool Summer, has just been released.
I would love to be one of those writers who can swan off to a café with my laptop, and write away, blocking out the sound of other people typing, the background music, the whoosh of the coffee machines…but alas no. I’m too easily distracted and have to write in a room on my own.
My day follows the school day as I have three children, so after the mad rush of making breakfast, packed lunches, and tidying up(ish), I make myself the first of about ten mugs of tea (Lady Grey) and switch on my Mac Book. Sometimes I can’t wait to get started, other times I will do anything I can to avoid it – going on Facebook, emailing friends, planning my next trip to the cinema….But I always write something, even if I know I’m forcing myself and that the following day I’ll delete it all.
I try and break up my writing by doing something else, for instance going the gym or meeting a friend for coffee as I find it too intense to write all day and not that productive. I always regret the days when I stay glued to my desk because of deadlines, as by the evening I feel completely mad!
When you are writing do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
In ghost writing I have certainly have used famous people for inspiration. One of my heroes was blonde with stunning blue eyes and the Hollywood actor Paul Walker (Too Fast Too Furious, Into The Blue) was my model. He was even my screen saver for a while, much to my son’s disgust. He was utterly unconvinced when I told him it was for research…
I would never use people I know, that would be a very effective way of alienating friends! Though I might be inspired by a personality trait or a particular situation, so long as it wasn’t too close to home…
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
I love Jane Austen’s Persuasion, but the novel that probably influenced me most as a writer is Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes. It’s the story of Rachel Walsh who has ended up in rehab. Like all Keyes’ novels, it’s incredibly funny, poignant, and heart wrenching. It’s also brilliantly written, mixing Rachel’s present with a series of flashbacks to her life in New York and the relationship that her drug taking has destroyed. The first person narrative sucks you in and it only gradually dawns on you that Rachel is an unreliable narrator, who is in complete denial about the addiction that has very nearly claimed her life. Genius.
What is your writing process? Do you plan it first or dive in? How many drafts?
I do plan out my plots, but very loosely. There are always surprises when I’m in the middle of writing. It sounds a bit airy fairy but characters really do take on a life of their own. The novel comes together in my head as a series of scenes, much like a film and I go over and over them before I go to sleep, or when I get woken up by the sea gulls at four am (again).
I would say two drafts, but some chapters might get worked on a lot more.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I didn't seriously get into writing until I was in my thirties, despite always wanting to be a writer. Before that I was an English teacher, then worked at the BBC as a radio producer. I loved working at the BBC. But I wanted to write and there never seemed to be enough time. So I took a leap of faith and decided to go freelance so I could continue to work in radio and finally write – this was before children and a mortgage! I wrote light-hearted features for magazines, and I started writing my first novel, a contemporary romantic comedy. The turning point in my career as a writer came when I was interviewed by a literary agent, who was looking for a ghostwriter for a celebrity autobiography. I got the job and ghost wrote what was to be the first of four best selling autobiographies and then ghost wrote three novels. It was my particularly supportive editor, who when we were going through the edits on one of the ghost novels, suggested that I really should write my own novels. That inspired me to finish my first novel, Valentine and my editor and my agent managed to get me a two-book deal. I’ve continued to ghost write and write under my own name.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That writing for a living is the best job ever. There are times when it is, but there are also times it can be lonely and frustrating. I really miss the brilliant camaraderie I had with my colleagues when I worked at the BBC.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
Just do it! You will regret it if you always say you want to write a novel, but never get round to. You can always make time – step away from that Box Set! I wrote down something the novelist Ann Enright said in an interview and always have it in the front of any notebook I am using, “The only way to write a book is to write a book. That is the tao of writing.”
What are you working on at the moment?
My fourth novel, title tbc. It’s about two very different sisters.