This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
Today we're joined by Scarlett Bailey, who talks imaginary boyfriends, the long journey to becoming a published writer and her new book, Just for Christmas, which is out now.
I am an early riser. It’s the bane of my life that I can’t lie in, so I am usually at my desk by 9am. I have come to realise that I need at least two hours of faffing about before I get any proper writing done, and it normally takes me another hour or so to hit my stride, but once I’m in the groove I write very quickly and lots of words. They might not be good words, at that point, but I believe in getting them down and then revisiting them and editing them later. I usually eat at my desk, which is why my laptop is full of crumbs, and I finish around 6pm. I don’t normally write at night, unless there is a deadline looming!
When you are writing, do you use any famous people or people you know as inspiration?
Well, I won’t lie, Ryan Gosling is my imaginary boyfriend and pops up now and again. I think the inspiration for Ruan is Aiden Turner, who I loved as Mitchell in Being Human. I do love a dark handsome mysterious man…
What is your favourite Women’s Fiction book of all time and why?
Oh that’s such a tricky question to answer! I’m going to stick to contemporary, and I have to say Bridget Jones Diary, because when I read it, it was the first time I thought a book had been written just for me. It is perfection. (Not that I weigh myself everyday or wear big pants, mind.)What is your writing process? Do you plan first or dive in? How many drafts do you do?
I plan and then I dive in. So for Just for Christmas, I knew I wanted it to be pacey with a twisty plot, and full of characters that would be strong enough to return in another novel (yes, I’m writing a second Poldore novel as we speak), so I worked hard on the characters first, giving them bios and then wrote a 30 page plot, which took me a long time to work out. It was worth it though, because when it came to the writing, I could just dive in and enjoy it. The plot did change, and a few unexpected things happened along the way, which I always enjoy, but good planning allowed me to be spontaneous in the writing.
What was your journey to being a published author?
I worked hard at it for a long time. I wrote a novel for my dissertation at Uni (it was awful) and studied for an MA in creative writing at Middlesex University. I wrote every day, but the turning point came when I won a short story competition. This helped open doors to me, led me to my agent, and in turn some months later, to my first book deal. But there was a lot of hard work to do with my agent before I was ready to submit, and a lot more hard work after that. Being a published writer is a long journey, signing a contract is just the first step.
What do you think is the biggest myth about being a novelist?
That you have a glamorous life. I am answering these questions in my PJs with last night’s make-up on. I can see my diamante studded biker boots in the corner and that makes me feel a bit glam.
What advice can you give to our readers who want to write a novel of their own?
The hardest part is getting the first draft down. And it’s harder still when it’s your first time; it’s a question of self belief, determination and perseverance. If you can get that first draft down, then you are a very long way along the road that might lead to publication. The trick is not to stop and keep editing or doubting or re-writing, but to just keep going until you get to the end. Then you have something to work on. You will never finish a novel is you keep rewriting chapter one.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am writing the second Poldore novel, title TBC, but we will see a lot more of the lovely characters we meet in Just For Christmas. AND breaking news! Scarlett Bailey is NOT ‘Just For Christmas’, the next novel is out this summer.