This is my contribution to the “blog tour” game going around the Internet (#Mywritingprocess). Authors blog about their writing process and then tag someone else to do the same. I was tagged by Sandra Moran, an author I’m very happy to have met recently and whose book ‘Letters Never Sent’ was the first full-length novel I’ve read in ages. It was definitely worth breaking my fiction reading block for this excellent book. See her blog post here.
1. What am I working on?
I released my fourth novel ‘A Place Somewhere’ in March (along with a song for the book), and promised myself a break to deal with moving from Ireland to America. However, as seems to happen every time I finish a novel, another one bubbles to the surface.
So now I’m working on the third in the Vision Painter series. I I have an outline worked out and the characters have been talking away to me on my many walks with Clio through my new (temporary) neighborhood.
I’m still at that early stage where decisions can shape the whole outcome. As they say, every journey of a thousands steps begins with one step. If that step sets the novel off in the direction of the East instead of West, it will end up completely different. I find that thought exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time.
Falling Colours and Casting Shadows (the first two books in the Vision Painter series) were quite different from each other, and I enjoyed both in different ways. Falling Colours introduced the unique concept of vision painting and its power while Casting Shadows delved into the origins and secrets of the profession.This, as yet untitled, sequel will focus more on the beauty of the unique concept of vision painting, and its future. And there will still be love, pain, deception, and a few twists along the way. Kiran has to face a whole new set of challenges, including a new vision painter in town.
2. How does my work differ from others in the same genre?
I‘d be a lot more able to answer this question if I knew in what genre I wrote and so counted as the ‘same genre’.
I don’t really write by genre. I write the story I need to tell, and everyone’s story is different. I draw from my diverse background as an Indian, born in Nigeria, living for many years in Ireland, and with all my family in America. From my educational and career background as a doctor, an IT person, a restaurant/bar owner, a writer. Even from my brief experiences in summer jobs as chambermaid, inventory clerk, pizza cutter, physiotherapy assistant, flower-stall ‘manager’. From my interests, my daily life, my loves, my failures, my successes.
My work will always, therefore, be different from the work of other writers in any genre. In the same way that their stories will be different from mine.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I write to find out what I believe, what I feel, what life is about, what love is about. To answer the many questions that I have. I write characters who are not me, but they allow me to live in them, to see what could happen in another world, to achieve a temporary sense of control, to say and do what I should have, to make sense of what others do.
I’ve always been an introvert and sometimes, in the past, I’ve lived through my avid reading. Since I started writing stories, I have lived in the minds of many different characters. I’ve had their voices playing in my head. In those years, there have only been a few weeks, between projects, where I’ve woken up to just my voice, to the ‘reality’ of a life where none of us has any control. The sensible advice would probably be to ‘get out more’, but I feel less alone by having the capacity to live in those parallel lives, to have the company of my ‘imaginary friends’ as well. And sometimes I discover things in my characters or my fictional worlds that help me in my ‘real’ life.
4. How does my writing process work?
I’d love to be able to answer that now in the same way that I did for a blog post months ago or years ago. But it has changed again. My writing process seems to be changing along with me, as I grow and learn.
I still work along the basic lines of – get an idea (or get hit on the head with an idea), develop the idea into a concept by asking ‘what if’ questions, work out an outline, design the architecture of the story, write the scenes. I edit as I write, so the next step for me is to get the manuscript to trusted beta readers and see if there is anything that isn’t working for them.
What has mostly changed for this novel are the mechanics of writing. I’m not at my usual writing spot, with my usual PC/laptop. (I’m supposed to be learning MAC programming so I’m now Windows-less and that’s a big change after so many years). When I wrote longhand, it was on the back of old typed printouts of my previous novels. Now I’m carrying around a purple ruled notepad that I stole from my nephew’s collection for school. I try to keep the notepad near me, but usually get whole conversations playing out in my head while I’m on my many walks with Clio (I know, I know, I’m repeating myself, but she really has become very demanding). The walks can be very good for percolating, and I’ve managed to come back from them and get a few conversations down on paper. Which is another change that I noticed from the last few months of writing ‘A Place Somewhere’. I’m writing down more conversations between characters and then building scenes around them.
The best analogy I can think of for my writing process is that of a train. I decide that I’m going to take a journey, I pick my departure and destination and construct a railway line with stations along the way. I create the scenes as compartments of the train. While all of that might seem very structured and mechanical, I need it to keep on track. I invite the characters on the journey and give them the freedom to be themselves within the compartments. They can have a riotous party or they can talk quietly amongst themselves. There are times when I’ve caught them running along the roof of the carriages whooping and hollering, but ultimately we all remain on the train and it is up to me to keep them on board and drive that thing to the destination.
At the moment, with the WIP, I have gathered everyone together for the journey and I’m laying out the tracks. I wrote the Prologue (got too excited about writing again and jumped ahead of myself), but I’m not allowing anyone on board until I’ve figured out the journey. Some characters have already started to have conversations on the platform, so I’m taking notes. With everything that is going on in my life, they’re going to have to be patient..
I’m tagging Caren Werlinger, author of Looking Through Windows, Miserere, In This Small Spot, and Year of the Monsoon. Her newest release, She Sings of Old, Unhappy, Far-off Things, will be available in May. You can find out more about her work at www.cjwerlinger.wordpress.com.
I’m also tagging Kate McLachlan, author of RIP Van Dyke, Rescue at Inspiration Point, Hearts,Dead and Alive, and Murder and the Hurdy Gurdy Girl. Her latest book, Return of an Impetuous Pilot, was released in March 2014. Please check her out at http://www.katemclachlan.com.
And last, but certainly not least, I’m tagging my best hugger Tonie Chacon McLachlan, wife of Kate McLachlan, and author of Struck! A Titanic Love Story which is being published in April 2015. http://www.toniechacon.homestead.com.
Going to add another tag
I’m tagging Suzie Carr, author of Staying True, Inner Secrets, The Fiche Room, Tangerine Twist, A New Leash on Life, The Muse – A Novel of Romance and Discovery, and Two Feet off the Ground. Her latest release, The Journey Somewhere is now available. Find out more at http://curveswelcome.com.