Melissa Bailey, author of the atmospheric The Medici Mirror, has kindly invited me to contribute to the Writing Process Blog Tour. This requires that I answer four set questions before nominating a fellow writer to do the same.
You’ll find Melissa’s answers here – and do watch out for Dark Tides, her new book scheduled for release in March 2015.
What am I working on?
Two true stories I’ve long been bursting to tell.
One took place in the old Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, where two of my more difficult relations were kidnapped on their honeymoon Grand Tour in the 1860s. Theirs was an awkward, ‘last-chance’ marriage of convenience – and yet once they found themselves unwittingly entangled in what quickly became a deadly drama, they also discovered a rare and lasting love.
The other is the story of a formidable great-aunt whose letters I inherited. A surprisingly scandalous past set her adrift across Europe and ultimately led her to Berlin, where she witnessed the rise of “that fool Hitler” and the communal insanity against which she courageously attempted to protest until her hurried death.
- How does my work differ from others in its genre?
I’m not sure I know what my ‘genre’ is.
Fact is I never think about things like ‘genre’. I simply write about real people and experiences that fire my heart, and journeys that have had a significant impact on my thinking and perception.
- Why do I write what I do?
Undoubtedly my childhood.
Not only were my formative years dominated by a tribe of unconventional relations, but by tales of forebears who braved the unexpected, broke the rules, explored beyond the ordinary. Such stories, particularly when recounted by my Grandmother [below], presented the world as a place of unlimited possibility and wonder.
These early influences taught me a fascination with personal journeys – the way people are driven to pursue them, often against their better judgement, only to find themselves forever changed.
4. How does my writing process work?
It often doesn’t.
I have to keep re-learning to accept these bleak periods as an essential aspect of the ‘process’. I also have to remind myself they are not unique to me, but are a shared experience that connects very many creative hearts.
However, when my self-doubts are consumed by the passion I feel for the protagonists of the story – my Grandmother, Bindra, Samuel and Kushal Magar in In the Shadow of Crows and Limitless Sky, for example; or Great Aunts Annie, Hannah and Christina in the two books I am presently writing – then the ‘process’ becomes vigorous, fluid and intensely pleasurable.
I become driven – perhaps even obsessive. I no longer need the food or sleep I’m accustomed to. I’ll be up before dawn to begin writing, only to have to be prised from the keyboard to eat or return to bed at night.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that what is produced will ever be read by anyone else, but at least it delivers plenty of material that can be edited later – always far preferable to being faced by that resolutely blank screen!
So what’s your ‘creative process’? Perhaps you’d like to share it below.
It’s now my pleasure to pass the Blog Tour to award-winning short story writer Fleur Smithwick. Her debut novel, How to Make a Friend, is to be published in February 2015 by Transworld Publishers.