Happy New Year - January 2014
Wishing you all a very happy new year from a very chilly Cornwall!
Where did the festive season go? I’ve just taken down all my fairy lights and decorations, something which always leaves me feeling a little bit lacklustre as I love the sparkle and twinkle of coloured lights in the wintry darkness. I’d leave them up all year long if I could! Actually, I do have a few strands of fairy lights draped over book cases and looped over the bedhead which stay all year around and since I live in a wooden cabin I’m now a big fan of battery candles too.
Spring does feel as though it’s just around the corner now that we’ve passed the shortest day and it’s quite noticeable that the days are starting to draw out. This morning I spotted primroses at the end of the bottom paddock, the catkins are out and there are even a few daffodils braving the chill too. When I see my first snowdrop I’ll know we’ve made it!
With the new year comes a new writing schedule and there is certainly a lot to be done but in a good way. Polwenna Bay #10 is waiting in the wings as well as another Rosecraddick novel and a third very exciting idea which is cooking away nicely. That one is based in the world of the short story HARRY that I shared with you all last year. The world of this novel is the Rosecraddick area which, as you all know, is based on the beautiful part of Cornwall I’m lucky enough to call home. I live a stone’s throw from the river Fowey and just over the headland from the sea, yet also in an area that is quite inaccessible and off the beaten track. Here there are still hidden creeks where seals play, sleeping churches dreaming of the past – like the one at the top of this email, and long forgotten holy sites named for saints long lost from memory.
I’m often asked about my writing process and methodology for writing. The most honest answer is that I don’t really have one set method or writing room where I create! I tend to write in all kinds of different places and at the moment that is mostly under a heated blanket! I do like to take my notebook out and about with me when I’m walking so that I can make notes or I’ll use my phone to record voice notes and to take pictures that can be prompts. I also like to collect images from magazines and make up mood boards and vision boards of the world I’m creating. I’ve just finished one for Solace – the old manor house that appears in my short story HARRY as I already know it will be central to an upcoming book. I’ve included parts of the text from that story too so that I can draw upon in and be consistent when I work.
Now this is done I’ll start to make a plan for how I think the narrative will play out, but the novel usually has a different idea and the characters often take over. That’s the fun part of the writing process though and is where the magic happens! I know some writers are ‘pantsers’ (write by the seat of their pants and with no idea where the story comes from!) and some are ‘plotters’, but I’m somewhere in the middle of this. Some books do arrive ready-made, such as my novel Dead Romantic where Cleo popped into my head when I was on the Tube (as characters do!) while others like Oyster Shore take a lot of plotting and planning to ensure that the timelines and reveals all hang together. The Polwenna books almost write themselves because the characters are so familiar to me and have their own ideas about what they think should happen next! Jules and Alice often dictate the whole story!
One of the things that I have been enjoying lately is listening to podcasts while I muck out the horses (and there is A LOT of that to do in a long and wet Cornish winter) and I’m especially enjoying spooky ones at the moment such as Uncanny and Unexplained. I do enjoy a ghost story and I also like to read novels with a thread of the supernatural running through them. Cornwall is an ancient and mysterious place where myths, legends and the supernatural are woven through the county in a rich tapestry of tales. From fishermen who refuse to use the word ‘rabbit’, to staid church wardens washing the stones from the war memorial’s base in the flowing waters of the river, to strange catlike creatures prowling in the darkness such enigmas are as much a part of the landscape here as the cliffs, engine houses and standing stones. I would love to include a little more of this in my novels and maybe this is the year to try it?
Watch this space…