I've been asked to take part in a blog chain in which I have to answer four questions and send those questions to someone else:
What am I working on?
I've just self published the second book in my fantasy trilogy ‘Taranor’ and am busy getting on with the third. I’m also tidying up a stage play to be assessed for production this year and waiting to hear from an agent who is reading my autobiographical adventure novel.
How does my work differ from others?
This is quite a tricky question. All true-life adventure writers concern themselves with exotic places, illness and risk. My castaway tale is no different in that respect. What made my experience truly epic was the thread of emotional turmoil that runs through the narrative like a stick of rock. I spent my days trying to stay alive whilst wondering if I might be pregnant (not such a good place to form an embryo) and struggling to cope with the recent loss of my mother. This makes the story more than a travel novel: it involves an emotional journey as well as a physical one.
With my fantasy writing, I like to bring in some meaty issues alongside the Faeries and Goblins. The Taranor series explores themes of racism, poverty and the misuse of power.
Why do I write what I write?
In the early 90’s, I developed a chronic, incurable neuro-muscular disorder and consequently lost my job. For the last twenty odd years this painful condition has placed severe limits on my day-to-day activity, my ability to travel, and my social life. I began to write my castaway adventure in an attempt to escape my pain. It worked. Writing has since become a passion. I love the process of creating characters and living many lives. In my imagination I can go anywhere and be anyone. My body may be in trouble, but in my mind I am free.
How does my writing process work?
I carry a notebook everywhere I go, and jot down ideas whenever they come to me. Once I know where I'm going with a story, I write the first few drafts in long hand, or, if I can’t manage that, I use a Dictaphone. Then, when I have something worth saving, I speak into my computer using Dragon voice software.
Editing and proofing is more difficult, since it involves the use of the keyboard. To get round this, I often print out a whole chapter, correct it with a brightly coloured pen (I love stationery) and then speak the corrections into the computer. I would recommend this whether you have chronic pain or not. I find I can pick up more errors when I see the words on a page.
The fantasy trilogy is co-authored with John Raybould. We plot the story together, but write separately. We meet up regularly to keep our story lines in synch.
Thanks to Keith Havers for inviting me to do this. Keith is a witty and refreshing author, specialising in writing for women's magazines and for children.