Publishing Monday: First Lines, revisited

Posted on Jul 21, 2014 in friends and colleagues, news & muse, publishing, The Lily Maid, the Next Novel

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Photographed recently in Brooklyn’s Chinatown. Kind of how I feel when I contemplate first lines.

I’ve been tagged in yet another writer’s meme* making its way about Facebook. This one is all about opening lines for chapters, which seems especially timely as I forge my way through the first draft of the Next Novel.

Here are the rules for the First Lines meme: Post the first sentence of the first three chapters in your WIP to your wall. Tag others to participate.

Here’s mine from the very rough first draft of the Next Novel, which takes place in 1851 London amid poets and photographers:

1. The young woman laid as if asleep, her hands cupped against her breast like she was cradling a dove.

 

2. It is not an average day when a gentleman is called to photograph his dying father.

 

3. “I must warn,” Bertram Fitzgordon began, his breath shallow and fetid, “that you may find this story disturbing considering your unfortunate circumstances.”

Related note: this meme reminded me of a post I wrote nearly four years ago about first lines when I was drafting THE LILY MAID. (Yikes, that’s a long time!) Back then, my first sentence for THE LILY MAID was:

I was surprised when the invitation arrived that June morning from St. John Dulac.”

At that time, I predicted the sentence would probably change. And I was right. My first sentence of the novel is now:

“A painting undermined my father.”

Whether this first line will change again, only time will tell.

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* Thanks to the lovely Teralyn Pilgrim for tagging me. Teralyn’s recently expanded and updated her long established blog to include more than only writing-related posts. Check it out here.

Creativity Friday: Blade of the Samurai

Posted on Jul 18, 2014 in friends and colleagues, interviews, news & muse, publishing

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I’m thrilled to announce that my author friend Susan Spann has a new novel out, BLADE OF THE SAMURAI. Here’s the juicy description:

June, 1565: When a killer murders the shogun’s cousin, master ninja Hiro Hattori and Portuguese Jesuit Father Mateo are summoned to the shogun’s palace and ordered to find the killer. The evidence implicates Hiro’s friend and fellow shinobi, Kazu, who was working undercover at the shogunate; however, the victim’s wife, a suspicious maid, and even the shogun’s stable master also had reasons to want the victim dead. The investigation reveals a plot to assassinate the shogun and depose the ruling Ashikaga clan. With enemy forces approaching Kyoto, and the murderer poised to strike again, Hiro and Father Mateo must produce the killer in time . . . or die in his place.

To help Susan celebrate, I’m reposting the wonderful interview we did last year for her critically acclaimed first novel, CLAWS OF THE CAT. In it, we discuss creative process, East versus West, the history behind her story, and her amazing Twitter feed, which is a font of generous publishing advice. Enjoy!

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susanspannauthorKris Waldherr: What was your initial inspiration for CLAWS OF THE CAT? Can you describe the moment that made you say, “I must write this”?

Susan Span: It happened in spring of 2011. I was standing in front of the bathroom mirror, getting ready for work, when a voice in my head said, “Most ninjas commit murders, but Hiro Hattori solves them.” I’d never written a mystery before, but I knew immediately I would have to write this one.

The plot and the setup took several months longer, but from the moment Hiro popped into my head I had no choice but to write about him.

KW: When I first met you at the Historical Novel Society conference in 2011, you had written a more traditional “marquee” historical about Joan of Arc. CLAWS OF THE CAT is quite a departure—a mystery set in sixteenth century Japan. How did you jump from one to the other, in terms of research and writing? Was a radical mind shift necessary?

SS: Until that morning in front of the mirror, I’d always considered myself a historical novelist. I love history—Asian history in particular—and also the challenge of weaving historical fact into fast-paced, compelling fiction.

I’m a lifelong fan of mysteries and thrillers, but always thought the challenge of writing one beyond me. Imagine my surprise when I tried it and discovered that my talents actually work better for writing mysteries than traditional historical story arcs. Mystery allows me to set the multi-faceted gems of history within a more puzzling and less straightforward framework, and I love the challenge that presents.

It also lets me kill my imaginary friends. What’s better than that?

KW: Your dual protagonists of CLAWS OF THE CAT are Father Mateo, a Portuguese Jesuit, and Hiro, a master ninja with a shady past. I can tell that you had a lot of fun writing about their interdependent relationship! Did you base them on anyone from history or literature? 

SS: Yes, but not intentionally!

Hiro is a fictitious cousin of famous historical ninja Hattori Hanzo (aka “Devil Hanzo”) who ruled the Iga Ryu during the time in which I set the Shinobi series. Hattori Hanzo was such a famous shinobi, and so important to ninja history, that I wanted to include him in the books. It didn’t work historically to make him the sleuth, however, so I invented a fictitious (and somewhat rebellious) cousin: Hattori Hiro.

I had a similar issue with Hiro’s sidekick, the Portuguese Jesuit, Father Mateo. The Jesuits documented their missionary efforts in detail, and I wanted to respect the history in my Shinobi novels. As a result, I felt it best to create a fictitious priest who could act in accordance with history without being bound by calendar details.

Then, while doing some secondary detail research for the later drafts of CLAWS OF THE CAT, I discovered a Jesuit record that mentioned an unnamed priest who arrived in Kyoto in autumn of 1563 – precisely the time my fictitious Father Mateo arrived in Japan. That Jesuit apparently reported to Father Gaspar Vilela, then the senior Jesuit in Kyoto, and then “disappeared” to conduct missionary activities in Japan.

My Jesuit, Father Mateo, lives and works separately from the other Jesuits (for reasons I explain in detail in the book), and if he had been real, the historical record about him would have read in precisely this way.

I set out to create an entirely fictitious priest, but it seems there’s an analog in the history after all. I found that pretty cool.

And no, I haven’t researched the phantom Father any farther—in the end, I like keeping Father Mateo fictitious, despite his hint of verisimilitude.

KW: In my book DOOMED QUEENS, I enumerated the various ways nobility can be ritually dispatched from life: guillotine, poison, burning, and beyond. In CLAWS OF THE CAT, you mention seppuku, or ritual suicide by disembowelment. As fascinated as I am with the macabre, seppuku is something that, for me as a Westerner, it’s very difficult to contemplate—the suicide is performed in a very ceremonial, artistic way. To my mind, it epitomizes how very foreign the Japanese culture can appear to outsiders, and reiterates the “East versus West” theme you have running through your novel. Can you offer other examples from your novel, good or bad, of cultural phenomenon we would never, ever find in American society? Are there any you wish we’d adopt as a culture?

SS: Great question!

I, too, find the seppuku ritual strangely fascinating. An early word for the process translates as “self-determination” – the idea that sometimes a person may find more honor in ending his life than continuing it.

Another strange dichotomy I explore in this novel (and will return to in others) is that involving the “proper” roles of women in medieval Japan. On the one hand, a wife was expected to serve her husband and care for his household, but women in the “floating world” [KW note: also known as ukiyo] of the entertainment district were permitted near-complete independence. Some women of the samurai class even shed their wifely roles and trained as warriors—such women were more rare than female artisans, but did exist, and I feature one in the book.

A positive aspect of Japanese culture involves the warrior’s attitude toward honor and family. To samurai, honor and family transcend all other values; they are the cornerstones upon which a samurai—male or female—builds a life. In modern times, we often bypass character in favor of wealth or “success.” I’m drawn to the samurai dedication to living an honorable life, though I’m not as keen on the samurai penalties for failure.

KW: Besides being a novelist, you’re also an attorney specializing in intellectual property and publishing law—your Twitter feed is a marvel of generous and helpful legal advice. How does your professional background as a lawyer feed into your creative work as a writer? Is it helpful to writing mysteries? 

SS: First, thank you! I love authors and writing, and I love being able to use Twitter, and the #PubLaw hashtag, to help spread information that hopefully helps authors protect themselves and their work.

Some would probably tell you lawyers know all about lies from personal experience. That’s not entirely wrong. Unless, of course, I’m lying … because I’m a lawyer!

More seriously, I think the complexities of document drafting probably help me juggle the mystery plots and subplots better. The biggest benefit, though, is probably all of the time spent typing. I type over 100 words per minute, which really helps with hitting the daily goal in a shorter time!

KW: Can you tell us a little about your creative process for your writing? Are you a “pantser” or a “plotter”? Do you have any special tools, writing programs, or rituals?

SS: I’m a plantser! I write two outlines for every book, one of which details the “onstage” action and the other tracks where my characters actually were when they weren’t onstage. Characters in a mystery novel rarely tell the truth when a lie will do, so I need to track their movements to be sure I really know what’s going on behind the scenes.

Once I start writing, however, the outline becomes a guideline and the characters do more or less whatever they please.

As far as the writing itself, I always write first drafts on an Alphasmart Neo, a fabulous little device with a four-line display and no Internet connection. It keeps me moving forward until “The End” – at which point I transfer the file to my laptop and start editing!

KW: Now that you’re officially published, what advice would you give to writers starting on the path? What do you know now that you wish you’d known then? 

SS: The best advice I can give is “whatever you do, keep writing.” It took me nine years and 5 complete (and polished) manuscripts—500,000 words—to find an agent and get a publishing deal.

I’d like to say I wish I’d known sooner that I was writing in the wrong genre—historical fiction vs. historical mystery—but the reality is that I needed to write those unpublished novels. I couldn’t have done the mysteries justice until I had put in the hours and honed my skills.

 Thank you, Susan, for a wonderful interview! To learn more about Susan Spann’s writing, publishing law, and BLAD OF THE SAMURAI, visit her website here.

Publishing Monday: The most challenging aspect of being an author

Posted on Jun 23, 2014 in friends and colleagues, news & muse, publishing

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It’s been a while since I’ve done a Publishing Monday post. Time to amend this! Over at the Debutante Ball, a site showcasing debut novelists, novelist Heather Webb asked several writers what they found the most challenging aspect of being a published author to be.

My succinct reply:

“Dealing with publishing house changes, with editors coming and going and imprints being rearranged.”

With so many years in the biz, I’ve been orphaned (industry speak for losing your editor before your book is published) more times than I can recall. Sometimes editors left because they’d found greener pastures. Other times, publishing imprints get shifted about, with editors moved to other divisions, or even (shudder) laid off.

If you’re lucky, the switch-a-roo works out well: you end up in a better situation than you were in before. Other times … not so much. The editor-author relationship can be an intense one, fueled by mutual regard and affection. Losing that editor mid-book can feel like having a limb amputated, especially if you end up matched with an editor who doesn’t care for your book much. In this case, the editor-author relationship is akin to a temporary arranged marriage: both parties do their best To Be Professional and Get The Job Done before moving on.

So, that’s my answer to what I find most challenging about being a published author. Other authors weighing in: Kate Quinn, Christy English, Anne Girand, and other luminaries. Read the entire post here.

Creativity Friday: Writing Process Blog Tour

Posted on Jun 20, 2014 in creativity, friends and colleagues, news & muse, the Next Novel

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Notes for my “novel bible” for the Next Novel. More below about this.

True confession time: besides being an occasional blogger, I’m also a procrastinator when it comes to fulfilling blog tour requests. So, way back in April, when my lovely critique partner Teralyn Pilgrim tagged me in a writing process blog tour, I intended to partipate promptly. Truly. Really.

I didn’t.

*Hangs head in shame.*

In retrospect, I had several reasons for not doing so. First off, I was in the throes of finishing up several work deadlines and was plain overwhelmed and overscheduled. In other words, business as usual. Secondly, I simply wasn’t ready to share much about the Next Novel. Though I’d been incubating the manuscript for nearly a year in starts and spurts, it still felt too fresh, too precious. I didn’t want to jinx my creative process.

However, opportunity knocked a second time. This time it was  Margaret Peot, author of the ever-so-inspiring THE SUCCESSFUL ARTIST’S CAREER GUIDE, who tagged me. So, time to pony up!

Without further ado, here the questions and my answers.

1. What am I currently working on?

The Next Novel. (Yes, I’m being coy about the title.) Here’s my log line: In 1851 England, a widowed photographer is thwarted in fulfilling his dying father’s last request by a mysterious woman whose tragic past curiously mirrors his own. Other elements in the mix: post-mortem photography, a missing poet, and a forbidden love affair. In other words, the fun stuff. Because the structure of the Next Novel involves a nested story— a story within a story—I’ve been comparing it in some ways to THE THIRTEEN TALE. Though, of course, my book is completely different.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The main difference between the historical novels I write and those of my colleagues is that all of my characters are fictional. I’m not writing about Catherine de Medici, Josephine Bonaparte, or world-changing events that occurred in  history. I’m drawn to using historical settings for color, rather than narrative structure. (Does this make sense?)

3. Why do I write what I write?

I know it’s a cliché, but I do believe the subject chooses you. Every book I’ve created, from my picture books to DOOMED QUEENS to THE LILY MAID, arrived in a flash of inspiration that only made sense at a later date. For example, THE LILY MAID was written during the aftermath of my mother-in-law’s unexpected death; a major plot thread explored my protagonist’s mourning her recently deceased father.

That written, I’ve noticed some commonalities with my books: they usually explore feminine archetypes, and they often reference fairy tales, history, or mythology.

4. How does my individual writing process work?

When it comes to writing fiction, I’ve reluctantly accepted that I am an intuitive, non-linear thinker. Ie, a pantser of a sort. I don’t sit down and decide, “Hey, wouldn’t it be fun to write a book where my protagonist does x, y, and z? And it works out this way at the end?” Instead, my novels start with a scene that comes in a flash. For THE LILY MAID, it was a dream in which a young woman was escaping on a river barge, like the Lady of Shalott; the Next Novel, a young woman arguing with a man in a small room lit only by a fireplace. From there, the deluge begins: over days, weeks, and months, I’ll see snippets of scenes, hear exchanges of dialogue, and imagine characters, all of which I immediately write down before I forget. It’s like a flood from the subconscious. Or, as I prefer to think of them, visits from the muses.

(In my family, my daughter has another term for these sudden inspirations that must be recorded before they flit away: art attacks. She’ll say, “Oh, I’m having an art attack. Where’s my notebook?” whenever she has an inspiration for a story or a song. That’s my cue to stop whatever we’re doing until she writes it all down.)

Finally, once these brainstormed snippets reach critical mass, I print them out (see above) and try to arrange the notes into some semblance of a story. These are cut and pasted and placed into a giant novel bible. And then the fun begins in earnest. It can take a while before my notes make sense, and the narrative takes form. For the Next Novel, I had over 25,000 words of accumulated notes and 35,000 words of manuscript drafted before I figured how it was all going to come together. It was like a giant puzzle. 

Oh, and I do a lot of research: books, art, music, poetry, history. I especially love traveling for research purposes. For example, for THE LILY MAID, I visited a former Victorian asylum. For the Next Novel, I’m planning to travel to the George Eastman House to take a workshop in nineteenth century photography techniques.

Lisa Hunt, author and illustrator extraordinaire, is tagged in turn. Also, if you’d like to share your creative process, I’d love to hear it. Feel free to post in the comments below!

Creativity Friday: Interview with Kirsty Stonell Walker, author of A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL

Posted on May 30, 2014 in creativity, friends and colleagues, interviews, news & muse

*As I mentioned Wednesday, my guest today is the author and Pre-Raphaelite scholar Kirsty Stonell Walker. Kirsty has loved and researched Pre-Raphaelite art for almost 20 years, and is the author of STUNNER: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth. Her new novel, A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL, is based on the life of another Rossetti model, Alexa Wilding. It follows Alexa she experiences the madness, glory and beauty of Rossetti’s circle. A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL presents a bygone world where truth is reliant on who is painting the picture. I was fortunate to have beta read her novel, and found it a thoroughly enjoyable and immersive experience. Short version: if you’re as obsessed with the Pre-Raphaelites as I am, you’ll love A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL.

I first discovered Kirsty’s writing via her wonderful blog, The Kissed Mouth. (The title of this blog refers to Bocca Baciata, an oil painting by Rossetti.) Frequently hilarious but always thought-provoking, The Kissed Mouth casts an incisive and often political eye upon the PRB and their circle. Walker’s post on how fat is a PreRaphaelite issue is worthy of a standing ovation.

Without further ado, here’s my interview with Kirsty Stonell Walker. I hope you enjoy it!

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A Curl of Copper and Pearl

Kris Waldherr: Your first book STUNNER: The Fall and Rise of Fanny Cornforth was a biography about one of Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s most important muses. However, your second book, A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL is a novel about Alexa Wilding, another of Rossetti’s models. What inspired you to turn to fiction after writing a biography? Was there an “aha” moment that led you to decide to write a novel about Wilding?

Kirsty Stonell Walker: Simply put, I wrote the biography of Fanny because nobody else had and it seemed unfair.  Before it, during it and after it I always wrote fiction but never got very farin terms of publishing, with endless, endless rejections from publishers and agents.  I don’t know why I never gave up, I suspect I am extremely bloody-minded and delusional.  That usually helps.

I was going to write a straight biography of Alexa, but her life as so much shadow, so much unknown and seemingly unknowable.  This fed into a thought I had about writing a novel about Fanny, but Alexa seemed a perfect person to experience the world through because no-one knew her, no-one had any preconceptions.  I could become Alexa and slip into the world unnoticed.

KW:  So much has been written about Rossetti’s relationships with Jane Morris and Elizabeth Siddal: his affair at Kelmscott with Morris, his exhumation of Siddal’s coffin to retrieve his poems, and so on. These stories have become staples of Victorian folklore, so to speak. Yet many of Rossetti’s most famous paintings were modeled for by Fanny Cornforth and Alexa Wilding. Did you find yourself wanting to write about Cornforth and Wilding to redress the imbalance of coverage, so to speak? Or was there something else that drew you in?

KSW: The topic of stunners is dominated by Jane and Lizzie, there is no getting away from it.  Both women had fascinating lives and are definitely worth attention, but I felt sorry for Fanny because she always ended up being the jolly tart with a heart, the cockney prossie who is a comedy diversion.  As for Alexa, well she never got a look in at all.  Something about the ignored status of the women made me want to find out more, to give them voice.

I was asked once whether I over-identified with Fanny, being a plump, jolly woman often not taken seriously, and I have to admit there is a bit of that.  I do have to control how defensive I get about Fanny because I need to remember it’s not about me but then people do say the most curious things that ends up making it seem personal.  I got a comment recently on the blog from someone saying that they found Fanny the least attractive of any of the Pre-Raphaelite women, that was purely their point.  I felt like saying ‘I’m not sure she’d give you the time of day either!’

KW: While reading A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL, I was especially struck by the depth of your research. I really felt like I was with Alexa at Tudor House and Kelmscott amid the Pre-Raphaelite milieu—a very immersive experience! What were you most surprised to learn about Alexa while writing your novel? Were there any preconceptions you held about her and Rossetti that were proven false?

KSW: I was surprised that she had gone to so many places and met so many people.  I was surprised she went to Kelmscott, but then I was flabbergasted that Rossetti took her off to Bognor when he and Jane were ending their relationship.  There are two ways of reading that situation – he either cared about Alexa and couldn’t be parted from her, or else he viewed her as a prop for his painting and her being present at the emotional crisis of his life was incidental, just as the presence of a vase would be.

Alexa’s love life was a revelation.  I remember the first time I found the birth certificate for Maria, who was born in the late 1860s.  There is no explanation, no father listed, just Alexa.  Rossetti’s complaint shortly beforehand to Boyce that ‘Miss W-’ had vanished out of town and how inconvenient it was suddenly made sense.  She had gone to give birth and no-one knew.  What on earth was going on in her life?!  When we visited her house in London, the affluence of the street was just puzzling.  Fanny lived in some nice places but they were modest in comparison.  Alexa had a man paying for her, had children, had a life that was beyond that of a butcher’s lass.  That is interesting.

I’m not sure if I believed she was as stupid as she is said to be, thanks to Rossetti’s comment about her being ‘dull’ (which I quote in the book because it is one of the few things he said about her personality).  I always assumed it was said in jest or spite, but I was intrigued to find that she did not leave any of her own voice behind in the form of letters.  Well, not that have been discovered so far….

KW:  When I first discovered the work of the Pre-Raphaelites in the 1980s, they were decidedly out of fashion, judged as too sentimental, too concerned with beauty for the sake of beauty. Today, the Pre-Raphaelites seem more popular than ever. Why do you think their art and stories speak to us now? What initially attracted you to them and led to you writing your wonderful blog, The Kissed Mouth?

KSW: I discovered the Pre-Raphaelites in the first year of my degree.  I took a course on Victorian culture and there they were in all their glory.  I immediately took a shine to Fanny because everyone was praising Elizabeth and Jane to the rooftops but not much was said about this glorious, blush-cheeked woman with a saucy look on her face.  I read Jan Marsh’s works on the women in a mad rush to know more and took it upon myself to be Fanny’s champion because a woman that smart, resourceful and beautiful should have someone on her side.  I began the work that led to Stunner when I was 20 and it was finally published over a decade later.  Fanny has been a big part of my life for longer than I have known my husband, it’s impossible to just walk away from someone once you have dedicated that amount of time to them.

I published Stunner in 2006 and then did not know what to do with the knowledge I had gathered.  It was only with the popularity of blogs, which over here in England didn’t seem to blossom until much later than in the States that I thought I could find an outlet for just chatting about pictures, people, themes and the suchlike.  I didn’t think anyone would read it!

I think there are a number of reasons why the Pre-Raphaelite community online is so popular and vocal.  Obviously, the works are beautiful and at a slight tilt from what we see as the norm for Victorian art.  Their love of romance, morbidity, lust, beauty resonates with us as clearly as it did for them, maybe for different reasons.  I also think there is an element of rebellion in our love of these beautiful, figurative works of art when ‘good taste’ dictates we should like modern art, abstract art, the stuff that is approved of.  I remember being told over and over again on art courses that the Pre-Raphaelites were a dead end, a cul-de-sac of art.  I have been told by friends that what they did was inferior to the strides Impressionists were making, but when something grabs you heart and mind and refuses to let go, you cannot dismiss it.

KW: Can you tell me about your writing process? How long did it take you to write A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL? Did you outline before you began to write? Or did you dive right in?

KSW: I suppose it took about three years from idea to publishing.  After I relaunched the second edition of Stunner in 2011, I wanted to be brave enough to publish some fiction.  I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember, poems too.  I have a Winnie-the-Pooh note book at home from when I was about 6 filled with stories.  Some of my poems were published in a literary magazines when I was a teenager.  Having taken control of Stunner and made it into the book I wanted to be known for, I thought I ought to do the same for my fiction.

Curl came fully formed in a way – I had the story of the people around her, I just needed to weave Alexa into their lives whilst giving her a place of her own.  I wrote a few scenes before really having the story settled as it helped me get hold of the characters.  The two scenes that really haven’t changed since I first wrote them are the scene where Alexa firsts meets Fanny in Rossetti’s studio and the scene when she comes back from Kelmscott and sits with Fanny while she is cutting up plums.  These two scenes helped me see Alexa and Fanny very clearly indeed and fed into how I progressed into the rest of the story.

KW: What advice would you give to beginning fiction writers? What do you know now that you wish you’d known before writing A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL?

KSW: Be brave.  Writing is an act of courage because you are putting the contents of your head out there for everyone to see.  In some ways I cannot see how anyone can write a book unless they have to because it is such an all consuming emotional experience for me.  But then I write to entertain myself and so I love to create my own cure for my ills.  When I am stressed, when I am sad, I reach for one of my own stories, my own characters to hep me through.

A vital thing is to finds friends who are like you.  I could not do what I do without my network of writers who are there to help, advise, encourage and generally not let me get away with giving up.  I think of them as my writing family and all but two of them were met on line through Stunner or the blog.  My ‘alpha reader’, the person who gets first crack at anything I write, is my inestimable friend, Miss Holman, and I value her brutal honesty.  We often have to combine her response to a first draft with a trip to our local cake shop to soften the blow, but every writer should have a Miss Holman to tell them when something doesn’t work, is self-indulgent or just boring.  Again, it’s an act of bravery to let people read something then tell you what they think but if you intend to be a writer then people will do that anyway once it’s published.  Trust me, it’s better to have someone tell you a home truth over a slice of lemon drizzle cake and you go away and fix it then it be shown to the world in an Amazon review.

The thing I wish I’d known is that it ends!  In the publishing process I got to the point of just hating myself, the book, everything, because it wasn’t finished, wasn’t over and therefore might not be the best it could possibly be.  I also was so desperate for people to like it that I was crippled by fear.  A rational part of me merrily trundled on, getting my preview copies out, getting author postcards printed, writing blog posts, while the other part of me sat whimpering in the corner braced for impact.  Then it was published and life went on and you move on to the next thing.

KW: Finally, what are you planning for your next book? Will you return to writing nonfiction? Or do you have another novel in the works? Will it be Pre-Raphaelite inspired? Or another era?

KSW: It was a tricky decision to know where to go next. I want to write more fiction because my non-fiction needs are met through my blog.   I had four different ideas and so I picked the one I couldn’t let go of. I am returning to the Victorians but not the Pre-Raphaelites.  My story concerns a poet and his best friend, a photographer.  I have two time threads, one in the 1860s when they are young and one in the 1890s after a terrible event has taken place.  The poet has a muse who he keeps at a distance and she in turn likes to imagine the poet is the man of her dreams without having to know him better.  The reappearance of the photographer into the poet’s life brings with it the repercussions of their earlier friendship and threatens the very careful reputation the poet has built up over the years of their separation.  It’s written in the third person, from the view point of the poet, Max Wainwright and his muse, Maud Blake.  Maud is mainly in charge of the 1890 thread and Max is our eyes in the 1860s.  I want the reader to see the difference between the Max we get to known in the 1860s and what Maud sees in the 1890s, but as the threads run side by side then we don’t find out why Max is the way he is until later in the book by which time the echoes of that event are being felt in his present.  I hope to have it finished for somewhen later in 2015, as long as all my characters behave themselves!  With Victorians, you can never tell.

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Thank you, Kirsty, for a wonderful interview! You can learn more or purchase A CURL OF COPPER AND PEARL here.