I was invited to join this blog tag by Triskele Books author Catriona Troth. Kat has written two superb books, Ghost Town and Gift of the Raven, and I'm honoured to have been asked by her.
Here are my answers to the four questions:
1) What am I working on?
This is a bit of a difficult one as I'm what you might call between books at the moment. I recently finished (apart from the inevitable last minute tweaks,
I always find it difficult to categorise my own work - dare I call it literary? I can hardly say commercial fiction and even Women's fiction is a bit of a stretch. Another novel of mine, The Land Beyond Goodbye, has been called Metaphysical fiction and I think Delirium probably fits into that category too, as does my first novel The Man with the Horn.
As well as fiddling with the Delirium manuscript, I am also gathering ideas for my next novel. I don't like to say too much about future projects in case they don't make it past the ideas stage, but I will say that it involves another poet (two poets 800 years apart in fact) and a dead man on a beach.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, if we go with the Metaphysical fiction tag, I would say my work is less fantastical and more down to earth than some other novels that tackle the big questions of who we are and why we are here. There
The endings are not always happy per se, though they do (I hope) provide a resolution that is right for the particular protagonist(s). My Metaphisi-fic (Metaphic?) novels are about finding oneself, not finding the ideal partner; nor are they about religion, New Age or otherwise, though they do touch on spirituality.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Like I said above, I can't help it. I've tried to write other things, honestly - I wrote a crime novel once, but I always come back to this. I have long been fascinated by the ecstatic state and by the glimpses into other worlds, other realities, that it provides. Two thousand years ago I would have been living in a cave starving myself and having visions. Well, I'm not sure about the starving myself, I dare say I'd have found a few tasty locusts to stir fry.
The state Rimbaud called delirium, the disordering of the senses through drink, drugs, staying awake all night, starvation - those hypnotic states that sometimes break down the barriers - the doors of perception - these are the things that get my imagination going. And when those states arrive by themselves, naturally, unprovoked, well, then it's pure poetry.
But - maybe it's all because I'm just an old hippie at heart.
4) How does my writing process work?
I wish I knew. I wrote a blog about this very subject recently. Every time I'm about to start a new novel I panic because I have no idea how I did it last time.
I suppose it starts when I kick a few ideas around - two poets 800 years apart, a dead man on a beach - and start to see the connections between them. I look at images of anything relevant - people, places, artefacts; I read blogs and websites and books and articles and whatever I can find relating to my subjects; and then let it all stew for a while.
If I'm lucky, the stewing process will push some meaty chunks up to the surface where I can skim them off and examine them. Hopefully, some of these meaty chunks will be snatches of conversation, or a bit of description, or a character making him or herself known.
Once I have a starting place and a rough idea of where I'm going, it's a matter of sitting down every day and seeing where the story takes me. This is always the most exciting part. I don't usually plan much in advance and I am always surprised at the turns the writing takes.
But how I get to that place is the mystery. As far as the new novel is concerned, I'm not there yet.
I would like to hand the baton (three of them actually) over to the following writers:
Lorraine MaceLorraine Mace’s first love is writing for children. She is the author of Vlad the Inhaler, the first in a trilogy for readers aged 8 to 12. Lorraine is also working on a series of novels for the same age group, featuring Jonas Fry, which could best be described as Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) meets Buffy – but without the vampires!
Visit Lorraine at her website.
As Frances di Plino, Lorraine writes the D.I. Paolo Storey crime series. Find out more at Frances’s blog
Jimmy BainJimmy Bain writes The Bumble Books, a series of crime novels featuring the Narrator, Charlie, Priscilla and of course, the Bumble himself. He calls what he writes dark comedy/crime with nods towards Chandler, Bateman and Brookmyre.
Jimmy hails from Greenock, Scotland but now lives in Newcastle where he finds much inspiration from eavesdropping on Geordies.
Find out more at The Bumble Books Blog.
Catherine HumeCatherine Hume started out as a writer contributing to the sixth form magazine. From there, she went on to co-edit an award-winning play, write a novel (COMING BACK TO LIFE), co-write comedy sketches, review festivals for music websites and write and perform poetry for different events, websites and zines.
CATHERINE HUME’S REVOLTING, a collection of poetry, will be e-published in June while she works on another conspiracy novel.
Find out more about Catherine on her blog.
Lorraine, Jimmy and Catherine will answer the same four questions next week (31 March 2014). Do visit their blogs to discover more about the writing life and the process of creativity.