My friend the writer JAMES AUSTEN passed this baton to me: Four questions about what and how I write.
It’s my pleasure to answer them and pass them on to three more writer chums.
1) What are you working on right now?
My work-in-progress was inspired by The Tempest – I was watching a film version one night and I was particularly taken with Ben Whishaw’s portrayal of Ariel; I wondered what the character would get up to after he is granted his freedom by Prospero. But I didn’t want the story to be like Aladdin and the genie. I thought there was potential for much more… As the ideas developed, I decided to set the story in present-day Stratford upon Avon and include elements of a Dan Brown mystery – instead of the Catholic Church, my “Robert Langdon” figure is investigating conspiracies around the authorship of Shakespeare’s plays.
2) How does it differ from other work in its genre?
In some ways it’s a parody of Dan Brown but I also include supernatural characters, like Ariel for example, and my approach is entirely humorous. I’ve tackled a few genres in previous books but the one constant is my sense of humour. I like plots that twist and turn and surprise the reader – this book is proving to be just as eventful as my others – which is in keeping with Dan Brown, I suppose!
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write the kind of things I’d like to read. I love genre fiction and enjoy comic writing. Some might say I am too fond of innuendo and bad puns. Generally, if I think it’ll get a laugh, it goes in. I write to entertain, to give my readers a good time with a funny story.
4) How does your writing process work?
I am highly disciplined. When I’ve a book on the go I aim for 2,000 words a day, seven days a week. I write first thing in the morning to get it done. The rest of the day, I’m mulling over what comes next, what I need to write to get the characters to hit the next plot point. And if there’s any research I need to do, any facts I need to check, I make notes in an exercise book in which I ask myself questions and jot down ideas before the next day arrives. When I’ve finished the first draft, I print it out and scribble all over it, spotting typos and making notes in the margin of things to check or change. Then I go through the Word document making the edits I marked on the print-out. Only then does it get emailed to my volunteers who read it, make comments and point out any errors I may have missed. After that, I submit the book to my publisher. And then, I wait…
Well, that’s me. Next up, these three worthies: