I’ve been tagged and today I’m ‘it’ in the Author Process blog tour. My friend Chris Bell caught me, and I confess to being a little surprised that she could drag herself away from her research long enough to answer the questions last week… and play tag too! (I think that’s how she caught me. Unawares. )
Chris Bell is a historical writer and she loves research – so much so that occasionally she forgets she’s supposed to be writing, as she journeys back to life a century or two ago. She’s currently working on a YA historical novel set in convict Tasmania. Chris has written over thirty published books for children, including picture story, chapter and YA. Her contemporary YA novel, Jumping Through Hoops, won the CYA Published Author Prize 2011 and was longlisted in the international 2012 Mslexia Writing for Children Competition. Next month, she’s excited to be heading to Katoomba to take up a Varuna Retreat Fellowship to work on her YA novel. That’s exciting, Chris! I’m sure you’ll enjoy being pampered and inspired.
You can read more about Chris as she takes you from Hook to Book at christinemareebell.wordpress.com - including her post last Monday, where she talked about her writing process.
But now I’m ‘it’, so today I get to answer four questions about my writing process. Here goes…
1. What am I working on?
I’m currently working with the lovely Michele from UQP, putting final finishing touches on Bully on the Bus, my verse novel for younger readers, which is coming out in July. This is my first verse novel, and it’s a story that carries a huge chunk of my heart, so it’s all very exciting!
During the Month of Poetry in January, I started a new verse novel (my third) – something completely different for me, as it’s YA. I’m equal parts inspired and nervous. The story drew an encouraging response from participants in the MoP, so I’m hoping I can sustain it! That’s where the nerves come in …
And of course, there’s always a couple of picture books in the mix, too. Though they have taken a bit of a back seat in the last 12months, as I’ve worked on three different verse novels…
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
The rural flavour that comes across in much of my writing would be one signature trait. It’s subtly there in a lot of my writing – a background to the story, not THE story.
In my rhyming work, I think it would be the integrity of rhythm and rhyme. That tenacious desire to get it right - not compromise with near rhymes and forced rhythms. The tricky bit is to be true to good poetry, but not at the expense of story. Sometimes I get it right, and other times … Well, I’m still working on those stories!
3. Why do I write what I write?
Lots of my picture books are purely for fun – the enjoyment of playing with words and story in a lively reading experience.
The rural-ness comes into my writing because that’s what I know. I was born and bred on a farm, and then married a grazier … which does not mean I’m a farmer by any stretch, because cattle and horses still scare me witless. BUT – I am surrounded by farming stories from my hubby and sons. So much inspiration. (So much that can go wrong!) And it’s good for Australian farm kids to see themselves in stories, too.
More recently, I’ve been exploring the verse novel format, and these have all been emotive heart-stories that leave me feeling vulnerable – but also filled with hope. These stories are really resonating with others, giving them words they might not otherwise have been able to share.
4. How does my writing process work?
I am not a planned or methodical writer. I usually jump in and write and then when I’ve found my rhythm/voice, I step back and think about where that story could go, and start to jot down possible scenarios – adding to this as the story unfolds.
The writing process can be a little fraught with tension along the way – with doubts in both my ability and the story – but the euphoria when things click perfectly into place is unmatched. And no-one is ever more surprised than ME!
Because I’ve spent so long writing picture books, I tend to get speed wobbles when I’m working on longer projects. I usually hit my first bump at 600wrds. Last year I surprised myself with my Bully edits, writing 2000 words in less than two weeks. I never knew I could do that! It was very empowering when I started writing my YA verse novel – which will require so many more words than anything I’ve ever written.
When I’m on a writing roll, my tweets stream out – and you’d be forgiven for thinking I’m procrastinating or distracted – when in reality I’m actually writing HEAPS, and just letting off a little bit of creative steam. Crazy, I know. But it seems to be the way it is.
I’m also a very polished draft-writer, which I think comes from writing so much in rhyme – when you need to get it right, before you progress, or the whole direction of the story could unexpectedly change. I can’t write a sloppy first draft, no matter what I write – and some days I may only write 100 words a day – but they’re generally GOOD words. I know you’re supposed to switch the internal editor off and just write … but I haven’t found that switch, yet!
Now it’s time for me to get snappy on my toes, and tag some authors to be ‘it’ next week…
Kayleen West is an online buddy who I met more recently, via twitter. Kayleen’s childhood dream was to write and illustrate for children. But first she ventured into a career of an exhibiting fine artist, where her work won many awards and now hangs in private and corporate collections, in the Australian Embassy in Ireland, and in Australian government collections. Kayleen returned to her original passion in 2009. She is now the author/illustrator of the picture books, ‘Without Me?’ and ‘Adoptive Father’, and has illustrated the soon-to-be-released ‘Better than a Superhero’, written by Belinda Francis. Kayleen is working on two more picture books for 2014 publication. She also writes content and illustrates for editorials. See more of Kayleen’s work at; http://kayleenwest.com.au
Sandra Peut is one of the lovely writers I meet up with on an irregular regular basis, sharing writing sessions and chit-chat at the Bundaberg Library. Sandra began writing stories for her school friends when she was a young girl. Growing up she was a voracious reader, with friends and family describing her as always having her face buried in a book. Her first novel, ‘Blue Freedom’, received third place in the 2009 Rose & Crown New Novels competition, and was subsequently published by Sunpenny Publishing in 2010. It was also shortlisted for the 2011 Caleb Awards. Her second novel, ‘The Guardian’ (a YA paranormal romance) is in the final stages of editing. Watch her website for more details; www.sandrapeut.com
And now, it’s over to you, girls. You’re ‘it’!