My Writing Day – with Carol Hedges
Posted by Lizzie Lamb
Lizzy, thank you so much for inviting me onto your blog. I hope there will be cake and coffee shortly. And an appearance by Jasper the parrot!
You asked me to describe a typical writing day. I’d answer that it depends on where I am in the writing process. If I’m actually writing a novel, I try to put in a good four hours of solid work – afternoons are my best time. But there are other times, like now, when a book is being planned, when I might just read, download articles form the internet, and do some preliminary sketching. And I frequently take the plot for a long walk, just to straighten out bits when I’m not sure where it’s going to go.
Most writers when planning a book start at the beginning of the story and work their way through a sequential narrative until they reach the end. Crime writers do it backwards. We start with the crime, and who perpetrated the crime and then work out how and why it happened. This is why for all my books: the four Spy Girl books, the ebook Jigsaw Pieces and my latest novel Diamonds&Dust, I write the last page first. Then the ‘’hook’’ at the beginning. Then the rest of the story.
I like this sort of methodology, though I can understand that for the careful plotter it might drive them mad. Sometimes I haven’t a clue what is going to happen next as my teenage or adult protagonists study the facts and decide on their next move. I like my writing to challenge me as well as the reader – I could never be one of those writers who has to make 50 pages of notes before placing fingers upon keyboard. I’d get bored. Very bored. I like to walk away from every writing session thinking: OK, how the heck am I going to get my people out of this?
Of course, around and beyond every book, there has to be the marketing! I love social media, and use different forums for different approaches. Facebook is great for posting news, family pics and seeing what everyone else is up to. Twitter is wonderful for meeting people other than writers and engaging in witty (!) banter. And I have a weekly blog, where I can invite writers – you sat on The Pink Sofa recently- to showcase their work. I also use the blog to publish short funny pieces about the lunacy that is my life.
I really try not to ‘’sell’’ my stuff too pushily on any site I use. Some writers do and it turns people off. You sell more by being a fun person and interacting with others, I think. Then they get to know and like you, want to read your stuff, and end up doing the ‘selling’ for you!
If I were starting out writing now, I think the best advice I could give to myself is to keep going and believe in what I was writing. It seems daunting with so many new books coming out every week, and so many ways of publication. And yet, there’s always room for one more lovely book …. so place backside on chair, place fingers on keyboard…..and go for it!
Currently, I’m working on the third book in the Diamonds&Dust series. The first book, published by Crooked Cat Books and available in print and ebook, is set in 1860 London. It tells the story of two women, Josephine King, an orphan and heiress, and Lilith Marks, a jewish prostitute. Their lives cross when Josephine’s uncle and Lilith’s lover Herbert King is brutally murdered one night. Set against the backdrop of the great gas-lit city, the two women are drawn together in their quest to discover just wo killed the man they both loved.
The second book, which features the same pair of detectives: Leo Stride & Jack Cully, is set in 1861. The third will be set in 1862. Diamonds&Dust has been very well received, given that it is not the traditional run of the mill historical crime fiction. The biggest buzz has been the number of Twitter readers who’ve let me know how much they’ve enjoyed it. My publisher has been inundated by Tweets asking when the next one is coming out. Such a lovely and totally unlooked for compliment! (The answer may be Nov/Dec this year).
I am amazed that at my time of life (I’m pushing 64 but not speeding) a whole new writing career in historical adult crime fiction has opened up. Hopefully other older writers might look at my writing trajectory and be inspired. I’d be overjoyed if that happened.
Carol Hedges is the successful UK author of 11 books for teenagers and young adults, one ebook and one adult historical novel. Her books have been shortlisted for various prizes and her YA novel Jigsaw was long-listed for the Carnegie Medal. Diamonds & Dust, A Victorian Murder Mystery is her first adult novel. It was published in 2013 by Crooked Cat Books, and is available as book and ebook on Smashwords, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or to order in bookshops.
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