I’ve decided to put a section in here because this is always the information I look for when reading about my favourite authors.
I write because I have to. Someone once described the compulsion to write as being ‘like breathing’ and I think that’s true for me. I have been writing down stories from a very young age and can’t imagine not doing it. I have given up “for good” on many occasions because I was fed up with getting so many rejection letters from publishers, but I always go back to it and haven’t stopped since.
My compulsion to write comes from the pleasure I got as a child (and still get) from reading. I was the type of kid whose mother would be shouting and shouting for me to come down for dinner, but I wouldn’t hear her…my nose would be firmly stuck in a book, my mind consumed by the story.
I write in a room that used to be the dining room of our house and which is now our ‘study’. In this room, I have my old desk, which I bought for £100 from an antiques dealer who had a shop within the Barras market in Glasgow. Whether the desk is, in fact, an antique, I don’t know (it certainly looks old enough), but I don’t care because I love it.
There are bookcases full of books and family photos, our guinea pigs and a whole load of other things that should be stored somewhere else, but I haven’t got round to sorting them yet
On top of my desk is my laptop. I used to write on a desktop computer, but now I find it easier (and more flexible) to write on the laptop. Next to it is a pile of paper that includes copies of draft chapters, lists (I make endless lists…another compulsion), some magazines and a couple of household bills.
How I write is simple: I get an idea, I mull it around in my head a bit and then write it down in a notebook, with a pen. I get my inspiration from all over the place: things I read in books or newspapers; things people say; my childhood; history; overheard conversations; my own observations; dreams; daft thoughts that just pop into my head. I write everything down in an ideas book so that I don’t lose them and I take my ideas book with me everywhere I go.
When writing a book, I write down a rough plan of the book so that I know how it’s going to start and finish. I do the same for each chapter and use these ‘plans’ as the basis of the actual written chapters. Hopefully, the book then finishes the way it’s supposed to do! Sometimes, I have a brilliant idea halfway through and the entire thing changes course, but that’s the fun of writing.
I write the book in what I call a ‘oney’ – that is, I write it without editing it. I get the story down without the distraction of going back and changing stuff. I find that if I edit as I go along then that slows up the whole process and I never get by chapter three. Then, after I’ve completely finished draft one, I go back and edit and re-edit and re-edit. After that, I work with my editor and edit it some more until we are both pleased with it. It’s a long process over several months, but well worth it.
At the end of the process I hopefully have a great book.