This started my writing day off on the right note. Thank you to for reviewer, who lives in Arizona, as far as I could tell. Wonderful to connect with people all over the globe. I think that\’s the best bit about writing, apart from the doing of it. Which, I might add, is like drawing teeth at the moment.
I\’ve decided to run a series of author interviews with writers I admire, so I shall be posting one a month from now on. It gives readers a chance to learn about other authors\’ work and maybe read a book or a genre they wouldn\’t otherwise try and me the excuse to delve into the minds of other people crazy enough to write.
My first guest is Thorne Moore, who has written the best-selling book, \’A Time for Silence\’, which is highly recommended. I genuinely couldn\’t put it down when I read it. Not only a page-turner, this story has a lot of depth on many levels. Ms Moore has also written a moving book about motherhood, entitled \’Motherlove\’, which is also a great read.
So sit back, and let me introduce you to this talented writer, one well worth discovering.
Fancy a biscuit or some chocolate from my secret stash?
Well, if you really haven’t got a bottle or two mulling behind the wood-burning stove.
Oh, you want something from THAT secret stash? (Uncorks whisky bottle with teeth.)
I\’m curious about your work and would love to hear your answers to my questions.
There’s work and there’s work, isn’t there? Most us have to work, for a horribly large portion of our lives. What is really hard, is slaving 9 till 5 at a job you don’t really want to be doing, day after day, with no sense of ever achieving anything, just in order to receive a monthly pay cheque. I write because I want to, because it fulfils my megalomaniac propensities. I can create worlds and people, I can dictate fate, and I can share my brilliant words with the world (whether they want them or not). Sometimes it’s exhausting or frustrating, or occasionally depressing, but I never think of it as hard work.
I would love to resist categories, and say I write fiction. But I have surrendered gracefully, because that’s the way the publishing world works. So I’d say that I write psychological mysteries. I write about traumatic situations that turn the world upside down for my characters, and those traumatic situations are usually crimes, but I don’t write whodunits. In the same spirit, I also enjoy putting my characters in traumatic situations that are out of this world, so that would make me a science fiction writer (none published). I know that publishers and readers would probably see crime mysteries and SF as completely different genres, but as far as I’m concerned, I just write about people who are pushed out of their comfort zones, and discover things about themselves.
Virtually every day. The exception is the week, give or take, following the day I finish perfecting the last revised sentence of a book, and go into mourning for the characters I’ve got to leave behind. It’s a very exhausting experience. The urge to start rewriting the whole thing, just to put off the moment of saying goodbye, is very strong, so I try not to write at all. Dig the garden or something instead.
The only ritual is switching on my laptop. I write in bed, before I get up. If I wake at 6, as I normally do, I have about 3 hours to write. Then I have to get up and head for my workshop. I seldom write later in the day, because my brain shuts down at about 2.30. I do however take a half-hour walk after dinner, and spend it thinking about what I’m going to write. It’s when the problems in a story usually resolve themselves.
In my teens, which is decades ago. I did very well in English language at school, which was all about me writing, and very badly at English literature, which was all about other people writing. I decided that I wanted to be a writer, and nothing but a writer, so I rejected my headmaster’s advice to study law. I studied history instead, and spent most of my time at university writing instead of studying. It only took me another 35 years to find a publisher.
I am self-employed, making miniature furniture (anything to avoid that 9-5 drag). I am working towards the day when I’ll be writing full time. This will probably happen when I finally cut a finger off, or accidentally drill through my arm. I’ve had a few close shaves.
7. How do you get your ideas?
I don’t go looking for them. I’ll hear something, or read something that gets me thinking, and then a story gradually evolves out of it. Or I’ll see a place that I really want to write about, and eventually a story will attach itself. In my first published novel, A Time For Silence, I found a ruined cottage about 100 yards beyond the end of my garden. Then I heard a rumour, probably untrue, about another cottage in the area and while researching that, I came across a brief account of a court case from the 1950s. Cottage, rumour and court case all fermented together and produced the story that resulted. In my second book, Motherlove, I heard a mention on the news of a girl in Argentina who was taking her presumed parents to court, when she discovered the unpleasant circumstances in which she had been adopted. It left me wondering what sort of feelings would be at work to undo so profound a relationship.
8. Do you have a particular audience/person in mind that you feel you are speaking to when you write?
I write for myself. I write what I want to read. That’s the way I write in the first place. If I tried to guess what other people would like, at this stage, I’d freeze. Once I reach the editing stage, that’s different. Then I have to start thinking about what publishers or specific readers might want. I think it would be very arrogant to start defining who my readers are. But then you have to be quietly arrogant to expect anyone at all to read your words.
Definitely in one go. Or mostly. I dive in, start writing, and keep going until I reach the end, by which time I realise that the whole story has shifted from its original orientation, so I have to go back to the start and rewrite the whole thing. Then, when it’s perfect, I take an after-dinner walk that makes me realise a whole new theme or twist or character should be added, and I’m off again. It does put off the inevitable moment of coming to a halt.
I have a third book, which will be published by Honno in July this year, called The Unravelling, in which I mercilessly milk memories of my schooldays in the 1960s. A fourth book, Shadows, set in a semi-derelict Welsh mansion, is currently with an agent. And meanwhile, I’m working on another novel set in Pembrokeshire.
Thanks for your fascinating answers, Thorne. You\’ve given me a real insight into the way you work. I particularly admire your disciplined routine. Sounds like you have a really good writing rhythm. I\’ve really enjoyed our chat. Hic, want a top up?
My little collection of short stories, Trio, is #free for two days to round off the austere month of January. Grab a copy for your tea break.
http://amzn.to/1BKwhM4 Here\’s the link for #FREE Trio!
The Pond – A simple story about two boys, a boat and some water.
A Tidy Wife – How early retirement can have unforeseen consequences.
The Wedding Cake – Something magical happens when a spicy anniversary cake is baked.
I was asked to write an article for a friend\’s future on-line healthy living magazine, – link to follow as soon as available. She asked me to talk about how I got into writing. I had a bit of a think and wrote this:
Life had other ideas and a lot of living got in the way before I finally settled down and got serious about this life-long dream. And it was so simple really.
One day, feeling very low, I decided I had to start doing something for myself. I had been giving and giving and giving and had nothing left. I felt empty and quite desolate. It wouldn\’t do. Something had to shift. I started by getting a notebook and an ordinary biro and putting it next to my bed. I wrote before I went to sleep and before I got up.
Nothing revolutionary happened. Nothing I noticed anyway, but it felt good. Over time, this daily practice, which took only a couple of minutes, started to change, evolve. My sentences became clearer, more coherent, more interesting to read back. Then, gradually, ideas began to emerge. Ideas for stories, for make-believe.
Instead of writing about who had annoyed me that day, or the food I\’d eaten or family ailments, some abstract ideas about deeper issues appeared on those pages. I filled a whole journal, then another.
Those minutes extended; they became the most important minutes of my day. The stack of journals piled up, covered in scrawl, next to my bed. Some of the ideas became insistent and I transferred them to my computer. I opened a folder there and called it \’Novels\’. That folder has many hundreds of files now. Research files, ideas files, random thoughts files, story files – of make believe.
I joined a website for aspiring writers and worked hard for three years without a break, reviewing other people\’s work in all possible genres, and having mine anonymously reviewed. I learnt a lot. I learned the difference between writing and good writing. To my amazement, all my stories made it into the top ten of the website charts. I made friends. Lots of friends, friends who loved writing as much as I did. Kindred spirits with whom I still share what I now feel privileged to call my work, my passion.
One of them encouraged me to try self-publishing. Four years ago I went public and put The Twisted Vine out on Amazon as an ebook. My goodness, I felt naked and vulnerable! The public can be harsh critics but they can also be wonderfully generous and the great reviews I got lifted me sky high. On the strength of the success of The Twisted Vine I wrote three more books over the next three years. They have sold in thousands and I now make a modest living from my fictional world of make-believe.
Believe in yourself. Take that first step. Follow your passion. Give it time to grow while your confidence builds. Follow that first step with another. Go at a walking pace if it feels right – or just run for the hell of it.
Well, that was interesting. Went to Devizes, in Wiltshire to try and fill in the gaps in my research for The Rose Trail. In both library and bookshop, I found just what I was looking for – the exact details of the siege of Devizes in the Civil War. You have to go local to get this sort of detail – even the internet won\’t suffice. Went to the actual battle sites in town and country (don\’t want to give TOO much away here!) and felt the frisson of the violent aftermath.
Also met up with some beloved old friends, ate wonderful food and drank the local brew. It was my birthday, so it felt good to indulge. Came back on a high, only to come straight down with a (luckily) mild form of flu. Such is the balance of life.
Here are some pictures from the trip. Not identifying them just yet; the story is too embryonic.
Drinking my tea and sitting next to a bookcase in my house (all the rooms in my house are stacked with books!) I picked up a little notebook that was wedged between bigger volumes. Dwarfed by the other tomes, its battered red spine caught my attention and I hooked it out. The little journal was my companion over thirty years ago when I was travelling around, doing casual work, as a free spirit.
My experiences developed, many years later, into The Twisted Vine. My story had similar bones but in detail was very different to Roxanne\’s. I met no Armand le Clairs amongst the vineyards but I was escaping from a destructive relationship and met many wonderful people.
One of these, perhaps the most important to me, was a girl upon whom I based Yvane in The Twisted Vine. She too was disabled by Thalidomide damage in one arm and was just as fiery and beautiful as Yvane. I had forgotten her name and called her Yvane on a whim.
This morning as I flicked through the yellowed pages of my tiny address book, I found one address written in a hand other than my own. In neat block capitals was the name of my Italian friend, the girl I had shared a barn/come bedroom, many laughs, songs and soul-to-soul exchanges into the night in our pigeon French/Italian/English private lingo. Her name? Leone Ivana.
I would love to connect with Leone again. She lives in Genoa, Italy – or did. She has been an inspiration to me all my life and was a much nicer and more generous, mature character than the Yvane in The Twisted Vine.
So, Leone, if you are reading this, by some crazy chance, let\’s meet up and rekindle that wonderful, all too transient, connection.