Firstly, a big thank you to the lovely and talented Lisa Goll who asked me to participate in this blog hop. So friends, here are the answers to those very telling questions:
What am I working on at the moment?
I’m spending a lot of time on promotion for Mesmerised my debut novel. It’s historical fiction set in 1863 in Paris. The protagonist is Dr Paul Gachet, fellow artist, friend and homeopath to the impressionists. As a homeopath of over twenty years standing I was drawn to the life of Dr Gachet and his avant garde friends, especially Edouard Manet who was somewhat of an enigma. Today homeopathy is incredibly controversial and I wanted to explore it as it was at that time, not only its efficacy but also how it was received politically alongside impressionist art.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
That’s a very good question. If the genre is historical fiction, then although it is not about sovereigns from a long ago time, most of the characters are real. In this respect it most resembles Black Venus by James Mac Manus who writes about the life of Charles Beaudelaire (a character who also plays a small part in Mesmerised). But whilst Black Venus solely concentrates on charting an historical love affair, Mesmerised blends documented history with a fictitious plot that drives the story. If the genre is medical fiction, then it is homeopathy that separates it from the rest of the bunch. Incidentally, last Christmas, Mesmerised reached #2 in the Amazon UK medical fiction chart
Why do I write what I do?
I think stories find me rather than the other way around. I kind of fish for them and then they arrive. But I am only the transcriber. I cannot dictate how things will work out. For instance, I had the plot for Mesmerised earmarked for a contemporary novel, but my writing group urged me to write about ‘that man you’ve been researching and the impressionists’. I found that by giving the plot to Gachet, and therefore transporting it into the past, it worked so much better than my previous modern day stabs at it. The book I am writing at the moment started life as a short story that was shortlisted for an award by Cinnamon Press. It was based on an anecdote told to me by my grandmother when I was a small child. My writing group really liked it and wanted to know what happened next. I was between projects and also wanted to know what happened next, so I just carried on writing.
How does my writing process work?
Mesmerised was quite tightly constructed before it was written. I had post it notes stuck to my desk of scenes and at what point they were going to happen, this was because I needed to tie real events and real people into the narrative. But generally, I have a vague idea of where things are going to end up and I just keep writing in the hope that the work will structure itself organically. I think my writing works best when I try not to influence either the story or the characters too much. If I do, that’s when it gets complicated and difficult. Far more joyful to just let the story unravel and have its way with me rather than the other way around.
I will be doing a short reading from the Mesmerised at the Finchley Literary Festival on the 30th May at Friern Barnet Community Library between 7 & 10 pm. If you are not too far away, why not come along?
And here are two amazing authors who will be posting on the same theme on their blogs next week:
Cherry Potts is the author of two published collections of short stories, “Mosaic of Air” (Arachne Press) and “Tales Told Before Cockcrow”(OWP). She has completed one fantasy novel and is currently working on three more: science fiction, young adult and historical.
Cherry started editing and publishing anthologies of short stories in August 2012 as Arachne Press Limited and has released four so far. A Young Adult novel and a Poetry Anthology are in the pipeline. She runs writing workshops using Neurolinguistic Programming and coaches and mentors writers. She sings in choirs for fun, and lives in South London with her favourite person and two spoilt cats.
Amy Bird is the author of two novels, both psychological thrillers published by Carina UK, the digital imprint of Harlequin. Her debut novel, Yours is Mine, about two women who exchange identities, became a bestseller on both sides of the Atlantic, reaching the coveted No. 1 spot in Amazon.com’s Women’s Crime chart. Her new novel, Three Steps Behind You tells the twisted tale of Dan, a crime writer who believes he has to experience everything in order to write about it. Amy has an M.A. in Creative Writing from Birkbeck and is an alumni of Faber Academy. She also writes plays. Her plays include The Jobseeker (runner-up for the Shaw Society T.F. Evans Award 2013) and Heart of Time (performed at The Rosemary Branch Theatre in 2012). She is a member of the Crime Writers Association. Amy lives in North London, where she lives with her husband, dividing her energies between writing and working part-time as a lawyer. Follow her on twitter @london_writer