How does a typical book get written in your world – what do you start with?
Sometimes I start with an idea for a plot. Other times I dream up a character and his/her foibles and conflicts then build the story from there. I don’t have a set process. Each story has a different ‘birth’. I have a wonderful title tucked away and one day I’m going to write a story to fit it. Whatever kernel the story develops from I try and work out a few ‘goal posts’ to aim for and write towards. Mostly I have no idea of how the story will end but one day I guess I will visualize an ending and will have to write a story to get there.
If a scene is very strong in my imagination and bugging me, then I will write it out completely, file it and work toward it with the plot line. By doing this I can stop worrying that I might forget a precious detail. In ‘Romancing the Memory Collector’ there is an adoption scene that insisted on being written long before I reached that point in the story. However, once I got there I enhanced the scene I’d previously written with more of the character’s thoughts and emotions. I had the ‘bones ‘already written to hang more words on.
How would you compare the protagonists in your books with yourself?
That’s a tricky question. I guess my protagonists have the same values as I do: fairness, honesty, kindness and a desire to move through life without causing distress and pain to others. That sounds really pious, but while I strive to be a good person and to write books that entertain, I truly try to avoid hurting other people’s feelings. (I’m sure I do, often, but at least I’m constantly trying not to). I challenge myself to write in a wide range of genre; and I like to laugh and enjoy life.
How would you typically choose the names of your characters?
I’ve used some family names in my novels, but while I am ‘hatching’ a character a name that suits him/her will often pop into my head. I’ve twice changed the name of a protagonist and each time it has caused many problems in editing because I revert to typing the original name in the manuscript. I have a notebook I scribble names in, if I hear a name that’s unusual, rolls off the tongue, or a surname that really amuses me. I haven’t used many of them yet, but I will.
What is the one classic work that you wish had been written by you?
“Í, Robot” by Asimov. I think this classic is a masterpiece. The three rules that a Robot must follow are brilliant in conception. We may never be served by robots, but if we are then these rules will be the guideline for how they behave. I began reading Sci.Fi as a teenager and love this genre. It allows me to sit back and watch science catch up to my imagination. I’m sure many of the early Sci.Fi .writers is doing that today.
How would you deal with reviews?
I read them occasionally, but not on a regular basis. I note the comments and try and learn from any recommendations. I don’t let them upset me. Reading, like your personal taste in food, is subjective and I don’t expect to please everyone. I write for my own pleasure and if I can entertain others then that’s a bonus.
What is your favourite writing location?
I write at the dining room table, using my laptop. Prior to getting a laptop I wrote on the big computer down the back bedroom. I’m more social being in the dining room. However, I’ve learnt that I need peace and quiet to be really creative, so sometimes I recline on the bed with my laptop propped on a tray; a lovely way to spend a winter’s day.
What awesome books and projects are you working on at the moment?
My current work-in-progress is a step away from my sci.fi romances. It’s a mystery/drama and is the story of a private investigator (ex policeman) whose marriage has broken down. The stress of this has given him agoraphobia (the fear of open spaces), making his life very difficult. Hoping it might help, he gets a dog. The protagonist has clients whose problems he has to solve. How he does this alongside coping with his illness and the dog’s needs, has given me hours of delight. I’ve created a few interesting characters with unusual problems and set my protagonist the challenge of sorting them all out. I’m nearly finished this piece and may just write another set of puzzles for him to solve. I have become very fond of this man.