Jane Green says she is 'having a really lovely time' when I talk to her about her new book The Patchwork Marriage and how her UK book tour is going. The bestselling author was over here recently to promote the book, catch up with old friends and generally reacquaint herself with her native England. The author, who now lives in the US with her husband, children and numerous pets – which include two cats, chickens and now two dogs – was one of the pioneering authors for the chick-lit genre back in the 1990s with books like Straight Talking and Jemima J.
In her latest offering, Green writes about a woman, Andi, who finally marries her dream man but struggles to cope when one of his two daughters from a previous marriage is nothing but difficult and hostile towards her and tries very hard to break up their marriage.
"I did a lot of reading and anonymous lurking on various step-parenting forums. There was one particular dynamic that I found fascinating and I kept coming across it. It was the woman who marries the man with children and the children don't like her. She thinks, 'I'm a good person, and all these children need is enough love and kindness and they will love me. I will make them love me and we will create, I will create, this happy family.'" - Jane Green on the research for The Patchwork Marriage.
The new book The Patchwork Marriage is about a woman who marries a man who already has children. You have a bit of a patchwork family yourself – is that why you wanted to write about this subject?
JG: Yes. I got a bit stuck after I finished The Love Verb, because I think it was so emotionally draining for me. I had every writer's worst nightmare in that I just ran out of stories and had no idea what to write next. My editor took me out for lunch and said: 'Well, what's going on in your life? What are the themes? What are you interested in? What are you thinking about?'
Of course, I'd just got married for the second time and found myself with a blended family and in a bid to try to understand what that meant and figure it all out – because it definitely presents unique challenges – I did a lot of reading and anonymous lurking on various step-parenting forums. There was one particular dynamic that I found fascinating and I kept coming across it. It was the woman who marries the man with children and the children don't like her. She thinks, 'I'm a good person, and all these children need is enough love and kindness and they will love me. I will make them love me and we will create, I will create, this happy family.'
Of course that seemed to be so rarely the case.
That became the foundation for this story.
Why did you decide to show both Andi and eldest step-daughter Emily's perspective in the book, instead of just sticking to one of them?
JG: The beginning of the book is all Andi's point of view but after a while, she just comes across as being completely self-absorbed. As soon as I started writing as Emily – who I really didn't like – I understood her and I understood that this wasn't personal. She didn't hate her stepmother – in some ways she wanted to love her – but she couldn't because she felt she would be betraying her mother. She was a child in pain and she didn't know how to express that pain. I really empathised with her.
It threw a completely different light on where the book went after I started writing in her voice.
So at the beginning, was it just meant to be Andi's perspective?
JG: Yes! I had no intention of writing as Emily and in fact it was my editor's suggestion and I'm so glad she did. I was very nervous when she suggested it, I didn't think I could do it. As soon as I started, though, it made perfect sense and I just felt like I understood what this girl was about.
They're both flawed. There isn't an obvious heroine here. As I get older, I'm far more interested in writing about people who are flawed because we are all human and we're all doing the best we can. It just isn't realistic to write about people who are leading perfect lives.
There were moments when I read the book that I wanted to scream at the characters – particularly Ethan – to stop being so stupid. Did you consider that kind of reaction when you were creating the characters?
JG: I don't think I found him quite as frustrating as clearly people do but I think that's why marriages come apart. During my research, I found that so many second marriages come apart and so many people I spoke to put the reason down to step-children and to the husbands not standing up for their wives. I think that frustration that you felt reading it was probably an accurate reflection of how these women felt about their husbands.
"I could argue till the cows come home that it's a pejorative and the problem is in the definition but people have been arguing that since 1996 and honestly – you're not going to change how people think of the term, or what people assume the definition of 'literature for chicks' means, so why bother?" - Jane Green on the term 'Chick Lit'.
Novelicious Amanda got to chat to Author Jane Green recently about her new book The Patchwork Marriage, her writing and lots more. We asked her what advice she would give aspiring writers and here's what she had to say:
JG: I think the first thing is do it. There are two types of people in life – those who talk about it and those who do it. The people who succeed are the ones that do. It sounds so simplistic and stupid but I'm just very aware of meeting lots of people who talk about wanting to do lots of things – not writing particularly – but they talk about being very good at something and they're not doing it. Writing is one of those things that anybody can do. You can't necessarily get a publishing deal [laughs] but if you want to write then you need to be writing! There is no other way. Writing is very much a muscle. The more you write, the better you get. If you can get into the habit of writing every day – it doesn't have to be for long – but it's a muscle, it's a discipline, it's a habit. So, if you can set aside time every day to write, that is a wonderful start.
Also, write the story you need to tell, not the story you think will sell. Don't start thinking 'I'm going to do 60 Shades of Green'. Write the story that you need to tell.
Start at the beginning and work through till you reach the end. I meet a lot of people who say they have five projects on the go and I think 'Well, how are you ever going to finish?' It has to be linear! A writer's biggest downfall is procrastination and the easiest way to procrastinate is to start another project. One has to just keep going on the one you've started.
A: So focus and determination, then?
JG: Focus, determination and discipline. Discipline, discipline, discipline! Even when you don't feel like it. Because I was at the Daily Express for a couple of years, I learnt the art of discipline, the art of writing even when you're not inspired. When you have an editor standing over you every day saying 'Jane, we need a thousand words in an hour', you can't say 'Well I'm sorry, I'm not inspired'. That's how writing is. Even if you're not inspired and you have no idea what to write, you sit down at your desk and you start writing. Something always comes – and even though it might not be very good, you can always go back and edit later.
Our full interview with Jane will be coming to Novelicious very soon. Be prepared - it's fantastic!
Nicholas Sparks is the bestselling author of numerous novels including The Notebook , Dear John and The Lucky One. It isn't just book fans who love Sparks's stories though. Hollywood has taken a shine to his books, with numerous adaptations already made and a couple currently in the early stages of production. The film adaptation of his book The Lucky One is scheduled to hit cinemas this week and stars Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in the lead roles along with Blythe Danner as Nana.
Sparks kindly took time out of his busy schedule to share with me his thoughts on having his books adapted to the big screen, what he thought of Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in the lead roles of The Lucky One, his journey into publishing and what advice he would give aspiring authors.
Congratulations on the release of The Lucky One. How have you found the tour so far?
I'm enjoying it. I've been touring since early March. I've been everywhere from Dubai to Australia, the Philippines to New Zealand, Germany and I still have to finish up here in London then I'm off to Milan and Warsaw – not counting the US and Canada which was a whole other tour.
" If you like films based on my novels, you will love The Lucky One. "
Nicholas Sparks on his latest adaptation
The Lucky One hits cinemas this week and is another in an ever-growing number of your books adapted to the big screen. How involved were you in the adaptation process this time around?
Making films is a collaborative process and I'm certainly one of the collaborators on the creative aspects of the film, whether it comes down to helping to choose the screenwriter or giving notes on the screenplay, helping to select a director or even having input on the casting. The things I don't do are the studio aspects whether it's budgets, cinematography, things like that.
So you were consulted a lot then for The Lucky One?
I was, yes, because I've been doing it a long time and certainly I have more creative input now than I did originally.
And are you happy with the end result?
Yeah! I thought The Lucky One was a very good sell. If you like films based on my novels, you will love The Lucky One.
" We wanted someone who had an aura of being a nice guy ... someone who was really a great performer, because we were going to saddle him with a lot of emotional stuff "
Nicholas Sparks on choosing Zac Efron for the role of Logan
How was it seeing Zac Efron and Taylor Schilling in the roles? Was it how you had envisioned it?
I thought Zac and Taylor were great. We wanted someone who was twenty-five years old or under because that's the average age of marines. We wanted someone who had an aura of being a nice guy and Zac is like that, because Zac really had the aura of the character. We wanted someone who was really a great performer because we were going to saddle him with a lot of emotional stuff - you know, PTSD and all her issues. Then, of course, once you have Zac, what you're looking for is chemistry with Zac - Taylor not only had chemistry with Zac but she has a lot of emotional depth as an actress and it was good!
The character Logan Thibault is a marine and you've also touched on military careers in some of your other books. Why do you think you're drawn to this aspect in particular?
I'm writing book number seventeen now and I think of those, four had elements of the military in them but really only two were major stories so it's not really a common theme amongst my novels. It's common in my films I guess – but I think it's because I live in eastern North Carolina and my town – where I live – is surrounded by military bases, so military personnel are part and parcel of life in that part of the world. If that's the situation and you're looking at characters in their twenties, this is one of the jobs that you're going to have to honestly look at if you're going to tell the truth about that area.
Of the four that mention it, three of them are in my films. So maybe it's more of a question for Hollywood...? [laughs] You know, war has always provided a great backdrop for stories. It always has and it always will.
I t's a busy life for bestselling author Jodi Picoult. Over in the UK this week to talk about her new book Lone Wolf, Jodi still found time to try on a ball gown for her teenage daughter Sammy who will be joining her on another trip to the UK this summer to promote their young adult book Between the Lines. I caught up with her - post shopping trip - to discuss where she gets her ideas from, how she got kicked off the film set of My Sister's Keeper … oh and wolves.
Your books deal with complex ethical and moral dilemmas. What led you to write along these lines, given that the first book you wrote [Songs of the Humpback Whale] was not quite as heavy?
I think I just gravitated towards that as the type of stuff I wanted to write about. When I think about my first book, I think of it as a story about a mother and a daughter. My second book was really about a marriage and from there, the thing about the marriage that twisted it was post-partem depression and that was really the first time an issue sort of entered in and hit my characters smack on. I liked it – so I think that's why I kept gravitating towards them.
I tend to write about the things that keep me up at night, things I worry about. I think the reason that they feel timely is because everyone else is worrying about the same things.
"I tend to write about the things that keep me up at night, things I worry about."
INTERVIEWED BY CESCA MARTIN
Tell us about your novel 'Miracle on Regent Street'.
Well, I like to think it’s a real cuddle-up-with-a-cashmere-blanket-and-a-hot chocolate kind of a read, the kind of book that will remind you of classic old movies and bygone days when Christmas was about magic, not money. It’s a story about a sweet, unassuming stockroom girl called Evie Taylor who works in the basement of Hardy's; a faded, forgotten old department store that has seen better days. For the past two years she's lived an invisible life in London, sorting endless boxes of old-fashioned stock by day and looking after her sister’s two young children at night. Her neighbours think she's the hired help, her self-obsessed shop floor colleagues mistake her for her stockroom predecessor and even her manager doesn't know her actual name. But despite all this she loves working at the store. So when she overhears that Hardy's is at risk of being sold unless it seriously increases its profits by December 26th – just three weeks time - she hatches a secret plan to save it. Evie and Hardy's are both looking for a Christmas miracle to turn their fortunes around, but will it take the shape of the handsome American who has swept in to town and shaken things up like a snow globe?
Was this your first novel?
Ohhho no! I have three completed manuscripts (and a couple of abandoned attempts) lurking in a box somewhere. Although my first attempt (a book called Strawberries and Dreams which I wrote in 1999!) is lost forever on an ex boyfriend’s probably no longer functioning PC. Better off that way, to be honest!
How many years have you been writing?
I’ve written stories since I was little – but I’ve been seriously dreaming of it as a career since I was 22 (aka a long time ago!) I had just left University after studying a degree in Performing Arts and was working as a waitress in a theme restaurant. The chick lit genre had just been born and reading Bridget Jones was a real light bulb moment for me. I began writing my own novel during the day (about a frustrated waitress, of course!) I read every book in the genre, bought the Writer’s and Artists Year Book, studied every acknowledgment page to see who my favourite authors were represented by and bought every book about writing fiction I could. When I’d written three chapters of my novel I sent it to ten agents. I got rejected by nine but when I hadn’t heard from the tenth I decided to take the initiative and ring them. I somehow (don’t ask me how) managed to get through to one of the biggest, most successful literary agents in London and he told me he had my manuscript in front of him and that he thought it had ‘something’ but that he had been about to send me a rejection letter. I begged him to read more and incredibly, he agreed. I went home and wrote four chapters in as many days and sent it to him. When his rejection letter eventually came through I was devastated. At that point I decided that I just wanted to write for a living – so I decided to apply for work experience at some of my favourite women’s magazines. I wasn’t giving up – just taking a sideways step. I wanted to learn skills that I could transfer to writing fiction but in an exciting, stimulating environment. It was the best decision I ever made. After a year of unpaid work, I got my dream job at Company magazine. I spent the next three years writing features – including my own column, working with incredible people, meeting celebrities – and the best part? I got to meet my favourite authors and grill them about how to get a book deal. I was still writing fiction, but in my spare time. I even sent a manuscript off to a couple of publishers –at one point I had lunch with an editor from Harper Collins which I was so excited about, but nothing ever came of it. I was getting closer, but not close enough!
INTERVIEW BY AMANDA KEATS
Hi Rosamund. Congratulations on the release of your second book Afterwards. How did the idea for it come about?
Thank you! I'm not exactly sure where the idea for AFTERWARDS came from. Sometimes it feels like an idea springs from nowhere. I just knew I wanted to write about a mother and teenage daughter who could watch what was happening, while not taking part in it, and chat to each other for the whole of a book. I thought it would be a wonderful way to explore their relationships and characters. With the beginning of the book, I was walking to my children's school one day to pick them up when I saw a fire engine roaring over the bridge towards their primary school, sirens wailing. I had that heart-stopping moment when I thought it was going to their school and huge relief when it sped past. That made me think of starting with a fire at a school.
Once the idea has been formulated, how do you go about writing a book? Do you have a trusted system or just go with the flow?
With SISTER I went with the flow and then had to re-plot a large section of the book which was very hard, so with AFTERWARDS I plotted the detective and thriller stories first, and then wrote the novel.
What is your average writing day like?
It's focussed. I work while my two boys are at school and sometimes at night.
What was your journey like to getting published?
Like most authors, it wasn't smooth, but I was very lucky to meet my editor Emma Beswetherick early in the publication process. She immediately loved the book and worked with me on the rewrite.
We asked Dorothy Koomson to tell us a bit about her writing space and she very kindly agreed to do so.
Crikey! I feel a complete fraud doing this piece because I don’t have – and never really have had - a writing room. Or even a specific place I write. Apart from my bed. I write a lot in bed.
I didn’t stop working full-time as a journalist/Deputy Editor until after my fourth book, Marshmallows For Breakfast, was published, so I had to squeeze in writing whenever and wherever I could. That meant getting on the train, elbowing people aside to commandeer a corner seat to write on my 20-minute journey into London or even sitting in during my lunch-break wherever I was freelancing writing in my notebook.
I’m lucky in that I don’t need a special place to write. Ideally I’d be able to sit down, but if not, writing long-hand - as I often do – means I can still write if I’m standing up. If I’m in my bedroom or the kitchen or the living room, I’ll very often have the television on because I’m a complete television addict. (I was going to say I was committed to research, but that wouldn’t be the entire story.)
I will happily admit, when it comes to writing, I am a freaky perfectionist. Having been an English teacher for ten years probably doesn’t help me in this way. I need to feel that I have every sentence correct, every fact matching up, the whole thing the best I can make it, before I show my work to anyone else. The mere thought of someone seeing my imperfect, messy first drafts brings me out in hives. One time a copy editor rang me (while I was on holiday) and mentioned that I’d said it was Wednesday in my manuscript when it was clear from the context that it was Tuesday. I nearly died of embarrassment.
You’d think, with this obsession, I would write slowly, double-checking every comma. But I figured out a long time ago that if I were to indulge my inner perfectionist while I was writing a first draft, I would never get past page 26 or so. So I’ve developed the strategy of writing my first drafts just for me. I write them as quickly as I can, about 7000 to 10,000 words per week, and if something is wrong, I rarely change it. I just keep on going. If I need to research something, I put an “XXX” in the margin and move on.
The outcome of this is usually a first draft which is a total mess. So I go through a process of neatening, straightening, and polishing before I show the book to anyone else. Usually I make a list of revisions I know I have to do, right away—things that have changed from the beginning of the book as I’ve written them. For example, in GETTING AWAY WITH IT, I eliminated a character, changed the geography of the setting, and gave my heroine a pilot’s licence. Then I print out the whole manuscript and read it through, making notes and making text-level changes on the page to type in later.
Then it starts getting satisfyingly picky and perfectionist. I get the Post-It notes out. I don’t plan my novels beforehand, but I find it extremely useful to map out my story after I’ve written it. A visual map gives me an instant view of whether I’ve balanced the different story threads, whether I’ve structured the book correctly, whether I’ve developed my character arcs enough. I write a quick summary Post-It for each thing that happens in the book, using different colours for different story strands. I put them on paper in chronological order, and I get a lovely, useful Post-It plan:
At a glance I can see where I’m missing scenes, or where I’ve repeated myself. My Post-It plan becomes my road map for revising my book so that it makes sense. (I lost my last one a couple of weeks ago, mid-revision, and I was hyperventilating. Fortunately I found it behind the printer.) It’s also very handy for writing a synopsis, which I usually do after I’ve written my book whenever possible.
I’ve become addicted to the Post-Its. I made all my students do them on the last course I taught. (There’s a video of me going on about it here.)
I also print out a calendar and plot each event on it. This is really useful when you’ve got several different stories going on at once, which you have to plot against something that has a definite time arc—for example, a pregnancy or a summer holiday. This sort of thing makes my brain explode, but it’s worth it to avoid those humiliating phone calls from the copy editor.
Then I polish like mad, adding in research and smoothing out my prose. And give in the book. And sit back and chew my fingernails to stubs.
You can read more about Julie's Post It method on her blog!
GET YOUR OWN RAINBOW POST ITS
Julie Cohen's novel 'Getting Away With It' is out now!
One of the most delicious covers I have seen recently belongs to Pictures of Lily by Paige Toon, and I am delighted to bring you our exclusive interview with its designer - Rafi Romaya of Simon & Schuster...
Hi Rafi, Can you tell us a little about how you got into the world of book cover design and which covers you have had a hand in?
After graduating from art college, I was lucky enough to get my first job as junior designer at Faber & Faber. I’ve always loved books so it was the perfect job for me. From there I went to Pan Macmillan and now I’m at Simon and Schuster designing jackets across a range of genres, including literary fiction, non-fiction, biographies, as well as women’s fiction.
Overall I’ve had a hand in hundreds of covers since joining S&S, but no matter how many you do, it’s always a special moment when you get the proofs back. Some of my recent favourites from a design point of view have been The Red Queen, Full Circle, The German Genius and Paige Toon’s Pictures of Lily. We were pretty excited when the finished copies came in for Pictures of Lily and got a great response. It was the second cover I've designed for Paige; her titles are bright and fun which makes them a pleasure to work on.
Do you read the book before you design the jacket?
Ideally, yes, and I've come across some of my favourite writers this way, but it varies depending on the type of book the jacket is for. We always get a detailed brief from the editor, if the manuscript is unavailable. Just reading the first few chapters of the book can give a good indication of who it’s likely to attract/is aimed at, the style of writing and where it should sit visually in the market place.
We seem to see lots of cover trends in chick lit (women’s legs only, women’s backs only, silhouette women, super-imposed women). Can you tell us about any new trends that may be coming up?
Book jackets with immediate impact are increasingly important for time-pressured buyers and also because of the way books are sold on-line and in special promotions in book stores. Recently, there has been a trend for covers that look more gifty, with finishes such as foil and flitter [flitter is a varnish with glitter added]. I used flitter for the first time on Paige Toon’s previous title, Chasing Daisy, to lift the title type with a wonderful sparkly effect. It was such a success we used it again on Pictures of Lily and this time integrated the flitter into the design process rather than just as a surface finish, making it add more texture to the cover and highlight the fireworks. The book should look beautiful, like a designer accessory you just have to own.
JUST A TASTER OF RAFI'S WORK!
What is an average working day like for you? (the process of design)
I generally work on around twenty-five new titles at a time so I spend a lot of time picture researching, finding new illustrators and photographers and keeping an eye out for new trends both in finishes and in the market. I’m lucky as I get to work with talented people whose work I really love. I’ve recently commissioned New York based illustrator Jessica Hische for RSVP which is one of our lead women’s fiction titles of 2011. This cover looks like a beautiful wedding invitation held in place by an intricate ribbon design. Last week we shot the cover image for Dannii Minogue's autobiography with renowned photographer Elizabeth Hoff, which felt very glamorous with dresses being flown in from Paris especially for the day. Each week I’m designing something different which keeps it exciting and engaging.
Do you liaise with the author on cover design?
Each author is different – some think of the cover as part of the book and get very involved others less so. For example, Paige sent over photos of things she liked and colours that she had in mind. It's always nice to get feedback from the author and thankfully I’m pleased to say most of it is positive. It is very important to me that the author is happy with their cover and I like to feel I'm helping to attract more readers by creating an eye-catching jacket. I recently designed Tara Hyland’s jacket for her first novel, Daughters of Fortune. Tara liked the design so much she based her whole website around it, which was great!
What piece are you the most proud of?
That changes all the time and you always hope your best cover is still to come. I recently worked on the design and branding for Philippa Gregory’s new novels, The White Queen and The Red Queen. They’re historical fiction so I went to the V&A’s collection for inspiration before designing a bespoke pattern for each cover with illustrator Liane Payne. The White Queen went straight in at Number 1. Fingers crossed The Red Queen will match that success on publication later this year.
Another would of course be Pictures of Lily because it felt fresh and captured a new audience which is what a cover should do.
Hester Browne's latest novel THE FINISHING TOUCHES is a real gem. Perfectly pitched, charming and witty. Each chapter begins with a modern etiquette tip. I loved these so much that I asked Hester to give us some more of her tips for modern etiquette. Here they are...
Old-style glamour, new-style world by Hester Browne
1. Turn off your phone. It’s the gracious way to say, ‘You’ve got my full attention’. Turn it off if you’re at lunch, in the cinema, driving, in a meeting. And if you can’t do that, at least put it onto silent. There’s nothing more depressing than seeing two people who’ve presumably got together for a chat checking their emails in silence.
2. Find your signature. Whether it’s a particular perfume you always wear, or being the go-to pop culture girl for the quiz team, it’s chic to have a trademark that makes everyone think, ‘you’. (NB You have to love it though - forcing yourself to drink martinis or feign an interest in French films is not the way to go. Ditto, ‘being able to drink three pints of lager in under a minute’ and ‘getting my whole fist in my mouth’.)
The annual Melissa Nathan awards for Comedy Romance are being held next week. We are absolutely delighted that Melissa's husband, Andrew, agreed to answer some questions about the awards and about Melissa herself. Thanks, Andrew.
If you have yet to read Melissa's novels I highly recommend them. They are so warm and very funny. The Nanny is one of my all time faves. You can find out more about Melissa by clicking here.
Pictures - Last year's awards and Andrew and Melissa's son, Sam, presenting a cheque to the chosen Melissa Nathan Foundation charity.
As you know, Meli
The romantic comedy genre is hugely popular. Why do you think this is?
These books are such a fant
I’ve learned from running these awards for 4 years now that when these books are good, they’re fant
“The first part of this award is for a book that is suffused with humour, where the jokes are not an added extra, but where the writer’s voice and the comedy are interdependent.
The second part of this award – and equally important – is that the romance is utterly believable and so important to the reader that the romance is a page-turner.”
We have about 40 readers up and down the country who read all the entries (about 80 every year). Each book gets read by 4 different readers and we collate their scores to create the short-list. The 5 or 6 short-listed books are read by the Judges. The Judges, Maggie and myself meet for a slap-up lunch and to decide on the winner. Jo Brand and Sophie Kinsella have been judges since the first year and they – like all the judges – have been breathtakingly supportive, helpful, lovely and funny!
Can you tell us a little about the Meli
Our wish is to continue to help families in Meli
The families might be struggling to cope with illne
So far we’ve raised about £60,000 – every penny of which h
What is the best way for our readers to donate, should they wish to?
That would be incredibly kind!! The e
Check in next week for an exclusive Novelicious report on the Melissa Nathan awards :)
To celebrate the publication of the fab Della Says: OMG - Keris Stainton invited us to be part of her blog tour. We happily accepted and decided to ask her a few cheeky questions about her years as a teenager. I love this interview (and the accompanying pics!) and hope you do too!
Can you give us an example of a typical page in your diary?
When you were fifteen, did you suspect that you may be a writer in the future?
Della works part time in her parents deli. Did you have a job as a youngster?
Taking inspiration from The Guardian's 'Writers' Rooms', Sky Arts' 'The Write Place' and Book Chick City's excellent 'Where Stories Are Made'; My Writing Room is a fabulous fortnightly event, in which some of our favourite authors show us where the writerly magic happens, and tell us a little about their writing life.
My Writing Room by Clodagh Murphy
Living in a one-bedroom apartment, I don't have the luxury of a writing room, but this is my writing corner. It's by the window in the living/dining room. The room faces south-west, so it's a lovely bright place to sit and on a nice day the sun streams in. Having a designated space for writing can help with getting into work mode, and most of my writing is done at this desk. But sometimes I move around with the laptop and if I'm blocked, I find sometimes a change of location can help to get things flowing again.
I work four days a week, so apart from my days off, most of my writing is done in the evenings. I'm better at staying up late than getting up early, and I drink a lot of coffee when I'm working flat out on a book so that I can work late into the night. I write directly onto the laptop. This one was bought in a hurry when my previous one went into meltdown at a crucial stage in the editing of my first book. They pick their moments!
I like to have things around my desk that inspire and motivate me. I bought the painting on the right over the desk with some of my advance when I got my book deal. It reminds me of what I've achieved so far. On the other wall are two silk paintings I bought in Vietnam. I love travelling, so having mementos of my travels or pictures of places I want to go is very motivating to me. A friend gave me the calendar, which is all beautiful photographs of islands, a different one for every day.
I'm not a very organised person and my desk is pretty messy. Every so often I try to impose order on it, but it doesn’t usually last long, and it gets worse the further I get into a book. Among the clutter on it at the moment is a lucky elephant that I bought for my new novel. I probably should have tidied up before taking the photo, but I decided to 'keep it real'. (That's right, I couldn't be bothered to tidy up.)
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