Monday, May 19, 2014


Irish Times - How to Write Series - started today. It's written by Sinead Gleeson  whose creative finger is to be found in the majority of arts happenings. Looking into how to find the idea that can drive a novel, she interviews a series of writers.

Award winning writer, Emma Donoghue says, 'I'm not naturally good at plot,
so for my last four books, I've planned in advance what's going to happen in
each chapter and scene.'

Liz Nugent of Unravelling Oliver fame says, 'I began with a character Oliver was
 very clear to me. I listened intently to him even though I had no idea where I was
 going.' Liz started her book with a gripping sentence that draws the reader in:
'I expected more of a reaction the first time I hit her.'

Dermot Bolger maintains. 'Novels are not written with inspiration - they're written through boring, repetitive routine. They are ground out.' A lot of writers would agree with that. The most frequent mistake new writers make is sending out their novel too early, when it requires several more edits t reach today's standard of professionalism.

Winner of this years Pen/Faulkner Award, Karen Joy Fowler says she started with a historical event in which the motivations of the main player were puzzling to her. 'Why wold anyone do such a thing?' I asked myself, and started the book to answer that question.'

Thursday, May 8, 2014


As writing historical has been my genre of choice for several years, I am interested in the 'official' definition of the time scale that constitutes Historical Fiction, a subject much debated by the experts.

Historical fiction can be defined as a literary genre with historical and or fictional characters in which true and fictional actions takes place in settings drawn from history. The best writers portray the manners, times and social conditions of the time.

There's a popular feeling that anything set back 30 years or more is a historical novel, and that's been my yardstick. But not so according to Richard Lee, founding member of the Historical Novel Society. He says that to be regarded as historical fiction, a novel must be written at least 50 years after the events described, or written by someone who was not alive at the time of the events
Historical Novel Society list forthcoming historical novels

In her definitive World Historical Fiction, Lynda Adamson states that a "generally accepted definition" is a novel "about a time period of at least 25 years before it was written". And "If the setting is in a time earlier than that with which the reader is familiar, it is historical fiction."
Historical fiction presents a story that takes place during a notable period in history, and often during a significant event in that period. Setting usually takes priority, with the author making a statement or observation about the period. Historical fiction often presents events from the point of view of fictional characters of that time period. Events portrayed in historical fiction must adhere to the laws of nature.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


The title of this Blog Hop is called THE WRITING PROCESS where writers answer questions about their writing. This is a subject that has long intrigued me - as I've discovered it intrigues most writers. I believe it has something to do with writing being such a solitary occupation. I've enjoyed reading the other hoppers' writing lives. Thank to Dianne Ashcroft for involving me in this. Her Hop was last week:

I  write books & convene writing courses. My latest novel is The Interview. My latest writing course: A NOVEL IDEA is in Irish Writers Centre, Dublin on Saturdays 17 & 24 May:    

Other fiction: A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton
Time & Destiny: Felicity’s Wedding; Once upon a Summer  
Non-fiction: Writing for Success; Working Mothers; Earning Your Living from Home; Writing for the Market and Dying with Love. Various short stories are published in magazines and anthologies.

Currently I'm editing The Interview due out this summer. The story is about the relationship between reclusive Irish designer Eileen Gray (94) and rising star of Fleet Street, Bruce Chatwin (32). I'm enjoying working through the edits that have come back from my publishers, New Island Books. It's amazing the difference a good editor can made to a manuscript and so far I've been blessed with good ones. The editing stage is one of my favourite parts of the writing process.  

Recently I've become involved in Social Media, one of the downsides of being a writer in the current climae. While it's interesting and addictive, it's eating into my writing time. I've set up Twitter, Facebook + a Facebook page for Eileen Gray; LinkedIn; Goodreads, as well as my existing website and blogs. Also I contacted various publications which has paid off with commissions and a 4-page spread in YOU, Irish Daily Mail magazine:

Promotional poster 

 My previous three fiction books were fact-led historical fiction. I don't think mine is any different to others writing in this genre. I use the facts that exist as much as possible and fill in the remainder (fiction!). Nothing had been written on Kathleen Newton, the subject of A Type of Beauty which was both good and bad. Eileen Gray has been the subject of much media interest recently. Good, I hope for sales of The Interview.

I write this genre because the subjects I choose fascinate me and as I research them and write their stories they become part of my DNA

Before I start the writing process I do a basic amount of research, then outline/ structure and decide on voices, tense etc of first draft. Get it down. Then research finer points before starting on re-write and many as it takes. As I run writing courses and an editing service, this aspect of my business takes priority over my writing at draft and re-drafting stages. But when editing my manuscript and I are together 24 hours a day. I only send out my work when I am certain I can no longer improve it.

Currently I'm thinking about, dabbling in and working on various projects - not for discussion until they're more advanced.

Thanks to the prolific Dianne Ascroft for involving me in this Blog Hop:

Next week it's Evie Hunter's turn -