Monday, 27 January 2014

Chain of thought

Today I'm taking part in a Blog Chain, where bloggers post their thoughts on an a particular theme and then provide a link to another blogger who does the same. In this case, the subject is a series of interesting questions for each author to answer on their blog.
  1. What am I working on?
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
  3. Why do I write what I do?
  4. How does my writing process work?

 Thank you to bestselling author, Helen Hollick, for her responses to those questions which she posted as her link to the chain, on 20th January. 

Helen has written The Pendragon Banner Trilogy, about King Arthur and is about to start the fifth in her pirate adventure series about the voyages of Captain Jesamiah Acorne on his ship, the Sea Witch (and if you read her post she'll tell you why that's proving a little difficult at the moment!). Read more about Helen's novels on her website, about life in Devon on her blog  leaningonthegate and much more besides on her excellent blog, ofhistoryandkings.

Now Helen has passed on the baton to me - and here are my answers to those questions!

What am I working on?

As well as writing posts for my familyhistorysecrets blog, I'm currently battling away to finish the final draft of another Esme Quentin novel.

Esme was the protagonist in Blood-Tied and I received so many enthusiastic comments from readers about her as a character, that I decided, after much deliberation to write about her again.

The novel is set on the wild north Devon coast, near where I live. Esme stumbles upon a dying woman at the foot of a cliff and is sucked into the mystery surrounding the death and its connection with the untold story of a 19th century convict, transported to Australia in 1837. 

At the moment I'm making sure everything fits together properly, that all the pieces are in place in the plot, that it flows smoothly and at the right pace, that the characters are doing what they're supposed to... Then I shall get to the tweaking stage, where I concentrate on the words. Non-writers assume this is what you mean when you're revising your work but there's SO much more involved before getting to that point on a novel. I really enjoy the last stage. Perhaps it's because it IS the final stage and it means the book is almost ready!

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The story of Blood-Tied falls naturally into 'mystery' genre and could also be called crime fiction. And there are other novels out there which fuse genealogy and crime. But although Esme is an investigator of sorts, she's not a professional working on a case. That might put her into the amateur 'cozy' category but I didn't want to write cozies. I wanted to write something different. (Hence my deliberation about whether to write another Esme novel.) In most crime fiction a crime is committed and the story follows the protagonist as they uncover the identity of the perpetrator. My fascination is with the notion of crimes committed years ago and only now impacting on people and events in the present day. So I weave past events, crime and genealogy together to write a story around the repercussions. A snappy sound-bite of what I write would be handy! Suggestions gratefully received....

Why do I write what I do?

I guess because I'm a sucker for an intriguing mystery! I've always liked stories with secrets, especially where the protagonist has to follow a trail to discover the truth. And as the accepted wisdom is to write what you like to read... well, says it all!

How does your writing process work?

I usually start with an idea, often from something I've read about during my family history research, around which I build a web of interconnected links and characters. It's very much like spinning plates when I get up and running! I'm a planner - I think you have to be when writing crime and mystery because everything has to unravel in a controlled manner or the secret risks being revealed too soon. I use old fashioned index cards to plot my way through the story, though, things change regularly and even with the order decided, I can find myself re-writing huge sections if I get a 'better' idea of how things will be worked out. I guess there's no quick and easy way to write a novel, which ever way you do it!


Now I hand over the baton to food writer Suzy Bowler.

Suzy Bowler has been a chef for more than 30 years initially in the UK and then for many years on a small island in the Caribbean where supplies were limited and unreliable thus stretching her creativity even further. Now back in the UK and no longer cooking for a living she is sharing her ideas, recipes and experiences (often do to with food!) via her blog and other writing. Suzy’s book “The Leftovers Handbook” was published last year, she has written several magazine articles and also publishes ebooks on Amazon Kindle when she has a good idea.

I came across Suzy's clever book The Leftovers Handbook  in the summer and bought a copy so that those pathetic items of food left brandishing in the fridge might find a new lease of life instead of succumbing to their usual fate of being consigned to the kitchen bin. Try it - it's full of great ideas! And there's lots more to read on her food inspired blog - SuddenLunch.

Over to you, Suzy, for your link in the Blog Chain!


  1. So enjoyed reading this Wendy! Thanks for linking to the chain!

  2. And thanks to you too, Helen, for inviting me to take part!

  3. Really interesting post, Wendy, and I love the sound of your book (and it's stunning cover!)Have just added it to my to-read list! Do you sell it in local tourist shops on the Devon coast where it's set? - it would make a great read for local holidaymakers, I'm sure! Thanks for passing on the chain - I'd tagged Helen in mine and it's lovely to see where it's going next! Will look out for Suzy's post - I love cooking with leftovers!

  4. Thanks for calling by, Debbie! Glad you like the cover of Blood-Tied. One of SilverWood's goodies, of course!
    Blood-Tied's actually set in Shropshire (sorry, I made that a bit confusing putting the cover in the middle of my bit about what I'm doing now!). The novel I'm writing at the moment is set on the North Devon coast and yes, I'm hoping it will be of interest to visitors to the area once it's published. It's a stunning area of coast and cliffs and not that well known.

    I'm sure you'll enjoy Suzy's post. I think the 'left-overs' debate needs to get cranked up. People have got out of the habit!