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More Interview with Culley Holderfield (Conclusion)

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you? (cont.)

CH. I work at it until I can stand it no more. Then, I share the entire manuscript with readers I trust to give me honest feedback and step away from it while they read. If I’m lucky, it will take them a while, and I can gain some distance from the project. Once I have their comments, I’ll reread it myself, then revise it all over again. Sometimes it may take only a draft or two after that. Other times, as with Hemlock Hollow, it may take an entirely new draft and then eight more passes to get to the point where I feel the novel is where I want it. Then I start submitting it. If I’m lucky, it will get picked up by an agent or an editor, at which point I get to go through the process all over again.

Q. How have your life experiences influenced your writing?

CH. Tremendously. As I mentioned, my writing was influenced heavily by the cabin my parents bought right after I was born. Growing up, I learned to love storytelling on the front porch of that cabin when my grandmother would tell tales of her childhood and adults would share the goings on of their worlds. My fiction is often about the importance and

Anything that’s out-of-doors, Culley’s there

impermanence of place over time, how we can be nurtured and haunted by the places that make us who we are. And that comes directly from my own past of falling in love with places that change because all places change. Much of my writing is an effort to come to grips with that truth.

Q. What’s your downtime look like?

CH. What’s downtime? Just kidding. Sometimes it does feel like I don’t have much downtime. I have a demanding job that I love, and writing takes up most of what would otherwise be my free time. But I do manage to spend quite a bit of time in nature. I hike and paddle and camp when I can. Travel is one of my favorite things to do, and I read a lot and watch a lot of movies.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre?

CH. That first novel I set aside was a spy thriller set in Ecuador, and at some point, hopefully not too far down the line, I have a pre-historical fantasy novel I’d like to write.

Cooking in Tuscany

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

CH. Step one, if you want to be a writer, is to read widely. Step two is to write often. Step three is to find your place in a community of writers and engage with them.

You don’t have to do it all yourself; in fact, you can’t. When I was just starting out as a young writer, I thought all it took was sitting down and writing. Writing a novel is hard work, but it turns out that just writing well is not enough to succeed in this business. In addition to grit and persistence, you really need to find community. That’s hard for writers. Most of us are introverts, after all. But for me, finding other writers with similar goals and similar levels of commitment has made all the difference in my writing life. My twenty-five year-old self wouldn’t believe me if I told him this.

Cabin that inspired book

He would shrug me off and shoulder on alone, but no writer has ever succeeded in that way. Take advantage of writers’ groups and associations. Go to conferences. Meet other writers. Be willing to share your work and to have others share their work with you. In North Carolina, we have the North Carolina Writers’ Network, which has really been important to my growth as a writer. Other states may have similar organizations, so seek them out.

 

Did you miss the start of this wonderful interview?
    Look for my review of this book December 2nd. 
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Interview with author, Culley Holderfield (part 3)

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

CH. My debut novel, Hemlock Hollow, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing on December 6 of this year. It’s a historical, Appalachian novel about a college professor who inherits a cabin and with it the ghost who haunted her childhood. In the process of renovating the cabin, she uncovers a journal written by Carson Quinn a hundred years before, and she can’t square the boy’s voice in the journal with the murderer he became. 

One of Culley’s writing spaces. Albemarle Sound in eastern NC

My work in progress is a historical novel set in Western North Carolina during the Civil War. It involves the Red String Order, also called the Heroes of America, which was a secret organization in North Carolina that opposed secession.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CH. I started to write seriously in college. I crafted my college career around becoming a novelist. I started at Wake Forest, then transferred to UNC-Chapel Hill. At UNC, I completed the undergraduate creative writing program, studying with Bland Simpson and Doris Betts. I finished my first novel shortly after graduating college. It was okay for a first novel, but it was a first novel, and needed a lot of work. I rewrote it seven times over fifteen years, all the while marketing it to agents. Despite some close calls, no one ever picked it up, so I set it aside. When that didn’t sell right off the bat, I realized that my path to success wasn’t going to be Garp’s path to success. I tried freelancing. Interestingly enough, freelancing wasn’t great for my fiction. I changed tactics and found a good, meaningful day job that has left enough time for me to continue to write. Five years or so ago, I was fortunate to find Writeaways, which is a unique writing workshop model run by Mimi Herman and John Yewell. They are great mentors and pals. Being immersed in a community of like-minded and supportive writers has made a huge difference in both the quality and volume of my work.

Carl Sandburg Home in Flat Rock, NC, ‘ a place that never fails to inspire me.”

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

CH. No. Not in our lifetime. I think we’ve seen and will continue to see a resurgence in paper books as people realize how much damage staring at screens does to our emotional and mental health, and how utterly addictive the virtual world is. Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part. I may be the only serious reader remaining who doesn’t own an e-reader.
I do think eventually, if we figure out how to survive climate change intact, we will eventually wind up reading entirely on Star Trek-like tablets. While we clearly have the technology to do that now, I think it won’t be ubiquitous until long after we’re gone.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CH. I think there are a lot of different ways for writers to be great. Ernest Hemingway is great differently than Margaret Atwood is great. But the kind of great writing that moves me and that I aspire to write is work that creates an authentic narrative experience for the reader. In The Art of Fiction, John Gardner describes the fictive dream that readers enter into when reading good fiction. The writer can get away with pretty much anything as long as she or he doesn’t wake the reader from that dream state. So, I think at a minimum, a great writer entrances the reader into this fictive dream state. There are writers who can do that by spinning a great yarn and others who do it by turn of phrase, but the best writers do both well without one overwhelming the other on the page.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

CH. It starts with an inkling, a voice calling out, begging to enter this world, then a blank page that in its blankness contains infinite possibility. Each word inscribed on that page constrains those possibilities exponentially. Eventually, with enough words comprising enough sentences composing enough paragraphs, a story emerges. If I’m successful, that story holds me for the year or more it takes to build a first draft. Once the draft is complete, the work begins. Now I have the clay with which I can mold my novel into something coherent.

Watch for the conclusion to this wonderful interview next week.

Did you miss part of it? Click here
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My chat with author, Culley Holderfield (part 2)

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CH. They come from all over. Since I write mostly historical fiction, many of my characters emanate from my research. I might pattern them on actual historical figures, or sometimes I just take the historical figures and put them whole hog into the book. You have to be careful with that, though. If you include real people in your novel, you need to make sure you’re describing them accurately and not having them do anything that runs counter to their known history. I also have characters arrive when I’m walking or in the shower or while driving. They show up, and it may just be their voice at first. Or it may be something else, like an image or an expression. Sometimes I might dream them, and every once in a while they are ghosts.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

CH. I’ve always made up stories. My mother has the evidence in the form of little handwritten books I did as early as first grade. But I distinctly remember being in the 8th grade and having an assignment to write a short story for English class. I remember sitting down at the dining room table with a clutch of blank pages, and starting with the sentence, “It was a serene, brisk day, great for hiking.” It wound up being a ghost story, and the teacher loved it. From that encouragement came the desire to write more and write better. Then, my senior year of high school, I read The World According to Garp. In Garp, John Irving peeled back the curtain on the writing life for me. It taught me that one might actually become a writer as Garp did. Before that I hadn’t really thought about writing as a possible career choice. Once I realized it could be that, it became something I couldn’t shake, so I set my sights on becoming a novelist.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

CH. Almost always characters create the situation with the decisions they make. Good fiction puts characters into the position of having to make choices, and the

Hickory Nut Gorge where story takes place

choices that they make result in outcomes that lead to them having to make new choices. The engine for all of this is desire, the characters trying to get what they want. I’m not a good enough planner to map out ahead of time what situations my characters will get themselves into. So I typically leave it up to them, hoping that I’ve put enough work into understanding them that I understand their motivations and can authentically render that onto the page.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

Hiking in the Hollow where story takes place

CH. Yes. If I allow myself sufficient time, I’ll easily get lost in the narrative. The characters in my work-in-progress are fascinating to me. The more time I spend with them, the more fully formed they become. When I understand them really well, even the minor characters, the story can just take off in unexpected, though fully logical, directions. I may find myself hours later emerging from this state of consciousness that leaves me almost dizzy and pleasantly numb, like I’ve been in an almost meditative state for all that time.

Q. What compelled you to choose and settle on the genre you now write in?

CH. I’ve always been interested in history. In college, I double-majored in History and Comparative Literature. But what inspired 

 me to write the particular series of books that I’m working on now, including Hemlock Hollow, was the cabin my parents own in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I grew up, like Caroline, the main character of the novel, spending my summers and weekends there. One summer, my father was cleaning out an attic we didn’t know we had, and he uncovered a box full of old photos. They were from the 1930s and before. Presumably, they were the people who had built the cabin and lived there. I was fascinated by those black and white images of these men and women who lived in that same place where I spent so much time yet had such different lives from mine. Later I would turn my historical research skills onto those families and the entire Hickory Nut Gorge region. Eventually, I made up a fictional family, the Quinns, and their fictional lives intertwined with real history, which became the fodder for this book.

Watch for part 3 next week.

Did you miss the beginning of this Interview? Click here.

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Interview with author, Culley Holderfield

Writing my next book

TS.   Culley Holderfield is a writer from Durham, NC. He is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he completed the undergraduate creative writing program. He primarily writes fiction but has been known to dabble in poetry and essays. His work has appeared in a variety of publications, including Dime Show Review, Amarillo Bay, Yellow Mama, Scarlet Leaf, Kakalak 2016, Kakalak 2020, and Floyd County Moonshine. Hemlock Hollow, his debut novel, is forthcoming from Regal House Publishing in December 2022 in their Sour Mash Southern literature series.

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, or special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ workspace.

CH. I have a really nice desk that my in-laws gave me that I often use, but I sometimes I write in my easy chair with my feet up. I’d love to have a writing shack or hut. A few years back, I visited George Bernard Shaw’s home in Hertfordshire, England. He had a writing hut in his garden where he produced the bulk of his work. It housed his writing desk and typewriter and a day bed. The best part is that it was built on a swivel so that he could rotate it throughout the day to follow the sun. If it’s good enough for George Bernard Shaw, it’s good enough for me!

Q. Do you have any special rituals or quirks when you sit down to write? (a neat workspace, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, a glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

CH. I try to steer clear of rituals when it comes to writing. I don’t want my creativity to become dependent on having to meet particular needs. That said, writing itself is its own ritual for me. For a while, I used to start my writing sessions by doing a few minutes of stream-of-consciousness writing to get my creative juices flowing. I don’t do that anymore, but I journal and meditate before I write, and those serve a similar purpose.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

CH. My favorite bit of trivia about myself is that I’ve officially resided in nine different counties in North Carolina in my life, dispersed throughout the state, from the piedmont to the mountains to the coast.

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

CH. I tend to do all my work on a computer. I’ve tried notebooks and legal pads and index cards, but my organizational skills are subpar, and I tend to lose track of

Debut book

them. If I keep everything in the same folder in Word, there’s a chance I won’t lose them. When starting a project, I begin with research and characters, and those usually go hand in hand. When I was beginning my current work-in-progress, I knew that it would be set in North Carolina in the 1860s and I had a good sense of two of the main characters. I then immersed myself into the era and place, and gained a lot of ideas and insights for the arc of the book that I fleshed out in different documents on my computer.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)? If yes, tell us about it.

CH. Yes. I often write short stories and poems in between my longer projects. I have an ideas document that contains a number of ideas for short stories or poems. When I have time, I’ll work on those. Short stories and poetry are harder for me to write than novels. I was a long distance runner in my younger days, and I think I’m just built for sustained pacing over time. A short story is like running the 400, and a poem is like a 100 yard sprint. I can do them if I force myself, but it induces a lot of pain and suffering to get them right, and I’m never going to be great at them. Just like it’s good to mix in high-intensity and low-intensity modalities of exercise, I figure it’s good for me to mix in different forms of writing every once in a while.

My writing partner

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CH. There’s procrastination, and then there’s writer’s block. It’s probably good to figure which one you’re dealing with. If you know what you want to write and just aren’t able to make time for it, I think there are a number of strategies that can help. Most of them boil down to making it easy on yourself by setting small, attainable goals. My goal for any one writing session is to grow my manuscript by at least one page. Sometimes that means I don’t even have to write a full page. I can just edit my work until the manuscript grows by a page. So, if I have 35 total pages in the document when I start, I want to see that there are 36 pages when I finish. (Note: adding spaces between paragraphs doesn’t count!)

If I’m having trouble getting going, that’s more of a writer’s block issue. I may just tell myself that all I need to do is to write one word. If I can change or add a single word, I will have made progress. Also, it’s freeing to remember that whatever you write today, you’ll probably wind up changing during revision. All that really matters is that you make progress. This takes the pressure off. All of that said, once I get going it’s rare that I only add that one word. I usually wind up writing a page or so, and a page or so per day is a novel a year.

Join us next week for Part II of this wonderful interview with new author,  Culley Holderfield.
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Book Review ~~ Where The Sky Begins

4 out of five stars  ~~  Book Review

 

This stand-alone novel by serial author Rhys Bowen  (Molly Murphy series and Royal Spyness Mysteries) is well written and a remarkable story. Set in war-torn London during the Second World War air blitz, the reader crawls with Josie Banks from the rubble of her home and her life. The ‘pace’ of the story is just right, relaxed, with just the right amount of detail. So typical of this author…getting it right.  

Until the last sixty pages or so, Bowen jams years worth of story into these pages.  This reviewer found the change of pace disconcerting. Josie’s lover is pronounced officially missing and presumed killed in action. She goes to work for the government, all very top secret until Bowen winds up the whole book with one last surprise. (I am trying to avoid a spoiler alert.)  

While I enjoyed the story and appreciated the fine writing, I felt the book deserved better. I recommend this book to my readers despite the few stumbles. 

Did you catch my Interview with Rhys Bowen?
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Book Review ~~ The Boardwalk Bookshop

4 out 0f five stars  ~~ Book Review

 

No surprise here. Susan Mallery dishes up another excellent contemporary fiction for women. A great story with lots of plot twists and romance. A real page-turner. 

This time three women who don’t know each other share a lease on a retail space none of them can afford by themselves. They set up shop, books, muffins, and gifts, right off the sand, on the boardwalk in Santa Monica, California. Each has been wounded by love in the past, romantic or familial; it all hurts the same. 

All three main characters are equally balanced with in-depth storylines, so the reader has the opportunity to care about each one of them. Will their particular shop succeed? Will true love win out?  How many nasty turns will life serve up before the women find happiness?

I highly recommend this as your next book. But it’s no secret (by now) that I’m a huge fan of Susan Mallery myself.

Did you miss my Interview with author, Susan Mallery?
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Interview with author, playwright Jay Hartlove (part 3)

San Francisco Literary Speakeasy events at Martuni’s bar

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it. 

JH. I am working on a couple of things. I collect ideas over time and fit them into projects as appropriate. I always have a couple of projects simmering on back burners. My big love right now is a High Fantasy called The Dove and the Crow. My first novel, the learning exercise that shall never see the light of day, was a High Fantasy. I love those when they are done right, with genuinely original world building and dramatic situations. I have been collecting bits for this one for a couple of years and I am now up to a 25 page outline. I am also breathing new life back into a musical show I wrote but then abandoned. The rewrite is going slow but I love the piece too much to let it die.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

JH. For years I wrote because I had ideas I wanted to explore and share. In my mid-thirties I realized that if I as going to spend years of my free time writing a book, then it really ought to be about something. Big themes became important to me. Goddess Chosen is about Revenge and Redemption. Goddess Daughter is about Loss and Forgiveness. Goddess Rising is about Justice. Mermaid Steel is about Cultural Erasure. The Insane God is about Accepting Change. I spent a while exploring the nature of evil. Lately I am exploring why people fall in love.

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

JH. No. Maybe down the road, when technology is wet-wired into us and we can experience books in a virtual space. But eReaders are not going to replace paper books. eReaders are really convenient, and can store many books at a time. But anyone who grew up holding a book in their hands will always get a more fulfilling experience with a paper volume. The cover holding the pages just makes such a satisfying package. At least that’s my admittedly old person view.

Q. What makes a writer great?

JH. You have to love writing to get good at it. You have to see tens of thousands of your own words before you can hear your voice on paper. You have to be willing to admit your mistakes and shortcomings and to go back and learn and try again. A great writer is like any great artist. If you can say what you wanted to say, and have no second thoughts, no regrets, no further edits, in other words, convey completely what you were trying to say, then you have created what you set out to create. If you have developed the skills to convey your message, then you are an artist. The audience may love it or hate it, but if you gave them what you meant to give them, then you have done your job.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

 

Best in Show at the 1985 San Diego ComicCon

JH. I write in iterative drafts. I will get an idea and jot it down in a three-page synopsis. If it resonates with me, I will add to it and start to fill in details. This will grow to a ten-page synopsis. If that catches fire, I will structure it into a sequence of events and really start engineering my characters. By the time it is a 20-page outline, I am usually excited enough to start writing prose. That’s where I am now with The Dove and the Crow. It is also around this time I figure out what the book is really about and why I am excited to write it. This becomes the book blurb and the touchstone I will use to get through writer’s block and procrastination. Although I follow my outline so as to tell a cohesive story, I allow my characters to take me on alternate paths if that’s what’s right for them. So I am not a strict outliner and I am not a seat-of-the-pants writer, I am somewhere on a spectrum. I will often stop just before the final conflict

Jay as Dr. Anton Phibes from the “Abominable Dr. Phibes” winning Best Recreation at CostumeCon 8 in 1990

resolution and look back at what has transpired so far. I want to make sure I’ve wrapped up all my loose ends and that I am headed toward a resolution that will satisfy what the reader expects based on the trajectory of the story. Once I finish the draft, I will put it down for a week or more before tackling Round Two. Neil Gaiman put it brilliantly. “The second draft is where you make it look like you knew what you were trying to say all along.” Round Three is where I put in all the new details I’ve thought of since I started the project. At that point I ask myself if I have said everything I ever wanted to say in this story. If the answer is Yes, then I am done.

Did you miss Part 1 and 2 of this excellent interview? Click here

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Interview with Writer, Jay Hartlove (part 2)

Jay.Rabbit.Cat

TS. While an entertaining interview, this one is also instructional, without being ‘preachy’.  Jay is a writer’s writer.  This is such a worthwhile read for other writers! 

Q. What tools do you begin with? Legal pad, spiral notebook, pencils, fountain pen, or do you go right to your keyboard?

JH. When I started writing in the 1980s before laptop computers, I hand wrote everything in spiral bound notebooks on commuter trains and lunch hours. Then I would edit as I typed the text into my computer at home. I wrote two novels that way. The first was an embarrassing lesson in how not to write a book. The second one eventually became my highly successful Goddess Chosen thriller. I still carry a small notebook whenever I think I might have downtime to jot ideas. I do most of my productive work at home late at night, so I just type directly.

Q. Do you enjoy writing in other forms (playwriting, poetry, short stories, etc.)?
If yes, tell us about it.

JH. I wrote, produced, and directed my original musical sequel to Snow White in 2018. The Mirror’s Revenge ran for three weeks in the San Francisco Bay Area and got rave reviews. I loved the collaboration with the composers, the musicians, and mostly the actors. When they occupied the characters, they started seeing things I had missed, even though I had worked on the script for ten years. I try to write from inside the characters’ heads, but myactors brought a whole new level of insight. They really brought the story to life. I loved that so much, I am working on another show. I learned my lesson of not trying to do everything myself, but I will definitely be putting on another show.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

JH. Remember what got you excited about writing your story in the first place. Try to write a sentence that captures that spark, that thing that makes this story different and special. Such a phrase often makes an excellent cover blurb. Blurbs should not tell the plot, but rather tell why this story is exceptional. Your original inspiration was strong enough to make you drop everything else and write this story. Keep that inspiration at hand throughout the writing.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters? What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

JH. I write largely in science fiction and fantasy, so I almost always start with the “What if?” proposition. That means I know what will happen in the story first. As soon as I see that much, I move to ask who would be the best person to tell this story, or for this story to happen to. I do a lot of reverse engineering to design characters who have the right background, the right opinions, the right fears and motivations to tell this story. No matter what you do with a character, their actions and reactions must seem completely in character to the reader. Otherwise the reader sees the heavy hand of the author moving things into place. The only way to ensure that believability is to engineer the characters to have all the qualities they will need as the story unfolds.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

JH. I was lucky enough to have grade school teachers who fed my imagination. I grew up on books like “A Wrinkle in Time” and the Danny Dunn mysteries. Star Trek was just coming on the air when I was nine years old. Middle school was Frank Herbert and C.S. Lewis. High school was Heinlein and Clarke. I became a huge science fiction movie fan. I skipped my older brother’s high school graduation to see “The Andromeda Strain.” I scored off the charts for language aptitude. My parents pushed me into a science education, but as soon as I was out of college I started writing science fiction. In 1980 I self-produced Supergame, one of the first table-top role playing games to use comic book superheroes. By 1985 I had finished the first draft of a sword-and-sandal fantasy novel. And the rest is history.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

JH. I joke that my muse is called “Eleven.” After I finish the evening’s affairs, and my family have all retreated to their own corners to wind down, I sit down to write, usually around eleven o’clock. If she doesn’t show up, and I can’t get into the flow, then I go to bed and get some sleep. If Eleven does show up, and I get into the zone, I will write obliviously until I pass out on the keyboard around 2 or 3 am. So if I have a good night writing, I have a bad day at work the next day.
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Join us next week for part 3 of this wonderful Interview.

Did you miss the beginning? Click here

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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK

 

 

 

Author, Donna Ashcroft shares with us (conclusion)

Q. Do you think we will see, in our lifetime, the total demise of paper books?

DA. No, I don’t think so. While digital books are usually cheaper and easier to store and buy, I think a lot of people still enjoy the way a paper book smells and feels. It’s more of an emotional experience. I receive a lot of messages from readers who want to know how to get hold of my books in physical form.

Daisy–the old lady

Q. What makes a writer great?

DA. For me anyone who can transport me from everyday life into a different world and make me lose myself is a great writer. Bringing people and situations to life on the page is a kind of magic.

Q. and the all-important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

One of this blogger’s favs

DA. I begin my novel by brainstorming the types of people I want in my story, what do they want, conflicts they might encounter and what do they need to learn?

Then I come up with a ‘hook’ or something that will draw readers in. I create ‘books’ of information about my stories which include pictures of my characters, location photographs (I find this helps me to really picture my setting and helps to make it real). I use a website call Pacemaker to plan my writing schedule ie when the deadline is, how many words I need to write each day to get the first draft completed on time. I generally write my first draft in three months, once I’m happy with it I deliver it to my editor.

Usually after a week I receive structural edits. These involve adding scenes/removing scenes/deepening conflict and addressing anything my editor things doesn’t work in the story. This tends to be the most major part of the editorial process. Sometimes my edits take a few days, but they can take up to a month. It all depends on how much work the book needs. After the structural edits are okay’d I work on line edits, then copy edits and then a proof read. The final stage of the process involves me reading through the final files before the book is created. Publication day is the end of the process – this involves promotion on social media, in newsletters and thanking people for support. I tend to end the day with a glass of something fizzy!

Q. How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

DA. Because my books are character driven, I think everyone I meet or speak to and everything that has happened to me influences my writing. I tap into

Dylan

experiences when I’m dealing with heartbreak or conflict in my novels. It’s not always the exact same experience, but the feelings are the same.

Q. Do you have children? If yes, how do you carve out ‘writing time’? 

DA. This is how I keep my two lovely teenagers from disturbing me mid flow (in truth: it doesn’t work and they still barge in). Seriously, I wouldn’t be without them. I can get a bit obsessive about my writing and end up stuck at my desk for hours so it does me good to have some company and distraction!

Q. What’s your down time look like?

DA. I read a lot, enjoy swimming, walking and classes at my local gym. I love networking with other writers and spending time with family and friends.

Q. Have you or do you want to write in another genre`?

DA. I love romance and don’t plan to change to another genre.

Q. Note to Self: (a life lesson you’ve learned.)

DA. If you want something in life, behave as if you already have it.
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Did you miss the beginning of this Interview?
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Coming soon!  August: Author, Jay Hartlove

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Interview with UK author, Donna Ashcroft (part 2)

My walking pal, Jules

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

DA. I need to know my characters before I start writing. I start by working out who they are and what their internal issues are, i.e. what is their wound? What needs to happen in the novel for that wound to be overcome or healed. I then spend time finding pictures of my characters on Google and adding in details like eye colour, hair colour, age, upbringing. While I discover my characters as I write, I need a fair amount of detail before I get started so they can become real in my mind. Sometimes news stories, novels or movies will help to inspire a character, especially if I admire or identify with particular personality traits.

Q. What first inspired you to write?

DA. I was a huge reader when I was younger and started writing books when I was around twelve. I don’t know what originally inspired me, but I was good at writing and enjoyed escaping into stories and creating my own worlds.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

DA. For me characters usually come first.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

DA. When things are going well, I get completely lost. I often feel like the words are coming out of my fingers rather than my brain – that’s when my subconscious takes over and almost writes for me. I love those moments but it’s not always like that!

New books are born here. “Book Planning Books”.

Q. Are you working on something now or have a new release coming up? If so tell us about it.

DA. I’m working on my summer book for 2023 at the moment and I’m about 30K words in so I’ve a way to go yet. Recently my 2022 summer novel The
Little Cornish House was published and my first novel Summer at the Castle Café was published by Sphere into paperback. My pitch for The Little Cornish House is it’s The Great Pottery Thrown Down meets The Murder Club (only without any murders).

Thirty-year-old Ruby’s life is safe and predictable: no dramas, no complications, no men. And that’s just the way she likes it – there’s no way she wants to get her heart broken again. But her whole life is turned upside down when her grandmother calls to say she’s in danger of losing her beloved little Cornish House by the sea. She needs Ruby to come back to Cornwall and save the day…You’ll find everything in this summer romance – from a gorgeous hero and heroine, to a whole host of quirky characters, pottery, cake and real ale-

One of my favs

not to mention a mystery, twists, turns and romances crossing the generations.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

DA. In 2017 I was awarded the Katie Fforde Bursary. This was a huge honour, not only to be selected as one of Katie’s promising writers, but also because all of the authors up until that point had gained a publishing deal within a couple of years. I’d been writing on top of my day job for a few years by then, but having Katie’s endorsement, and knowing I didn’t want to let her down, I went down to four days a week at work and decided to treat my writing more like a proper day job. In 2018 I was offered my first publishing contract. I think I had to make the ‘decision’ to take

getting published seriously before this would happen.
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Join us next week for the conclusion of our Interview with Donna Ashcroft 

Did you miss part 1 of our chat with Donna?
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Coming soon!  August: Jay Hartlove

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BOOKS BY TRISHA SUGAREK