Friday, 25 January 2013


Paula Rawsthorne asks the novelists out there, does it feel like you've given birth to a BookBaby?

Am I alone in thinking that the experience of writing of a novel is comparable to the whole business of conception, pregnancy and birth?  I’m not suggesting that the length of time taken to complete writing a novel is nine months (my new book has had the gestation period of an elephant).  Rather, I’m comparing the emotional aspect of  both processes.  So for instance, the conception is usually the part that’s the most fun and carefree with much thrashing around involved as you create your idea! Then, once you embark on the actual writing, you can become so wrapped up in crafting the story that it feels  like they’re nurturing an embryo (the idea)into a full term baby (your big, bouncing final draft).

Like the experience of being pregnant, the journey when writing a novel can be scary, exciting, frustrating, stimulating, exhausting and all-consuming.  The gestation period can feel like an eternity and you become so emotional that you look at your ever changing body (of work) and one day love it, the next day, burst into tears at the sight of it.

If the first trimester involves completing your first draft, the second involves all the inevitable rewrites and the third involves the final push when you’re so exhausted you just want someone else to get the damn thing out!!  Whilst enduring the labour pains of giving birth to your book, you may be heard shouting for drugs but, usually, you’ve left it too late and just have to get on with it through sheer bloody mindedness.

Sadly, a writer’s body may even start to resemble that of a pregnant woman.  After all, you spend so many months sitting on your backsides typing and eating biscuits that bellies tend to swell.

Of course, once it's born you are fiercely protective of your new book baby.   You created it.  It’s part of you.  So when you show it to agents, publisher and readers, you want them to love it and tell you it’s adorable.  That’s why rejections and critical comments hit so hard.  It’s like someone telling you, “Wow, your baby is ugly!”

Mother Nature is extremely cunning and, unless your partner has taken a video of you in the throes of childbirth (why do people do that!?) you forget just how awful it is.  Soon your vow to “never go through that again” becomes, “Actually, it wasn’t too bad.  Perhaps I’ll give it another go.”  So too for the writer - the elation of finishing your shiny, polished manuscript makes you forget the pain and exhaustion of writing it and you start contemplating your next one.

So, am I just weird in drawing parallels between the whole pregnancy thing and the emotional journey of writing a novel?   I’d love to know your writing process comparisons.
Paula Rawsthorne is author of the award winning, The Truth About Celia Frost.  Her new thriller, Blood Tracks, is out in June 2013.


Friday, 18 January 2013

Throwing my hat in the ring by Miriam Halahmy

 I love the way the English language is constantly evolving. I’m writing a poem about it at the moment and how my generation simply didn’t have words like partner, black, celebrity and the only X we knew was in x-ray.
So I must admit that I am rather relishing the new word on the Y.A. block – Sicklit. 
Pretty cool, you must admit and definitely edgy.
 I’ve started to trawl back through my entire canon  *grins* to see if any of my published works can be categorised under sicklit. 

Depending on your point of view, probably all of it to be honest. I’ve written about torture, near drowning, human rights ( well it is a gritty issue), drugs, dysfunctional families, child death, self harming, lying to the police, cancer....

elective mutism,  racism, bullying..... nuff said.

But above all, I have written about characters with powerful emotions, coping with real life, like walking the dog, cooking and shopping, doing a newspaper round, falling in love, bitching with your mates, laughing with your mates, teachers, parents, falling in love, being a sibling, falling in love.... yes, I love writing teenage romance and for me, this is going to be placed at the heart of all my books, whatever the obstacles I am putting before my characters.

Love makes the world go round and everyone from the tiniest baby experiences some kind of love. So if my published works contain hard to handle issues, you can be sure that they are set within strong characters, a good dash of humour, a lot of loving and always a positive way forward on the closing pages. I like all my stories to end on hope – it keeps me going and I want my readers to feel that life always holds out hope.
Sicklit is a great word – but I don’t think we are yet at all sure what it really means. That’s what is so wonderful about language – it’s always changing.
Tell The Edge what you think!

Friday, 11 January 2013

Finding time by Bryony Pearce

Last week Katie talked about resolutions.  Mine go something like this  -

  • Lose weight (I have a party dress to get into in April and a book to launch in August and I’d like there to be a heck of a lot less of me by then).
  • Be a more patient mum (my son has just turned four, with the requisite testosterone surge – levels of testosterone in boys double at age four – and I’m finding that he is testing my patience at the moment)
  • Ring-fence my writing time.
 The problem with resolution three, is that I am a full time mum and the only real writing time I have is when the children are asleep or my son is doing his 15 hours at preschool.

I’ve already allocated one of those mornings to Slimming World (see resolution one), so the rest of this time HAS to go to writing.  
This means no more popping in to see friends for coffees, no more quick trips to the shops, no more housework (might need to revisit that one on occasion), no more doing the odd bit of unpaid work, no more agreeing to do ‘just one thing’ for people (I’m sure all writers know what that’s like – it’s not like we have real job anyway, is it?).  

Some of my writerly friends work in coffee shops.  I can see how that would help.  I never felt the need to stop work and pick up a hoover when I worked in an office, i.e. out of the house.  I have places near me that are equivalent (there is a pub with free wi-fi and of course there’s the library), but I don’t think they would work for me.  What if a friend came in?  I would be easily distracted by life, chatting away my writing time.

So I have to work from home, with my blinkers on so I don’t see the mess.  

Some friends do things like set timers which allocate them chunks of time in which they have to write.  I’d find that annoying – I’d spend the whole time checking the timer instead of writing.

Word counts don’t work for me either.  I never, ever word count at the end of each day – I would find it depressing, distracting and unproductive.  I’d always rather write one perfect paragraph, or even sentence than one thousand words that all need cutting at the editing stage anyway.

So my most important resolution is that my writing time is my writing time.  If I don’t write I get very grumpy (impacting on resolution two), so this year I won’t be taking on anything more that will bite into those precious minutes.  I’m going to be a focused writing MACHINE.  I may even start getting up an hour early so I can fit some in before school (I said MAY).  

I have edits to come on The Weight of Souls and I am determined to get Wavefunction finished by summer.  

What are your writing resolutions?

Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year's Resolutions...

Edge author Katie Dale discusses the year past and the year to come.

It’s that time again. A brand new year – time to reflect on the year that’s just passed, and make well-intentioned resolutions for the year ahead. It’s been a fantastic year for The Edge, as reported in Dave’s blog, and a huge year for me, as my dream of becoming a published author finally came true. Without a doubt, it’s completely changed my life. It’s an incredible thrill – and still slightly surreal! – to see my books in bookshops, to sign copies, to do author events at festivals and schools – even as far afield as Moscow!

And it’s also been a huge learning curve. Trying to promote my first novel whilst writing my second to a deadline has been, I confess, a challenge. With SOMEONE ELSE’S LIFE I was able to take my time – to write and change and edit it to my heart’s content, never knowing if it would go anywhere, just writing it as a labour of love, thrilling over every success on the route to publication – being chosen as a winner of the UNDISCOVERED VOICES competition, being signed by a wonderful agent, and finally achieving that glorious yet elusive book deal. Even better, I was absolutely over the moon to get a TWO-book deal - but I have to admit that with the wonderful security and reassurance that my second novel would be published, came the pressure and stress of writing a novel in a year. Having spent over seven years writing my first book, this proved quite a shock to the system, and I have consequently become a hermit for most of 2012, desperately trying to meet my deadlines, and trying my hardest to write the best book possible in a (comparatively) short time, whilst trying not to neglect my family and friends too much at the same time - a juggling act that I am yet to master.

Of course, I know how incredibly lucky I am to face just such challenges.

For who knows what 2013 will hold? Having (finally!) completed my two-book contract, I am currently effectively unemployed. Will I be offered another book deal? Or will this be the sum total of my writing career? I hope not, but being an author isn’t the most reliable of occupations, and with the current economic situation and so much changing in the world of books, nothing is certain. Careers rise and fall dramatically and often very subjectively (who’d have predicted the success of Fifty Shades of Grey?), and any kind of success requires more than a little luck. There are plenty of gifted, skilled, hard-working writers out there who have not yet been published, and every published author is reliant on getting the next contract.
Who knows if this will be my last year as a published author, or the year Reese Witherspoon decides to make a movie out of my book? Who knows what will be this year's next big trend or theme or genre, or 2013's runaway bestseller? Who knows if this will be the year you'll win a competition, get an agent, get a book deal?

No one knows. Que sera sera.
All any of us can do is write for the love of writing itself, and try to create the best stories we can. And that, above all else – eat less chocolate, exercise more, be better at keeping in touch with friends, leave the flat more than once a week – is my new year’s resolution, whatever 2013 may hold.

What’re yours?