Sunday, 23 February 2014

Fanning flames, and the Blog Hop

Summer is kind of a stressful time around here.  It’s not that’s it’s not lovely to have a change from the long and freezing months of winter – it is, totally – but seasonal weather in this part of the country always seem to swerve from one extreme to the other.  Winter is about snow on your car, frozen pipes, sleet in your face and whether you’ve got enough firewood to last until October.  Summer involves heat so intense it could kill you if you sat in your car with the windows up, keeping water supplies up to the animals, monitoring the dam level, and bushfires.

The past month we’ve had three evacuation scares near where we live – one was literally down the road, when a 20 acre grassfire looked like it might threaten us depending on the wind change.  Check out the pic of smoke haze near our washing line – nice, huh?  (I’m being ironic, it’s nerve-wracking)

We’ve high-tailed it to Melbourne twice, when the heat got too crazy for the kids – it’s hard to sleep when your bed feels like it’s baking you.  Most nights have involved a quick moonlight skinny-dip in the dam (watch out for the leeches!) to cool us all down enough to sleep.    We don’t have air-con, so we just swelter, and turn the fans up high, and spray ourselves down with water bottles when it gets too sweaty.

Working in the heat has been difficult, you might say, but I’ve had my head down a lot over the past month, putting the final touches on Every Word.  I’m happy to say that it went to typesetting last week. Phew and yay! The timeline for this second book has been rather tight, but I’ve been in a unique position to release this book quickly, as I wrote Every Word soon after finishing Every Breath.  It was a very pleasant feeling, to be able to hand my editor a complete manuscript for book 2 while the ink was still drying on the pages of book 1.  Of course, I wasn’t doing as much other work then as I am now.  I hope I can stay ahead of deadline for every book I write – it’s a much more comfortable place to be than writing under pressure – but I guess we’ll wait and see…

Lots of you have written to me, asking about the publication date for Every Word.  I’m going to give you an update on that in my next post, which will happen within a few days (a ‘double event’ this week, to coin Jack the Ripper terminology).

In the meantime, I’ve been asked to join in this Writing Process Blog Hop, answering a few questions about process below.  My lovely mate, Kathryn Ledson (Rough Diamond, Monkey Business) is a writer of adult romantic crime fiction, and she tapped me on the shoulder to jump aboard.  Kathryn's up on FB and on Twitter @kathrynledson.  You can read Kathryn’s responses to the same questions here, and before her, the hop started with Jennifer Scoullar here.

So here we go…

1     What am I working on?

Currently multi-tasking – doing final touches for proofread/typeset of the second book in the Every series, Every Word. Also writing the first draft of Every Move, the third book. Also, getting lots of ideas for a new book (working title: The Circle Game) which I’m jotting down when they come - longing to get into that.

2    How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Well, there’s not loads of YA crime out there, although I have a sense it’s picking up.  I guess, in comparison to other local (Australian) YA crime, my work is kind of gritty – I don’t really pull too many punches with descriptions of blood and the processes of autopsy and death. The characters focus on forensic detail during the investigation of the mystery, which I hadn’t really seen done before – forensic procedurals for YA, with a lot of humour and action and romance to balance out the grit!

3    Why do I write what I do?

Um, why do birds fly? The characters start developing personalities and talking, and I just write it down.

I guess…I did make a conscious decision to write YA crime.  I had been looking for it in libraries and bookstores, and I realised it was in short supply.  So I knew there was a niche there. But I already had the characters in my head by then, I think I still would have written it regardless.  I’ve written in other genres, and the process is the same – these weird people start talking in your head, and you begin jotting it down just to shut them up!  They could be part of a crime novel, or a lit fiction piece, or a space opera…the genre and plot and setting begin to take shape as the dialogue emerges.

4    How does my writing process work?

I get up and make a big cup (or thermos) of tea, take it into the study at about 5.30am, and then I just sit there and read through what happened yesterday – or the day before, or whatever – and then I put my fingers on the keyboard and kind of force myself to start typing.  After a little while, I lose the feeling that it’s an effort.  And on good days, I have to force myself to stop, so I can go get everyone ready for school.

But it’s not all dreamy-muse stuff.  Sometimes I HAVE to finish a scene or I’m struggling with something. Then you need to have a stock of the old writer’s remedy that Stephen King heartily recommends – bum glue. Screw your bum to the sticking place and just keep typing until you’ve got something down, and worry about whether it works later.  You can craft it later – the grammar, the poetry of it – but you have to get the material out of your head first.

I keep a series of notebooks, little school exercise books, where I jot down scraps of dialogue, or phrases, or beautiful words – things I try to incorporate during the writing, or later when I edit and pretty things up.  I’m a big fan of rewriting.  Some of my best work comes in the rewriting!

And that's the end of the Blog Hop!  I’m passing the Blog Hop baton to Nansi Kunze, another YA writer and all-round cool chick – check out her responses to the questions on her blog very soon.

Can I say a big thanks, at this point, to everyone who’s encouraged me to keep going with the Every series – all of you who’ve emailed/texted/tweeted/FB’ed me to say how you loved Every Breath, and can’t wait for Every Word.  It’s made working in this heat much more bearable!

Now that the weather is starting to change, things are looking up - keep tuned for Every Word release date info very soon!  Stay cool, and stay safe this summer.

Xx Ellie

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