Thursday, 20 October 2016

My Typical Writing Day by Michelle Davies - Blog Tour

I am delighted to welcome Michelle Davies to my blog today talking about her 'typical writing day', as part of her blog tour.  Michelle's book Gone Astray is published in paperback by Pan Macmillan today (20 October 2016).

My typical writing day
By Michelle Davies

The title of this blog post is a bit of an oxymoron because, in my world, there is no such thing as a typical writing day!

My day job is that of a journalist – I write features for women’s magazines such as Marie Claire and Stylist and I also do copywriting for some high street retailers. So my writing day usually depends on what freelance commissions I’ve got on the go and which looming deadline must be met first.
Being an author has to fit around my day job, so I am – for want of a better description – a ‘binge writer’ when it comes to novels. I usually spend two or three weeks working flat-out on my book, then stop and go back to the day job when the work demands it.

But when I’m in a novel phase, so to speak, my writing day is pretty consistent. First I drop my daughter off at school around 8.50am – luckily for me, her school is on our street so our commute is about a minute on a good day, two minutes if we’re dawdling! Then I’m at my desk at 9am, ready to start.

I’ll have a quick read of what I’ve worked on the previous day but I refrain from tinkering with it too much; I edited Gone Astray as I went along, which I now realise made the process much more drawn out than it needed to be. With my second novel, Wrong Place, out on 27 February, I bashed out the first draft in six months, then got stuck into editing it.

I tend to write until about noon when I break for lunch, which is usually a sandwich in front of the telly watching an episode of Friends – I find it gives my brain the break it needs! Then I write for another couple of hours before my daughter needs collecting from school at 3.30pm. If I’m in the mood, I’ll carry on while she’s in bed, but the reason I went freelance in the first place was to spend more time with her, so I make sure my writing fits around her, not the other way round.

Thank you for hosting me on my first ever blog tour and for supporting Gone Astray. I hope you enjoy the book!

About Michelle Davies

Michelle Davies is a freelance journalist, having worked in house on magazines including Elle, heat magazine, and Grazia. She now writes for lots of different magazines, including Marie Claire and Stylist, on lots of different subjects, in between writing novels.

Find out more about Michelle on her website and also on Twitter - @M_Davieswrites

Going Astray
By Michelle Davies
Published in paperback by Pan Macmillan (20 October 2016)
ISBN: 978-1447284185

Publisher's description
Lesley and her husband Mack are the sudden winners of a £15 million EuroMillions jackpot. They move with their 15-year-old daughter Rosie to an exclusive gated estate in Buckinghamshire, leaving behind their ordinary lives - and friends - as they are catapulted into wealth beyond their wildest dreams.
But it soon turns into their darkest nightmare when, one beautiful spring afternoon, Lesley returns to their house to find it empty: their daughter Rosie is gone.
DC Maggie Neville is assigned to be Family Liaison Officer to Lesley and Mack, supporting them while quietly trying to investigate the family. And she has a crisis threatening her own life - a secret from the past that could shatter everything she's worked so hard to build.
As Lesley and Maggie desperately try to find Rosie, their fates hurtle together on a collision course that threatens to end in tragedy . . .
Money can't buy you happiness.
The truth could hurt more than a lie.

One moment really can change your life forever.

Read my review here

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Thursday, 13 October 2016

Creating Characters by Anne Coates - BLOG TOUR

I am delighted to welcome Anne Coates to my blog today for her Dancers in the Wind blog tour to talk about creating characters. Dancers in the Wind is being published by Urbane TODAY (13th October 2016).

Creating characters
By Anne Coates

A few years ago I went to the funeral of a good friend’s mother and knew it was probable that my older self would confront the boyfriend of my teenage years as he is my friend’s cousin. In the chapel, I looked around but couldn’t see anyone vaguely resembling the eighteen year old I went out with. Then a man a few rows in front of me touched his hair in such a way that immediately I knew it was him.

This is something that I observe in people – the physical actions that give them away. Even if they were heavily disguised as they might be, especially in crime fiction. Many people are recognised by their walk alone and this is something I’m very aware of when creating characters.  And, of course, my friends offer me (perhaps unknowingly) valuable quirks and traits that I can appropriate.

For Dancers in the Wind the first three characters emerged from an interview I conducted for the News of the World colour supplement.  Those three real people were transformed, rewritten and (hopefully) fictionalised out of all recognition. I have covered my relationship to Hannah, the journalist, in Hannah and Me (insert link). The other two – the prostitute and the police officer – ceased to be interviewees and became my creations. From that trio I formed the world they inhabited with colleagues, family, friends ­– and enemies.

For me the joy of creating a cast list hits a peak when the characters take over and reveal different facets of their personalities that I hadn’t thought of before. Sometimes I wake in the middle of the night with an insight, a nudge from a character and quickly make a note so all is not lost in the morning light.

Creating characters is a bit like trying out a new cookery recipe – adding a pinch of spice here, a teaspoon of malice there, so many grams of violence, whipping up a soufflĂ© of emotions… and it’s fun. But sometimes it’s downright scary. My nasty characters terrify me.

Names play an important part. I love how Dickens uses names as a comment on a character’s personality or calling. Mr Gradgrind immediately comes to mind as do Scrooge and Uriah Heap. At times when I’m writing, a character emerges with a name, however usually I check the most popular names for the year the character was born especially as my first two books are set in the 90s. Nothing is more irritating than someone being named after a celebrity who didn’t exist then!

One mistake I made – though not a heinous sin – was calling a baby after a friend’s now grown up son. When I mentioned this to his brother, he was insistent that he should also appear as a character. And he does, in Death’s Silent Judgement but I won’t give any spoilers.

I also study photographs. both those I have taken and from searches on the internet, as a good way of creating a character’s physical appearance. Similarly I watch people when I am travelling on buses or trains. I may have a book open in front of me but the chances are I’m sizing up another passenger, and listening to conversations going on around me. How a character speaks is fundamental and part of their personality. Dialogue is a great way of revealing more about a character.

As I am now pondering the third book in the trilogy, some characters who have been “sleepers” in books one and two are coming to the fore. For them it’s time to take centre stage when the curtain rises and the spotlight shines on them.

About Anne Coates

After reading for a degree in English and French, Anne came to London to begin her career and never left. Having worked for various publishers, she moved to magazine journalism before becoming a freelance writer, editor and translator. Her first non-fiction books were written after the birth of her daughter Olivia and some have been inspired by her or various stages in her life. 
Anne also writes short stories which have appeared in magazines including Bella and Candis as well as prize-winning flash fiction, and is the author of seven non-fiction books. She is the founder and editor of Parenting Without Tears, a website for families with children from birth to teens.

Find Anne through her website and on Twitter - @Anne_Coates1

Dancers in the Wind
Published by Urbane (13 October 2016)
ISBN: 978-1911129639

Publisher's description
SHE IS HUNTING FOR THE TRUTH, BUT WHO IS HUNTING HER? Freelance journalist and single mother Hannah Weybridge is commissioned by a national newspaper to write an investigative article on the notorious red light district in Kings Cross. There she meets prostitute Princess, and police inspector in the vice squad, Tom Jordan. When Princess later arrives on her doorstep beaten up so badly she is barely recognisable, Hannah has to make some tough decisions and is drawn ever deeper into the world of deceit and violence. Three sex workers are murdered, their deaths covered up in a media blackout, and Hannah herself is under threat. As she comes to realise that the taste for vice reaches into the higher echelons of the great and the good, Hannah realises she must do everything in her power to expose the truth .... and stay alive.