*This year I wanted to provide a spotlight for a few writers who have decided to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Enjoy getting to know them and learn from their insights!
Tell us why do you participate in National Novel Writing Month
To get the bulk of my novels written – at least that is why I participate now. In the beginning it was to learn to write forward without editing as I go. I found that a revelation in terms of how much I could produce. And now I look forward to the word sprints and the community of it: all of us writing together – remotely.
I am a Brit living in the Netherlands, and I live in a small village where I haven’t managed to fully integrate, so this is one of the few ways to connect with others. I love opening the door to all the new writers and stepping into that world for the month – it’s like I’m where I belong for a while.
How/When did you first learn about NaNoWriMo?
Back in 2011, I arrived on Twitter at the end of July. I joined to follow a couple of friends, and then found lots of writers and flash fiction contests, and then as November approached I heard about the challenge and decided to give it a go, connecting to everyone through the hashtag. It was like stepping into a whole other universe.
How many years have you participated in NaNoWriMo?
This is my seventh time. My first time was 2011. I was working for a company then and wasn’t able to complete 50K, but in more recent years I have succeeded. I try not to put too much pressure on. If I only get 25K or 30K that is still a lot for me to write in one go. I also tend to flag a bit a couple of weeks in, so this year I am taking it easy.
What is your NaNoWriMo project for this year?
I am finishing the sequel to a novella of mine called, The Game (currently published in my collection called Slipping Through). It’s a dark sci-fi time travel story. I began it last year for NaNoWriMo, so I am planning to complete it. I have sort of let it lie over the year as I have been busy publishing my first full novel, Sleep, which was released on the 1st of September.
Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what kind of music?
I need complete silence to write. Although I did enter a weekly flash contest which had a song prompt for a couple of years. That was interesting and produced some great stories, but it was difficult. I had to have the song on repeat to keep whatever story had popped into my head going. I can, however, write with a lot of people around me, as I started writing when I used to work in an office and I am used to that.
Do dreams inspire your writing ideas?
Often I will wake up with complete ideas or answers to things I am trying to solve in a story. I had to write an epilogue to my novel, Sleep, and I wasn’t sure what to write, but one morning I literally woke up with it mapped out in my head. It’s fabulous when that happens – although it is rare.
Who is your favorite author? Why?
Stephen King. He covers all the genres I love: Horror, Fantasy, and sometimes surreal stuff. I love how he writes. Whenever I return to his books I sort of sigh to myself as it feels like I’ve come home; it easy to read with such great flow and pace.
How do you get into the minds of your characters?
I think about how they speak to other people. I imagine dialogue first, and listen to that dialogue and sort of see them speaking in my mind’s eye.
Please tell us about your celebrity crush.
Just one? Not sure I can do that!
Actors: Tom Hardy is my biggest, I love his on-screen intensity. Others are Idris Elba, Johnny Miller, Cillian Murphy.
Music: I am a massive Prince fan, since I was 15, so that’s been a permanent crush. And despite his death, which devastated me, I still listen to his music daily.
Also Theo Hutchcraft, from a band called Hurts. He seems to be taking a break from social media and it’s killing me! He has such a great voice, and is wonderful eye candy.
What is your preferred genre to write in?
I like to write dark stuff mostly, can be horror, can be sci-fi, can be general fiction, but I like it to be dark and have an edge to it. I can do fantasy and surreal mixed in too. My novel, Sleep, is a psychological thriller, which was different for me, but was a story that had begun 28 years ago. I tend not to define genres in my writing, I write what comes.
Anything else you’d like to share with us?
I am also a freelance editor, and I see a lot of people worrying about what they could possibly produce in just a month and whether it would be any good. I have worked with several authors first drafts in December, helping them pull it into shape, and having something to work with is the key. It doesn’t matter how you get it down. Just keep writing forward through November, leave the rest for after.