In 2016 I’ve discovered the joy of writing in different places. It’s so refreshing to be somewhere else other than staring at the same view from my office day after day…not that the view from my office is horrid or anything, it just gets a bit samey. By far the best location this year was the balcony which overlooked Porto Roma Bay in Zakynthos. A very close second has to be looking out onto the rooftops in Lucca.
I wonder where I’ll be writing next? I might cram a bit of editing in on a trip to Torquay….Our trip to Iceland is a long way off yet. Maybe book 3 will be started by then….I wonder if my Macbook would suvive a dip in the hot tub 🙂
I’m learning how to be “Mindful” at the moment. Its an amazing way to get off automatic pilot and to be aware of the here and now. To really live in the moment. It’s quite hard to master but I’m getting there. You have to be aware of your thoughts as they drift in and out of your mind but not get tangled up with them, just observe them, non judgmentally. I have daily exercises to do, meditation is one of them but also to do daily tasks mindfully ie: making a cup of tea or eating a meal…its amazing what you notice when you experience something fully, in the moment. All the detail comes to the fore…It’s not just a lovely way to be calmer, happier and more at peace but its really helping with my writing too.
The course is called : http://www.bemindfulonline.com …its about £60 but well worth the money.
What form does your writing take? I’m addicted to writing a diary and recording my life and my mind. But I’ve also written, or partly written, 2 novels and a screenplay.
How does writing make you feel? Writing a diary is therapeutic. It helps me dissect my worries and challenges and reach an objective conclusion. I always feel better. I feel very proud to have created such a large volume. I love looking back at them.
Where/when do you write? Most of the time when I’m by myself or in bed. I never write at a desk and virtually always write in long hand. I need a good pen and an expensive notepad. My favourite place to write is mid-dogwalk on Gillian Curr’s memorial bench overlooking Cleeve hill and Cheltenham.
What do you write about? My life, my work, my family and my friends. I spend a lot of time working out problems and trying to articulate the future. I sometimes tackle wider news and issues.
What’s the best thing about writing? Writing things down makes you pause, think and construct your thoughts. Keeping a diary has revealed how I’ve matured, changed, got things wrong and got things right. I hope its a valuable memorial of me and my era.
How long have you been writing? I started writing my diaries when I was 17. And I have kept this going with one or two gaps for 34 years.
Where do you start when thinking about writing a novel? Mine came to me relatively easily…it was handed to me on a plate really!
My novel is based on my maternal grandmother’s life, a daughter of the Raj. My grandmother was a prolific letter writer and hoarder. I am lucky enough to have access to a trunk full of letters, diaries, photograph albums, notebooks, the family cookbook, even her wedding present list. I was brought up with glimpses of her life in India. From stories of the colonial bungalow she was brought up in, to the lively restaurant with dancing and partys that she ran with her sister in the hill station of Nainital. The exciting voyages on troopships from Bombay to England and back again, amidst the second world war.
I feel it is a story that hasn’t been told before. It has a delicious mix of optimism, love, suspense, humour, tension, joy, sadness and prejudice.
My journey began with a lot of research, I mean a LOT of research. I spent a few months reading and trying to decipher hundreds of letters from Phyllis, my grandmother to her sweetheart, Arthur. And from both families in India and England. Some handwriting was easier to read than others.
As I read, I noted down anything of interest and dated the information to build up a clearer picture of who was where and when, and what sort of dialogue they were having.
Within these months I felt I got to know Phyllis, my protagonist, which helped me to carve out her character.