Thank you to Alison May for letting me delay her interview slot by a week while I announced my own book news. She joins me this week to answer some questions.
Alison is a novelist, short story writer, blogger and creative writing tutor who grew up in North Yorkshire, and now lives in Worcester. She worked as a waitress, a shop assistant, a learning adviser, an advice centre manager, a freelance trainer, and now a maker-upper of stories.
She won the RNA’s Elizabeth Goudge trophy in 2012, and her short stories have been published by Harlequin, Choc Lit and Black Pear Press. Her romantic comedies, Sweet Nothing, Midsummer Dreams, and the Christmas Kisses series are published by Choc Lit. Alison has been shortlisted in the Love Stories and RoNA Awards.
I asked Alison some questions:-
How do you approach writing a novel?
Honestly it varies from book to book. I never really worry about having ideas – ideas are easy. Once I’ve picked the basic idea I’m going to go with, I make a lot of notes about characters, setting and story ideas. I always have a new notebook for each novel. The notebooks have to be A4 size and preferably hardbacked – like most writers, I’m a stationary geek!
I then completely ignore all those notes and start writing a first draft. I like writing novels that are structurally quite complex – often with multiple points and view and different timelines – so my first drafts are always horrendously messy with great chunks that make no sense at all. So I always end up editing my manuscripts a lot before anyone else sees them. Even my agent would never get to see an actual first draft. For my last three books I haven’t actually written a complete first draft before I started editing though. I tend to get to about 80% of the way through the story, and by then I know in my own mind exactly how it’s going to end, so I then go back to the beginning and start revising what I’ve got and just tack the resolution onto the end.
For any new writers reading this and wondering how to approach their own novel, all I would say is this: there is no one right way to write a novel. Try different approaches until you find what works for you, and accept that what works for one book might not work as well for the next.
Tell us a little about the writing retreats you run with fellow Choc Lit author Janet Gover.
Janet and I have run three weekend novel-writing retreats together and we’ve got another two coming up next year – one in the spring and one in the autumn, both at the lovely Kings Court Hotel near Stratford-upon-Avon. We aim to offer a mixture of group workshops, one-to-one tutorials and individual writing time, all in a setting where you don’t have to worry about cooking or cleaning or anything at all really. You can just concentrate on your novel.
The spring retreat, in May, will focus on writing topics like characterisation, plotting, setting, dialogue and point of view. The autumn retreat focusses more on editing and polishing a manuscript and the process of publishing. All the details of both retreats are in the For Writers section on my website: https://alison-may.co.uk/for-writers/workshops-and-courses/ and there’s a discount on the price for anyone who books onto both retreats.
Is there a novel you wish you had written and why?
Too many to mention. I love The Blind Assassin by Margaret Attwood – as a writer that’s one of the books I most admire because it juggles so many different styles and voices and stories but each element is written beautifully.
From a practical bank-balance point of view, having written Fifty Shades of Grey, or Harry Potter would be rather nice too though.
One book I loved this year was Falling by Julie Cohen – I’ve been raving about it to anyone who’ll listen. The characterisation is beautiful. I’d be very proud indeed if I’d written that.
Thank you, Alison.
To buy Alison’s books, click on any of the titles in this blog to be taken to buying pages at Choc Lit. The books are available from Amazon, Kobo, Barnes &Noble, Apple iBookstore and Google Play.
About Christmas Kisses
Three girls, three kisses, three gorgeous Christmas stories.
Holly hates Christmas with a passion and can’t wait to escape it – but then the flight to her once-in-a-lifetime holiday destination is cancelled.
Cora has had the year from hell, and faces a bleak Christmas working in Golding’s department store – in the most unflattering reindeer costume imaginable.
Jessica is in denial after her husband’s betrayal, and can’t help but think back to when her life still seemed so full of hope and promise …Three years from hell, three sets of broken dreams, three girls in desperate need of Christmas spirit.
Is the perfect Christmas kiss all it takes?
Includes Holly’s Christmas Kiss, Cora’s Christmas Kiss and Jessica’s Christmas Kiss
You can contact Alison on the following links:-
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AlisonMayAuthor