I’m joined on my blog by Luisa Jones. I’ve never met Luisa in real life, but after being on several writer’s Zooms over the last few years I know I will like her very much when we finally get to meet in person. Luisa is here to tell us why she writes …
Hello Morton, and thank you so much for inviting me to contribute to your blog. I’m an independently published author of two novels so far, with another ready to be shared with the world and a fourth currently being written. There are a few further ideas in my head which I hope will one day also become books! In this blog post I decided to focus on how I became an author, and what drives me to continue writing.
Ten years ago I started writing the story that would eventually become my first book, Goes Without Saying. It wasn’t the first time I’d started writing a novel. As a child, I started several; later in life, a couple of others made faltering beginnings but soon fizzled out. This one was the first I actually finished, although since that first draft it has changed more times than I could ever count.
By the time I sat down at the computer and faced the terror of a blank Word document, Goes Without Saying had been brewing in my mind for nine months or so. The spark of inspiration came when I wandered around the classic camper vans for sale at a VW festival and thought to myself: “Wow. These are so expensive. Imagine if a guy bought one without asking his wife… And then, imagine if he went off on holiday without asking her, without taking her with him… And then, what if he had not only spent all that money but he also left her looking after their kids… And then, what would make it even worse – what if she was also heavily pregnant? She’d be pretty furious. What would make someone behave like that, and what impact would it have? Could she ever forgive him?”
Unlike all my previous attempts at novels, this one quickly burned itself into my brain. I knew from the start how it would end, and found myself loving the characters of Megan and Tom. I came to know them so intimately: the things that made them tick and the reasons they did what they did. There was a joy in writing their banter and creating friends for them, inventing situations that could trip them up or bring them together. I drew upon my experiences of the classic VW scene, parenthood, marriage, my previous career as a teacher, and mental health issues, and poured them into making my characters as real as possible.
Writing it was both difficult and thrilling. My husband spent many evenings alone while I wrote until way past bedtime. Finally, I completed it: just over 100,000 words of it. I felt proud, but also anxious. What should I do with this story, now that it was done?
Once I had that first draft, I started learning more about the craft of writing. It turned out that many of the writing techniques I’d thought were great were actually wrong. Hours digging in a thesaurus for different words to say “said” didn’t make my writing skilful after all, despite what I’d been taught in primary school. It wasn’t okay to chop and change between different characters’ points of view without a break in the story. And I had to try to show what was going on, rather than tell it as an omniscient narrator. For a long time I was discouraged by even the merest hint of negativity, and there were many months when I didn’t touch my story at all. I told myself it didn’t really matter if no one else ever got to read it.
The trouble was, however hard I tried to forget about them, Megan and Tom lived in my imagination. It dawned on me that the only thing stopping me realising my childhood dream of becoming an author was me: my skill level and, perhaps more importantly, my mindset. Both could change with some determined effort.
After a huge amount of work I reached a point at which my faith in myself and in my story was strong enough to risk sharing it with the world. I thought about my children. How sad it would be for them to live fearfully, cowering inside their comfort zones. I want them to have big dreams and to work hard to achieve their goals. Now they won’t be able to say when I’m gone: “Poor Mum. She always wanted to be an author, but she never quite plucked up enough courage to go for it.”
My books still aren’t perfect, but since I shared them with the world I’ve learned that some people genuinely love them. They’ve made people laugh and cry. One reader whom I’ve never met even told me that my second book helped her through a difficult time when she’d recently lost her dad; another told me she reflected on her own marriage after reading about Megan and Tom. Apart from my three wonderful children, I consider my books to be my proudest achievement. These days, I couldn’t imagine life without a story or two filling my head and demanding to be developed.
I love your covers, Luisa and the concept of your books sounds great. I can’t wait to read them and finally meet you sometime. Mx
After narrowly avoiding being born in the back seat of a Ford Cortina, Luisa A. Jones was perhaps destined to have a keen interest in classic vehicles. She and her husband are the proud owners of Gwynnie, a Volkswagen camper van built in 1974.
Luisa lives with her husband, a dog and a cat in beautiful South Wales. She takes inspiration from the Welsh countryside, towns, and of course its people. Her writing explores the dynamics within relationships, the pressures that mental health issues can exert to push people apart, and how these can be overcome. She has three children.
Luisa studied Classical Studies at Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, University of London, and qualified as a primary school teacher at the University of South Wales, Newport. Her previous jobs have included tour guide in an historic house; teacher in both primary and secondary schools; careers adviser; and corporate trainer/assessor. Becoming an author fulfilled a lifelong ambition.
Sign up for a newsletter and free short story at www.luisaajones.com
About Goes Without Saying
“Most people run away from home when they’re in their rebellious teenage phase. But not you, Tom. Oh, no. You waited until you were a forty-year-old father to do it.”
Tom Field promised his wife Megan he’d never leave her. So when she finds his note saying he’s gone away, she can’t help but wonder if that’s the only vow he’s broken.
Following him and his treasured camper van to the beautiful coast of North Devon, she has plenty of time to reflect on what’s gone wrong between them. Time to decide whether their marriage is worth saving.
But all too soon reality threatens to catch up with them. Can Tom make things right before it’s too late?
To buy the book you can click here
About Making the Best of It
Tom Field is at breaking point. He’s been making the best of things, letting his responsibilities get in the way of his dreams. But now, grief-stricken after a tragedy, he knows he can’t keep putting his life on hold. Escaping the city and his unfulfilling job to live near the sea could give him everything he longs for… or it could destroy his marriage and cost him his family.
Before disaster struck, Megan didn’t think she needed her father in her life. Now she’s desperate to find him before it’s too late to get answers to the questions she’s always longed to ask. But her quest re-opens old wounds and leaves her mother and sister feeling betrayed. What’s more, Tom’s pipe dream of abandoning the city she loves threatens to turn her world upside down.
How can Megan and Tom create the perfect life together, when their dreams risk tearing their family apart?
To buy the book you can click here