Being Katniss Everdeen
Reality is not always a pretty place to live. Day to day life can be mundane or in some cases very difficult and we all find different ways to deal with that. Some people lose themselves in the bottom of a tumbler of whiskey and others become addicted to computer games, losing themselves in realms of warlocks or druids. For some the lure of the Penny Black draws them in like a siren, but for me it’s books.
I am a bookaholic. I’m not a reformed case, unless you count moving from exclusively paper to electronic and audio as reform. This may shock you, I’ll be honest, I don’t want to reform. There, I’ve said it. I’m happy here. When I’m not reading books I’m writing them. When I’m not writing, I’m planning them. For the last couple of weeks I have been Katniss Everdeen.
I’ve been rereading the remarkable Hunger Games Trilogy and for those all too brief and elusory hours I have not been a middle-aged woman dealing with real world issues. For those precious, stolen moments I have been a young participant in the Hunger Games, living by my wits and an expert with a bow and arrow. Every so often one of the dogs has interrupted to remind me they, if not I, are real and need feeding. Then reluctantly, I’ve laid down my bow and come back to reality. Looking on the bright side, when I’m writing fiction, I can get lost in the world of my characters for months. At least reading a book only takes me a few hours.
At the moment I am getting increasingly excited about planning the launch of my new novel. I want to do everything NOW, but of course that is not possible. You the readers want the cover to look brilliant (and it does) and you want to be able to read the book uninterrupted by errors (which is in process). You might even think you’d like an invite to the launch (which is being planned). All those things take time.
In the meantime, books are a great and largely safe place to spend time. They can fuel the imagination, and broaden horizons. They can inform, challenge ideas and inspire. In my opinion they are as relevant now as they have ever been and if spending a few hours being Katniss Everdeen gives me the strength and courage to face the world then Katniss Everdeen I will be!
I planned today to simply bring you the good news that having written ‘The End’ after 82,000 words and completed a fairly thorough edit, The Orphan Train is finally out with beta readers for feedback. However, that was before I went for a walk! I’ll come back to that in a moment.
The Orphan Train will still have a further round of editing when I get comments back from the wonderful people who have volunteered to read it at this stage. It has already been through the writing critique group I’m part of, and has been refined in the process, but their final feedback, together with what I receive from the current readers, may lead to other changes. First I need to let the dust settle so I can come back to it with the eyes of a reader myself. When you are the author you can be all too close to your characters and reluctant to ask certain things of them. In a few weeks, the final round of edits will begin and hopefully the final product will be all the better for it.
Does that mean I am now idle? Oh how well you know me, of course it doesn’t. I’m already part way through co-authoring a non-fiction book with a fellow writer, but more of that shortly. In addition to that, while I was walking one of the dogs this morning characters starting vying for recognition for my next novel. One by one the three lead characters introduced themselves and started to tell me about their oddball ways. One even discussed the book’s opening and how she sees it developing and, as essentially it is her story, it would have been rude not to listen.
I came home and wrote up the notes and have asked the characters if they could show a little patience. It is as different as you can imagine from The Orphan Train. It’s set back here in England. It’s set in the present. It’s a humorous tale and quite firmly would find itself in the women’s fiction market. In fact, other than there being strong female characters and me being the author, you would not find much else it had in common with the book I’ve just finished. To be honest, I think that’s a good thing. I think, unless you are writing a series, there is a danger in finding yourself in the same plane as your last work. I do want to come back to historical fiction and I’ve got a couple of ideas developing, but in the meantime, following a reader email, my short story A Test of Friendship is going to grow into a full length novel.
If you want to read the story that the novel will be based on, you can download it for free HERE
I was delighted to be interviewed by the website Virtual Book Club about some of my writing and in particular The Appearance of Truth. Better still was an email from a lady who went and bought the book as a result of the interview and read it cover to cover, unable to put it down. It’s things like that that make this the best job in the world.
If you’d like to read the interview you can find it HERE
I have kept my word and it’s not even the end of January yet. I’ve written over 10,000 words in the last ten days and the novel now stands at 47,900 words. It has still got a long way to go, but the story is coming together and I’m reasonably pleased with what I’ve written. It will obviously need a lot of editing, but you can’t edit if you haven’t written it in the first place.
The characters have surprised me every once in a while, but that’s the beauty of bringing them to life. They develop their own thoughts and feelings and you can’t always predict how they will interact. How could I have guessed that Miss Ellie would decide to accompany Molly on her journey? I thought Molly was going to have to face it alone. I’m very grateful to Ellie as it’s so much easier to show what is going on and keep it lively and with emotion when you have at least two characters playing off each other.
I’ve been grateful that so much of the research material I need is now on line. The Library of Congress has some great maps of the American railroads at the time I need them and I’ve been able to see clearly how their journey would go. As I left them tonight, they were two days away from Dowagiac and Molly having the opportunity to be reunited with her brother after ten years. You might think the biggest problem would be the fact he has received his draft papers to join the American Civil War, but as it turns out, that’s the least of the problems!
Oh teasing you is such fun. You’re just going to have to wait until it’s finished. However, you might not have to wait until it’s published. I’d like to put together a small team of beta-readers to give me their thoughts before it gets that far. If you would like to join the team then please drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org