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Posts Tagged ‘Norfolk’

Welcome, Clare Marchant

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Hi Suzan! Thank you for inviting me. May I have a cup of tea? I like it really strong though so two bags in the cup if that’s okay.

*Hands Clare her cup of tea*

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

I don’t have a pen name I really am Clare Marchant. I live in Norfolk with my husband and the youngest two of my six children, and our mini schnauzer Fred. With my adult children and grandchildren living locally it is always busy with people dropping in but thankfully the week days are usually quiet. In my spare time I like a trip to the coast for a walk and an ice cream. Oh, and I occasionally get out my saxophone for a quick blast!

You have two books out. Can you tell me a little about them?

My debut The Secrets of Saffron Hall is a dual timeline historical novel. It is set in both the Tudor era and the present day and links two women living five hundred years apart but bound together by grief, love, and a spice more valuable than gold. In Tudor times new bride Eleanor grows saffron which increases her husband’s wealth which grows his popularity at court, but this comes at a terrible price. In present day Amber discovers a book at her grandfather’s home, Saffron Hall, and it contains a secret which is closer to home than she would have imagined.

My second book which was published this summer is The Queen’s Spy. This is another Tudor/present day dual timeline. In the sixteenth century a deaf and mute apothecary to the Queen becomes her silent spy. Whilst in the present day a young French Lebanese girl inherits an old house from her father, a man she never knew. After making a haunting discovery she tries to discover what happened there centuries before.

You were nominated for the RNA Joan Hessayon Award. How did you feel? Tell us about it.

Being a contender for the Joan Hessayon Award was just the most wonderful experience. I was nominated because my debut book went through the RNA’s amazing New Writers Scheme and was subsequently published. The winner is announced at the RNA York Tea which this year was on the 18th September. As the event included afternoon tea and cake it was of course a stellar occasion! I am so proud that my book came through the New Writer’s Scheme because I learned – and am still learning – so much from the published authors in the Romantic Novelist Association and it was an honour to have been a nominee.

What is the title and genre of the book you are currently writing?

Unfortunately the next book currently does not have a title! I really must think of one soon before I send it to my publisher. I keep hoping something will suddenly spring into my mind, but so far…nothing! I can tell you that it is another Elizabethan/present day dual timeline though and this time it involves Sir Francis Drake.

Are you working to a deadline? Do you write X number of words per day? How are you feeling?

I most certainly am working to a deadline can you see the grey hairs multiplying on my head?! When I am writing the first draft then I aim for 2000 words a day. I start fairly early in the morning and work through until I take a late lunch. But once I get to editing then it’s just a case of working through until my eyes are falling out of their sockets whatever time that is.

Do you write in first or third person?

So far, I’ve always written in the third person but who knows, if I felt that a character would sound better in the first person I may try that. It’s just the way that they speak to me that dictates how they appear on the page.

How did you come up with the story?

I never have a fully formed idea for a story, instead I will have lots of threads of ideas rolling around my head. Sometimes they are triggered by places that I go to, or artefacts that I see or maybe an article I have read. But slowly all these threads come together and I weave them into a story. It is amazing when that moment comes!

Are you a planner or panster?

I am absolutely a planner. I could never just dive straight in to writing a book, I like to know exactly what my characters are going to do, where they will go and what will happen to them. Although having said that, when I was writing Saffron Hall the little boy Tom just suddenly appeared in the story and he had not been in the plan – I try not to let that happen often though.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

My tip is probably the same as every other author’s – you really do have to sit down and write the book. You can’t edit an empty page. Even if you don’t have much time if you can manage to write a couple of hundred words here and there because it soon adds up. And when you have that exciting new idea for another book just as the one you are currently writing is getting a bit tedious, do not abandon it for the new idea! It happens to us all but you just need to keep plodding on until you reach the end.

What is your writing routine?

I sit down at my desk between eight and nine o’clock and work until about two. I have numerous cups of tea and coffee during that time too although I am trying to steer clear of the biscuit tin! Despite doing several months of historical research before I start I find numerous areas where I need to look details up but that is very time consuming so I just make a note in the manuscript to come back to it later. I don’t like to interrupt the flow when I am writing.

Do you have an editing process?

Yes, I have quite a strict process. I start with the structural editing to make sure that there are no massive holes or anomalies. Writing dual timeline throws up all sorts of problems making sure that the two stories reflect each other, my present-day character can’t discover something that hasn’t yet happened in the historical story and that can take some juggling! I use a software for writing called Scrivener and it makes moving the chapters around much easier.

After the structural edit I do several rounds of line editing making sure that every sentence is as perfect as I can make it, and then finally I do a proof read (or three!) to check on punctuation.

Then the book goes off to my agent and she sends back suggested edits and it all starts again, and then it goes to my editor and guess what? I have to start again! But every round of edits keeps polishing the book so that when it is published, I know that it is the very best that it can be.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

My favourite part of writing a book is definitely the historical research. I love reading about the past – and of course the Tudor era is my favourite – and so diving down rabbit holes reading about different people and events is just the best way of spending my day. I also enjoy the actual writing of the first draft, but I find the editing process difficult it makes my head hurt sometimes!

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: ClareMarchantAuthor

Twitter: ClareMarchant1

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

Readers are the most important link in the chain, I write books so that people will read them and hopefully enjoy them. I’m especially grateful to all the readers who reach out on social media and also those who leave reviews on Amazon which are so important for books (I don’t understand the Amazon algorithms but reviews do great things!), so thank you to each and every one of you who take time to do that, and do come and say hello on Twitter and Facebook!

Thank you Suzan for inviting me on your blog, I’ve had a lovely time. Any chance of another cuppa?

With two teabags?

Yes please.

Formats: paperback and eBook.

If you would to view and/or buy a copy or two here is the link to Clare’s Amazon page

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3zuLWDB

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Welcome, Phyllida Scrivens…

Can I offer you a drink? Tea? Wine?

Thanks Suzan.  I’ll take a Rooibos tea with a drop of milk please. However, by the end of this interview I wouldn’t be adverse to a small chilled pinot grigo!

*Hands Phyllida a Rooibos tea*

Can you tell me a little about yourself? (inc if you use a pen name and why)

Certainly.  I live with my husband Victor in Norwich, Norfolk.  I am not a native of Norfolk; in fact I was born in the North-East, but moving here from Surrey in 2005. Although I have always loved to write, including some newspaper columns, short stories and one act plays, it was not until I started working for the Head of Literature at the UEA, that I began to dream of taking the MA in Creative Non-Fiction. This dream became a reality in 2012, leading directly to my first book contract with Pen and Sword Books.

What is the title and genre of your latest book?

This will be my third book and is called The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874: Heroes, Victims, Survivors. It will be published in September. All three books are biographical and based on local figures. The first is the full life story of Joe Stirling, a Kindertransport boy who made an amazing life for himself in Norwich (Escaping Hitler), and the second (The Lady Lord Mayors of Norwich 1924-2017) is a group biography, exploring the lives of the seventeen women who have been the Lord Mayor of Norwich. I am proud that this book won the Best Biography prize at the East Anglian Book Awards 2018.  My latest title is a hybrid of historical fact and potted biographies of the 28 people who died in Thorpe St Andrew in a famous Victorian railway collision, individuals who have until now simply appeared in lists of names.

Do you write in first or third person?

Both.  I do enjoy writing fiction, albeit occasionally, latterly achieving some success in competitions organised by the Norwich Writers’ Circle, of which I am a long time member and former Chairman.  These short stories are invariably in the first person, as I love to immerse myself in the main character, really getting inside his or her head.  I also like to read fiction written in the first person. However, with researched non-fiction, and particularly biographies, I write in the third person and usually present the chapters chronologically.  I think it is much easier to follow a person’s life journey if you start at the beginning, although in recent years there seems to be more scope for experimentation in that genre. 

How did you come up with the story?

I firmly believe that factual stories are often more engaging and fascinating than anything that is made up! I am that person on the bus who will wheedle your entire life story from you by the time we reach the terminus!  I love to interview people about their life experiences, also seeking out others who have known the subject, family members, friends, colleagues and the like. And the number of times following a talk to W.I.s, history groups, Probus Clubs etc, that someone will approach me asking if I’ll produce their life story! I explain that a biography can take 3-5 years to research and write up, I would need to be Methuselah to fit them all in!  Stories are everywhere.  As for fiction, again I will start with something or someone I know and take it from there. Sometimes I think it’s my computer that writes the denouements as I rarely have an idea where a fictional story will end!

Are you a planner or pantser?

With non-fiction it really has to be about the planning. I love the research stage, normally falling into the trap of becoming obsessed by the smallest detail and using up far too time and energy on it. Then, much later, having gathered the enormous pile of typed notes, I then have to assemble the enormous jigsaw that is before me.  My well-honed structural plans often fall at the first hurdle though, as I go off in a direction that is only marginally associated with the topic!  

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t stress about finding inspiration, it will find you.  Be observant. Talk to people.  Don’t be afraid to tell them that you are exploring creative writing. Give and you will receive. People love talking about themselves and often it is just one little detail that will spark your imagination. Write everything down in a notebook.  Some of my best paragraphs come to me at 3 am. Unfortunately, I am usually too tired to lift a pen, or too fearful of waking my husband, so invariably the ideas are not recorded immediately. About 50% of them live in my memory until the morning, but I do sometimes wonder how many gems I have lost inside my head over the years! Start with small paragraphs, add more, join them up, and presto, you have a story. Consider your proposed audience and make sure there is something for them to engage with. Above all enjoy the experience… you are creating something unique.

What is your writing routine?

There isn’t one. I am certainly not a morning person, working better after lunch once the chores are complete, often forgoing the evening TV to catch up. When working on a major project I try and complete a certain number of words in a session, but with non-fiction that is very difficult, as I am constantly referring to books, websites and other reference material as I go along. I try and save some time for ‘normal everyday life’, but sometimes my husband does feel somewhat neglected, especially as I approach the dreaded deadline.

Do you have an editing process?

There is a lot of cutting and pasting involved.  During the actual writing I work on a split screen, with the narrative on one side and my specific research notes on the other. Then comes the edits and they say you should ideally take more time over the edit than when writing. I hate losing precious paragraphs, or even chapters, but it has to be done to achieve clarity and fit in with word counts. My husband reads everything I write and has become quite a proficient editor! I have been lucky to have a publisher who assigns a professional editor to me once I have submitted the so called “final draft”. This has been a fascinating experience each of my three editors working differently. It took about 12 drafts and two months to finalise The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster, but there is no doubt it was a better book by the end of the process.  

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

As I said before, the research is always revelatory and absorbing. Writing early drafts can be painful, but when a paragraph reads well, I can experience a real buzz. I love it when my head is at its most creative and certainly for this new book, I took the opportunity to experiment with novel techniques to add dialogue and dramatise some of the real-life events. Ultimately it is always brilliant when readers tell me they have enjoyed one of my books or been fascinated by one of my illustrated talks. I will admit to being a bit of an egotist and having my name on the spine of a book has always pushed my buttons!

Where can people find you on the internet?

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/phyllida.scrivens (where you will find links to Facebook pages for all 3 books)

Twitter: @escapinghitler

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I have been fortunate to be offered two public events during September when I can share stories from The Great Thorpe Railway Disaster 1874. Firstly, I will speaking as part of the the Heritage Open Days in NorwichDetails and tickets can be found at https://www.heritageopendays.org.uk/visiting/event/the-great-thorpe-railway-disaster-of-1874-heroes-victims-survivors

Secondly, the official launch will be at Jarrold, in Norwich, on the early evening of 30th September. Again, information and tickets from https://www.jarrold.co.uk/events-diary/events-list/the-great-thorpe-railway-disaster-1874

All three of my book launches have been at Jarrold, and I can honestly say they count amongst the best days of my life. After all the hard work, hours spent online, in Record Offices, in libraries, and at my desk, it is an amazing feeling to walk to the stage accompanied by warm applause from family, friends and fellow book lovers.  I am not sure if there will be another book (I am 66 now), but maybe the latest book launch experience will change my mind! 

Thanks so much Suzan for inviting me onto your blog.  It was a pleasure talking to you.

You’re welcome and thank you for taking time out to tell us about your fabulous new book.

Your pinot grigio is waiting for you.

If you would like to read about these books and/or purchase a copy …

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Phyllida-Scrivens/e/B07BWN8VWF%3Fref=dbs_a_mng_rwt_scns_share

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Today is the 1st November 2014 and for writers all across the world, it is #NanoWrimo time. This is a great annual novel writing project that brings together professional and amateur writers from all over the world. For more information log in to: http://nanowrimo.org/

This is my first time of supporting and also writing #NanoWrimo.

I am delighted to be supporting #NanoWrimo writers at Southwold Library in Suffolk  each Wednesday during this month.

NaNoWriMo

 

I have started writing my 50 thousand word novel today. 50 thousand words sounds a lot and could cause me some stress [I don’t do stress]. So, I’m not going to refer to that amount until the 30th Nov when I announce I have written that amount. However, I will try and update my blog daily or every few days to let you know how I am getting on.

I have other writing projects on the go and I will try and be disciplined and give time to each one.

Yesterday I was editing one of my writing projects at this lovely Art Gallery called The Coconut Loft.

Editing at The Coconut Loft and Art Gallery

Back to today…

This is my memory stick that will house my NaNoWriMo writing. My other writing projects will stay on my other memory stick [and both will be backed up regularly onto the computer].

Memory stick

A big shout-out to all fellow #NaNoWriMo writers both locally and across the world.

That’s all from me for now, catch you later. Suzan

 

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