1) CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF? HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS AND/OR SHORT STORIES? ARE YOU WRITING NOW?
I wrote a book, set during the fall of Communism in the Czech Republic, Take Me to the Castle. It was published in December 2012 and won The People’s Book Awards in 2013. I have also written short stories and flash fiction. Three short stories have been published: The Bench, Blood Red and Bird. Several works of flash fiction have also been published online at http://www.etherbooks.com/ http://www.puffinreview.com/ and the http://www.flashfloodjournal.blogspot.com/
One flash fiction was longlisted in The New Writer Annual Prose and Poetry Prizes. I am working on the end of a second book at the moment.
2)HOW MUCH RESEARCH OR PREPARATION DO YOU DO BEFORE YOU START WRITING? DO YOU DO CHAPTER PLANS AND CHARACTER PROFILES ETC.? DOES ANY OF THIS CHANGE WHILE YOU ARE WRITING?
It depends on what I am writing. Take Me to the Castle took a huge amount of research as it was part fiction and part historical fact. I couldn’t afford to leave the details unchecked. I spent a lot of time reading autobiographies, files, reports and historical data before I could fictionalise the work. I wanted to do it justice as that point in time was so fraught with tension. Quite a bit of the planning changes as I write and as the story evolves.
3)DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TIME TO WRITE? HOW DO YOU BALANCE THIS WITH OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES SUCH AS WORK OR FAMILY LIFE?
I tend to work as soon as I can in the morning and keep going until mid afternoon. Hilary Mantel has always advocated writing before you do anything else, and I think it pays off to avoid all other distractions until you have spent an hour or two really focusing on your work. I used to reread the previous days work before starting, but now I tend to get straight into it. I also often work late into the night and have always worked well in the evenings. Mornings and evenings are quiet, and there is always the ‘afternoon slump’ making it a difficult time to write.
4) WHAT PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS DO YOU FIND MOST IMPORTANT; FOR EXAMPLE, FIRST DRAFT, EDITING, REWRITING ETC.
Each stage is important in different ways: the first draft is very freeing, because you can let loose with your words and not be too concerned with the nitty gritty details; the editing is vital and can pick up on all sorts of evils – spelling, grammar, consistency issues, and detail which you might have left out in the first instance (I sometimes leave a note to go back to if I’m not sure of a name, and I don’t want to break the flow); rewriting can often change the direction of your work to some extent and the tightening up of your work is what will make it shine. If there is a paragraph or scene which solves no purpose, it has to be cut, cut, cut. Each stage should pull the threads and tighten your writing. It has to be polished at every stage. There is merit to every part of the process.
5) WRITING HAS LOTS OF HIGHS AND LOWS – HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?
The highs far outweigh the lows and I think most writers would say they write for the sheer love of the craft; they write because they need to. Somehow the motivation has to come from within, it has to burn inside you to the point that you can’t not write, and to the extent that you would write even if no one read your work. That, to me, is the bottom line and a good question to ask yourself: Would you still write, even if no one read your work?
6) DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND/OR BLOG? HOW USEFUL DO YOU FIND THIS?
Absolutely. I think it’s a vital way of connecting with readers and other writers. It is also a great way of keeping up to date with what is going on in the publishing industry. I have a website and I blog regularly. I also use Twitter and Facebook primarily, then Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+ and Goodreads. All are useful in different ways – blogging is a good way of developing your writing skills, and it enables you to connect with others. I find Twitter really helpful for discovering new books, learning about publishing, connecting with readers and finding out about literary events. The immediacy and brevity of the communication on Twitter is what makes it work. Facebook is a good way of connecting with readers and sharing articles, as is Google+ , and I enjoy Pinterest for the visual nature of the site. It also draws in blog readers. It is important to connect up your sites, and to link your blog, so that posts go to the rest of your sites. Linkedin is a good way of connecting with other professionals and writing groups.
7)IF YOU COULD PASS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ONTO A NEW WRITER, WHAT WOULD THIS BE?
Read as much as you write, if not more; read widely and read the Greats. Nothing can substitute what can be learned from other writers who have managed to capture a wide audience, and especially those who have done so over decades and centuries. I would also say that if you are passionate about your work, never give up. Writing takes great perseverance and publishing in any form also takes patience. Keep going and focus on why you want to write and what you want to achieve in the reader’s mind.
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR TAKING PART IN THIS INTERVIEW, I WISH YOU THE BEST OF LUCK WITH YOUR SECOND NOVEL AND YOUR WORK GENERALLY. MANY THANKS.
Find her books at:- http://amazon.co.uk/F.C.-Malby/e/B00AQM68XK/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel1