The Writing Process – with Janet O’Kane

Cover to No Stranger to Death by Janet Okane

It is my pleasure to welcome Janet to my blog today, to talk about her novel and writing process.

CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF? HAVE YOU WRITTEN ANY BOOKS AND/OR SHORT STORIES? ARE YOU WRITING NOW?

I came from the south of England but have been happily settled in the Scottish Borders for the past 20 years. This beautiful part of the UK provides the setting for my first crime novel, No Stranger to Death, which was published last November. I’m now writing the sequel, working title, Too Soon A Death.

HOW MUCH RESEARCH OR PREPARATION DO YOU DO BEFORE YOU START WRITING? DO YOU DO CHAPTER PLANS, CHARACTER PROFILES, ETC? DOES ANY OF THIS CHANGE WHILE YOU ARE WRITING?

I’m an avid planner in just about every area of my life except fiction writing. this used to hold me back, as I tried and failed to come up with fully formed plots before sitting down to actually writing. Now I just write a bit, plan a couple of chapters, write a bit more. I do have some character profiles worked out for my third novel but there’s no guarantee I’ll use them when the time comes.

Although my books are far from being police procedurals, I try to be faithful to how things are done in real life. I’m lucky that my brother-in-law is a Superintendent with Police Scotland. Apart from that, most of my research is visiting locations, as I like to use real places whenever possible.

 

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE TIME TO WRITE? HOW DO YOU BALANCE THIS WITH OTHER RESPONSIBILITIES SUCH AS WORK OR FAMILY LIFE?

 

I sit down at my desk as early as I can, because I become less productive as the day goes on. My family consists of my husband and a menagerie of cats, dogs and chickens, and of those the dogs are the most demanding. I hate the winter: the days are so short and it feels like no sooner have I sat down to write than I must take the collie out again before it gets dark. Even so, any physical exercise is a brilliant way of coming up with ideas or solving sticky plot problems.
WHAT PART OF THE WRITING PROCESS DO YOU FIND MOST IMPORTANT. EG – FIRST DRAFT, EDITING, REWRITING ETC?
I’m one of those peculiar people who prefer editing to writing from scratch. I find producing a first draft of anything hard and slow work, with results that make my toes curl. It’s only as I edit that my writing starts to resemble what I set out to create.
WRITING HAS LOTS OF HIGHS AND LOWS – HOW DO YOU KEEP YOURSELF MOTIVATED?
Because I worked for years as a copywriter, I’m able to treat writing as a job and just get on with it, even if I’m not feeling at all inspired. Besides, writing fiction is pretty much my dream job, so I try to remind myself of that whenever things aren’t going as well as I’d like them to. And now I have readers telling me how much they enjoyed my book and asking when the next one’s out. What better encouragement for a writer is there?

DO YOU USE SOCIAL MEDIA AND/OR BLOG? HOW USEFUL DO YOU FEEL THIS IS?

When I joined Twitter I wished it hadn’t taken me so long to get around to it. I’ve made friends there (many of whom I’ve subsequently met in real life), learned masses about writing and publishing, and generally enjoyed myself.I’ve also won competitions, like a trip to the Theakston’s Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate last year. However, I hate how so many writers these days use Twitter as just another advertising platform. To me, it’ll always be about talking to people not at them.

IF YOU COULD PASS ONE PIECE OF ADVICE ON TO A NEW WRITER, WHAT WOULD THIS BE?

There is no ‘right’ way to write. Experiment to find out what suits you best and then do it like that.

If you would like to read No Stranger to Death you can find it here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/No-Stranger-Death-Janet-OKane-ebook/dp/B00GS1GF0E/

If you would like to read some great posts about writing, and find out more about Janet, her blog is here: http://janetokane.blogspot.co.uk/

Her Facebook page is here: http://www.facebook.com/JanetOkaneAuthor/

Janet is on Twitter -@JanetOkane

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7 thoughts on “The Writing Process – with Janet O’Kane

  1. electrasmoped says:

    Thanks for your comment Katie. It’s a great book – very gripping, and well worth a read. I also wish Janet good luck with the next book.
    Thanks again, Katie
    Take care
    Ruthx

  2. Marianne Wheelaghan says:

    Great interview, thanks. I too love editing to the actual writing – and have had too many toe curdling moments to count ;o) Have just downloaded No Stranger To Death and am really looking forward to reading it as I love crime with a difference – and as it happens, I used to live in Coldstream in the Borders and went to Duns HIgh School so am doubly curious! Thanks again Ruth and Janet 🙂

    1. electrasmopedRuth F. Hunt says:

      Hi Marianne,
      Thanks for your message. I’m the same, editing and rewriting is like chipping away at a block of marble, It takes lots of chipping to make the finished sculpture.
      Great you’ve bought No Stranger to Death especially since you’ve got a personal connection to some of the places in it. Brilliant! It’s very gripping, I enjoyed it a lot.
      Thanks again,
      Best wishes,
      Ruth

    2. Janet O'Kane says:

      Hi Marianne,
      Thanks for buying my book, and for leaving a comment on my blog. How interesting that you come from Coldstream – I know it well. My fictional village of Westerlea is partly based on Leitholm, which you may know.

  3. Belinda Pollard says:

    Hi Ruth and Janet, great to hear about the process. I prefer the writing phase myself, because it feels like Fun (AKA making stuff up, full of irresponsibility and cheekiness) whereas editing feels like Work (probably because it IS what I do for work!)

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