Writing. Just Because It’s There.
Although it’s interesting to read an interview with a published author, there are a large group of people out there who develop a passion for writing then realise they might like to take it to the next level. After hearing about Rebecca Bradley, and her passion for writing, despite a hectic schedule, I wanted to know more.
I’ve heard it said many times after I’ve announced that I’m taking a degree in creative writing that the person I’m speaking to has ‘got a good book in them’, I they could only sit down and do the writing.
That’s the point isn’t it? I do believe we all ‘have a good book’ in us, but it can only be made real by getting on and doing something about it.
If I ever needed incentive to sit down to write and keep on doing it, then finding out about Rebecca, gave me the impetus to get over ‘assignment fatigue’ and scribble/type with a vengeance. Just because, like Rebecca, I love writing.
So it’s time to introduce Rebecca.
Rebecca says she has reached the age where a lady does not divulge her age. Not being the type of person to just be settled with a family and a day job, she first had to complete the final coursework of the level one Open University science course she was taking before she could find any time to write.
Once that was done (the end of 2010), she sat down and began to type with a vengeance.
Why did you start writing and why crime writing?
I had begun to reach ‘that age’ where the days seemed to feel as if they were moving a bit too quickly, and the things I’d always wanted to do were going through my fingers before I had time to do anything about them. This realization lit the blue touch paper for my writing, so instead of waiting until I felt I could give it the time it deserved. I got on with it.
I’d always wanted to write a novel.
The main issue was actually getting my bum on the seat and the words on the page.
As for crime, I’ve always loved it. I grew up reading it. Starting off at a young age with Agatha Christie and devouring Miss Marple and Poirot. I then moved on to grittier crime and just kept on reading, so it was a natural progression to write about crime.
As well as being immersed in the genre, I spend the majority of time reading. I find with writing, there is immense scope to play with human behaviour and I’m a big people watcher.
Crime finds people in some dark places and how they react and deal with this is always fascinating.
How do you manage to write with a full-time job as well as being a working mum?
This answer is actually the second attempt at a response. I think the first time I responded, you must have caught me on a good day. I gave the impression that it wasn’t that difficult, that my kids were a doddle to look after and I had nothing more than a simple bit of tiredness I to overcome, in order to get words down on to paper.
All that got blown out of the water this past week, as we had a week of hell at work, and by hell, I mean, a ridiculously busy pre-organised plan on dealing with some issues we had. This meant early starts and pushing ourselves a lot.
I was left completely drained, not just tired, but lie down and die type shattered.
Doing anything to do with the writing world had to take a back seat, while I recharged.
So, back to the question, how do I cope? The serious answer? Sometimes I just don’t. There are days when I get in from the day job and curl up with my kids, then curl up under my duvet.
The day job is hard. It’s not like that all the time though. On great days, when I’m feeling energetic and enthused, I can actually get a lot done. One of the things I rely on a lot to get things done, are to-do lists. My new laptop has a post-it note facility and there are post-its all over the desktop of things that need doing.
This type of organisation and allowing myself some time to relax are the best way for me to do both, otherwise I would just grind myself into the ground and never find my way out again.
Blogging takes up valuable writing time, so why bother to do it?
I started reading blogs to educate myself on the writing and publishing world. When I started writing I knew nothing about this world I wanted to enter. I just knew I wanted to write and that someday I would love someone to read what I had written. Blogs hold a wealth of information and it soon became apparent that blogging would be a good idea.
A writer (I find it difficult to use the phrase author, as well as finding it difficult to use the word writer, in reference to myself) needs a ‘platform’ so, though I had no idea what I was going to talk about, I created my first blog.
Although I had initially created the blog because I thought it was the right thing to do for where I wanted to go, I have come to feel at home in the blogosphere. It is filled with wonderful people who are willing to share, help, support, and open themselves to each other without malice. It’s a great community of people and even though I blog as a writer, I now enjoy it and do it because I want to, because it’s a great place to be and I gain so much from being there.
If my quest to be a published writer fails, I think you will still find me in my little corner of the blogging world, just chatting away to anyone who’ll listen.
You talk about grittier crime and a progression. What do you mean by this? (for example more convoluted plots, more violence etc.)
I mean more violence and the hardened cop type books. Polite and well written books are great, but sometimes a girl just needs more. All this grit isn’t just for the blokes you know.
You talk about starting with Agatha Christie, who is often criticized for being too obsessed with plots and poor on characterization. Why do you think she is so popular today and do modern crime writers owe her anything with regards to either becoming writer or the way they write?
You’re talking to me about books I read ‘ahem’ a long time ago. I know I read them and I enjoyed them. I know they were an introduction to crime and they were a stepping stone to further crime fiction, but as for analyzing fiction and fiction I read many years ago, it’s not something I can do. I read for pleasure. I read books I enjoy and rarely look at them for anything other than a story I enjoy, and that got my emotions going.
What about the other crime writers.
I wouldn’t call myself a connoisseur of crime. If I find something I like then I stick with it. For instance, in the past couple of years I began reading two crimes series novels that were already well established, and I read them from the first, to the current book, just because I wanted to see how the characters had grown and how the author had progressed in terms of writing skills.
The two series were the Kay Scarpetta novels by Patricia Cornwell and the Alex Cross novels by James Patterson.
I read for joy and I read what I want to read, not what people expect I should be reading. I don’t believe in literary snobbery. Reading should be about enjoyment, learning (any reading is good if kids are doing it and my youngest sees me reading a lot) and doing what you want to do. Not following trends.
I can’t analyze why certain people have cult followings, if I could, I’d probably try to recreate it to get an agent, a publisher and sell lots of my own books!
For people wanting to get into crime (the reading, not a life of…) what would you suggest, given that there are really genres within the crime genres.
I think people are put off the crime genre because there is an expectation a book full of blood and guts, when in fact the genre itself is extremely wide. I can give a few examples:
A police procedural is a book where a crime is committed and you follow a police officer through the investigation to detect who did the crime.
A psychological crime book is usually more of a mind bender and has you wondering who is doing what and why, and there is a dead body somewhere in the book. It has you on the edge of your seat.
For the people who think this isn’t their cup of tea, there is cozy crime. Just as it sounds. Think ‘ Murder She Wrote’.
Historical crime, is a crime novel set in the past.
Seriously, the genre is so wide, I’m not sure I can list them all, but with these four, you get a flavour of how wide you can go. So long as you have a body somewhere, I think you can call it crime.
So, write what it is you want to write, not just to fit in to some imaginary genre. Look at the subgenres out there, with crime, there are plenty.
How do you think crime novels have progressed in terms of plot sophistication and development.
Wow, I feel like I’m taking a test.
Seriously. I sit down and I type. Prior to that, I read a bit. I’ve not really considered all this stuff.
Okay, let’s think.
Speed. Readers nowadays need things to move quicker. Their brains are constantly on the move and they don’t particularly want to be slowed down too much, so I think plotting has had to move quicker. Our world is a pacier place and I think that projects into our reading material.
How have you worked out your plot and how do you make sure there are no continuity errors?
I edit in stages. I’m what you call a pantser. I sit down and I type and I keep going. Even if I realize I ‘m typing my way straight in to a great big plot hole I keep going, or stop, then start typing in another direction.
The second draft is where I check for great big gaping holes, which I did have in the first book.
The third draft works on the timeline, etc etc.
I go through each draft looking specifically at a different things each time. This seems to work for me. I know all writers do work differently though.
What happens when you go on holiday? Do you see a potential story in the places you visit?
Not really, no. People are the fascination for me. The place holds little meaning and maybe I will be slated for this, but humans, well… come on. They’re unpredictable. Put them in stressful situations, with something to lose and it doesn’t really matter what city you’re in, it’s about feeling the emotion, getting the reader there, to care.
I want to introduce readers to situations that are really possible and make them squirm a bit. What’s around them is irrelevant. It needs to be able to happen to them, as much in their own surroundings.
You go to crime writing festivals. What are they like?
Last year I went to Theakstons Old Peculiar, Harrogate Crime Writing Festival and I’m going again this year. It’s Thursday 19th July and I can’t wait.
Four days of crime writers and everyone within the business all mingling and talking. It’s the highlight of my year. I met some wonderful people I ‘m honoured to call friends, last year and I hope to meet many more this year.
If you can get to a festival, you really should give it a go.
What tools of the trade do you employ for your writing? (pen and paper, laptop etc)
I use a bit of both. Mostly laptop, but when I find big gaping holes, timeline errors, bits I can’t figure out, I turn to paper and pencil – I love how pencil glides over paper. So I have several notebooks with scribbles in from my first book and have already started scribblings for my second.
Have you blogged from your phone? If so how difficult is it to do?
I did this sometimes when I was on blogger. So far I haven’t done it on WordPress. I like working on my laptop, though I do love my phone for everything it can do. It’s easy and convenient, so I won’t rule out working my blog from my phone if needs be. In fact Harrogate could be the perfect test place for a post like that!
How do you use Twitter, Facebook and blog?
I love Twitter! It’s quick, in fact it’s so rapid. That’s why I love it. I did find at one point, that I spent far too much time on there and have managed to wean myself off it a bit.
I’m not so keen on Facebook, but I do attempt to check in daily, although this week, as I’m writing, I haven’t managed to do this.
I set myself a standard of twice a week for my blog and I failed again this week. Work kind of kept me a tired hostage. I’m now officially on leave though, so I’m recharging my batteries for Harrogate!
Tell me about your book.
I had no problem deciding what I wanted to write; a series of police procedural crime novels from the point of view of a female protagonist detective, investigating serious crimes. The novels are written in first person point of view so the reader is taken along with the investigation as it happens.
I’m hopeful about the possibility of the books being published, although I am fully aware of how difficult this is and how much hard work goes into getting a book through the hoops to publication.
So far I have completed the first book and have started the second. I’m not particularly superstitious, but I don’t not want to say too much about the content of the series at this time, but the characters do run through the series.
The first book is now out in the world looking for representation and I’m holding my breath while I continue to write, work, blog and tweet.
You can find Rebecca’s blog at Rebecca Bradley. Murder Down to a Tea. It’s well worth a look. She can also be found on Twitter as @RebeccaJBradley.
From → Non-fiction