So going back to the beginning. I had a set of notes and recordings from my source, and then I set about thinking myself into this character. This was when I started making the story my own, because from the moment I set pen to paper, I had to ‘become’ my character in my own mind. Amanda, her name is, and so my imagination became her home and her life was written there as my pen raced over the page.
Speaking of the pen and the page…
Every book I have written has been written ‘differently’. My first two novellas were typed on an electric typewriter sitting at a pitted and scarred old dropleaf wooden table in an attic flat in an old Victorian terraced house in Roath, Cardiff. I wrote them over five months, one summer, in my first job as a nurse. I went to work one sunny day, and on the way home, a voice starting speaking the first line in my head. I held on to it, got home, and wrote every non-working moment for weeks. Same with the second one, though that was finished after I got to London that autumn.
Prior to these two, one of which, HerStory¸I still think is the best thing I’ve ever written, I wrote most things by hand, although did once write a long short story when I was 15 on an antique typewriter in my teenage box bedroom.
After HerStory and Wylde Angel, I wrote very little as I was a bit distracted training to be a midwife and getting a first class degree, but I scribbled away at this and that, always wishing. I wrote Dark Harvest for an MA in a series of notebooks, using biro, then typed it up. It wasn’t until I re-read it a year after the MA that I realised how terrible it was!
This novel, however, was entirely drafted on yellow legal pads using an expensive Cross fountain pen, in black ink. Only after episodes were drafted by hand did I type it up and start a critical editing process. The pads and pen went everywhere with me. Within a few weeks, I could shift into Amanda’s mind set the moment I took up the pen and turned the page to the next blank, yellow, lined sheet. I’ve heard of writers having rituals for writing. For this book, the yellow pads and the expensive pen became my ritual. Picture me, sitting at a table in the cafe in Aberystwyth Arts centre, my books in front of me, a view down to the blue sea through the window opposite. I have my feet up, my pad resting on the edge of the table, a white mug of tea to one side, and my pen is racing, dashing across the page, barely able to keep up with the words in my mind.
I wonder what will happen with my next book.