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I’m in that wonderful, exciting, refreshing but also terrifying space between novels at the moment. I finished a draft of my last, still-to-be-titled, one over the weekend, and sent it to my editor today. There will still be plenty of work to do on it no doubt, but for the moment it is out of my hands.

Meanwhile ideas for the next novel after that are filling my mind, so although I’d planned to have a bit of a break I have spent a lot of time today scribbling notes and putting together a Pinterest board to inspire me.

There are a number of things I do when planning a novel before I start actually writing it. I’ll do them in roughly this sequence:

  1. Scribble notes about key scenes, in a lovely new notebook of course!
  2. Decide on names, ages etc of main characters
  3. Draw up family trees for main characters, especially important if genealogy is to be a theme in the book
  4. Draw up timelines for the two timelines in the novel
  5. Build up a Pinterest board of inspiring images
  6. Note down main areas where I’ll need to research ahead of writing, and order any necessary books
  7. Create detailed character sheets for the main characters so that I can really get to know them
  8. Scribble details of the main settings, draw a map or house-plan if necessary
  9. Write a one-page synopsis for my editor to (hopefully!) approve
  10. Write a chapter plan – two or three sentences outlining what will happen in each chapter

So although ‘the Irish novel’ has been sent off ready for the next stage (rather like a five-year old child being sent off for his first day at school), the ‘drowned village’ novel is already swilling around my head. You know you need to write a novel when you find yourself waking in the night with scenes for it playing out in full colour in your head.

It’s funny – to my readers Daughters of Red Hill Hall is considered my latest novel, but I feel as though I’m two novels on from that!