Here I am over on Sharon Booth’s blog, answering all sorts of authorly questions. Thanks for hosting me, Sharon!
Way back in September, while I was away travelling in our motorhome, I recorded a radio interview with Talk Radio Europe, to promote The Girl from Ballymor. They’ve only just broadcast it, and for the next few days you can listen to it on the link below. Choose 15th November, time slot 19:00-20:00. My bit starts at 38 minutes, 40 seconds in.
It was an odd experience – I was in the motorhome somewhere in Portugal, with all the doors and windows closed despite the heat to keep background noise to a minimum, speaking on my mobile phone. A tractor kept driving back and forth through the campsite, but thankfully the interviewer, Hannah, confirmed she couldn’t hear it. I’d locked my husband outside – didn’t even want to LOOK at him while the interview was ongoing!
If I sound nervous it’s because I was, although Hannah put me at my ease and let me waffle on. I’d had some great advice from writer friends on Facebook about smiling as I spoke (comes through in your voice), trying to speak slower than normal, and standing up rather than sitting down. Actually I paced back and forth in the small space in the middle of the van!
A fellow writer made this lovely little promotional video for The Girl from Ballymor for me last week, but I have only just worked out how to embed it in a blog page. It’s truly lovely, haunting and atmospheric, and just right for the book. I love it!
— Kathleen McGurl (@KathMcGurl) October 28, 2017
At long last, publication day for The Girl from Ballymor has finally come around. It’s been a long wait this time, and I am longing to find out what people think of the book. Early reviews have been good – the one I posted here last and then this lovely one by Pam Norfolk in the Lancashire Post. I have been quoting parts of that one to my husband continuously since reading it yesterday!
We are currently in our campervan on a cliff top on the Atlantic coast of Portugal. A pretty spectacular location ins which to celebrate publication! We have another 4 weeks travelling before we return home, and at last I will be able to hold a paperback copy of my book.
Meanwhile, on with the next book, or rather the book after next, which is also set in Ireland though in a different time period. I’m enjoying writing this new one very much.
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:
- Scribble notes about key scenes, in a lovely new notebook of course!
- Decide on names, ages etc of main characters
- Draw up family trees for main characters, especially important if genealogy is to be a theme in the book
- Draw up timelines for the two timelines in the novel
- Build up a Pinterest board of inspiring images
- Note down main areas where I’ll need to research ahead of writing, and order any necessary books
- Create detailed character sheets for the main characters so that I can really get to know them
- Scribble details of the main settings, draw a map or house-plan if necessary
- Write a one-page synopsis for my editor to (hopefully!) approve
- 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!
Recently I have had the pleasure and honour of collaborating with some wonderful authors of timeslip novels, to create a short (10,000 word) timeslip story. We wrote this originally for a Facebook group – the Historical and Timeslip Novels group – which has always been hugely supportive of all of us. This was our little way of giving something back. The story has been serialised in that group over the last couple of weeks, and now I can share it here for my blog readers. Click the link below to read the PDF on screen or download.
Your authors are listed below. All links are to their Amazon author pages. If you enjoy A Shortcut Through Time you’ll almost certainly enjoy their full length novels, so please do go and check them out!
Anna Belfrage – author of the marvellous Graham series
Annie Whitehead – To Be a Queen and Alvar the Kingmaker
Irina Shapiro – the Wonderland and Hands of Time series
Terry Lynn Thomas – The Spirit of Grace
Nicola Layouni – Tales of a Traveller series
We passed the story back and forth via Facebook as we wrote it, writing three sections each, to a rough plan from Anna Belfrage (although the plot did change as we went along – you can’t expect six authors not to stray off-piste from time to time!) I bet you can’t see the joins or guess who wrote what part. Please let me know what you think of this story in the comments below.
We had great fun writing this and have not ruled out writing a sequel at some stage in the future…
My publisher, Carina UK, are running a historical fiction weekend. As part of this I’ve written about what inspires me when writing the historical parts of my novel, and you can read this on their blog here .
Only a few days to go now till publication of my new book! I can’t wait for it to hit the virtual shelves!
In non-bookish exciting news, we have bought ourselves a campervan! And yes, I have called her Gertie. I don’t know why, but she feels like a Gertie and the name is going to stick.
We have hired campervans before a number of times, in the USA and in New Zealand, and enjoyed travelling around in them. Many years ago we decided that when I qualified for ‘long leave’ (my lovely company give six months paid leave after you’ve worked for them for 25 years) we’d spend the leave driving around Europe in a campervan. The big trip will be next year – April to October – so we thought we should buy the van this year, and have a few short trips in it to get used to it.
And here she is in all her glory! She is a German van, Hymer B508CL if you want the detail. She’s second hand and was imported from Germany for us by a wonderful company called Bundesvan who specialise in importing mostly German, left hand drive campers. As we’ll spend most of the time on the continent we thought left hand drive would be more convenient.
We picked her up on Sunday, brought her home and JUST managed to squeeze her into thr driveway. She’s only 6m long but quite wide, and our house has narrow gateposts designed for 1930s cars…
We have a few alterations to make – switch the internal gas supply to LPG, add a solar panel to charge up the leisure battery, add a bike rack on the back, replace the curtains which I just don’t like. First proper trip will be a fortnight in Ireland in May, but we’ll have a weekend or two away in her before then.
I’ve also been planning things like – where will I store my laptop in the van; what novel will I work on while we’re away; how will we get wifi? All important questions for a writer!
For no real reason, just that my books are selling well and I feel like celebrating, I’m running a little competition to give away the goodies in the photo below – a mug with my book covers on, a fridge magnet and a signed postcard.
For a chance to win, just leave me a comment here, or go on over to my author page on Facebook and comment there.
I’ll draw the winner from a hat on Sunday 17th January.
Good luck, & may the best commenter win!
I finished the first edit of my novel yesterday, and sent it straight off to my eldest son who’s my beta reader. I’m looking forward to hearing what he thinks of it, then I’ve time to make some more changes as necessary before sending it to my editor just after Christmas. Phew! It’ll be lovely to have time to start something new, before I get my editor’s comments on it and have to rewrite the whole thing, ooh-er.
Want to know what its title will be? Not sure if I should reveal that yet…Oh, go on then, you’ve twisted my arm. It’ll be called The Daughters of Red Hill Hall. It’s dual timeline, and both timelines feature the stately home Red Hill Hall, and two girls who are the best of friends at the start of the novel, until… I’ll say no more. Publication will be around April 2016 – will let you know when I have a definite date.
Anyway, after completing the novel and also sending a synopsis for the next one to my editor, I thought I’d have a few days off from writing. But I’ve sat here this evening with itchy fingers, so I wrote a guest blog post for someone else, and then this blog post. A change is as good as a rest, they say, and certainly it’s the case that writing something other than the novel I’ve been working on since the end of April feels refreshing and fun. Counting up, I realise that I’ve only spent 7 months writing this one, which is a lot faster than any previous novel. And in June I hardly wrote anything, so it’s really 6 months work. Not bad going, considering I work full time as well.
It’s good to give yourself a pat on the back now and again. Even if a minute later I’m back to the usual writerly mental state of feeling full of self-doubt and insecurity!