On The Write Way today, we have Rosamund Lupton, the author of the extremely successful psychological thriller, Sister. Today sees the release of her second book 'Afterwards' which I personally cannot wait to get my hands on.
1) What inspired you to write your new book ‘Afterwards’?
I wanted to write about the power of a woman’s love for her family, which recognizes no boundaries. In the first few pages of ‘Afterwards’ Grace runs into a burning school to rescue her teenage daughter. After the fire, Grace knows the police have blamed the wrong person and that it’s up to her to find the truth. That same love which propelled her into a burning building then drives the detective story as she tries to find out who’s really to blame – and who’s still intent on destroying her family. But Grace is in a coma…This brings me onto my primary inspiration.
Right from the beginning, before I had a plot, I knew I wanted to have a mother and teenage daughter talking together as spirits. (That’s not the word I want, because they are unconscious not dead, but I’ve yet to come up with a better one.) Anyhow, I imagined this mother and daughter watching the action and commenting on it, chatting together, bickering and comforting one another. I thought it would be a fascinating perspective for me to explore their relationship and if one of them was also trying to find out about a crime it would make for a really interesting detective story. So in the novel, when firefighters bring Grace and her daughter, Jenny, out of the burning school, both are unconscious and remain so for most of the rest of the book. Grace can’t physically take part in the action, but she can watch and eavesdrop and so is in this unique position to put together all the pieces of the detective puzzle to find out who started the fire and why. She also comes to know her teenage daughter properly for the first time. It was this aspect of the book, which fired me creatively and kept me writing till two in the morning.
2) What are your main forms of inspiration normally?
I was always a daydreamer at school and I think that’s where my inspiration comes from now, and thankfully it’s not something I get told off for any more. I imagine a scenario, or a character, and just wonder ‘what if….?’ Sometimes I need to go for a walk and just let my imagination have some free reign.
2) What kind of research did you need to carry out before writing the book and how long did it take you?
Before I wrote the book, I researched a great deal about fires and burns, and people in persistent vegetative state. I’d also research as I was writing to make sure details were as accurate as I could get them. I don’t use a great deal of the research I accumulated on burns because I felt it wasn’t integral to the story and would be
prurient. In the end, the novel is a product of imagination rather than research.
3) Was each book completely planned out before you began writing, or did you just go with the flow?
With ‘Sister’ I had to do a huge rewrite of the plot before publication – basically the last two thirds of the novel’s plot had to be completely rewritten. It was really hard unpicking a plot from the characters’ journeys and the other stories that I was telling in the novel, so in Afterwards I made sure I had a completely secure structural skeleton before I actually started writing. Although sorting out the structure first was hard and not very rewarding, it was then very liberating as I wrote the novel itself, as I could allow myself free reign.
5) When you were writing your first draft of Afterwards, how many words did you aim for each day?
I was on a pretty tight deadline for Afterwards, I think I actually wrote it in 9 months, so after I’d used up time for research and planning, it meant I was writing about two thousand words a day.
6) Did you hand write your book or did you write directly onto the computer?
I am a fast typist so I find writing dialogue easier on the computer as I can keep up, almost, with the rhythm of a voice. But I tend to write ideas for characters long hand.
7) Do you edit your first draft as you go along, or do you wait until it is completed?
I self-edit as I go along, but try not to interrupt the flow if I’m on a roll. I won’t send in a first draft until I’m happy that I’ve edited as far as I can.
8) Please explain your writing process after the first draft was finished?
With ‘Sister’ the first draft was very much the first step. My editor, Emma Beswetherick then discussed the book with me, and I completely agreed with her comments. Although the story of the sisters worked well, the detective story needed a huge amount of work. I basically rewrote the last two thirds of the book. After that
I had more comments, not only from Emma, but from other editors as well. I think almost everyone in the publishing company, Little, Brown, read ‘Sister’ and gave feedback. As a new writer it was a valuable process and I’m grateful to everyone who gave their input, it definitely made it a better book. As a former scriptwriter I was used to rewrites, and found it an important part of the creative process. With Afterwards, the first draft was far closer to the finished book. I’d send chapters to Emma as I wrote them so any problems were ironed out far earlier. After the first draft, it was really more of a polish to get it to a finished book.
9) Did you find writing your second book an easier process than writing your first book ‘Sister’?
It was easier simply because I’d already written one novel so knew what to expect, and the pitfalls. I also had just got into the habit of writing a thousand – or two thousand – words a day. That said, it was also more pressurizing as I had a tight deadline to finish it.
10) What are you planning to write next?
I am thinking about it, and taking time to do that. I know that you really have to love an idea for a novel as it will be in your head and taking up your life for a long time.
11) When is your ideal time to write? Morning, afternoon or evening?
Whenever the house is quiet! With two boys that’s quite a challenge sometimes.
12) Do you write in silence or do you need music to help you?
I sometimes have classical music playing and if I’m trying to plot I often go to a café to have the noise and bustle of people around me; for some reason it really helps.
13) Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?
I read a huge variety of authors as I was growing up but the book that really sticks in my mind is ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’ by Harper Lee
14) Who is your favourite author now?
I have a whole range of authors tying for top of my list; among them Anne Tyler and Yann Martel.
15) Apart from your own books, which other book do you wish you had written?
War and Peace, imagine being the author of that book!. Or, choosing a more contemporary book, ‘Breathing Lessons’ by Anne Tyler.
Thanks to Rosamund for taking the time to share her writing secrets with us. As I mentioned above, her second book Afterwards is released today.
And I have two signed copies of this book to giveaway. I f you would like to win a copy then please fill out the form below. You don't have to be a follower of the blog, but it would be lovely if you could either tweet or blog about this competition.