Friday 23 September 2011

The Write Way with Keren David

The sixth author to join us from The Edge blog is Keren David, author of When I Was Joe, Almost True and Lia's Guide to Winning The Lottery. If you would like to know more about The Edge blog, then please click here. 

1) What inspired you to write When I Was Joe?
I was taking a class on Writing for Children at City University in London and I was looking for ideas. I saw a news report on the telelvision about a family who had been involved in an armed robbery and taken into witness protection, and I thought it was a great subject.

2) Your new book Lia’s Guide to Winning The Lottery is a completely different style to your other two books, are you worried how your fans will react to it?
I don't think it's so different. They are all contemporary, realistic YA novels, set in Britain. They all take a newsy starting point and examine related themes. Lia is lighter and funnier, but there's humour and romance in the other books too. I suspect that more girls than boys will read Lia's Guide though -  and then I hope they might try When I was Joe and Almost True afterwards! I fear my boy readers may not like the cover for Lia...but perhaps they can read it on a kindle.

3) Have you found that the writing process has become easier with each new book you write?
No! If anything it's harder, because you have a deadline and you feel the pressure of wanting to please the people who've put their faith in you. When I was Joe was the easiest one to write.

4) Where did you get the idea from for Lia’s Guide to Winning The Lottery?
Some of the publishers who turned down When I Was Joe seemed to pigeon-hole me as a 'gritty' writer -  I wanted to find a lighter uplifting subject, to show I had a wider range. Of course one of the first reviews of Lia praised it's 'welcome grittiness'. Ho hum.

5) What kind of research did you need to carry out before writing Lia’s Guide To Winning The Lottery and how long did it take you?
I met people at Camelot, talked to a former private banker who'd worked with lottery winners, talked to a Muslim friend and to someone at the Citizens Advice Bureau about debt. From getting the idea to delivering the manuscript, around nine months.

6) Do you meticulously plan out your books before you begin writing, or do you just go with the flow?
I write an outline for the publishers, then immediately deviate from it. Usually I have a vague idea about a beginning, middle and end, but it changes all the time. I prefer to go with the flow. Sometimes I'll change the whole plot because I like a particular sentence.

7) When you were writing your first draft of your new book, how many words did you aim to write each day? 
1-2,000. But then I got horribly behind because of a series of family crises, so I ended up finishing off by writing 15,000 in two weeks.
8) Did you hand write your book or did you write directly onto the computer? Do you use Mac or Windows? 
Directly onto the computer, Windows.
9) Do you edit your first draft as you go along, or do you wait until it is completed?
I do edit as I go along, although I think it's better to charge on ahead and get the story completed, then tinker.

10) How long did it take you write the first draft? About six months.
11) Please explain your writing process after the first draft was finished? 
I got feedback from my agent and her assistant, and rewrote a lot to take that into account. Then got a second lot of feedback from the editorial team at Frances Lincoln, rewrote again. Then copy-edited a hard copy and then a second copy edit on the bound-proof. Hundreds of post-its died in the process.
12) What are you planning to write next?
Right now I'm working on a third book to come after When I Was Joe and Almost True. Then I have various ideas to discuss with my agent and publisher, including a YA book set in Amsterdam, and a book for younger readers.

13) When is your ideal time to write? Morning, afternoon or evening? 
14) Do you write in silence or do you need music to help you?
Music distracts me. I prefer silence, but I can cope with cafe background noise.
16) Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?Noel Streatfeild, Antonia Forest, SE Hinton

17) Who is your favourite author now?Too many to pick just one...Anne Tyler is a favourite.

18) Out of the three books you have written, which is your favourite? Almost True

19) Apart from your own books, which other book do you wish you had written? 
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
20) What advice can you give to unpublished authors?
Set yourself a deadline to finish a first draft -  if I hadn't done that with When I Was Joe, I'd still be tinkering with it. And never take rejection personally.

 Thank you Keren for  letting us know a little more about your writing life. Keren's latest book, 'Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery' is available to buy now. 


  1. Nice interview :)
    Oh yes I do wish I had written Ness' book too, so very cool

  2. It's always fascinating to hear about other writers' ways of working. I'm looking forward to reading Lia.

    A third book about, Joe? Brilliant!

  3. Excellent interview. I've not read the books but will go check them out x

  4. Keren David sounds like an author to look out for. The cover on Lia's Guide To Winning The Lottery is too cute. Nice interview ladies.


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