‘From Little Things Big Things Grow’
I have just had the best time at the Romance Writers of Australia annual conference. You meet authors and publishers and wonderful people who talk about how to write. This year our guest was Cherry Adair who entertained us greatly over the weekend. I am going to invite some friends of mine to join me on my website to answer a few questions about gardening.
Today I welcome Claire Boston , author of What Goes on Tour, to my website to talk writing and gardening with me. I read ‘What Goes on Tour’ all the way home in the train. It’s a great read.
1 What do you like starting with a seed, a seedling or an advanced mature tree?
I like to have at least a seedling before I start to write. If it’s only a seed, then I’ll sit down and nurture it until I know more about my characters and I’m sure the seed is strong enough to make it to the mature tree stage.
2 When you create a path is it a mystery tour, or a definite plan to get from A to B?
I’m a big fan of mystery tours! Usually I’ll have an idea of what happens in the first couple of chapters and start writing until I get stuck. Then I’ll stop, brainstorm some more until I know what happens next and keep writing.
Occasionally, when I’m really lucky, the story just flows and I have trouble making sure my fingers can keep up with my thoughts.
3 When it’s time to prune do you get out the secateurs or the chain saw?
LOL. It depends on how bad the problem is! I’m not afraid of whipping out the chain saw and cutting chapters, although the more experience I have writing, the less likely it is I have to do this. Usually it’s a light prune, sometimes a heavy one, depending on how easy the story was to write.
In the garden I can be dangerous with a pair of secateurs! When I was a child, my mum asked me to prune a daisy bush a little. By the time I was finished it was no more than a bunch of sticks poking out of the ground – but it looked fabulous the next season!
4 How easy is it for you to let people loose in your garden to weed and plant – even to dig holes where you tell them?
I have a wonderful critique group and I have no problem letting them loose – that’s what they’re there for. They are so supportive, but they’ll tell me if something isn’t working right and that’s what I need.
When the manuscript is finished, it’s a lot harder. I usually get my husband to read the whole thing first and then I send it out. I find the moment I hit the send button is when the doubt hits me. Maybe it wasn’t quite right, maybe I should have developed that section further, maybe there’s not enough emotion etc. I’ve recently submitted the sequel to What Goes on Tour to my publisher, Momentum, and then attended the Romance Writers of Australia conference. There were certain craft ideas that I learned there, or were reinforced, and now I’m thinking, maybe the manuscript needs a bit more work.
I think doubt will always be part of a writer’s life, but the positive reviews are always a balm to that doubt.
5 Can you layer?
I always try to but I think the reader is probably the better judge of whether I do it well. In writing it’s not as easy as in the garden. I live quite close to the ocean and the soil is basically sand. Each year I add mulch or manure or compost to the garden to layer in the good nutrients and to build up the soil quality. It can be hard work, but relatively easy.
When writing it can be a little bit harder. Sometimes, when I’m really lucky, I realise my sub-conscious has done the layering for me and some offhand remark in chapter two becomes really significant in chapter ten. Other times I’ll edit the manuscript with an eye for layering.
I went to a great workshop by Rachel Bailey at the conference which talked about layering, and I’m keen to try some of her suggestions in my next manuscript. I think that’s the thing with writing – you’re constantly learning.
6 Would you rather put a plant in a pot, or in the garden, or out in the paddock?
It depends on the plant. There are certain stories that will appeal to a smaller market and I would concentrate on that market. However my aim is to become a full-time writer and to do that I need to have a global reach. I’m not sure whether that makes me a garden or paddock person! My experience of paddocks is, they are full of the same thing; wheat, barley, sheep etc. I much prefer gardens with their diversity of colour, texture, plant and animal life.
7 What stage would you say your newest work is at – in gardening terms?
The seed is planted but the green tip hasn’t quite broken the surface yet. I got really excited and wrote the first chapter because I knew what happened, but now I’ve taken a step back and I’m going to flesh out the characters some more, try to do a little bit more plotting. I learned some new techniques at the Romance Writers of Australia conference and I’d like to have a play and see if they work for me. My writing technique isn’t locked down yet so I’m willing to experiment with alternative ideas.
8 Do you have a favourite, flower, leaf or tree?
In the garden, my favourite flower is the gerbera. I love the bright, cheerful, colourful petals. In the writing world, my favourite author is Nora Roberts, but my most recent favourite book is The Rosie Project by Graeme Simpson.
Thank you so much Claire, for joining us today.
Thank you so much for having me.