Maybe the difference between writing editorial or a blog post and writing a novel is like the difference between a short sprint and a marathon. There’s a lot of ground work goes into both, honing your ‘writing muscles’ as it were, thinking it through, doing research – but a novel of maybe 80 – 120,000 words is a big undertaking and you need to be up for that.
I’ve always said to my students that novels are written one word at a time. It’s amazing how the work adds up, but I really do believe you need to work every day. Write something every single day – even a short scene or a snatch of dialogue. Stay hooked in to your story. Boondoggling is the writer’s greatest enemy – it’s amazing how attractive walking the dog/cleaning the oven/making one more cup of coffee becomes … and whoops! There goes the morning.
So, in terms of process, I write something every day. That way, I stay current with my characters, and you can pick up the pace where you left off. There’s a lot of research goes into my books, and I write far more than I use in the story in terms of historical notes – there are files and files for each book. Each day is filled with a bit of research, writing, and revising. The calibration of the three shifts depending on which stage of the book I’m at.
First comes research – with ‘The Beauty Chorus’ I spent months in archives and museums learning about the amazing women who flew Spitfires during WW2. Then, in the early stages, when I’m still thinking the story through, still visualising it, I tend to run or swim first thing. I find it’s really helpful to come at a story ‘sideways’, let the scenes unfurl while you’re taking a walk for example. Then, I’ll get to my desk and start work pinning those scenes down. I like to have a structure, a rough idea of where the story is heading, but it is always great to leave yourself enough room for the story – and characters – to surprise you. There’s nothing like the exhilarating feeling when the story takes wings and gets a life of its own. Once you reach that stage, basically you want to write and write. It’s wonderful – you’re up and running.
Kate studied Philosophy at Durham University, and Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art. She is currently taking a Masters degree. She worked as an art consultant, curating collections for palaces and embassies in Europe and the Middle East, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. She was a finalist in UK ITV’s the People’s Author competition in 2009. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ is published by Atlantic in 2011.
THE BEAUTY CHORUS – PUBLISHER’S OUTLINE:
Romance, glamour and adventure in the skies: an enthralling debut inspired by female pilots in World War Two. 166 women signed up to fly Spitfires and bombers from factories to airfields across the country. It was an adventure that would cost many their lives.
New Year’s Eve 1940: Evie Chase, the beautiful debutante daughter of an RAF commander, listens wistfully to the swing music drifting out from the ballroom. With bombs falling nightly in London, she is determined to make a difference to the war effort. Evie joins the ATA – the civilian pilots who ferry fighter planes to bases across war-torn Britain. Two other women wait nervously to join up with her – Stella Grainger, a forlorn young mother from Singapore, and Megan Jones, an idealistic teenager who has never left her Welsh village before. Billeted together in a tiny cottage, Stella, Megan and Evie learn to live and work together as they find romance, confront loss and forge friendships that last a lifetime.
‘The Beauty Chorus’ is published by McArthur and Company http://thebeautychorus.blogspot.com