Tag Archives: Novel

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Where I Write by author Kate Glanville

Yes its true – my writing shed is a pig sty! Not the dirty, smelly, grubby kind of pig sty that might _HHQ1558immediately spring to mind (though there might be a few day old mugs of tea and apple cores lying around) but a building that was originally built as a pig sty. Now it is now a lovely sun filled shed that has been converted from its original purpose into a space where I can escape the day to day chaos of  three children , four cats, a large dog, three sheep and all the clutter and noise that accompanies them. In fact a pig sty is usually a good term for what I leave behind in my Welsh cottage when I walk down my garden path to go and do what I love best – to write. Writing is my treat, my passion, what I yearn to do as I spend most of my days running around being a mother and trying to run a small pottery business from home.

“My writing shed is a pig sty! Not the dirty, smelly, grubby kind of pig sty that might immediately spring to mind (though there might be a few day old mugs of tea and apple cores lying around) but a building that was originally built as a pig sty.”

When I started writing my first novel A Perfect Home (published by Penguin in the US 2012 and 9781783755509_FCAccent Press in 2014) I took any opportunity to write, often writing long hand in a note book while I sat beside my youngest son’s bed waiting for him to fall asleep at night or sitting in the car waiting for my older children to come out of school or standing at the cooker waiting for the fish fingers to come out of the oven for tea. So desperate was I to get the words onto paper I would get up at five am and write at the kitchen table willing three small children to stay asleep till at least six o’clock. Consequently I was usually exhausted, late to pick the children up from school, many fish fingers were burned and I was extremely thankful to early morning CBeebies for its ability to distract the children while I grappled with that last illusive sentence before the pre-school rush began.
By the time I started my second novel, Heartstones (published by Accent Press 2014) the children were a little bit more independent and I’d learned to type on my lap top using two fingers, usually sitting at my kitchen table or in the garden – Welsh weather permitting! In fact it was the weather or more specifically the rain that made me make that first step towards the pig sty. 9781783755493_FCA heavy shower disturbed an unusually prolific bout of writing and unwilling to go back into the chaos of my house I decided to try writing in the converted pig sty that for ten years had been my pottery studio. I have been producing hand painted pottery for over twenty five years, that was and still is my day job – though to write full time has always been my dream. I had moved from the pig sty to a larger purpose built pottery studio a few months previously, leaving the pig sty empty apart from one of my kilns. That wet afternoon I took my lap top into my old shed. It was warm and cosy from the kiln and as I sat watching the rain fall onto the Brecon hills that surround my home I realised I had found the sort of peace and quiet I had been longing for every time I started to write.

Now my old pottery studio has become my writing shed. Maybe that is why Heartstones is set in a pottery studio and revolves around the tangled romances and family secrets of two potters a generation apart. My new novel Stargazing is partly set on a Welsh hill farm, not too dissimilar
from the little farms I can see in the distance through my window. It has a Welsh character in it called Nesta who reminisces about the lush green landscape of her childhood and is really just describing the view from my window!

I try to write for at least an hour during the day – usually between putting my pottery kiln on at two o’clock and leaving to pick my children up from school at three thirty (I am still always late for that!). I then decamp into my kitchen to write after they go to bed – though now my children9781783757398.MAIN are fifteen, fourteen and eleven the time I start doing this gets later and later. When I do start my flow is often punctuated by one of them coming down stairs to inform me that they need the ingredients to make flapjacks at school the next day or that they’ve lost their games kit – again! As the lure of television or bed beckons I bribe myself to keep writing with the prize of a large G&T after so many words – or a biscuit or a slice of cake if the words seem especially difficult to find. I try to keep going till about midnight and promise myself I’ll go straight to bed but I have a terrible habit of turning off my lap top and sitting in a sleepy daze thinking about what I have written for at least another half an hour, sometimes making notes which are illegible in the morning!

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My days of getting up at five am are long gone (I never seem to have the energy now!) but I still try to wake up early at weekends to write before anyone else is awake. In the winter there is nothing lovelier than crunching over the dark, frosty garden in my slippers (or this winter wading through the flooded garden in my wellies!) and going into my cosy kiln -warmed shed. As I write in the blissful silence I am aware of the dawn breaking over the hills outside the window and feel as though I have achieved something for myself before my day of running around after the children, dog, cats, sheep and painting pottery has begun.

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Janie Millman: The inspiration behind Life’s A Drag

‘It was these words and this eccentric annual competition9781783752379_FC that inspired me to write my debut novel “Life’s A Drag”
which was published by Accent Press at the end of July this year’

“I want to travel the world and have as much rough sex as possible.”  This was the response my straight talking gritty Glaswegian husband gave many years ago in answer to the question of what he would do if he won the accolade of ‘drag queen of the year.’

Fuelled by several pints of beer and having completely forgotten that this was a family show my husband yelled these very words into the microphone.

The words echoed around the village green – our new village green – the village into which we had just moved.

The village – kids included – erupted with laughter.

It was these words and this eccentric annual competition that inspired me to write my debut novel “Life’s A Drag” which was published by Accent Press at the end of July this year,

It took a while – I didn’t immediately put pen to paper but the germ was there – the idea slowly started to grow – gradually filling my mind – gaining momentum – the characters becoming louder and louder until I had no choice but to start writing.

I knew about life in a small rural village – we had lived there for several years but it soon became clear that I needed to know a bit more about drag queens.

So we planned a trip to San Francisco and spent two weeks inhabiting the world of the drag queens. It was a fascinating insight into an extraordinary life. We saw firsthand how much they do for their community – helping with the elderly – helping with the homeless – this was a surprising aspect and not something I had envisaged.

And of course we saw the shows – we were treated to some fabulous acts – some not so fabulous acts and frankly some downright disgusting acts!

We met with larger than life characters, each with their own story to tell. They were rude, they were bitchy but they were also kind hearted and witty and we had an absolute ball.

I would never have been able to write ‘Life’s a Drag’ without their support and input. That is why whenever anyone asks me if I think research is important I give a resounding YES.

Of course these days we can learn a lot from the internet and it is invaluable for facts and figures, but in my opinion it cannot replace a live experience. Often when I read reviews on the net about places I have visited I wonder if the reviewer and I are talking about the same spot!

Just before our holiday in San Francisco we had moved from the small Suffolk village to a new life in SW France. After a year renovating a large eighteenth century town house in a small market town on the banks of the river Dordogne our new business was born and Chez Castillon was launched on the world.

We host courses and retreats in Writing, Painting and Photography.

I have therefore been fortunate enough to meet many wonderful writers here and they have helped and encouraged me enormously. Listening to their tales around the dinner table, hearing about their own experiences, sharing anxieties and fears – it has been truly invaluable.

Writing is such a solitary occupation that I welcome any chance to liaise and meet up with fellow authors. I love learning from them. I love hearing how they write, what makes them tick and what their modus operandi is.

I write anywhere and everywhere – on trains, on planes, in cafes or bars – outside or inside – I’m not fussy – basically anywhere that has a seat!

We are also lucky enough to have a library and I guess if I’m honest that is my favourite place to write. I try and get up at six in the morning and get a thousand words done before breakfast.  Sometimes this works – sometimes it doesn’t – our library looks out onto the street and I love watching the early morning life unfold before me – the noisy fruit and veg lorry, the quieter baguette delivery and the overpowering smell of freshly baked croissant. Occasionally these things are a distraction but mostly they inspire me.

I do think that it is important to establish a routine but because our days here are anything but routine I realise that I have to be flexible and fit the writing in as and when it is possible.

I imagine that is true for most of us.

My second novel is also has a dual location – Marrakech and SW France.

Obviously I have everything I need on the doorstep as far as the later location but maybe I need to start planning a holiday in Morocco soon – sorry – did I say holiday?

Clearly what I meant was a research trip and you know research can be very hard work!

 

Janiemillman.blogspot.com

Janie Millman author (FB)

Janie Millman @Chez-Castillon

www.chez-castillon.com

 

Published by Accent Press

Represented by David Headley – DHH Literary agency

 

Missing Nancy – A novel about living, loving and family life – Five Star Amazon Review

Missing Nancy - a novel about living, loving and family life
A beautifully written book about a modern family, after divorce through the eyes of each generation. Mum bravely taking her family camping in France was portrayed so wonderfully. Can only strongly recommend this to others. Will definitely read more from this talented author.

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