Thursday, March 05, 2009

Blog tour: Fiona Robyn, author of The Letters

I am still up to my neck in the current novel (latest word count: 68,000. Which I know is respectable, given that I only began the book this year, but is still some way from the end. Hmmm). Not drowning, but not exactly waving either...

So I'm asking someone else to do the talking, and hosting a stop on Fiona Robyn's blog tour... she's celebrating the publication of her first novel, which has had terrific response from people lucky enough to receive advance copies! (Oh, and I want her hair...)

Fiona Robyn is a novelist living in rural Hampshire with her partner, two cats and vegetable patch. Her debut novel The Letters is published by Snowbooks, and follows divorcee Violet as she starts receiving a series of mysterious letters, written in 1959 from a mother and baby home.

Why do you write?
I write to help me pay attention. And because I want to appear on Richard and Judy. (joke)

Where did the idea come from for The Letters?

My novels start with my main characters, so Violet 'appeared in my head' and the story unfolded from her. She is a prickly character, but I am very fond of her.

Planner – or pantser? Do you write a detailed outline for your novels, or do you have a vague idea where you’re going and then fly by the seat of your pants?
Oh, definitely pantser! I wish I was a planner - it sounds much less scary. Sometimes things happen in my novels that surprise me!

Tell us about your writing methods – times, rituals, moments of procrastination… LOTS of procrastination, especially during the first draft - amazing how many other things I suddenly find around the house that urgently need doing. I light a tea-light before I start writing and blow it out when I'm finished. I like to write first thing in the morning before I get distracted by anything else (Facebook!) and I use my lovely blue laptop. I wish there were more helpful tips I could pass on but I think you just have to sit down and get on with it.

Where do you write? Do you have a room of your own?
I write in my tiny office in our little thatched cottage which we borrow from the Duke of Wellington (for a fee). I can touch both walls when I put out my arms. I'm an extreme minimalist so it suits me just fine - pretty much me, my laptop and my cat Fatty (who likes to lie on the rug behind me and keep me company).

Kate says: I can't see a cat in this picture!

You have a range of blogs and creative outlets on the web – how do you juggle them all and how important is it to have different ways of expressing yourself?
Yes - three blogs is a bit excessive! But 'a handful of stones' doesn't really count as other people write that one - I just choose the pieces. 'a small stone' is where I write something creative every day - it's usually very short so doesn't take long. I suppose you could say it's a way of honouring my muse. And Planting Words is where I get to write whatever I want - what my Nana thought of the rude bits in my books, how much I love making soup - it's fun to write these pieces. If I'm in the middle of writing a novel, I try not to touch my blogs until I've finished my 'proper writing' for the day!

What’s coming after The Letters?
Snowbooks will be releasing The Blue Handbag - where Leonard, a gardener, becomes a reluctant detective - in August, and then Thaw - where Ruth gives herself three months to decide whether or not her life is worth living. I am working on a fourth novel but I haven't touched it for a while - doing interviews is much more fun!

Thanks to Fiona - I have her gorgeous looking book on my TBR pile but I am not reading fiction at the moment - saving it as a treat for when I finish!