Welcome to my blog, Dawn to my first guest book tour.
Please tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea or one you have been mulling over for some time?
My latest project is a saga set in the 18th Century and involves several women from various backgrounds who find themselves on a particular convict ship in 1790 bound for New South Wales. I spent Christmas 2019 in Australia and loved learning about the history of the first settlers. When I got home, I wrote a story which has just been accepted by My Weekly Magazine, to be a Pocket Novel – it’s called ‘Duchess of Sydney’. My current work in progress is what I hope will be the second book in the saga.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
Too many to count! And there are also unstarted and therefore unfinished projects swirling around in my head!
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter?
Before I write anything, I usually have an idea of the beginning and ending. I generally make notes so I don’t forget my ideas and then think about plot twists later. But I very rarely sit down at my computer and start writing with no clear plan in mind. Sometimes my stories have started with a specific location, or event or character. The first book in my first historical saga (‘Welcome to Plotlands’) began when I wanted to write about the Plotlands in Dunton, Essex during the 1930s. My latest historical romance was written after a recent trip to Australia where I learned about the arrival of the First Fleet of convict ships and the first settlement in Sydney. And my book ‘The Basilwade Chronicles’ started with one socially inept man who I decided to place in a situation where tact and sensitivity are always needed – speed dating. Sadly, my character displayed neither tact nor sensitivity!
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Characters in my historical romance, ‘Bletchley Secrets’ were inspired by many of the incredible women I read about during my research who worked at Bletchley Park throughout World War Two. To give the story an air of authenticity, I also included real characters such as the well-known Alan Turing and not so well-known but brilliant Dilly Knox although they played reasonably minor roles in my book and I portrayed them as likeable and kind – hopefully in a way that anyone who knew them would find acceptable. The fictitious characters were created using an amalgamation of the traits and the experiences of many of the different people who I researched.
What did you learn when writing the book? In writing how much research do you do?
I’ve learned an enormous amount of history since I’ve been writing and my book “The Great War – 100 Stories of 100 Words Honouring Those Who Lived and Died 100 Years Ago’ is an example of that. In 2014, I was approached by members of a project which had been set up to commemorate the centenary of World War One and I was asked to write a play about three soldiers going off to war in 1914 – one soldier from each of the three twin towns, Basildon; Meaux, France and Heiligenhaus, Germany. For that, I had to do an enormous amount of research and once the play was written, I decided to write several drabbles – stories of 100 words – to continue with the theme of ‘one hundred’, and I intended to print them out in the form of posters. However, I found I had so many ideas fizzing in my brain, although I only needed three or four drabbles, I kept writing. After I got to about fifty, I wondered if I’d be able to write one hundred to keep up with the ‘one hundred’ theme, but I must admit, I didn’t believe I’d manage so many different stories. However, the ideas kept coming and eventually, I achieved my target. Having written one hundred stories of one hundred words, I decided that instead of printing out a few as I’d previously planned, I’d publish them as a book.
I’m currently researching London and Sydney at the time of the first convict fleet arriving in New South Wales which was 1788. The 18th century is fascinating and a real eye-opener!
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
Considering how much time I spend writing now, and how much time I think about it, people might be surprised to know I had no interest in writing until about eighteen years ago. Certainly, when I was at school, I didn’t like writing stories or essays. I remember being frustrated at how dreadful my stories were and it would never have occurred to me that I’d ever spend much of my waking time thinking about writing or indeed doing it – much less have any books published!
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
No, although I write every day, I don’t impose any word count targets. I’m lucky to be in a position where can I write for pleasure and I sometimes wonder whether it might take the pleasure away if I forced myself to work rather than to write until I feel like stopping. But even when I’m not writing, I’m often mulling over in my head the next part of the story and planning it in detail. And if I think of a particularly useful phrase or word, I’ll jot it down for when I’m next back at my keyboard.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I understand it’s a good idea to have a pseudonym if you write in different genres so people identify your name with one particular type of genre but it’s too late for me now! So far, I’ve had sci-fi, speculative fiction, horror, romance, humour, YA and historical fiction published – all under the same name! Although I often wonder if I had adopted a pseudonym, how confusing it would be to have a different name for each different genre! I think the only time I’d definitely use a pseudonym would be if I ever tried erotica but that’s rather unlikely…
How do you select the names of your characters, & do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I have a rough idea about each character before I start writing but I usually find that he or she is rather two dimensional. As I progress, they acquire more characteristics and a back story and they begin to grow – hopefully into what readers feel is a realistic and believable person. As to their names, it depends on what sort of story I’m writing. I’m very particular about names and I spend a long time trying to select what I think are the right names for the characters although I acknowledge it’s quite subjective and whether readers will agree with my choices will depend on their tastes in names. But I try to choose names that would have been in use during the era in which my story is set or is what I consider appropriate to the future or to a world I may have created.
What was your hardest scene to write?
The scenes I find hardest to write are love scenes! So far, I haven’t written anything too steamy but I find it difficult to describe a kiss without making it sound the same as every other kiss! Done badly, a love scene can sound awful, so I agonise over them!
Dawn’s blog is https://dawnknox.com
You can also find Dawn on:
Facebook as @DawnKnoxWriter https://www.facebook.com/DawnKnoxWriter/
Twitter as @SunriseCalls https://twitter.com/SunriseCalls
Instagram as @SunriseCalls https://www.instagram.com/sunrisecalls
Amazon Author Page http://mybook.to/DawnKnox
Thank you so much for this chat, Dawn.
Hugs from Dawn