Welcome to my guest page. Here, every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation, over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, if they are not driving, with a friend about their work in progress, or latest book release. I’ll be talking to all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers.
Welcome to Clubhouse Tearoom, Liza. Let me put our order in before we start chatting.
Thank you, Paula. My favourite non alcoholic beverage is chai tea, but as I am trying to help mother nature and use public transport as often as I can, so I might choose a Prosecco cocktail with Rhubarb and Ginger Gin, from the Edinburgh Gin Company.
While we wait for our drinks I’ll start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I started writing about fictional relationships after an adventure with online dating and realising that I was really quite happy by myself. Happy endings don’t need to be two people heading off together, which is how a lot of general women’s fiction ends. I wanted to explore the what if’s if that doesn’t happen. As a family mediator I have met a lot of people in different relationships which have thrived and died or stunted one or both people. I am fascinated by choices people make as well, and the psychology behind those decisions.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Love BItes was really my Lock Down project. I had written the first story All Change and Mind the Gap last year and performed a shorter version of it at a spoken word event in Stirling. The audience encouraged me to write more. The second story in Love Bites is called Grace. Grace is actually the prequel to a novel I started writing in 2018 , a rather dark domestic noir set in Scotland in the late 1950’s. A lot of the characters and the events in that story come from real life situations as told to me by women I worked with in Canada when I was a support worker to women exiting the sex trade.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I am writing a YA novel My Life’s not Funny, about a young girl called Amelia. She ages from ten to sixteen during the course of the book. I have several other projects on the go too. An untitled and incomplete book of poetry; A novel – Children of the Arbutus which is told in the current time, but also in the 1700’s. It deals with the racial divide between white settlers and the Coast Salish people who helped them; as well as managing time to write Grace.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? Do you plan your story, or let the characters lead you.
My characters always lead me. I might have a sense of the story but sometimes, as with the YA novel, they will do something opposite or different to what I thought. Sometimes what starts as my first chapter, or beginning, ends up later in the novel or story. In one of the stories in Love Bites, the ending became the beginning. I do ask them lots of questions such as how old are you, when/where were you born. What do you look like, although sometimes I will have met someone who I know looks exactly like them. That can be very helpful. Or sometimes I will hear a line when I am walking in the street between two people talking and I realise, that lady is in my book. So and so would say that exactly, in that way.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
The character in the first story in Love BItes is about me. A couple of colleagues who read the book had no idea that it was until they came to the part when “Polly” moved from Canada back to Scotland. They were a bit shocked! Perhaps also that I am a really shy person and my characters are not at all shy, for the most part.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Like many writers who have not been able to give up the “day job” I have to be very disciplined when I am working as a writer. I usually start at about six am and write until at least 9 before taking a break and having breakfast. Due to one of my jobs being at home it has been a lot easier to schedule delivering training and my writing life. I find I am too tired later in the day and the words definitely do not flow as easily. I try to write for at least four or five hours four to five times a week.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
I try to write at least one thousand “good words” each time. That means, I may write more but not all of them will stay in the story. I tend to write quite quickly so I can easily get 3000 words down on paper and edit them down by reading them out loud. I find reading out loud is the best way to see if the words are working. Doing justice to the story.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did wonder about writing the novel Grace as a man, or a gender neutral name with just initials, but I have decided against it. Because the subject matter is dark and involves men who are abusing women, I knew I will be accused of all sorts of gender stereotyping, but these stories, as they were told to me, did happen. Not to one or two women as happens in Grace, but often in a small community. The abuse was known and talked about, but never reported. I am also concerned about how the story I am writing about Indigenous peoples will be perceived using my name. Although the protagonist is white, she has a part indigenous heritage in her former life. But I have decided to stay as Liza Miles, unless there is a very good reason and it will help the book for me to use a pen name.
What was your hardest scene to write?
There is a love scene in one of the stories in Love BItes that was really challenging. I didn’t want to write about the actual sex, but I did want to emphasis enthusiasm of one of the characters. It took a few rewrites to get that right. I am also having a challenge in the novel about Grace because I want the scenes about her subjugation to be about what is wrong with what is happening. The opposite to 50 shades which I have not read.
How long on average does it take you to write a book & story ?
Love Bites took four months to come together and publish, that said I started with several characters and ideas for four of the stories (out of seven). The final story, which is only 2000 words took me an afternoon to write and another half day to edit.
I think at the moment I can write 70,000 words, edits and re-writes in six months. When I first started it took me almost a year to complete 30,000 words. The writing muscle, once exercised, is amazing and I need to write every day. On days when I am not working on one of the stories, I do motivators, poems and random creative writing for at least half an hour.
Thank you, Liza for joining me in the Clubhouse Tearoom for our chat.
Thank you, Paula. It was fun to do, and really helpful.
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.