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.
Today I’m welcoming Miriam Drori to the Clubhouse Tearoom. Welcome Miriam. Let’s order our drinks first. What would you like?
A banana milkshake. I hope that counts as a beverage. I don’t usually order it nowadays, because the milk doesn’t always agree with me, but I’m sure nothing untoward will happen to me in the clubhouse tearoom.
That’s okay by me as I don’t drink dairy myself, so we can have non dairy milkshake here.
Now our drinks are here, I’ll start by asking you when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
At the beginning, I certainly didn’t think about genre other than the difference between fiction and non-fiction. I began with non-fiction before venturing into fiction. With both, I was drawn by a growing passion to raise awareness of social anxiety. A few years later, I changed direction following an excellent workshop (facilitated by Sally Quilford) on writing romance. So, my first published novel was a romance. After that, I delved into historical fiction and then uplit. Apparently, crime is next.
What writing elements do you think is your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
I’d like to do everything better! But I think I’m good at dialogue and less good at descriptions. However, I’m improving all the time.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
It’s a crime novel. It grew out of a wish to put my two main characters, who had evolved in my first (thankfully discarded) attempt at a novel, into an exciting situation. I never finished it. Then I had a different idea for those characters, which turned into my latest novel: Cultivating a Fuji. At some point, I reread the draft of the crime novel, thinking to turn it into a short story, but I decided I wanted to expand the story rather than condensing it. However, I couldn’t use those characters or that location, because they were in Cultivating a Fuji. So, I changed the country, the names and parts of the characters. I’m still plotting this latest version.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? Or if you write short stories do you plan your story or let the characters lead you?
That depends. The romance workshop encouraged us to write certain scenes first. The last chapter was one of the first I wrote, and that was before I knew anything about the plot. In my latest short story (Gruesome in Golders Green, which is in the Dark London charity anthology), I knew my main characters when I began writing, but didn’t know where the story was going. Fortunately, the characters told me.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Some characters started off like people I know, but then they acquired characteristics of their own, informed by their own unique backgrounds, and veered away from their original likenesses.
What did you learn when writing your book or story? In writing it, how much research did you do?
In Cultivating a Fuji, I learned about places in Japan that I didn’t get to visit on our three-week tour of the country, places in Bournemouth that I didn’t know and the long process of growing a Fuji apple. I researched the dates of waxworks in London’s Madame Tussauds. When I thought I’d finished writing, I learned that a hospital I’d cited (and sited) wasn’t built in the year I was writing about. I researched the dates of popular songs and the weather in one particular summer. When I began writing the novel, I thought I had most of the information in my head, but clearly I didn’t. I also learned that it’s all right for an author to break writing rules as long as the author knows what they’re doing.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I tend to be open about most things, but readers won’t necessarily have read everything I’ve posted. Or maybe they’ve read my posts and don’t believe them. People who have spoken to me are usually surprised to hear that I write, and that would probably work the other way around: readers might be surprised that someone who can write books and talk to an audience can clam up in an ordinary conversation.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
Only for the month of November and NaNoWriMo, which, for anyone who doesn’t know, is the month when writers all over the world go wild and try to write a novel in a month. (For anyone who spurns the idea, we do know that it’s only a first draft and often not even that.) Writing 1,667 words every day is hard and I only succeed (when I do) by putting everything else to one side. For the rest of the year, I’m happy with whatever I manage to do.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I did. I searched for a name with no Rs in it, because I find the three in my name hard to pronounce. But I never came up with a name I liked, so I’m stuck with the real one.
How do you select the names of your characters & do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
I often look at lists from the relevant country and era. Then I choose the ones that feel right. It’s not very scientific, but it’s worked so far. No, I don’t know everything about them. They always surprise me!
Thanks for inviting me, Paula.
Thank you so much for joining me today, Miriam. It’s been lovely.
If you would like to find out more about Miriam’s work check out the links above.
It you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.