Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit the clubhouse is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Welcome to the tearoom, Debz.
Thank you for invite me, Paula.
Now we have our refreshment, I will start by asking you, when you first begun your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I write what I love to read; good literary writing with commercial appeal and characters who stand out and stay with me. I love stories that put the extraordinary in the ordinary and so books I love to read — a whole mixture of classics, psychological and medical horror and just great literary novels inspire me to want to do the same. So I guess Stephen King, Robin Cook, Dean Koontz and more recently authors like Jon McGregor and Matt Haig inspire me.
Tell us a little about latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
Both! I have a new novel which I have to say has been waiting for me to return to which is more uplit, quirky British and would make a good follow-up novel (but not a sequel) to my other quirky one currently with my agent. And I reworked one of my first novels — an American civil rights novel during lockdown. I mean I totally reworked it and the passion and obsession came back from the first time I worked on it. I know it’s a million times better and current, I just hope my agent agrees!
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter or let the characters lead you?
I have an idea, be it for a short story or a novel and I allow it to percolate off set, until it begs for life. That’s how I discover voice and character and often even when I know who I am writing, they take over and surprise me. I know the message that will beat at the heart of the story, when I start it, I just don’t always know how it will get there. I never over-plan as the magic happens best when you allow it to happen! I never write a synopsis first! The plotting for function is for later stages because once the first draft is down, and the work begins, then I will examine each chapter for functionality, lose any filler, make sure it is all fully functional for plot. That technical stuff comes later. And I like to think since I write so much, a lot of that happens anyway, you know what a chapter needs intuitively.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
No. I show up every day and I escape from that. Sure, if you’re going through something it will affect you I guess, but I write for passion and a job too, so I show up and I write and the rest of the world disappears!
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
No! Never do that, not intentionally. I guess by observing people you notice traits and idiosyncrasies and might use them, but never so you’d recognise anyone because it is more of an amalgam of all kinds of people. The only real person was John F Kennedy in my While No One Was Watching novel but he wasn’t a character in it, just events related to his assassination.
What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I have had over thirty short stories published, won some big prizes and written about seven novels, one published, four with my agent as we speak. I always learn something; I have this theory that characters take over your brain. They lead you into their stories and show you things you never knew existed. Yes, it’s research and I do as much or as little as I believe is needed for the story, but often a character leads me to something I didn’t know… by magic! I am always learning!!!
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I am up early, like on my laptop at 5 am and I write until about 8. Then I go to the gym, every day for classes. Then I write some more until lunch time. That way I can clock up 5 hours at least. After lunch, I shift from my writing space and laptop to my desktop in my office to do my paid editing and critique work for clients and publishers. I write first because it’s what I am. I long to be able to only write and then I could do it office hours and just focus on that!
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
Never. It’s counterproductive. Editing means you could edit out more than you add in. Better just to write, then you can’t feel like you failed if you didn’t reach 2000 words or something. When it flows, I can write 5000 or more in two or three hours, but then I might cut half of them the next day. Just write. Best not to get hung up on how many words!
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
No but I got married last year, so since I already write as Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and edit as Debz Hobbs-Wyatt and have a website www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk then I guess now that’s my pseudonym, kind of! I am now Debz Brown. But since I have my more US-based commercial novels under this name, then my agent has suggested a different name for my quirkier British novels which I am happy to do since readers have expectations!
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Sometimes they just come and feel right, other times I try out different names. Sometimes I check the meaning of the name and how authentic it feels for era if applicable. When it’s right you just know it. I certainly do not know everything about them when I start. I know enough; they teach me the rest as we go!
It’s been lovely chatting, the carrot cake was lovely Thank you, Paula.
I’m so glad you could join us today, Debz. If you would like to find out more about Debz’s writing or books check out her Website: www.debzhobbs-wyatt.co.uk
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.