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 it 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.
Today, I’m welcoming Valerie to the tearoom for a chat. Welcome.
Thanks for inviting me, Paula!
I’m glad you could join us today. Now that our drinks have arrived I’ll start by asking you when you first began your writing journey what drew you to your chosen genre?
I was always drawn to historical fiction, from the days of reading Daphne du Maurier’s Frenchman’s Creek, Dickens, Jane Austen to Bernard Cornwell’s many series and the work of Diana Gabaldon. I love romance and adventure as much as crime novels – with settings in both past and present – from Sir Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie to Edward Marston and LJ Ross.
What writing elements do you think are your strongest points, and what would you like to do better?
That’s a challenging question. I love researching and try to weave in an authentic background to my novels whilst keeping the pace of the adventure as the reader learns more about the characters. Years ago I met Bernard Cornwell who gave me a brilliant piece of advice – to be prepared to serve the apprenticeship. Writing is a skill that develops and deepens the more you do, so I always want to do everything better tomorrow than I did yesterday. I used to have a tendency to write too much plot up first, rather than build characterisation, and I would end up having to edit.
Tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
I have just finished and submitted a romance novel set in 6th Century Britain. I had written one years ago, and bearing in mind the ‘lesson learnt’ explained in the previous answer, this time I have revisited the era with a fresh eye and many years of experience behind me. Whilst writing one, I often find that ideas bubble up for other novels, not always in the same period or genre. I find that moving from one to the other keeps each fresh and I need that feeling to allow my enthusiasm to transfer onto the page through my writing. The times are difficult for everyone at the moment, but I am also working on a new set of Regency adventures.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
I have one just begun – one in edit and two more waiting their turn.
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter or let the characters lead you?
I usually write the opening chapter and then work through a synopsis. Nothing is set in stone, so that a character can surprise and add delightful twists along the way.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
Jane Austen – For the observant wit of her era.
Bernard Cornwell – Each series has a strong and flawed character at its core who we follow through action-packed drama.
Charles Dickens – The social commentary of his period is captured in fine detail.
Diana Gabaldon – for weaving history, romance, drama into a captivating series.
L J Ross – for bringing crime fiction into Indie success.
If you asked me on another day there may well be a different mix as I read widely and admire so many author’s work.
When reading your work through do you ever find that your daily mood swings are reflected in your writing?
Not really because I have an on/off switch to writing. Often reality – especially this year – is more dramatic.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Not the main protagonists, but I have been blessed with knowing some really lovely, strong, wise and older women and aspects of them tend to creep into the supporting characters in my Regency adventures.
9) What did you learn when writing your book? In writing it, how much research did you do?
Before I even began to write fiction I would often read up on the early nineteenth century and also the early medieval periods (Dark Ages) as I found them quite fascinating. So research has been ongoing for years, but I have learnt there is always so much more to discover.
Is there anything about you your readers might be surprised to find out?
I was a child carer as my mum had Multiple Sclerosis, but it was an experience that taught me some valuable life-lessons early: the importance of good health, patience, love, determination and to admire those who have a daily fight and struggle to enjoy their life.
Did you uncover things about yourself while writing your books (or stories, play, poem) whether that be a long forgotten memory, a positive experience etc.
That growing up without a lot of opportunities helped me to develop an imagination that could see beyond the immediate situation. I also learned to entertain myself by making up stories when bored – I still do. I can work on a number of thought-lines at one time, which is a huge help in plot development.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I aim to write 1000 -1500 per day. Normally, in the morning, but I go back and keep working at a W.I.P. so over the week my set target for words is reached.
Do you set yourself a daily word count?
How many hours in a day do you write?
Usually, 3 to 4. I also work as a Creative Writing Tutor. More details are on: www.ValerieHolmesAuthor.com
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
How do you select the names of your characters? & do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Normally a character will form in my mind and then I choose a name that suits him or her. I often look at the origin of a name to see if it fits the character.
What was your hardest scene to write?
That is difficult to say because often it is not the writing of a scene, which is difficult, but the editing of one.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
My novellas can take two months, but the novels 8 months of writing and edits – longer if you include the research which goes behind each one.
Thanks for joining me today. If you would like to find out more about Valerie’s writing and books please click on the links below:
Valerie’s Amazon Author’s Page:
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops too.