Today I’m pleased to be able to welcome another First Drafter to the blog, crime author, Louise Jenson.
Louise is a USA Today Bestselling Author, and lives in Northamptonshire with her husband, children, madcap spaniel and a rather naughty cat.
Louise’s first two novels, The Sister and the Gift, were both No.1 Bestsellers, and have been sold for translation to thirteen countries. The Sister was nominated for The Goodreads Awards Debut of 2016. Louise is currently writing her third psychological thriller.
Louise loves to hear from readers and writers and can be found at www.louisejensen.co.uk, where she regularly blogs flash fiction.
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?
I think of a title to make it seem real to me before I write.
Do you have a set routine approaching it?
I’m currently writing my third book so I’m very much finding my feet as a writer. I’m still at the cross my fingers and hope for the best stage. This is the first book I’ve written entirely under contract though so I’m hoping to learn a lot about what structure works best for me to make Book 4 a little easier.
Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?
Straight to the keyboard. I don’t plan at all although I’d like to try. I do have a pad on hand so if I think of any potential plot points I can jot them down.
How important is research to you?
Very important. The Gift is a story about cellular memory and I spent a ridiculously long time researching.
How do you go about researching?
With The Gift I talked to recipients of heart transplants, hearing their stories and learning about their medication and side effects. With The Sister my local fire station were an amazing support. Of course, there’s Google although often my Google research ends up with me buying a new pair of boots or browsing cushions.
How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?
I love a pretty notebook and tend to jot things down but there’s no order to anything and finding things again can take ages.
Tell us how that first draft takes shape?
Lots of tears, chocolate hob nobs and wine. Starting a new book recently I had forgotten how rambling a first draft can be. I don’t know my characters at all and I can’t wait for the moment I fall in love with them and the story evolves naturally.
Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?
I often light a berry scented Yankee Candle and I always listen to music through my headphones. For the first draft I listen to classical or piano music. Something without lyrics or I’d be singing along. I always include music in my books so I make a playlist of the characters favourite songs I can listen to as I edit.
Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?
It’s a bit of both. I am also a Mindfulness Coach so being present is something I feel very passionately about but it’s a challenge sometimes to get my mind away from the story when I’m not writing and give my family the attention they deserve.
What does your workspace look like?
The Sister was written on a laptop anywhere I could find a seat at home. My eldest son moved in with his girlfriend while I was writing The Gift so now I have a desk in the corner of his old bedroom.
Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?
Ah this is that learning curve thing I talked about earlier. With The Sister I edited as I went even though I knew the story would hugely change. I cut out a lot, changed the genre and the tense so I swore I wouldn’t edit as I went again but for The Gift I did. I like to look back on polished prose when I start a new day, whether it will stay or not. With this book I have no idea where it is going so I am trying to resist editing as much. A little revision perhaps.
I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?
I don’t. I have a chronic health condition and I find setting word counts or targets puts me under unnecessary pressure, particularly on the days I feel I can’t physically sit and write. The blank page gets filled, word by word, no matter how long it takes.
So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?
The Sister took 7 months to get a very rough first draft, The Gift about the same. My deadlines are tighter this time so we shall see!
In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?
I read on my kindle to get a sense of story and then print to make edits.
What happens now that first draft is done?
A large glass of wine and ideally at least a couple of weeks away from it so I can come back with fresh eyes and that’s where the fun starts for me. The shaping it into the story I want it to be.
Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.
The perfect daughter. The perfect girlfriend. The perfect murder?
Jenna is seriously ill. She’s lost all hope of getting the heart transplant she needs to live. But just as her life is ebbing away, she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie.
Who was Callie and how did she die? Jenna is determined to find out.
The closer Jenna gets to those who loved Callie, the more questions arise about her untimely death. Someone knows what happened to Callie. Why won’t they talk?
Jenna is about to uncover the truth, but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity, even her life.