Wednesday 31 December 2014

Let It Snow ...

Most of my books are set during the summertime. I write romances and it's easier to get your characters out of their clothes when the weather is hot; you have to be a lot more creative when the temperature plummets! But I've always wanted to write a book set in winter, with frost and ice and lots of snow. I expect this is because of the kind of books I liked to read as a child, such as The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Can there be anything more magical than stepping through an old wardrobe and into a world where it's always winter?

I'm also a huge fan of fairy tales, and there is one part of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe which always reminds me of Hans Christian Andersen's Snow Queen. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Edmund meets the White Witch in her sleigh and she enchants him with Turkish delight. Whereas in The Snow Queen, Kai falls under the witch's spell when she kisses him after he's hitched his sled to her sleigh (that's not an euphemism!). There's probably a moral in there somewhere, about keeping well clear of women in sleighs, but what struck me about both stories is how the snow is considered to be A Bad Thing. In Narnia it is 'always winter and never Christmas', and in The Snow Queen Kai becomes obsessed with snowflakes. And this contributed to my inspiration for Something Wicked.

I grew up on the south coast of England where we never saw much snow. I'd watch movies and read books where the characters had snowball fights, went sledging and got snowed in - it sounded like a lot of fun! The first time it snowed properly I was thirteen and I went completely mad. I built a whole family of snowmen and even an igloo for them to live in. The next time it snowed I was a lot older and supposed to be going on a hot date with a new boyfriend. I was totally unimpressed - both with the snow and, as it turned out, with the new boyfriend.  Then I married and moved to Wales, where it seemed to snow every winter.

Our first house was in the Conwy Valley and there was a hill directly behind it, which turned out to be perfect for sledging! When you see other people sledging, and think what fun it looks, it's easy to forget the slightly more important stuff. Sledges don't have brakes and sometimes seem specifically designed to dump you upside down in a snow drift, or worse still, a freezing cold stream. Being caught in a blizzard is pretty much the same as being caught in a heavy downpour, except you end up being half-frozen as well as absolutely soaked. And being snowed in isn't quite so romantic when the pipes begin to freeze over. Lots of inspiration there for a story about snow, right?

Hmm ...

Writers are always told 'write what you know'. Personally, I think it's a lot more fun to make it all up! When I began writing Something Wicked I thought I'd be able to put everything I knew about snow into my story. Except I didn't. There isn't any sledging. No one gets snowed in and the pipes are just fine. But I remembered how magical it is to watch the snow fall, to see those flakes whirl about, to watch patterns form and for all kinds of things to take shape.

And how, if you stare at the falling snow for long enough, you can almost imagine ...

Something Wicked

Katrina Davenport has opened a coffee shop and bookstore in the notorious Raven’s Cottage, once the home of a 17th century witch known as Magik Meg. The locals have told Kat stories, of how the cottage is haunted by the witch and her demon lover, but Kat doesn’t believe in witches, or ghosts, or anything that goes bump in the dead of night. Every strange thing that happened since she moved in must have a perfectly logical explanation.

Unfortunately it doesn’t really matter what Kat believes, because something wicked has returned to Raven’s Cottage.

And this time it’s come for Kat.

To read an extract, click here:

Something Wicked: Behind the Scenes

Related Posts:

Beyond the Bridge: A post about Tu Hwnt i'r Bont, the inspiration for Raven’s Cottage.
Music: Wings to the Mind: How music inspires me and influences my writing.
Dear Diary: How I love using diaries to tell a story

Sunday 7 December 2014

Where I Write

As I found out last month, I don’t need a room of my own in which to write. I can write anywhere. It doesn’t mean I have to like it though! I love having my own study – and it is definitely a study – ‘office’ sounds far too much like work. Writing can be very hard work but it’s also the best job in the world. Make stuff up for a living? What’s not to love?

So, welcome to my world! I’ve not written much here yet, as I’ve been too busy moving house. I don’t close the door, unless the writing is going badly. I’m incredibly nosy and I like to know what is going on elsewhere in the house. Having said that, I always listen to music while I work, to drown out background noise. I create playlists to help me get into the right (write?) frame of mind and I also have mood boards on Pinterest – but you can read more about my actual writing process here.

I write on a laptop. It enables me to work anywhere. I can touch-type as fast as I can talk – and believe me, I can talk very fast. If pushed, I can also write using paper and pen, although my handwriting is appalling – even I have trouble reading it back.

The box on the left of my desk contains recent issues of trade magazines – Writing MagazineThe AuthorRomance Matters and The Bookseller. The red box is my ‘pending’ tray. The action figure perched on the edge of the pending tray is Reno, my good luck charm. Reno is a character from a video game called Final Fantasy but he’s also a character in one of my favourite books, Fire and Ice by Anne Stuart. I won him in one of her competitions.

I am a terrible hoarder and hate throwing anything away. I collect mugs, and when they get broken I reuse them to store my pens. The white one with the crest on it is from Hampshire Constabulary, where I used to work as a civilian admin officer – this is why my characters are often police officers.

Unfortunately I don’t have room in my study for all my books – they live in plastic crates elsewhere in the house. This is probably a good thing; I’m the kind of person who can’t be trusted to be left alone with a book. The only books on my study shelves are there for reference.

I also rely heavily on my Kindle Fire for work. I edit on it when I’m out and about, and I use it for catching up with emails, social networking and blogging. It also contains over 1,000 books. I know because I counted them – and yes, I have read most of them! So if I should suddenly go quiet, I’m sure you’ll be able to guess what I’m up to …

Read More: