While waiting for the edits to come through from my publisher, I’m making headway on my second book – another rural gothic tale full of romance and mystery. It’s set in the present day, and again has threads that loop backwards in time to the turbulent past – this time to the year 1898 via some old letters, and a 1995 diary.
The first thing I do when beginning a new project is to gather my tools. My notebook, a list of research questions, photos I’ve collected, all the bits of envelope and paper scraps that hold my precious random notes, and of course my lucky novel-writing pencil. Then I make a thermos of tea and wander off to a quiet spot in the bush to start brainstorming.
Ideas pop in from everywhere – I suppose I’ve trained myself to view life as an endless source of possible story material. Inspiration comes from every source imaginable – newspapers & magazines, dreams, people in the past I’d like to get revenge on, snippets overheard on the train; books, films, my long-suffering family! My sister Sarah often warns people, ‘Don’t tell her anything unless you want it to end up in a story!’
Sometimes I have story ideas simmering on the backburners for years. By the time I get to this brainstorming stage, I’ve usually got a plotline happening – but it’s very flimsy, and often involves something outlandish about werewolves or vampires. I’ve always been fascinated by the creatures of the night, even as a kid reading comic books such as Tales from the Crypt – which probably explains the gothic flavour of my novels.
Only, rather than exploring the occult, my gothic leanings emerge in the form of spooky old houses and dark family secrets, which have always intrigued me – ever since I was a teenager obsessed with Edgar Allen Poe. I also love playing with archetypes – which I suppose is where the werewolves come into it! I can’t resist writing about characters who are not quite who or what they seem. . .