It’s Marianne’s second book and I very much hope that there are more on the way.
Today we’re reconnecting to find out more about the book and how the strange year of 2020 is affecting writers…
Hello again Marianne!
Thank you so much for having me back on your blog, Clare, it’s great to be chatting with you again.
Great to have you. What words of advice would you give an aspiring author, especially in this changing world?
Marianne: Just keep going, keep reading and keep seeking feedback. Writing, editing, submitting and then editing again take a long time and every writer faces set-backs and disappointments along the way. You can always improve your plot or your writing but resilience is the stuff you need to make it happen.
Resilience is essential to a writer, and perhaps the secret behind many a success. Are there any secrets hidden in your writing?
Yes, but I can’t tell you what they are! Actually, I heard a discussion a while ago about writers having themes that run through all their books and I remember thinking that didn’t apply to me; I was just writing stories.
What I realise now is that I do have some sub-conscious themes going on – around how adults are affected by childhood experiences and how they are able to work through them (or not) – and that’s actually been quite interesting. I did amuse myself by placing similar meaningful ‘keepsakes’ in both books.
Oh, interesting. Is writers block a thing for you?
Yes and no. There are days when, for whatever reason, I just can’t get into the writing. This is when the only thing that works is doing something completely different. The block then usually works itself out in my subconscious.
Of course, there are also days when the block is just me not feeling like grappling with a tricky scene. I try to make myself get something, however terrible, down on those days because editing poor writing is much easier than filling a blank page.
I completely agree: words on the page gather momentum. What about plot holes – how do you deal with them – if you ever have any!
Bizarrely, I love a good plot hole. Once I’ve got over the first stage where I think I’ll never find a solution, I treat it like solving a puzzle. I quite enjoy thinking up lots of different scenarios and then working through them all one by one. After all, making things up to get out of a hole is one of the biggest benefits of writing fiction.
True! Do you write for yourself or for a particular audience?
I don’t set out to write with any particular audience in mind, I always just start with the story. My first book, A Little Bird Told Me, turned out to be a mystery but the story line of the second, All Your Little Lies, is definitely more psych suspense. I approach reading in pretty much the same way. I find I’m always attracted first to the story line or the character so I read across all genres, finding some suit me better at different times.
During the lockdown, I was drawn to books that had settings that were unfamiliar to me, whether fantasy worlds or communities or locations I’d never experienced. I love using books as an escape from reality!
Lockdown has changed many a relationship with books! What do you think about covers, and do you have any say in yours?
There are so many stunning book covers around at the moment, aren’t there? I can absolutely be enticed to buy a book that I might not have otherwise chosen because it’s got an appealing cover. I don’t always read the blurb on books, sometimes they give away too much, and I find an image can convey a lot. My publishers, Agora Books, use brilliant designers and their covers are amazing. I’m able to input to the process, which is fantastic, but I trust Agora to make the final decision. I see that as more their area of expertise and I find that stage quite freeing after all the many intensive hours of editing.
Where do you write?
Before the pandemic, I wrote in the box room at home where I could leave random bits of paper and notes scattered on the desk. This meant I could use every moment of the school day (apart from the procrastinating ones). I find I need peace and quiet when I’m thinking about what to write and then getting the words down on paper. After that stage, I can read through and edit in local cafes or other public spaces and I enjoy meeting up with writing friends. It’s a relatively solitary occupation so the chance to get out and see other humans is wonderful.
When lockdown started, however, my husband and two children were also in the house and everything changed. After walking into one of my husband’s Zoom meetings in my pyjamas, he’s now been assigned the box room and I sit in his place in the kitchen. Unfortunately, this is far more distracting and a lot worse for my waistline!
So funny! Where do you get inspiration or ideas from?
I tend to start with a scenario or a character and then start wondering how they’d got there or what might happen next.
After my eldest child became emotionally invested in a local missing person case, I started thinking about how well-publicised missing children’s cases – and not all are well-publicised – often attract many calls from members of the public, including sightings from around the world. I wondered what sort of person might make a call to an investigation team in good faith but without any really useful information? The character of Annie in All Your Little Lies started to take shape in my mind.
Do you have a pet as a writing companion?
We have just got a Labrador puppy, Molly. She’s three months old now and I’m not sure she qualifies so much as a writing companion as a writing distraction. She spends most of her time trying to eat things – so far 1 book, 2 laptop cables, untold snails, the roses, an ethernet cable, her own lead, chair legs… The 10-year-old & I have very grave concerns for the goldfish! When she’s curled up asleep on the floor beside me though it’s magically soothing. And I’m looking forward to when she’s old enough to go for long walks so I actually leave my screen for a while to do the thinking!
Thank you Marianne for sharing your news, and especially your puppy pictures, with us.
A Little Bird Told Me: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Little-Bird-Told-Me-ourselves-ebook/dp/B07FB4D86F
All Your Little Lies: https://www.amazon.co.uk/All-Your-Little-Lies-forgotten-ebook/dp/B08DNZZJVG/