I have another wonderful guest post from an author for you today! It’s my stop on the blog tour for Garlic and Gauloises by Hemmie Martin. The author herself if going to tell you about her process of writing a book, from the first idea to the finished copy. It’s really interesting to read, so I hope you enjoy it!
Garlic and Gauloises Synopsis
Alice Calwin finds herself without purpose in life after the death of her mother, whom she’d been caring for following a stroke. Theo Edwards, a literary journalist, has a sour outlook on life, bolstered by his ongoing divorce, and is feeling the pressure to revitalise his column in the newspaper. They encounter one another at a writers’ retreat in France, but Alice’s shameful past and Theo’s deceptive reasons for being there end up affecting them both in very different ways. When someone finally acknowledges their mistakes, is it ever too late to make amends?
From Idea to Finished Copy
by Hemmie Martin
I had recently finished a DI Eva Wednesday novel, and I was looking to stretch my mind in another direction, away from the world of crime. The desire to write another contemporary novel pressed my imagination into action.
Having lived in France for six years, I longed to travel back there in my mind, so the location was set. For some reason, I didn’t feel I had enough to carry a story set entirely in France, so I made it the writers retreat destination, whilst London was the primary location. I have lived in both locations, so I had many memories and visual images to project the places to the reader.
One of the reasons I love Agatha Christie’s stories is that they are often set in one major location – the Orient Express, a hotel (Bertram’s), or a snowed-in lodge (the fabulous ‘The Mousetrap’, which I totally recommend seeing). For this reason, I used a rambling French chateaux as one location, where the reader meets all the characters under one roof, and where a lot of the action takes place to build the next part of the novel upon.
“I love developing individuals with layers of angst and secrets ready to be revealed as each layer is peeled away…”
Creating a cast of characters is exhilarating! I love developing individuals with layers of angst and secrets ready to be revealed as each layer is peeled away for the reader’s delectation. The main protagonists, Alice and Theo, crept unsighted into my mind. I pictured Alice at the funeral of her mother, emotionally drained and bereft of any future joy in the life. Here is a woman in her forties needing to grasp a life for herself before time ran out.
Theo is a journalist, whose speciality was reviewing literature. Being fifty, he is feeling pushed out of his role by younger journalists, so he plans to attend a writers’ retreat to ‘spill the beans’ on aspiring authors, writing a daily column, to revive his popularity with readers and his boss. He intends to mock the participants, laughing at their dreams of creating a bestseller, providing the readers with humorous daily columns every day for a week.
I had this pair cemented in my mind, but I needed not only to create their backstory, I needed to create a cast of characters around them, each with their own quirks and stories. I wanted to add a soupcon of humour in the book, so I used the interaction between some of the characters and Theo’s columns, to add a lift to the story.
“Knowing when to stop editing is something I have yet to learn. I’m never satisfied…”
After I’ve completed the first draft, I move away from the book for a few days, and immerse myself in other tasks, such as my blog. I then return to the manuscript with fresh eyes, and begin re-writing sections, and noticing inconsistencies in the plotline. I then run through the first round of edits, honing sentences, eliminating surplus words, checking my grammar and spelling. I complete the task another three times – it’s surprising how errors keep cropping up that I missed the previous round.
Knowing when to stop editing is something I have yet to learn. I’m never satisfied, but with deadlines, I have to take a deep breath and send it to my publisher (Winter Goose Publishing). I will then do another two or three edits with the publisher’s editor. I have worked with James on all seven of my books, and he has taught me a great deal over the years.
The publisher then asks me if I have an idea for a cover in mind. I give them my thoughts, then they cleverly produce a cover that looks even better than I imagined. It truly is a collaboration with them, for which I am grateful.
This whole process takes about a year from idea to finished copy. A year where I ride the highs and lows of creative writing with equally ferocity, and I hope that my passion for my characters and their stories comes across to the reader.
About the Author
Hemmie Martin spent most of her professional life as a Community Nurse for people with learning disabilities, a Family Planning Nurse, and a Forensic Mental Health Nurse working with young offenders. She spent six years living in the south of France. She now writes full time.
Hemmie created the DI Wednesday series, featuring DI Eva Wednesday and DS Jacob Lennox, set in and around Cambridge, with fictional villages. There are four books in the series so far. Hemmie has also written a psychological thriller, Attic of the Mind, and two contemporary women’s fiction, The Divine Pumpkin and Garlic & Gauloises. Mental health often features in her novels due to her background of forensic mental health nursing. Hemmie is a member of The Crime Writer’s Association.
Thank you to Hemmie Martin for writing such a great guest post. I never really realise how long the process takes, and I know for some it can take even longer. It definitely shows how much dedication and hard work goes into being an author, so I think they all deserve a round of applause and a massive thank you!
Have a look at the banner on the right for the other dates on this blog tour and have a look at their posts. There will be reviews, interviews, and all sorts!