It’s been a special week for me, seeing my revised Tuscan novel, The Tuscan Secret released by Bookouture and I’m so grateful for all the support I’ve received.But, I don’t like blowing my own trumpet, so let’s meet and congratulate the lovely Wendy Clarke today. She is one of my writing heroines: she’s had over three hundred stories published in women’s magazines, which is amazing. (I am happy so far with my baker’s dozen). I always enjoy her stories. They are easy to read and there is often a lesson to learn.
But she has branched into novel writing and has also been taken on my Bookouture. I chatted to her recently, curious to know how she approaches writing for these different genres. Her new novel, What She Saw is doing really well and I really enjoyed this psychological thriller of a page turner.
1. I know you are a very successful short story writer., Wendy. How differently did you approach writing your debut novel?
Very differently! When I write my short stories, I start with just a seed of an idea that germinates and grows as I write it. I absolutely never plan. Sometimes I’ll have the beginning, sometimes the ending and sometimes just a character or setting I know I’m drawn to. When I started writing my novel, it was a very different process. I started out with the attitude that I didn’t need to plan – after all, it had worked for the short stories. But I found I kept losing track of the storyline and wandering off down unexpected avenues and finding some of them were dead ends. Eventually, I found a mind mapping App on my iPad called Total Recall and it saved me. When I wrote my second novel, it was part of a two-book deal and I had to write a synopsis for my publisher. A synopsis! Not a word a panster likes to hear! I’m not quite sure how I managed it, but, with the help of my mind mapping App, I did, and it really helped me when it came to actually writing the whole thing.
2. What did you find easy and what did you find hard in writing a novel?
As I mentioned in the last answer, planning is the hardest part for me, followed by the blank first page before you start and the inevitable soggy bottom. Once the novel is written the structural edits can prove to be a challenge too! The easiest part is the last third… I whiz through that!
3. Can you tell us what inspired What She Saw ?
What She Saw was inspired by my love of the Lake District. With it’s beautiful, dramatic and ever-changing landscape, is the perfect scenery for building suspense. The fictitious village my protagonist Leona’s family live in, is based on Chapel Stile and their miner’s cottage is the one my husband and I have stayed in many times during our wonderful holidays there.
4. Can you tell us a little bit about the process of being published by Bookouture? I know what this is like – they are fantastic – but it will be interesting to many authors.
As with all publishers, the process once your book had been accepted is a long one. First, you will work with your editor to make the novel as good as it can be – the pace, the emotion, the plot. These are the ‘structural edits’. Next come the line edits where your editor will look at your work more closely. After they’re happy, the novel will go to an independent editor for copy editing and proofreading. Four layers of editing in all! The final stage is the checking of the eBook and paperback proofs. Alongside this, your editor will be working with a designer to create a great cover! The whole process takes several months but is crucial.
5. Are you still submitting short stories to women’s magazines? If so, is it hard to switch from short story to novel writing?
When I wrote my first novel, it was without an agent or a publisher, so I had the luxury of being able to take as long as I wanted to write it. This meant that I was able to continue to write short fiction for magazines at the same time. I managed this but did find it hard to switch between the two story lengths and whichever one I was working on, I felt guilty for not working on the other. With my second novel, I was writing under contract and had to submit my novel within a stated time. Sadly, this meant taking the decision to stop writing the magazine stories in order to concentrate on my current project.
6. What do you like to read in your free time?
My one regret with writing novels is that I don’t read nearly as much as I used to. When I do, I like reading in my genre of psychological thrillers, although one of my favourite novels is The Promise by Ann Weisgarber. I rarely read fantasy or romantic comedy.
7. Where do you write? What time of day? Pen and notebook or laptop?
I write mostly in my conservatory in the summer and my living room in the winter. I have a writing room upstairs which I have never written in – partly because my dog isn’t allowed upstairs and I feel guilty leaving her! I write whenever I can fit it in. Morning or afternoon but never the evening. That’s my down time. All my writing goes straight onto the computer. I can’t even begin to imagine writing in longhand (besides, I’d never be able to read my writing).
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, Wendy. I know you’re busy with a new two-book contract and your second novel We Were Sisters is on pre-order and coming out soon. Good luck with it all!
You can find out more on her website
On her Author Facebook Page
And see her delightful photos on Instagram