Another Monday in lockdown and I talk to another author about the inspiration behind a new story. Meet friend and author, Jane Cable. I love all her books.
Every book starts with an empty page. It sounds obvious when you think about it, but that huge expanse of whiteness is one of the single biggest things that stops would-be authors in their tracks. But for me it has always been inspiration over motivation; once I have the idea I just have to write.
Thinking back to how I started the first full length manuscript I would go on to finish, it began with idle musing, as I watched the England cricket team parade around The Oval after winning The Wisden Trophy at The Oval in 2004. And I thought… what would it like to be the new girlfriend of one of the squad watching this happen, and feeling like a fish out of water? 250,000 unpublishable words later, I knew.
My next four novels were all inspired by a place. The house my husband and I bought in Yorkshire yet never managed to live in; a fairy tree on the banks of the River Hamble; beautiful Studland Bay in Dorset and, most recently for Endless Skies, the empty blue vastness above northern Lincolnshire.
But a place alone is not enough – people need to live there too. And those people must have compelling stories to tell. There are times I have been well into a first, or even second, draft, before I really know what that story is. Take Another You ; I had been writing about Marie and her trials and tribulations as she tried to break free of her abusive marriage for a while. It was only when I researched more about the history of Studland that the World War Two element fell into place and the story felt complete.
Now I have a publisher, writing organically is no longer possible, because I need to provide an outline of the book for them to decide whether or not they wish to acquire it. Characters, settings, plots, all need to be set out in advance of even starting to write – although I do always say that things may change as I go along. Sometimes, well, quite a lot of times, the characters are too strong to ignore.
My next book, which will be available to pre-order from Sapere Books in the spring, was written in this way. Timeslips were selling well for their authors (indeed, many authors) and Sapere is known for Regency, so that got me thinking. Plus I wanted to write a book set in my new home county of Cornwall… and Regency in Cornwall has more than a whiff of Poldark about it. Brooding scenery, mine owners – and in the present-day story, abandoned mines – came together in what I hope readers will find a thrilling romantic mystery.
So as an author your inspiration – and the way you write – can change over the course of your career. But the day that I stop waking up aching to get on with my story will be the day I question whether I am doing the right thing.
Jane Cable writes romance with a hint of ghostly mystery. Follow Jane on Twitter @JaneCable or find out more on her website www.janecable.com, where you can also sign up to her newsletter. If you do decide to subscribe, mention Angela in your email to be entered into a prize draw to win one of Jane’s books.
Thank you, Jane, for chatting to us about your writing. We are learning and growing with our writing all the time. Rather than finding that daunting, to me, it is all positive. May it never stop.