It’s been a few weeks since the last 10 questions; time for another! Today, my guest writer is Stephanie Bretherton, whose novel Bone Lines is published by Unbound on 19th September. That’s more than enough from me, so here’s Stephanie:
1. Who are you and what’s your book about?
Great question. The whole process of being published for the first time demands that you ask those two questions until you are no longer sure which way is up! In short, I am a word peddler who feeds her body through copy-writing but has fed her soul by pouring years of love, sweat, tears and lost weekends into a genre-bender of a novel that asks that very same question: ‘who are you?’
But in this case the net is cast a little wider to explore what lies at the heart of being human.
2. Why should folk read your book?
Because they will never have read anything quite like it! While my tongue-in-cheek ‘elevator pitch’ goes something like “Sole survivor of Clan of the Cave Bear hits The Road with Professor Alice Roberts” it’s always been hard for me to sell the book along the lines of “if you loved (insert bestseller here) then you will love Bone Lines.” It’s a distinctive book that will probably divide opinion, but which, thankfully, every reader so far has seemed to really enjoy.
3. What’s the appeal of your book?
It explores some of the bigger questions but also day to day dilemmas of love and survival... and, so I am told, keeps you rooting for its pair of unique; and courageous heroines, whose stories are told in a dual narrative set many millennia apart.
4. Sounds great! Where/when can I get hold of a copy?
5. Describe a typical writing day, or at least a typical day with some writing in it:
I still run my PR and communications business full time, so there’s no typical day for writing fiction, except the weekends. I was so fired up for the first draft of Bone Lines, however, that for the first six months I was up at the laptop every morning from 6 to 8:30! Then researching at lunchtimes and evenings. The various rewrites and edits (and the skeletons of the two sequels) were written mostly during weekend afternoons - at no small cost to my back or my personal life. But like most authors I’m passionate about what I do and have little choice but to do it.
6. Pick one book about writing. What it is and why have you chosen it?
Oddly enough, I found something called Fiction: The Art and the Craft on a neighbour’s wall among other cast offs recently, but haven’t opened it. I tend to write organically then edit later, but the whole process of editing Bone Lines with professionals (even before I submitted to Unbound) has taught me so much. Otherwise I tend to find useful essays on writing or the creative process online. For example, Maria Popova’s Brain Pickings is a fantastic site.
7. Pick three books that have influenced or inspired you as a writer:
I know everyone must say this, but only 3? That’s brutal. But in terms of early inspiration for unforgettable characters and atmosphere, Perfume, for ‘social’ influence then To Kill a Mockingbird, and for sheer mind-blowing literary mastery, The Road.
8. Pick three desert island books - works you couldn’t live without:
Not sure I couldn’t live without any of these, but because I can have only 3 then range and variety would be a good thing:
Poem for the Day, an anthology edited by Nicholas Albery for Random House – yup, 365 of them from classic to contemporary
The Complete Works of Shakespeare (might go as mad as Lear on my blasted island, but there’s nothing about human experience that the Bard hasn’t covered.)
And the book I’m re-reading now and so would hate not to finish, The Chymical Wedding by Lindsay Clarke, which would also offer some great inspiration on being ‘one’ with my island.
9. Any words of writing wisdom?
Write the first line. Just write it. Then a paragraph, then a page. Delete if nothing works, but something probably will. You have to keep the cogs oiled and machinery moving. Look for ideas and inspiration everywhere, documentaries, news items, overhead conversations. Don’t bend your style or passion to suit a genre or a trend – write what you want to write, and from the heart. But (and this is one I need to keep learning) don’t fall so much in love with your characters that you find yourself protecting them from the plot!
10. Let’s make a movie of your book. Give me the high-concept pitch:
Oh, yes please, let’s! But I have already covered that above? Though maybe in the movie version, the cave woman would ‘meet’ the scientist on some kind of hallucinatory trip? There’s so much you can do with the medium of film that you can’t with prose, so I’d like to see all the audio-visual potential explored. And the soundtrack! How much fun would that be? Anyway, Cate Blanchett would be ideal for Dr Eloise Kluft, and the young prehistoric shaman character would be a great ‘breakout’ role for an up-and-coming actress of colour.
Huge thanks to Stephanie for her time! I’ve got a copy pre-ordered, so I’m looking forward to reading Bone Lines!