Lately we’ve been participating in the Summer Fiction Blog Tour hosted by Simon & Schuster Canada. Last week’s novel of the week was The Girls In The Garden and Trang has made a review for it a couple days ago. If you haven’t checked it out yet, click here and then come back. 😀 What you’re about to read is a sweet and short interview with the author herself, exclusively for Simon & Schuster. If the novel piqued your interest, don’t forget to get your hands on a brand new copy! Now, on to the show! 😛
1. Can you pinpoint the moment where you were inspired to write The Girls In The Garden? If so, what was that like?
I’ve lived on a communal park like the one in my novel for nearly fourteen years and have wanted to write a novel in that setting ever since we first moved here, but I couldn’t think of a way to separate the story from reality. For a long time it was far too tempting just to write about my neighbours! Then one hot summer’s night, three years ago, a neighbour popped her head over our back wall and invited my daughters to a sleepover in a tent in the back garden with lots of other local kids. I felt strangely uncomfortable about this scenario despite the fact that we were all friends, and it suddenly occurred to me that the real story was the story of the children who live in these communal spaces, about the unusual amount of freedom they have and the impact that might have on the way they develop socially. And that was where the seed was sown.
2. What, if anything, did you learn about yourself through writing The Girls In The Garden?
I enjoyed the clashes between Gordon and Adele around the subject of parenting. It was basically me arguing with myself! I’m using ‘long game’ parenting at the moment, i.e.; not focusing on minor moments of misbehavior and rudeness, teaching them by example and not by punishment, working on the assumption that if they see me and my husband being good, fair, reasonable and successful people then they will ultimately end up as good human beings. It seems to be working, and my children are getting easier to manage now I’m not banging up against them all the time. But of course I worry that I’m spoiling them by being so easy on them and hoping that I’m not actually doing everything wrong! So I used the book to work through some of my concerns and misgivings.
3. What does your writing routine look like + is there anything that you do to motivate yourself when you don’t feel motivated to write?
My routine is very routine! I take my laptop to a café every morning at 10am and I stay there until I’ve written 1000 words. I don’t have access to the internet, and I don’t have email set up on my laptop so it’s just me, a coffee, an uncomfortable chair and my book. There’s no hanging about waiting for muses to visit. The sooner I write the words the sooner I can get home! I’m usually home in time for lunch and then I spend a couple of hours doing all the other things writers do, like social media and Q&A’s for blogs like yours! Then at 3:20 I leave to collect my youngest from school and that is my day done. Life really needs to be pretty humdrum for a writer to write successfully.
4. What advice would you offer to other writers working on crafting their own stories for readers?
It’s hard to offer advice as every writer I know has such a different approach to crafting their books. Some use whiteboards and flow charts. Some do research trips, some write chapter plans and fifty page synopses, some just dive straight in, some write the ending first, some start in the middle, some write an incredibly loose first draft and then go back to layer on the meat and others – like me – write in a nonstop linear way. I think the important thing is to find the way that works for you – once you’ve found your technique, your MO, then you’re halfway there. One thing that all writers would agree on, however, is the need for the book to exert some kind of pull on the reader, whatever the genre. There needs to be an arc, a journey, a clear cut reason for the book to exist, a secret at the heart of it or a lesson to be learned.