filed under Writing Historical Fiction.

Something strange and alchemical happens when I have an idea for a book and I start writing; it’s as if the universe gets behind me and wants me to keep writing. It puts things in my path that I can’t help but discover, and which never fail to make my books better. It makes magical moments of serendipity happen. I have written about some of this before. Visiting a flower-work atelier in Paris and deciding that the main character in The Paris Seamstress, Estella, would not be an ordinary seamstress but would practice flower-work and then going to the Met…

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filed under The French Photographer.

This week, I’ve been working on the copyedit for The French Photographer. As well as that, there have been quite a few behind-the-scenes things happening with the book, so I thought it might be interesting to talk about the process of getting a book ready for publication. The Back Cover Blurb When you’re browsing in the bookshop, how often do you pick up a book and turn to the back cover and read the blurb? Most of us do this often. Therefore, the blurb has to be captivating and convince the reader that this book is worth their time and their…

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filed under The French Photographer.

Those of you who follow me on Facebook will know that I’m currently working on the copyedit for The French Photographer, which will be out in late March 2019. Quite a few people have asked me for me details about the book, and while I can’t tell you too much right now, here’s a little bit about where and when the story is set, along with some of the pics I took on my research trip to France for the book last year. The French Photographer: Who, Where and When The French Photographer is a dual narrative like The Paris…

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filed under How To Write A Book.

This is a post about support, about the fact that no writer gets a book published because of what they alone did. There are always many other people standing behind that writer who have helped in ways they’re probably not even aware of, ways that made a huge difference to that writer. We often think of the writer alone in a room wth a computer and that’s how writing is some of the time but, in my experience, it’s really a group effort. A Writing Mentor My first experience of writing support came in the form of my university supervisor,…

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filed under How To Write A Book, Writing Historical Fiction.

Besides the structural edit, which is a process that adds new meaning to the word difficult, the hardest part of the writing process for me is writing the first draft of a novel. Other writers I know love the first draft and hate the redrafting. We’re all different. And everyone writes their first draft in a different way. As I’m about 90,000 words into a first draft of my 2020 book, which has a working title of The Dior Bequest, I thought I might talk a little bit about how I write first drafts and why I find them so…

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filed under How To Write A Book, The Paris Seamstress.

I wanted to talk a little about perseverance. About continuing on against the odds. About doing what you love despite the doubts. About not giving up and holding on to that beautiful shining dream you have even if it seems so far out of reach. My latest book, The Paris Seamstress, has been selling its little socks off. At times, it feels a bit like it’s happening to someone else and I’m watching the experience from a distance. At other times it feels so bloody exciting that all I want to do is laugh and dance and sing and shout.…

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filed under The Paris Seamstress.

Last week I talked about my trip to Paris to research The Paris Seamstress; this week is all about my trip to New York. A lot of the research books that I read before I went talked about Paris, in terms of fashion, as being the city of art, whereas New York was the city of industry. So I went to New York prepared to find a slightly less romantic version of the fashion industry than what I had found in Paris. But did this turn out to be true? New York’s Garment District I once again organised a private…

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filed under The Paris Seamstress.

One of my most favourite parts of my job would definitely have to be travelling overseas for research. Who wouldn’t want to go to Paris and New York and places in between all in the name of work?! And the trip I organised for researching The Paris Seamstress was especially spectacular, full of discoveries that inspired scenes for the book. The Théâtre du Palais Royal For this trip, I organised a private tour guide to take me through the Sentier, Paris’s historic fashion district. I met my guide at the Palais Royal, which backs onto the Sentier. There, I made the…

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filed under The Paris Seamstress.

I much prefer redrafting to starting a novel and The Paris Seamstress only served to confirm this preference; it is definitely the one book of mine that was the hardest to start. I sat down in November 2015 ready to write my 20,000 word pre-first draft only to discover that I didn’t really have a story idea. I had a character in my head and this character had a very distinctive voice but I didn’t know who she was or why she was there. I let the voice lead me and while I really liked a lot of what I wrote, I had no…

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filed under How To Write A Book.

I’ve long been aware of the physical dangers of the writing lifestyle – long hours spent sitting behind a computer aren’t that good for anyone’s body. I’ve had a sit/stand desk for a couple of years, which I use to alternate, in half hour stints, between sitting and standing. I use a perching stool rather than a chair which promotes active sitting and no slouching and I walk or go to yoga each day to break up the periods of sitting in front of a computer. Alas, even with the best of intentions and a reasonably ergonomic setup, I have…

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