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 Writing Historical Fiction.

One of the most common questions I get asked at author talks is about the research I do for my books. It always gives me quite a thrill when readers and reviewers praise the research in my books; it’s so important to me that the characters and the story and setting and the feel of the book all give the reader a sense of being in the right time and place. So, this week, I thought I’d talk about the less glamorous but equally important side of novel research, the desk-bound as opposed to the Parisian research trips! Making a…

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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, 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 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 How To Write A Book, The Paris Seamstress.

As The Paris Seamstress will be published next week, I thought it was a good time to take you behind the scenes and describe how I went about writing and researching the novel. Last week, I published a post about how I got the idea for the book, which you can read here. This week, I’m going to talk about why it’s so important for me to have a clear and vivid opening scene in my mind when I’m writing, and also how The Paris Seamstress evolved from a straight historical novel to a dual narrative that combines both contemporary…

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filed under How To Write A Book.

The most terrifying part of the writing process is, for me, starting a new book. Every single time I begin, I feel as if I won’t be able to do it, as if the story idea that I have is just too outlandish or difficult or impossible to pull off. As if there’s too much that I don’t know and I will never, ever know enough to write this particular book. Or, that I might spend weeks on the draft and discover, as I near the end, that I just can’t pull off the climax and the whole story collapses…

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

During the week, I posted a picture on my Facebook page of a chart I like to do at the end of my second draft. It helps me see where the gaps are and what I need to work on in the next redraft. Unexpectedly, the picture attracted a flood of comments and requests for me to blog about how I use the chart and what I do when I’m redrafting a novel. So, here goes! The Second Draft I’ve blogged before about how my first drafts are a bit of a mess; I don’t print out my first draft,…

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filed under Her Mother's Secret, How To Write A Book.

I have a fascination for the clothes the characters in my books wear. Fashion and character is something I spend a substantial amount of time researching. Why do I bother? I could easily use that time to do some other more “serious” research; after all, clothes are thought to be fairly trivial items. But they’re not. For me, they’re an essential part of getting the character onto the page. How Clothes Get Character Onto the Page? As a writer, I have four main methods of getting the character to come to life in the reader’s mind: dialogue, action, thought and description. If you’ve…

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