28 February 2010

Planning a Novel: Theme & Thinking

It is not my habit to copy other people's blog posts, but when I logged on to Avril Field-Taylor's blog and read her interview with Stuart Aken, I asked both of them for permission to link to it and give extracts.

Stuart is explaining how his novel Breaking Faith came about:
"AFT: Breaking Faith is set in the Yorkshire Dales during the 1976 heat wave. What prompted your choice of location and period?
SA: In the words of Max Boyce, ‘I was there.’ Believe it or not, the initial inspiration for the book came to me on a visit to the Buttertubs, in the Dales, at that time. I looked into the depths and wondered how I would feel if I discovered a body down there. From that simple question, the rest of the book eventually flowed. The Yorkshire Dales is acknowledged for its exceptional landscapes and it’s a place I know well. The heat wave was a useful backdrop to a story which needed a credible climate in which the action could take place: few would enjoy being naked in the area’s usual weather conditions. 1976 was long before the era of the ubiquitous mobile phone, an item that would have altered the tone of the novel. It was a time when fashion and the ideas of youth were still fresh enough to encourage experimentation. Cameras used film and a good printing assistant was still necessary for any professional photographer."
Note the way planning choices were made: none in isolation, each reliant on its neighbour, not in a serial progression but in a 360 degree world view.

Read the full interview to get a glimpse of how one writer conjures with theme, research and characterisation before a word of the story hits the page.

Thanks to Stuart and Avril for allowing me to link to this interview.

1 comment :

  1. I've always enjoyed Stuart's writing, but it is only when you read how carefully he planned it that you realise how good the writing is because it appears so effortless and not in the least contrived. A salutary lesson and one to ponder on!