Over the course of my writing journey, I have been blessed and privileged to meet so many other lovely writers at various stages of their journeys. I first met Jan Baynham at the RNA Conference at Harper Adams University a few years ago – and our debuts have ended up being published a couple of weeks apart. Today I am delighted to welcome Jan to my blog to tell us a little about her book and her writing process
Congratulations on your debut, Jan. It sounds fabulous and I can’t wait to read it. Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind it?
Thank you, Kirsten. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I loved writing it. Always fascinated by family secrets and the bond between mothers and daughters, the inspiration came to me when reading a novel. In it, the rustling in the trees sounded like whispers and inanimate statues took on the form of the ghosts of people they represented. Combining both those ideas, I asked myself what if the whispering could show the presence of a mother communicating to her daughter after her death. I knew I had the basis for a story.
That sounds fabulous Jan. Now, are you a plotter or a pantser?
Mainly a plotter. As there are always two stories in my novels, the mother’s and the daughter’s, I like to map out the timeline of each story and the main events. I plan in detail and know how the novel will end. However, I still have the freedom to change things and move away from the plan if an idea comes when I’m writing, and it often does. That spontaneity is what adds freshness to writing and I wouldn’t like to lose that by rigidly sticking to the plan.
That really sounds like the best of both worls. And, what, for you, is the very hardest part of writing?
The hardest part for me is to stand back and view my work objectively. I’ve attended workshops and read books on how to improve my writing but once I’m immersed in writing the story, I’m sure a lot of it goes out of the window. Once the first draft is written, the real work starts when editing and hopefully everything I’ve learned helps me with that process. However, I do find it hard to analyse and critique my own work.
And what is the most rewarding?
The most rewarding part is when someone tells me he or she enjoyed reading what I’ve written. It doesn’t have to be a novel. When my short story, ’The Phantom Boatman’, was published as a Choc Lit Treat before the publication of my novel, I had a message from someone who was not only very complimentary about the writing but said it evoked happy memories of a visit to the beautiful underground lake in Kefalonia. That made my day. Recently, not only have I been blown away by the generous reviews of ‘Her Mother’s Secret’, it’s all the lovely messages I’ve received, too, that have made this job so rewarding.
Having just had my debut published, I know exactly what you mean. Which is more important – plot or character?
I usually start thinking about my characters first and get to know them really well. The plot and what happens to them tends to come after answering a series of ‘what if?’ questions. In the case of ‘Her Mother’s Secret’, I created Elin who kept a part of her life hidden until her dying day. I then asked myself, what if she had a conscience and felt her daughter Alexandra should know what happened by leaving her a diary of that summer of ‘69? What if Alexandra followed in her mother’s footsteps, travelling to Greece to find answers? The plot and sub-plot were then planned around the characters and the ‘what ifs?’
Wonderful. And, finally, what are your wishes and ambitions for this year and this decade?
My main ambition is to continue to enjoy writing. My contract with Ruby Fiction is for three books. I hope the next two novels will be received as positively as the first and my aim is to work hard to try to achieve that. I hope to hone the craft of my writing further and achieve contracts for more books that readers will enjoy.
‘Her Mother’s Secret’ is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Her-Mothers-Secret-Summer-69-ebook/dp/B085CHV3VQ/
You may find out more about Jan here:
Twitter: @JanBaynham https://twitter.com/JanBaynham
Facebook: Jan Baynham Writer https://www.facebook.com/JanBayLit/