Making the transition from bench scientist to science writer, I had the bright idea of taking creative writing classes to help me better my prose style. On the first day of the “Introduction to the Novel” class, the Stegner Fellow who was teaching it informed us that we had to produce the first five pages of our next novel. Ever the good student, I took a deep breath and complied. I have never looked back.
2. What is you favorite book you have written and why?
Since I’ve only published one novel, I have to say that it is my favorite. Titled Thwarted Queen, it is the saga of the Yorks, Lancasters and Nevilles, whose family feud started the Wars of the Roses. Told by Lady Cecylee Neville (1415-1495), the Thwarted Queen.
My sister has a habit of taping BBC programs that she thinks I might like, so that when I visit her in England I can watch them. On this particular occasion, she taped a program in which Tony Robinson (well-known in the UK for popularizing history with such programs as The 10 Worst Jobs in the Middle Ages) was talking about the mysterious disappearance of the Princes in the Tower, commonly thought to have been murdered by their Wicked Uncle Richard III. He casually mentioned that British historian Michael K. Jones had been going through the archives of Rouen cathedral to do research on Richard III’s parents, Richard of York and Lady Cecylee Neville, and discovered that Richard of York was absent during a 5-week period of the summer of 1441. Nine months later, a son Edward was born. This tidbit gives credence to the idea that Edward might have been illegitimate. None of this would have mattered that much, except that Edward became King Edward IV of England, and the Queen of England traces her ancestry through him. But my burning question was: What on earth did Cecylee say to her husband when he returned from his summer campaign. And that is how the novel started.
Ideas come to me. Not a very helpful answer, but it’s true. My second novel (forthcoming) titled Family Splinters came about because I had this vague idea about a young woman who was forced to leave home for some scandalous reason, and her sister brought her her violin. My third novel is a sequel to my second novel, and that came about because I imagined what would happen if Grace (the violinist in the second novel) was forced to encounter an old flame that she met in the second novel. My fourth novel hasn’t been written yet, because I haven’t finished doing the preliminary research. But I can tell you that it’s set in Sicily during the Middle Ages, and I’m traveling there next month to get some ideas!
“Man is a rational animal. So at least we have been told. Throughout a long life I have searched diligently for evidence in favor of this statement. So far, I have not had the good fortune to come across it.”
— Bertrand Russell (Unpopular Essays)
5. What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Find some time to work at writing every day. Write non-fiction. Expand your vocabulary. Do a daily word prompt. Do writing drills. Take classes in writing. Because if you are able to produce glorious prose with well-chosen words, you will not be confined to writing plot-driven stories, you will be able to write whatever you like. That is the pragmatic reason. The aesthetic reason is that we speak this glorious & magnificent language called English, so why not make it your own by getting to know its weird and wonderful corners?
Author of THWARTED QUEEN,
now on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, Redroom and Smashwords.
WEBSITE & BLOG: http://www.spunstories.com
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