I’m really a rather boring author, but here’s a little about me. Feel free to answer the questions yourself in a comment.
1. What am I working on at the moment?
Ah, how difficult it is when I have somebody ask me what my current writing project is. As I think any writers will know, there is a never ending bombardment of thoughts, ideas and characters that infiltrate into your mind all day, everyday. I find it really difficult to stay focused on one writing project when I have ideas for others, but I am hard at work on my novel ‘Poppy Field’ at the moment which I am determined to give my full attention until I have it finished.
Poppy Field is a really special story to me, as it is set during the German occupation of France during World War II, and therefore has the potential to remind readers, young and old, of the hardships that our previous generations went through in order for us to live the lives we do today. Poppy Field tells the story of a young French girl who falls in love with the ghost of a dead English soldier whose spirit wanders the Poppy Field that marks his final resting place after his death in WWI’s battle of the Somme. However, the story isn’t his, it’s about the girl trying to make sense of the feelings for a dead man whilst fighting for her country’s freedom in the French Resistance.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My novel is a strange one. I remember talking to ‘Chocolat’ author Joanne Harris about the genre of her books, and she’d said that she is in one of her own, where her books don’t fit into any fixed genre when it comes to publication. I find that similar with Poppy Field. Whilst there are fantasy/paranormal elements, this is very much something that is in the background. The story does not revolve around how this man is a ghost, but on our heroine’s feelings and actions in the French Resistance which are very much rooted from her deep love for this man and her need to fight the German regime almost in revenge for his death.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I can’t remember a time that I didn’t write. As a young child I remember writing a story about two young identical twins (blatantly stolen from the ‘Home Farm Twins’ book series), and about their father who was working nights storming out of his bedroom and running down the stairs in his underpants ranting that they were making too much noise when he was trying to sleep. Whilst it is definitely not bestseller material, I knew from that young age that I wanted to write stories that people could connect to and say ‘Oh yeah, that happened to me too.’
With my current works-in-progress, especially Poppy Field, I just can’t not write it. The characters seem so real to me, with their pain, heartache, desperation and strength in a hopeless time, that I feel I have to tell their story. It’s something that I hope any readers who were alive during WWII will connect with and say ‘In other circumstances, this character could have been me.’
Everything has to have emotional meaning for me to write it. I can never write something if I don’t feel the emotion seeping through me just at the idea of it. I love a cathartic cry, and reading or watching passionate, heartbreaking scenes is something that drives me on. I always connect to the characters who have the longest, hardest journey, the relationships that slowly burn until the last few pages, and the power of love keeping people afloat during times of crisis.
4. How does my writing process work?
As I suffer from chronic fatigue, my writing process is very unconventional. I write when I’m awake (which isn’t a lot of the time), but usually end up needing a nap after half an hour of writing, so I barely make a dent in my word count, before doing the same at night after I get home from work, when I’m wide awake. I find my best work comes from me writing in the middle of the night. I’ve always been this way, at University the essay’s I wrote at night were the ones that got the best marks. There’s also something really atmospheric about writing at night. On a windy night you can hear the wind howling through the trees, and the rain hitting the window, and on a still night I can hear foxes, monkjacks and owls calling out.
I tend to write until the words don’t flow anymore. I hate to force words out in sake of a higher word count, because my best writing comes from deep emotion and pain seeping through my fingers. I’m also one of those authors who loves to write by hand by a single lamp, especially when working on my historical novels as it helps me feel closer to that time period where they’d work by hand with only a single dull light to see with.
The one thing I hate more than anything is word counts. I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo for the last four years, and whilst it’s been an amazing experience I really do notice a difference in the quality of my writing at the beginning and end of my NaNoWriMo project. The beginning flows well, but then becomes stilted and forced later and the characters become different to how I want them. The most important thing about my writing process is that it takes time, it flows naturally and I don’t add words for the sake of a word count. It’s something that I have to constantly remind myself, but for me it really works.
Next Monday (12th May), one of my fellow writers will be posting their answers to this blog tour. Don’t forget to head over and see how their process differs from mine.
Katie Jennings is the author of eight full length novels, including the popular fantasy series The Dryad Quartet as well as the bestselling family drama series The Vasser Legacy.
~ Katie Jennings ~