Today’s post is part of a “let’s see how other writers  produce their books” blog tour courtesy of my fellow historian writing colleague, Alison Stuart, whose wonderful books continue to enthral me with their great historical value as well as their fascinating stories. I have just bought her Secrets in Time and can’t wait to read! And keep watching for her newest release, Claiming the Rebel’s Heart, due out January 22, 2014.Alison Stuart

Welcome, and now I have some questions to answer:

1)       What am I working on?

My first two published novels were historical romances – Beyond Innocence and Shadow Beneath the Sea.But I have nudged aside historical romance for now and I am working on a contemporary with romantic elements about a woman, who has been disfigured and is desperate to have her old life and looks back but at the same time knows she must re-invent herself. This has challenged me considerably because I have no fascinating historical events to cushion and enhance my story. I am also very excited as it allows me to delve deeply into the human psyche and our ingrained beliefs, often based on other’s opinions of us. This woman finds herself involved with people she would formerly have crossed a street to avoid and there are many funny and heart-warming moments.

I am also half-way through a family story spanning over 70 years from 1946 to the present.  A story of a mother and daughter and their journey back to each other (metaphorically).

2)      How does my work differ from others of its genre?

I’m not sure about the differences compared to others of the same genre. I choose a time or event in history which fascinates or intrigues me, research and then write. What might be different is that I have no particular time which I favour more than others. I have set my novels in the 18th, 19th  and 20th centuries, so far. What is probably characteristic of all my stories, though is the interesting and humorous, often foolish characters I play with. The event may be serious but the characters never are. As William Shakespeare said, “When we are born, we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.”
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3)      Why do I write what I do?

There are a number of books which remain engraved  in my memory – they were of no particular genre and by no one particular author. Novels by Sharon Penman, Hilary Mantel, Ken Follett, Rosamund Lupton, Vikram Seth and Jo Jo Moyes. These are the books which inspire me. I am an avid reader of historical novels and love to research historical facts so when I first decided I wanted to write, I didn’t consider any other genre. Writing became an educational journey as well as a creative one. However, I must have a restless spirit because I experienced an urge to wander off to other-genre-land and will probably continue to do so. I am aware this is not as marketable as someone who writes in one particular genre and gathers an audience who look for their books but perhaps I am a selfish writer and write for my own satisfaction. Please don’t tell anyone though!

4)      How does my writing process work? 

I had been a “proud pantster” for a number of years – coming up with an idea or a time/event in history, develop the main characters and then, hey-ho and away! Until I signed up for a writing course designed to have a dirty draft completed in two months. To accomplish this ridiculously impossible feat, one had to have the required number of scenes plotted (over 60 in my case), each with their own GMC, three main plot points and pinch points, black moment and resolution. All before writing the first word! I was still laughing when my instructor fired the starter gun. The first thing she wanted from me was my premise…no problems…except when I wrote it out, she told me it wouldn’t work if I kept to what I had written. This called for an hour long Skype call with her. To cut a long story short I have now turned into a hybrid, half plotter/half pantster and have to admit it is much easier and faster to write with scene outlines at least drafted. I have written more in a month and a half than I would previously have written in six months.

 Tune in next week (22rd December) for two wonderful writers of both contemporary and historical romances. One true blue Aussie girl and one of my American author friends.

Téa Cooper has published three contemporary and three historical romances set in and around the historic village of Wollombi in the Hunter Valley where she lives. When she is not writing, Téa can be found haunting the local museum or chatting to the locals, who provide her with a never-ending source of inspiration. Find out more about Téa at:  http://www.teacooperauthor.com/blog.html

Robyn Neeley is an East Coaster who loves to explore new places; watches way more reality TV than she cares to admit; can’t live without Dunkin Donuts coffee and has never met a cookie she didn’t like. If you have a must read romance suggestion or a fabulous cookie recipe, she wants to know. Visit her at robynneeley.com.

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