It gives me great pleasure today to welcome Laura Wilkinson, author of Bloodmining (one of my favourite recent reads) to my blog for an interview, giveaway, and information on an exciting event she is taking part in on 12th July.
Hello, Laura and welcome to Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.
Hi, and thanks for having me.
Please could you give us your bio in under 50 words?
I live in a never-to-be chic area of Brighton. A water tiger and a scorpion, I’m not as scary as that sounds. I’m seeking representation for my second novel (see below) while writing my third: a tale of friendship and betrayal set against the backdrop of the 1984/85 miners’ strike.
You write novels and short stories and I understand you also do editorial work. How do you balance all of these?
I’m not all together sure; somehow I just do. I’m mum to two ginger boys, so time management (horrid phrase) is important. Discipline is key. My background in journalism and copywriting served me well in this respect; I respond well to deadlines (self-imposed or otherwise). When I’m working on the first draft of a novel I don’t take on any editing work; I need to be totally immersed – obsessed with my characters and their stories. Creativity needs to be protected, and I wouldn’t do my own work justice, or, as importantly, others’ work justice if I attempted both simultaneously. Once that first draft is down and I’m in editing mode on my novel I find I have the head space to edit others’ work.
Short stories? These I tend to write during those periods of distance from drafts of the novel, before I get the red pen out. Recently, I discovered flash fiction and though I’ve only written two pieces (one of which appears in the NFFD anthology Jawbreakers) it’s a form I want to do more of. It’s dynamic and exciting, somewhere between poetry and short stories. And quicker than novels!
Could you summarise BloodMining using 5 words?
Motherhood, love, identity, catastrophe, rats.
Do you plan your novels before you write them, or write what comes into your head at the time?
I describe myself as a pantser, and though I never begin writing with a chapter by chapter outline, I do have a sense of the themes I want to explore, the story arc and the journey my characters will undertake. But I don’t necessarily know how they’ll get to their final destination.
I do a lot of thinking and dreaming before I sit down to write: I fill a notebook with ideas, observations, clippings, and so forth. I complete detailed character profiles. All of this changes and develops as I go along and I like to be open to that. One of the most exciting parts of the process is when characters do something unexpected and take the story along a surprising path.
Do you draw on personal experiences when you are creating your characters and plot lines?
Plot lines – not often. Themes – sometimes (identity is a bit of an obsession of mine, as is absent fathers…) Settings – yes, BloodMining is principally set where I grew up in Wales, Parade is set on a notorious estate in Manchester where I lived as a student (it’s since been demolished).
Characters – yes, don’t most writers? I never base entire characters on people I know – this feels dangerous – but my characters are composites of my imagination, characteristics of various people I have met and known, and my observations and interpretation of the human condition.
What's the best advice anyone has ever given you?
I’ve been given so much good advice and I’m grateful to all those more experienced writers who offer it so generously. If I had to choose one? Write with your heart; edit with your head.
How do you react to a bad review?
I aim for philosophical, though I don’t always achieve this. They can hurt, because like most people I write to be read, to entertain and provoke thought, and I hope that readers will enjoy my work. But, of course, as writers we will never please everyone. I’m resilient and soon bounce back. I worked as an actress in my twenties, and was advised by a (famous) actor/director to listen only to your inner voice and people whose opinions you really, really trust. ‘If you believe the glowing (reviews); you have to believe the bad. Believe neither.’ It was sound advice and can be applied to fiction.
You have several short stories published via the Ether App. If you had to name a favourite, which would it be?
That’s a tough one. There are two that I favour. New Life - a young paraplegic discovers a reason to live when she meets a quadriplegic in the hospital where she is rehabilitating – and Buried, a story about love and class in 80s Britain. What a cheat I am!
What next? Could you give us a little summary of your next book?
Sure. Parade (the current title; I’ve had four) is a contemporary novel, set in Manchester and London. It is told through the eyes of beautiful artist Diana; and interwoven with the story of Cal, a severely deformed boy. Both of them are seeking love, trying to find acceptance and their place in a world fixated with image. The novel follows their relationship across two decades and explores obsession, concepts of beauty, and the meaning of unconditional love. Diana is an idiosyncratic heroine; a pageant queen as a child in America, she is quirky and driven. I don’t expect all readers to like her, but I hope they find her fascinating.
Thank you for joining us here on Ramblings of a Rusty Writer.
Well, thanks for spending time with me!
You can join both Laura and Rachel Connor at an event on Thursday 12th July:
Surrogate Mothers; Sisters, Wives
Surrogate Mothers; Sisters, Wives
Is a true mother the woman who gives birth, or the one who provides the nurturing? How far will a mother go to ensure her child’s survival? And what prompts a mother to abandon her offspring? Laura Wilkinson’s BloodMining and Rachel Connor’s Sisterwives conjure a world in which the traditional nuclear family and women’s roles are questioned, and where ethical and spiritual beliefs are put to the test. Laura and Rachel talk about their debut works and the journey to publication.
Thursday 12 July, 7pm (90 mins)
£8 / 6 concs
£8 / 6 concs
The Women's Library
London Metropolitan University
25 Old Castle Street
T +44 (0)20 7320 2222
F +44 (0)20 7320 2333
Laura has very kindly said she will do a UK giveaway of one paperback copy of her book BloodMining. To enter, just comment beneath this post. A winner will be selected on 10th July.
Megan Evens appears to have it all: brains, beauty, a successful career as a foreign correspondent. But deep down she is lonely and rootless. Pregnant, craving love but unable to trust after the destructive affair with her baby's father she returns to the security of her birthplace in Wales.
When Megan's son is later diagnosed with a terminal condition, a degenerative, hereditary disease, everything she believed to be true about her origins is thrown into question.
To save her son Megan must unearth the truth; she must excavate family history and memory.
Enlisting the help of former colleague Jack North, a man with a secret of his own, Megan embarks on a journey of self discovery and into the heart of what it means to be a parent.
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