Literature Inspiration


It’s been a while since I’ve really had anything to post, as I’ve been getting my head down and editing (and editing and editing!). I feel like I’ve finally hit the home stretch, and hope to be done by the end of the year, with a view to publish in January. It’s a bit longer than intended, but I’d rather not burn myself out with the work I do – it would only show through in the final product which is the last thing I want!

Fitting in work, roller derby, family life and a social life around writing can be tough, but I always try and make time for reading each day, as well as all the other stuff. I aim for an hour, but don’t always make that! Reading LOTS is one of the most important pieces of advice for writers. There are so many benefits, such as improving your language and imagination, as well as relaxing a buzzing mind at the end of the day.

I wanted to write about some of my favourite books and how they have inspired me as a writer. I seem to lean towards tragic heroines who have affairs and go mad, though that’s certainly not intentional! It’s more the way their emotions are captured that has influenced my own writing style.

I tend to swing between my what my ‘favourite book of all time’ is, so I’ll start with my top five:

Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte

I read this book every so often and it never seems to get old. What I can’t get over is how ahead of its time it is and how Emily Bronte imagined it all wandering around on the moors of Yorkshire back in the 1800′s. I adore the raw emotion of Wuthering Heights, and the fact that it’s not really a love story, but a tale of madness and obsession. It’s haunting, spooky and a true classic.

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Cider With Rosie - Laurie Lee

Cider With Rosie was my Grandma Olive’s favourite book, and this has probably had a slight influence on why I like it so much. The book has an innocence to it that reminds me of being younger. There is a wonderful nostalgia the whole way through the book, and I can’t get enough of the way Laurie Lee’s countryside village has been written. The scenery, seasons, characters and all of his memories build up such a safe and comforting visual picture in my head. I have always loved books like this, as they provide such an escape. I try to include descriptions of all the senses in the way I write to really try and engage the reader and take them away from wherever they are.

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On The Road - Jack Kerouac 

On The Road is a contemporary classic for a very good reason. I’m a huge fan of travelling and experiencing anything that’s beautiful, breathtaking and memorable. A part of me has always wished I could emulate the way Dean and Sal just head on out without worrying about where they’re going and when they’re coming back. I love how fearless these characters can be. Kerouac has an amazing writing style (though I have to admit, I have really struggled to get through some of his later stuff). He writes as he feels, and the book has such an energy and a flow that captures what I love about my own travels.

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Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary is a bit of traumatic, arduous book at times, as the main character becomes so weighed down and tragic. It’s beautifully written though, and similar to Wuthering Heights in its emotion. I found it difficult to get into at first, but once it really hit its stride I couldn’t put it down. Finding beauty in fragility and tragedy is something I love in a novel. The characters are so flawed. I loved Emma’s quirks and senseless annoyances – tiny things that build up and lead her to create an idealistic daydream world that she just can’t translate to real life. I like books with imperfect characters who make bad choices!

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Peter Pan - JM Barrie

This is the ultimate children’s book for me. I love its innocence, but also the tragedy of the boy who never grows up. JM Barrie has such an imagination and I adore the way he captures the magic of childhood. It’s not particularly one that has influenced my writing, but it’s a story that has always stuck with me and reminds me to keep a hold of my ‘inner child’.

Peter Pan

The Art of Editing


Well, it’s October now. The nights are getting spooky, the moon is big, and the leaves are crunchy! For me that means not just Hallowe’en, but plenty of time to write and edit! I’ve been working on something new, which I am so excited about. It’s great to feel this inspired. At the same time though, I’m still working on finishing up The Poisonwood Shadows and preparing to get it released.

Editing of any kind can be very time consuming and difficult. It can often feel like being stuck in an endless loop. Hopefully this will be the final edit of The Poisonwood Shadows. Some things I’m surprised made it through the first few edits, other things I know I shouldn’t have removed and ought to be put back in. Some I just want to rewrite completely.

I can’t help but wonder sometimes if I’m being too hard on myself. Everything seems to depend on what mood I’m in, or even what music I’m listening to – silly things that seem to put a filter over the actual content of the book. It’s certainly a learning experience, and I am enjoying finding new ways to be productive and actually enjoy the editing process.

It’s important that I don’t just settle and say to myself ‘that’ll do’. That’s just not good enough! One thing I’ve realised is how much I want to be consistently raising the bar for myself. It might take longer, but I know I’ll be much happier with the end product. Patience is key. It doesn’t all come at once, and there’s no point pushing it to the point of burning out.

I’ve expanded a little on the subject of remaining motivated and productive with a blog entry for the lovely Almond Press. Writer’s block in any form can be extremely troublesome, so please give it a read if you are interested! I’ll be posting again soon about some of my favourite books and how they have influenced/inspired me – keep checking in and thanks for reading!

Musical Inspiration


I’ve found that when writing it is important to have the right sort of music as a background soundtrack. I spend an awful lot of time hunting for new bands and songs that I’ve heard on TV shows and in films, and whenever I go anywhere my iPod has to come with me. There’s something wonderful about a long bus or train journey spent looking out of the window and listening to music, watching as fields and forests go whizzing by.

Music can evoke all kinds of inspiration and emotion. I like anything that is haunting and beautiful, that really seems to capture that one feeling that can’t quite be described (as much as we try as writers!) I still find it amazing that I can be feeling completely unmotivated to write one minute, only to find the words flowing out of my fingertips when a certain song comes on.

There are a lot of songs that have been key to setting the tone and inspiring the world I have been trying to create, so I thought I would note some of these down for you to check out and hopefully find similar inspiration.

Black – The Birthday Massacre
Holiday – The Birthday Massacre
People Are Strange – Johnny Hollow
Just a Fragment of You – Alex Gonzalez from M83 & Brian Reitzell
I Only Have Eyes For You – The Flamingos
Pins and Needles – The Birthday Massacre
Memories – Within Temptation
Moonlight Serenade – Glenn Miller
Boats and Birds – Gregory and the Hawk
Runaway – Yeah Yeah Yeahs
No One Would Riot For Less – Bright Eyes
1901 – Birdy

I have tons more, so will likely be posting more songs as I go along. I love to share music, as well as discover it, so please get in touch if you have any secret songs to write to that you would like to tell the world about!

Stay tuned!

A New Story


I began writing what will hopefully turn into my second novel last night. I’m in a very exciting place at the moment, as I am now in a position to publish and I can’t wait to be getting on with it! I am still trying to ‘get there’ with my first book, The Poisonwood Shadows. It is finished, but I feel a bit frightened to really let it go and I can’t stop polishing and messing about with the text. Right now it feels like a carousel of punctuation, editing, questioning every decision, chasing my friends for feedback and researching punctuation. Still, the end is in sight and I’ve got a lot of hard work planned for myself.

I’ve been working on this for over two years now, and I really feel like it’s time to be finished and onto the next thing, so my first big challenge is to finally complete the book and be happy with it. I’m loving the process. It’s a fantastic feeling to know that I have learned so much and developed my skills as a writer. I read a lot and am trying to find at least an hour day to curl up and lose myself in a book (currently reading A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin).

It’s a funny thing being a writer. I know it’s not just me. Our heads are filled with ideas for novels. I have at least six up there right now, and I have begun four of them. I see so much potential, but then finding the time and giving it the space to develop is a whole other story in itself. That’s partly why I can’t wait to put The Poisonwood Shadows to bed and be finished, as I will have so much more time to give to what’s coming next. I really want to document all of the stuff that’s going to be happening, so I have decided to keep a blog of my progress.

I hope to include things that will inspire both myself and other writers, so please keep checking in. Thank you for visiting!