1. Do you like surprises? Have you ever had a memorable surprise from anyone?
2. Have any of your characters surprised you by 'talking back' or doling something you hadn't plotted?
3. What makes you smile?
KATH starts us off:
1. Ye-es... I do like surprises... but sometimes they can be a bit overwhelming, so I always urge caution to people planning them. My most memorable surprise came on the weekend of Valentine's Day, 2000. I had thought we were going to visit friends for the weekend, then going out on Valentine's night (the Monday), and had booked a restaurant and babysitter. Unknown to me, my husband had thought it would be nice to spend the first Valentine's of the new Millennium in Athens. So, on the Friday morning when I thought I was spending the day working from home, my parents turned up to babysit for the weekend. I was asked to pack quickly, then whisked away, with no idea where we were going until we arrived at the airport check-in gate. My husband had arranged my days off work, cancelled my meetings, phoned the friends I thought we were visiting and asked them to play along, phoned the babysitter I'd booked and explained the situation to her as well, and cancelled the restaurant reservation I'd made. It was a litle disorienting!
Anyway, we had a wonderful few days and it was a memorable long weekend, but a part of me felt I'd missed out on what I'd planned. Also, anticipation of an event is half the pleasure, isn't it? Since then I've said I like surprises BUT I like to know that a surprise is coming. Does that make sense?
2. Oh yes, my characters don't always do what I had planned for them. I remember one in particular, in The Girl from Ballymor, who told me in no uncertain terms he'd grown up and was a different person now, and just wasn't going to do what I thought he would, and therefore I'd need to work out some different motivation for him. Actually he was right and the book was all the better for his intervention, so it worked out in the end. Half the fun of writing is getting to know your characters, and finding out how they react to the situations you put them in!
3. What makes me smile? Mountains. I have what my family call a mountain smile, which only appears when I am half way up one. I also smile at kittens, cute children and large cups of tea being handed to me by my husband.
1. Hmm…it rather depends on the surprise. A delivery of flowers I wasn’t expecting? Lovely. A dead (or worse, live) mouse in the kitchen (courtesy of the cat)? Not so much. And then there’s context. If the loving note I find on my pillow is from my other half, I’m over the moon. If it’s from a complete stranger, I’m calling the police.
2. My characters always surprise me, partly because I write the first draft as a way of learning about them. I won’t give details because of spoilers, but at the end of one of my crime novels one character revealed themselves to me as the killer. I had written the whole thing convinced it was someone else…
3.What makes me smile? Cute animal videos. Clever visual jokes. Good guys triumphing against the odds and bad guys getting their comeuppance. Sunny days. Happy endings.
1. I like surprises unless it’s a surprise meal out somewhere posh and I haven’t been warned and am in scruffs! One of the loveliest surprises I’ve ever had was coming up to my birthday when a parcel from Amazon arrived and inside was the most glorious book, The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris. A whopper of a coffee table book I would never have bought for myself it is full of the most exquisite paintings of nature with calligraphy letters and short verse.
2. My characters speak to me always. But it was Janey in Christmas at Strand House who surprised me most by announcing she wanted to be an artist – that wasn’t in the script – and it meant I had to do a bit of extra research on art on her behalf!
3. Trees make me smile, always. I love the almost silk fabric texture of emerging leaves, sparse at first, as though some unseen hand has magicked them onto the bare winter brnaches. Then they fill out, week on week during summer getting so dense you can’t see the centre, before the bonfire flame display of autumn. And we go full circle again with bare branches against a steel-grey winter sky ..... how can all that not make you smile?
1. I would love to have a surprise party thrown for me (as long as I am dressed for the occasion and not looking as if I have been dragged through a hedge backwards!) Or a surprise holiday (as long as I have nothing already planned). Hhhmmm, I always thought I liked surprises, but perhaps the reality is that I don't!
2. I am a great plotter, but I didn't plot the twist in A Daughter's Christmas Wish. Nicholas, the hero, was keeping a secret that even I wasn't aware of until I wrote and exposed it.
3. What makes me smile? My husband when he is being funny. The sound of birds on a summer's day. Animals and little children doing silly things. My adult children when they are happy about something. Lots of things ... too many to list here. They usually cost nothing and has something to do with nature and the positive (or innocent) behavior of animals or humans.
1.Yes, I love surprises. Although when I think about it, I haven't actually received that many. The most recent was tickets to see Michael Bublé in concert in Hyde Park. I've had a crush on him for years and practically hyper-ventilated when I opened the envelope. Perhaps it's for the best that I'm not surprised too often!
2.Yes! In my current emotional fiction novel I mapped a whole strand for a main character who, half-way through, decided to take a different route. She is someone who doesn't trust authority, so perhaps it was to be expected!
3.What makes me smile? The brilliance of nature in all its forms - a wild coastline, snow-covered mountains, the baby crow I found, my pet cat, the perennials that bloom in my garden despite being irnored, wildlife documentaries - all lift my spirits. As does listening to the La La Land playlist.
1. I think I do like surprises although like Rae I haven't had any real surprises recently. One I remember though happened a couple of years ago. We'd taken the dog for his five minute mid-day stroll the usual 200 yards down to the river and as we walked back up we could see a car parked outside the cottage. Our daughter and family had come for the weekend. 'We wanted to surprise you,' daughter said. Well they did that!
2. Yes, my characters often take me down plotlines that I hadn't anticipated. I wish I could be more of a plotter than a pantster but I can't. Writing a synopsis before I've written the story is my béte noir - once I know the ending, as far as I'm concerned the story is finished!
3. What makes me smile? Phone calls from friends, watching Django our rescue collie play with Gus our stray cat, walking along a Devonshire shoreline in winter,
baby goats, hearing happy news from my children and watching Mama Mia always without fail makes me feel happy. I'll finish the post with the picture of Gus on the roof because he's always making me laugh.