Let's welcome Wendy Unsworth back to Pure Jonel and find out a bit more about her.
Hello and thank you for inviting me here today. My name is Wendy Unsworth. I am British, from the north of England but lived in Central and East Africa throughout the 80's and early 90's. I have also lived in beautiful Cornwall on the South Coast of England and in Portugal. Travel has always been a great influence on my life.
Q ~ If you could be any animal, which would you be and why?
It would have to be some kind of cat. Having had the privilege of spending many hours on 'safari' in some of the most beautiful national parks of Africa I absolutely love all animals from dung beetles right up to elephants but cats hold a special place in my heart. Leopards and cheetahs are very beautiful but I would opt to be a lion because they have a great sense of family belonging and loyalty and those values are very important to me too!
Q ~ What’s one habit that you have that you’d like to break?
It's to do with my writing. One very accepted (and, I believe, sound) piece of advice is to get the first draft of a novel down and then go back and get it right. I would love to follow that advice but, no matter how hard I try to resist, I tend to keep going back and re-working sections and that can make progress seem very slow!
Q ~What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
I have always been a fairly eclectic reader; I love a good mystery, thriller and something with a creepy element to it. However, I have ventured into many more genres since owning my Kindle and have developed an interest in short stories too.
As far as writing is concerned, my novels are mysteries that are based around ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary situations. The way characters cope when they are challenged by circumstance really interests me.
Q ~ How did you begin writing professionally?
I have had a life-long interest in writing and I quite naturally write everything down from shopping lists to travel diaries! I have always wanted to write a novel and after many years of starting I finally achieved what is much harder, I finished my first novel in 2012.
Q ~ Who are your biggest supporters in your writing?
My two trusted editors are huge supporters, both kind and brutally honest, they are just what I need. My husband is also my great supporter, knowing when I am writing he will happily get on with something else and bravely resist the temptation to interrupt me to ask where I last saw his glasses/binoculars/wallet/shoes etc etc. When I am not writing he asks these questions all the time!
Q ~ Do you have any ‘writing rituals’ that you always follow?
Not too many. Because I have always moved around a lot I don't have a special room or writing corner or desk. Actually I am pleased about that; as long as I have a comfortable place and it is reasonably quiet I am happy. If I can, I will choose a writing spot with a beautiful view to enjoy. However I always remember a line from one of Stephen King's books advising writers to 'find the window', in other words to immerse yourself in the world of your book throughout your writing period. I have found that actually reminding myself of that advice immediately before I begin to write somehow enables me to be there in that other world I am creating.
Q ~ When you write, do you try to reach a specific word count or simply write until you are done?
I can never stick to achieving a word count. I just write and see where it takes me.
Q ~ What inspired you to write The Palaver Tree?
The idea of a confidence trickster had been in my mind for a long time and I wanted to expand that into a story that revolved around the volatile and often very vulnerable situations that can occur daily on the African continent. But the book is mainly about the determination and inner strength that ordinary people can so often find when suddenly the chips are down.
Q ~ Did you always plan for this to be the first in a series or did it just happen?
Not at first. The idea for The Palaver Tree was there and it was almost all I could think about. Certainly I did not have the beginnings of any other story in mind. However, as The Palaver Tree began to flesh out I started to be very interested in the more minor characters who inhabit the village of Berriwood where the main character, Ellie, lives. Although some appeared only briefly their own stories began to take shape and it is one of those stories that I tell in the second book of the series, Beneathwood.
Q ~ Do you have a favourite character in your novels? Is this individual based on someone in your life?
A favourite character? No, I don't think I do. The whole idea of the Berriwood series is to tell the story of a different inhabitant of the village each time. I think probably my favourite character is the one who I am writing about at any particular time.
I wouldn't say any of my characters are based on a particular individual in my life but inevitably each is a different amalgamation of people I have known, picking up on characteristics and traits. Of course, if any of my characters had a marked similarity to someone I have known I would never tell!
Q~ If you could give some advice to those who want to write professionally, what would it be?
First I would,say ' be true to your characters' . Sometimes, in the first draft, it is easy to manipulate your characters to do exactly what you want but, as you get to know them better, it becomes obvious that they would do some things or behave in a certain way, but not in others. In order to create a believable character it is essential to be honest with yourself and if something doesn't fit, change it until it does.
My second piece of advice would be to not be in a rush. Do the very best that you can, read through over and over until you are happy and find an editor who you really trust.
And finally. Just get on and do it. A full length novel is a mighty undertaking but the rewards of finally publishing are at the end of the rainbow!
Don't forget to enter while you're here.
Entries close at 11:59pm Monday July 15/13.
Winners will be announced Tuesday July 16/13.
Good luck to all!