My guest today is Awen Thornber, whose debut novel, Foxtrot in Freshby, was published by Crooked Cat on 6th December. Awen is also the author of an anthology called Threads of Awen, which is available here. Let’s find out a bit more about Awen …
Welcome to the blog, Awen. Can you tell us, what inspires your story ideas or characters?
Anything. I use all my senses. I listen to conversations or read an article, or see something even for a second. For instance, a whole ghost story was written from the night I thought I saw a figure by the kerb as I was driving. It was just a shadow from a street lamp, but it inspired three thousand words. The slightest thing sets me off. I have always used any sort of inspiration to create in stitch, paint or writing.
How do you go about starting a new writing project?
The inspiration appears out of the blue, then the ideas grab me and won’t let go. I can’t shake them off until I’ve written down a brief outline, and then the characters take over and lead me in.
Have you a favourite inspirational quote?
To explore new lands, first you must leave the shore. To me this means stop expecting or waiting for things to happen, you have to help them along and let go of the old in order to find the new.
What was your favourite book as a child and how do you view it now as an adult?
Great Expectations. (Charles Dickens) As a child I read it many times and found it to be an enjoyable story. It made such an impact on me that I named my son Phillip and shorten it to Pip. I have read it a since and find it a darker more complicated tale, but more than that it inspired me to write dark stories with a twist.
What has surprised you most about being a published writer?
After the initial excitement of having your novel accepted, the hard work of promoting the novel takes up an awful lot of your writing time.
Who would you say has been most influential in your writing career?
My friend Paula Martin, who has had thirteen novels published has been a great help and support. I met her through Facebook. We chatted online for months in several groups then found out we only lived forty-five minutes away from each other so we met up and another friend, also from chatting on Facebook, joined us. We have been meeting up regularly for over three years. Paula has passed on advice gained from being published and edited my work to get it submission ready. Both Paula and Carol have been my beta readers, and brainstorming buddies.
What are your writing goals long term and/or short term?
I have started to write a paranormal novel and intend to explore the ghost, magical realism and spiritual genres after finishing the sequels to Foxtrot in Freshby. I already have half a dozen novels plotted out, I just need to decide which one to concentrate on first.
Which genre would you like to write in but don’t think you could?
I would love to write a crime novel, but it needs confidence a knowledge of law, police procedure and accuracy of such a high standard that I would be too nervous of getting things wrong.
Always a tricky one, but what’s your favourite book?
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Which television show from your childhood would you like to bring back?
I loved Bewitched. I always wanted to be Samantha and wriggle my nose to make magic happen. It inspired my wish to write magical realism. We all want a little magic in our lives, but what if we could really use it. I am editing a novel at the moment that I wrote for NaNoWriMo in 2011. It is based on a normal family using spells to obtain a change in their family life.
Your book is going to be filmed! If you were in charge of casting, who would star as your characters?
I am hopeless at remembering actors names and even recognising them in films and TV. I do use pinterest as a story board to get to know my characters and often have actors on there as an inspiration behind a character, for instance, a young Vanessa Redgrave inspired Paula the rival dance teacher. Mainly I use models from hairstyle magazines. Ha ha.
And after you’ve chosen your cast, which song would you choose for the theme?
One Day Like This. The song is mentioned in the book and the version I had in mind is sung by my daughter’s friend. A second option would be the Michael Jackson song, The way you make me feel, which is mine and Gina’s choice for the foxtrot.
What thing or things are guaranteed to cheer you up?
A few hours with my best friend, a walk in the country, bird song or a cuddle off my grandson.
Is there anything you would change about your life?
I would have written my novels sooner. i have always written stories and went to writing groups and classes from my teens to early twenties, then work, house and bringing up a young family got in the way somehow. As part of my job I wrote articles and projects for a craft company and craft magazines and got out of the habit of writing fiction until I lost my job in 2008 with breast cancer. Then i picked up the pen and started writing poems and short stories, which eventually led to novels.
What’s your favourite social media outlet and why?
Facebook because I have met a number of very good friends through it, who I wouldn’t have met otherwise because of location etc.
What are the best and worst things about being a writer?
The best thing is getting your ideas down on paper and the escape of immersing yourself in another world. The worst bit is editing, which is why most of my previous novels are still in files or drawers!
What one piece of advice would you give to other writers?
Stick at it. If you want to be a writer, then you must write. Even a few words a day adds up.
You’re stuck in a lift with three other people of your choice. (That’s lucky!) Who are they?
Susan Hill (I love her paranormal books) Trisha Ashley (I love her novels, they have great humour and magical realism) Tim Bowler (I would love to write children books and I greatly admire his style)
Where do you write?
Anywhere, but we move house before Christmas and I shall be able to have a study in the next house.
Thank you, Awen. It’s been lovely getting to know you! Good luck with the house move, and with the book, of course.
Formerly a textile artist and design consultant for a craft company, Awen Thornber produced craft projects and articles for magazines, and had a regular craft column in Northern Life magazine. She is always looking for inspiration to spark her creative mind and currently devotes her time to writing novels. Born and bred in Lancashire, Awen also loves walking, painting, ballroom and ballet dancing.
You can buy Foxtrot in Freshby here.
Follow Awen on Facebook.
Find out more about her on her lovely blog.