Hello everyone! Welcome to another Meet The Author Moment! Today we’re featuring Zara Stoneley. Read on to learn more about Zara.
[ZS]: Full length books, like the Tippermere series I’m writing at the moment, take me around 4 months. I did manage to complete one book in around 6 weeks, but my stories seem to have a lot more pages in them these days!
[AC]: Do you ever get writer’s block?
[ZS]: I certainly get to a stage in (nearly) every story I write where the words don’t flow as easily – sticky middles are not nice! If writing is a hobby then that’s fine, but if it’s your job, your career, on the line then you can’t afford to just stop working when you have deadlines to meet. That’s why I try and think of it as a sticky patch rather than an insurmountable block.
[AC]: Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
[ZS]: Keep working is my main tip! A writer has to be a tough boss, once you stop writing and get out of the habit it can get progressively harder each day to get back into it. Writing is a job and you really can’t just lay down tools when the going gets tough.
If a particular aspect of a story is causing problems I’d advise you to skip it and move on to the next chapter, or even further on. My manuscripts are littered with comments in red saying things like ‘come back to this later’, or ‘what happens next?’ (and even more cryptic comments that make no sense to me at all when I revisit them!).
If the problem is bigger then going back to your plan can help – examining the goals, motivations and conflicts of the story as a whole, or of the main character can really focus your mind. If I do this I often get a ‘eureka moment’ when I realise where things have gone wrong, and even a simple tweak can set the ball rolling again. Understanding your characters really is the key factor to being able develop a story.
If all else fails then a change of scene (for you, not the characters) can help – whether it’s a long walk, a gym session or housework it’s surprising what can kick start the little grey cells. Food for a writer (apart from chocolate!) is observing what’s around us, listening, watching, reading; inspiration springs from the most unlikely sources.
[AC]: What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
[ZS]: I’ve written two series now, but I really believe you should only write linked books when the story demands it. There is nothing worse, to my mind, than turning what is essentially one good stand-alone book into a series purely as a marketing ploy.
I am currently part way through my ‘Tippermere’ series (the first being ‘Stable Mates’, the second ‘Country Affairs’, the third due out next Spring – and with a free bonus Christmas novella ‘A Very Country Christmas’, out now). By the time I’d planned the first book it was obvious that the story I wanted to develop was far too big to cover in one novel. The feedback from readers has been amazing, with people really wanting to know what happens next in the lives of the characters – and many getting to know the fictional setting of Tippermere so well they’ve been asking where it is so they can visit (I can understand what they mean – I don’t ever want to leave Tippermere)!
From a writing point of view a series involves a lot more planning, with continuity and timelines needing close attention, but it is well worth the effort. And sometimes the whole story just has to be told!
[AC]: Who is your favorite author and why?
[ZS]: It’s impossible for me to single out just one author. I’ve always read a wide variety of authors spanning different genres and it really does depend what mood I’m in to what I reach for. The wonderful thing about books is that there’s one out there to suit every occasion and stage of your life.
What To Read Next…
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