LifeOfWriters.com is proud to announce our interview with author Erinna Mettler. She is the author of STARLINGS. STARLINGS is a daisy-chain novel set in the city of Brighton. Each chapter tells the tale of one of its varied inhabitants. Read her great answers below and get to know about her writing life.
What does your typical writing day look like?
I have children of school age so a typical day starts with getting them ready for school, breakfast, packed lunches whatever they need then off they go and I have the house to myself. At the moment I work from a desk in the back of the lounge but I'm very excited because soon I'll be moving to a house with an office! A room of my own. I have trained myself to only do the minimum of housework in the mornings (who needs a clean house when you've written two books!). I like to get straight into the writing or the hours just disappear and I'll have nothing done. The first thing I do is check emails and post on social media. I have a short story collection, Fifteen Minutes, coming out with Unbound Publishing and I need to make people aware of it so I'll take half an hour to promote it on Twitter and to check for anything of interest, connect with other writers etc. After that I'll just get on with the writing. I write in quite long bursts, sometimes hours at a time. I'm on it until lunch and then I'll stop for half an hour before going back to it until the kids get home at 4 o'clock. I have a method of working that is quite bound up with other media. I recently did a playlist for a radio show of songs that have influenced the current book and I realized that I don't just listen to the music I watch the videos on YouTube too. I do a lot of this sort of influential research at the beginning of a story by making notes using visual clips from films, newsreels and TV shows as well as music videos. My background is in research and I like to be thorough.
I don't write like this everyday but I try to do three full days a week. I have other things to do like mentoring and admin for The Brighton Prize, the short story award I am a director of. Even on the days I'm not writing I'll do the promotional work and I'll write something at least least. I will often write flash fiction or poetry just to give my brain a bit of exercise. At the end of the day I'll set aside sometime to edit what I've done. You'll often find me reading work aloud with a red pen in hand to make notes on what doesn't work.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
Characters just come to me. I like to use people I've either seen from afar or met briefly and then create a whole story for them. For example a waitress who has served me or a taxi driver or someone I've seen on a bus. I use obscure news stories too. I have a visual image of my characters in my head from the beginning then I'll start to write the story. If it's a long piece I will write down a biography for each of the main characters, born, grew up, what they were like at school, what they like to drink things like that. I don't want to know what happens to them after I've left them. People often ask that. What happens next? I don't know - I'm not in touch with them anymore! Like real life, you don't know what happens to people after you know them.
I'm not a plotter. I'm what they call a pantser. I want to get as much down as possible in one go, when I'm about halfway through the end will come to me and I'll stop and write that then go back and fill in the blanks.
What is your favorite thing about being an author?
It's a compulsion! I have no choice. The thing I like best is when the story comes together, when everything suddenly gels into a beginning, middle and end ( though not necessarily in that order) and you're left with something you are happy with. I also like meeting people who like my work. People who have read something and been touched by it and remember it long after they've finished reading. It's also a chance to say something about the state of the world and how I feel about it. Writing is therapy you can get all the frustrations and injustices out into the open.
What is the best writing advice you have got?
There are two. The first is that you have to actually write. You've got to get the words down and you've got to spend hours doing it otherwise you won't have anything to show. If you are stuck just write whatever comes into your head, look at a picture and write about that, read the newspaper and pick out an obscure story to work on, be inspired and then sit down and write. The second one is how important editing is. When I started out I edited a piece a couple of times and thought it was finished. Now I spend much more time editing than writing. It's so important if you want your work to be good. I read what I've written aloud to see the faults in plot and flow, edit, do it again and again and again. If you get to the point where you are swapping commas about but not much else the piece is finished before that it's a work in progress.
What are you writing on at the moment?
I'm working on a sort of novel/short story collection hybrid. It started life as a Twitter tale which was published in a book called Tales on Tweet by Harper Collins India last year. They'd collected together Twitter fiction from writers including Salman Rushdie and Margaret Atwood and lots of lesser known ones like me! The original story was,
'She worked 9-6 for 40 years. She assumed her final tip was a note but fishing in her apron pocket found only a lottery ticket.'
That story became a short which is in Fifteen Minutes but the the main character, Ruby, just wouldn't go away and I've had this diner and town in my head ever since. I'm on the fourth story so about 30,000 words in. I still don't know what happens to her after she's given the lottery ticket though because that's the end of our time together. It's quite hard because it's set in Arizona and I'm not American but I've stayed there and I know exactly what the town is like I just have to take extra care with language and dialogue and of course I'll have to get some American friends to read it to let me know what I've got right and wrong. I quite often write stories set in America, I've traveled there a lot and in this global age I don't think it's a problem so long as you strive for authenticity.
I'm also writing a memoir about the films me and my Dad watched together. A side project, and it's exciting because I've not written a straight out memoir before and it's a different sort of craft so I'm learning on the job.
Fifteen Minutes is still crowdfunding with Unbound publishing https://unbound.
com/books/fifteen-minutes and people can still pledge support but it's in the final stages so they'll need to be quick. It will be out in the next couple of months.
I also blog regularly on writing craft from my website www.erinnamettler.com
The Brighton Prize is open to international entries of short stories and flash fiction up until June 30th and the first prize is £1,000 www.brightonprize.com
By : Admin | Author Interview
2017-04-25 [ 04:44:37]