Tell us about your latest book.
The book is called The Look of Love and is about a woman rents her house out as a location for a TV clothes makeover show called Fashion Victims and becomes one of the participants. I sometimes base an entire book on something that’s made me a bit cross and this is one of them. I got furious watching Gok Wan mauling women’s “bangers” and running one of his subjects round a department store while she was fully dressed but lacking a skirt. Why? It seemed so humiliating so I thought I’d write some kind of revenge. Instead, as I wrote this, I watched more of these programmes, decided I liked poor Gok very much and that he was always right re clothes. But that’s OK – this is more about people and relationships than frocks, though there are plenty of those too and (I hope) it’s lots of fun. What is your favourite stage of the writing process?
I like the bit where I write The End best. I think most of us do! But also, I do like having something to edit and tweak. Which authors have inspired you?
I was an avid reader from very young so I’d say (unfashionably) that Enid Blyton was the earliest influence, re pure story-telling. Anne of Green Gables made me realise it was alright after all to be someone who talked and imagined far too much. William Golding for breathtaking economy of language, Colette for the utter delight of the Claudine series, Nancy Mitford for an enviable (and deceptive) lightness of touch and Barbara Pym for her wickedly sly humour. I developed Paragraph Planet because my favourite stage of writing is editing and reducing the word count to improve a piece. How do your successive drafts change?
I tend not to move onto a next chapter till I’m pretty sure the one I’m working on is about as good as I can make it, bar a few later changes. I don’t work through a whole book to the end and then go back and kind-of restart, so I wouldn’t say I do drafts, exactly. I wish I did – I’m sure it would make life easier. But really, once I’ve written the final chapter the whole lot is just about ready to go. Of course there’ll be later alterations and additions, depending on my editor’s verdict. She’ll always spot something that could be improved but when you’re writing you might have missed these, being too close and involved at the time. Have you any tips for aspiring writers?
Read and read. If there’s a particular genre you are interested in writing, read all of what I call ‘the opposition’. Having said that, I can’t read novels like my own while in mid-book in case of being either influenced style-wise or paralysed with envy and wish I’d written theirs! When you’re stuck, write something different – do a Paragraph Planet piece in a voice that you wouldn’t normally try. Enter short story competitions in Writers’ News etc. and mix with other writers online via Twitter and Facebook. Click here for Judy's website.