I live in a city - Vancouver - but I often set stories in small towns for the sense of community which echoes what I find in my downtown neighborhood. What about you? Where do you live and where do you set your stories? And why?
Hello Kate, and thank you for inviting me over to your place. Community's important to me too. My city, London, is made up of a series of villages, and a sense of individuality still runs through places like Kensington, Chelsea and of course, my home village, Notting Hill. If you ever find yourself down my way, shout out – I'll show you around the most beautiful city in the world. An Explosive Time is very much grounded in London, while A Raucous Time and The Bridle Path are set in the glorious county of Cornwall. In A Ripple in Time the location switches between London, Cornwall and enigmatic Stonehenge, with the closing chapters taking place aboard the Titanic.
What's your favorite book ever and why? I have 2 or 3 books that I read over and over again - including Jane Austen's Persuasion. I love it because the characters are older and their relationship isn't easy, but you know, when they do finally get together, they're grown-ups and they know exactly who they are.
I'm a great admirer of Jane Austen's works too, her insight into character and sly sense of humour appeals greatly. Without trying to side step the question, my favourite book tends to vary according to mood. Since embarking down the self publishing route, I read fiction with a more critical eye. I'll often find myself thinking how has the author managed that? Why does this character work and how did they conjure up a scene with just a few sentences? Consequently, I find reading biographies more relaxing, among the favourites this year has been Conan-Doyle's story, and "How to Survive the Titanic" by Frances Wilson, a study of Bruce Ismay.
What's the story you've always wanted to write but somehow can't? For me, it's a story about World War I. I'm fascinated by the stories I've read about it but I'm pretty sure I'm never going to write a real war story. I've just finished a book that is set partly during World War I but a very long way away from the battles. I think that's as close as I'm going to get.
As for the book I'd like to write someday; Eleanor of Aquitaine is for me one of the most fascinating women in history: She invented and promoted the concept of "Courtly Love", went on crusade to the Holy Land, and having divorced one king, married the first great law maker Henry II, mother of Richard the Lionheart, and as she signed herself, "by the wrath of god, Queen of England". But to write the novel to do justice to such an amazing woman would mean immersion into the medieval world and mindset, and I suspect supreme dedication.
Finally, do you have a routine? If so, what is it and how easy/hard is it to stick to it? I try to have one, but because I work as a freelance paralegal and teach paralegals occasionally, my schedule tends to change from week to week, if not actually day to day. I'm always buying lottery tickets, hoping to win just enough money not to have to work and write to a regular schedule though I'm pretty sure that even if I did have the money to write nine to five, I wouldn't, as I've been scrambling like this forever :)
I agree with you, it would be heaven to write all day, and not worry about silly little things like money. The masterpieces we could write, sequestered in our ivory towers all day – on second thoughts, it's probably good for writers to live in the real world – after all, that's where we glean most of the traits for our more memorable characters. With regard to routine, I'm currently trying to shift this 'writer's waist' and first thing I take the dogs for a sprint round the local park. Once breakfast is tidied away, I sit down and tap at the keyboard, before taking a break for an hour or two. The afternoon is more unstructured, but I always spend an hour or so in the evening catching up with editing and working out story lines, I'm currently working on a sequel to The Bridle Path with the working title Adverse Canter (which no-one but me likes) and a YA novella – as yet untitled – and of course connecting with other authors!
Julia Hughes is the creator of the Celtic Cousin Adventures, her breakthrough time travel romantic adventure A Ripple in Time has been downloaded 20,000 times in five days during a recent promotion. Don't forget to watch out for An Explosive Time, the third Celtic Cousin Adventure which will be free to download from 5th August, for more details visit Julia's website.