Friday, September 28, 2012

Friday - How She Does It - Sheila Claydon

1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?

I know how each character is going to behave right from the start of the story but I can’t write a word about any of them until I find their face. It might be a photo of someone in a magazine or a television actor or a presenter; it might be a person opposite me on a train or next to me in the queue when I’m shopping; it might even be someone I know really well. Once it was even an animated character from a Disney film! I don’t know why I have to do this but my characterizations don’t seem to work any other way.

Of course I am always very careful not to identify them and, believe it or not, a very tall and attractive man once asked me the fatal question: ‘Do you base your characters on people you know?’ I couldn’t tell him one was based on him could I - so I’m ashamed to say, I lied

2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?

Something triggers the germ of an idea and I play around with that for a while. Then I start searching for my characters because without them I can’t develop the plot. And yes, they do lead me through the story. The motto on my website is a misquote from the late and great Ray Bradbury. ‘First find out what your hero wants. Then just follow him…’ and that’s exactly what I do.

3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?

I always know how it’s going to end but rarely when or where – that’s what makes writing so compelling.

4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?

I nearly always choose settings I know, although one of my earliest ones was set in Moscow! I am lucky enough to have travelled a great deal during my life and I have also worked and/or stayed in a lot of different environments, so I can pick and choose between countries and backdrops. I like to write about places I’ve visited and, Reluctant Date, which you are featuring in your Saturday chapter, is set in a small town in Florida where I enjoyed a wonderful holiday. The heroine even follows my footsteps in some places.

I equally enjoy using my own locality though and my latest book, Double Fault, which is due to be published this month, is set mainly in the North West of England, where I live.

5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?

It always used to be books but nowadays, with so much information available at the click of a mouse, it’s mostly online. I find serendipity plays a part too. The hero in the book I am writing at the moment is a film composer. Now although my daughter and son-in-law are very talented musicians, I don’t know one note from another. I do enjoy listening to music though and recently, while I was booking some online tickets for a concert, I found a link to YouTube that gave me exactly the information I wanted for my story.

6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?

I revise as I go along, and then I revise again, and again…and again! Every time I read one of my manuscripts I see something that can be improved, to the extent that eventually I just have to stop re-reading it and force myself to send it to my publisher for final edits. I always keep my fingers crossed until it comes back though.

1 comment:

Juliet Waldron said...

Tried to post this earlier, but Sheila, this is a interesting post about your creative process, which you articulate beautifully. So interesting, too, how every writer comes at this a little differently.

best wishes,