January 2009 meeting
Report published 26 January 2009
Catherine Jones with impromptu panel Louise Allen, Katie Fforde, Catherine King
Our January speaker—Daisy Goodwin - could not be with us because she had the sad task of attending John Mortimer’s funeral. Chairman Catherine Jones, however, is not a woman who is easily daunted. In less time than it takes to say “You, you and you” she had marshalled a slightly surprised panel of authors to take part in a Question and Answer session.
Blinking in the spotlight were Melanie Hilton who writes hot historicals for HM&B as Louise Allen, Katie Fforde who writes best-selling contemporary romantic comedy and Catherine King who concentrates on gritty Yorkshire sagas.
Questions ranged in scope and levity.
Favourite distractions? Melanie answers emails, Katie plays spider patience and Catherine warms up to her writing day with solitaire.
How do you plot? Katie has a theme, a set of people, nice things happening and takes it from there. Catherine has a setting (she’s working her way through the heavy industries), a heroine, nasty things happen to her and she takes it from there. Melanie has a strong hero, a strong heroine and mostly lets them get on with it. Recently, however, she has been working on a continuity series with five other writers, so everything has had to be much more tightly plotted because it all affects everybody else!
How fast does the panel write? Can they speed up? The feeling was that it could be done if it was really necessary, but in general each person is happiest writing a certain amount per day. Either the writing or the writer suffers if forced to go beyond it!
If they changed genres, what would the panel like to write? Catherine was happy where she was. Katie was also happy, but did betray an odd interest in time-slip tales. Melanie has a wardrobe corner filled with notes on a BIG story of the Merovingian period—6th century.
What good is an agent? Melanie—not necessary if you write for HM&B. Katie thinks her agent is wonderful! She doesn’t like dealing with rights and money, she’d rather concentrate on just writing—so an agent is perfect. Catherine—invaluable if you can find one who suits you.
And lastly, the panel all virtuously denied that alcohol played any significant part in their writing. Of course, this could be because Katie writes in the early morning, Catherine gets sleepy and Melanie has to wrestle her husband for the gin bottle…