Friday, 7 March 2014


The Penguin Foundation on Phillip Island in Victoria saves the lives of penguins - by putting them in jumpers
Thanks to novelist Lia Mills who has passed the 2014 writers’ Q&A blog-tour torch to me. The idea is that you answer three questions about your work, then ask the same questions of another writer whose work you’re interested in, and they pass it on to another writer… and keep it moving.

What am I working on?

I am totally head-cabbaged at the moment because I am working on two main things and tons of other side things. The two main things are:

Novel 2: The Closet of Savage Mementos (out in April from New Island)

I did final proofs this week (so exciting to see the book at this stage). I made 50 changes (mostly small things like removing repeated words. How they are still in there is beyond me; I think I could edit forever and not find all those niggly things.) I also finalised the review quotes for the beginning of the book and proofed the book club questionnaire for the back of the book. All important and time consuming work. Very enjoyable though. And I am compiling my invite list for my Dublin launch - pencil in Tuesday 15th April in The Gutter!

Novel 3: Miss Emily (out 2015 from Penguin USA and Penguin Canada)

I am rewriting the book with the aid of suggestions from my two editors in Penguin. So I am returning to my research notes and books to verify things. I am also having to think more deeply on Emily Dickinson's relationships and how she is the way she is. I am locking down permissions for the Dickinson poems quoted in the book. Penguin have LONG lead times so my deadline is 1st April for this draft. I will get it to them on 31st March so as not to be subbing on April Fool's Day!

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Hmmm, what a question. What am I supposed to say?! Erm, it's different in that I bring my own sensibilities to it, I suppose. My passions and obsessions. I am interested in the body and lovers so that tends to turn up a lot. I don't shy away from sex scenes (I am very well thought of among a certain band of older men of my acquaintance! My mother is not so pleased...)

How does my writing process work?

Process. What does it even mean? I try to write three hours a day five days a week, basically. On my laptop at my desk in my bedroom. Mornings, when the kids are out. I keep A5 legal pads everywhere and I jot things on them - quotes, sentences, words, ideas. Once the jotted bits are put into the work, I throw the bits of paper away. I keep a small notebook in my handbag for notes on the fly. I build my novels from notes, I don't plot or plan, I just throw myself in and see what will happen. I don't necessarily write the book in a linear way either, I write forward and back.

I am now passing this on to writer Alison Wells, who will post her answers to the Q&A on the 24th March.


Rachel Fenton said...

This is so interesting! I really wish I could throw myself into a novel and just work my way out of it, but I cling to my plan (perhaps too much) like a clingy thing.

Looking forward to both novels - well done you for juggling all that work!

Emily said...

What a really interesting interview: I always wondered how many times you would have to go through drafts... I'd never be finished!! Looking forward to reading the new books :-)

Lia Mills said...

Those repeated words ... I think they creep in under the covers while we're asleep!

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Thanks, ladies.
Rae, for me plot feels restrictive. I like to tell myself a story.
Emily, I could edit forever.I love it.
Lia, great theory! I am maddened by repeat words. I think I''ve zapped them all and then, bam, there's another one!

Anonymous said...

Ooh, look forward to reading those.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir said...

Cheers, Tracy!