Crime authors spill their guts about writing...
This week: Louise Jensen
Tell us about yourself.
How do you pick character names? Do any have special meaning to you?
I teach mindfulness and am one of the calmest people you could ever meet. It’s a constant surprise to everyone, even myself, that I write such dark stories.
When I start thinking of a book the characters usually come to me fully formed with names that suit them, even if I don’t at that time know their story. My ten years old son always names minor characters and animals. He wants to be an author himself and loves to get involved.
How do you go about plotting your book?
I don’t plot at all! I wish I had the kind of mind that could methodically structure a proper outline. Sometimes writing with no idea of where I’m going is utterly terrifying and entails vast amounts of rewriting but I do love the thrill of the adventure.
How long does your first draft take you?
As I don’t plot, and am constantly rewriting, I don’t come up with a first draft as such; the book is evolving all the time. The Sister took around 15 months to write. I work on Scrivener which creates a new file for every chapter. The different chapters are visible on a bar running down the left hand side of the screen so if I’m writing something that impacts on other areas of the storyline it’s easy to dive back into these and edit as I go.
What is the best writing tip you have ever been given? How has it influenced you?
To write the book you want to read. I think it’s easy to get caught up in trying to write something that fits into a certain genre but The Sister is a real blend of an emotional story, with some dark unnerving twists and I wasn’t sure where it would be placed. I followed my heart rather than trying to shoehorn it into the marketplace and thankfully it has been really well received by lovers of both commercial fiction and thriller fans.
What book do you wish you had written?
The Stand – Stephen King. It took me through the whole emotional spectrum.
Do you ever surprise yourself with what you’ve written?
Constantly. I write with a lot of emotion and often I find myself crying at a scene, or gasping in fear.
What’s the best and worst thing about being an author?
The best thing has been meeting so many amazing people in the book world, both readers and writers, online and offline.
The hardest thing about being an author for me is as a sufferer of chronic pain I can’t put in as many hours in front of the keyboard as I’d like, which can prove frustrating at times.
Which book or character are you most proud of creating, and why?
Grace, from The Sister is such a complex character and to be able to reveal her, layer by layer and shift the reader’s perception of her was a huge challenge. She changes massively throughout the course of the book and I was rooting for her all the way.
Describe your current work in progress in five words.
Accident? Or was it murder?