Over the years I have become a fan of Zoe Miller's writing having read most of her books, still have a couple in my toppling TBR piles to read. I've also had the pleasure of welcoming Zoe to the blog for a couple of Q&A's in the past so when I was approached by Joanna at Hachette Books Ireland about being a host for Zoe's blog tour for the paperback of hew new book Someone New, which Emma reviewed here earlier in the year, I didn't hestiate to say yes.
I’d like to say a big thank you to Sharon for hosting Day 2 of the Someone New blog tour. I’m delighted to be featured as a guest post on the book blog, and today it’s all about Writing the Book.
Starting out to write a book can be exhilarating, exciting and terrifying in equal measure. It is the beginning of a new adventure that will last almost a year. That’s roughly how long it takes to fill 300 pages with 100k words. Any story at all is possible depending on the arrangement of those words and the grouping of sentences you make on the page.
I’m not usually one of those authors who find ideas for the next book pouring in when they’re three quarters of the way through their current work in progress. I have to wait until a script is well and truly consigned to my editor and I have some head space before I can start to think of a new story. Someone New started life in the most innocuous way possible – a few doodles of names, circles, and shapes in different coloured felt pens scrawled across the pages of a bumper-sized blank A4 pad. This is the fun part, you’re only starting out, you could be writing any kind of book, because everything is possible before you commit your ideas and characters and get to the 30K- 40k word watershed. By then the story is taking on a distinctive shape and life of its own.
In Someone New, I wanted to write about the theme of following your dreams and feeling grateful for being alive, so I needed a character who wasn’t doing either of these things, which is where Grace came in. She’s thirty years old, and she’s living the life she thinks she ought to be living instead of finding out what she really wants. Then Danny comes into her life and he shows her the way forward with his unique approach to everything. Once I had the main characters pinned down, it was fun working out how they would meet, their backgrounds and family life, where they lived, and the kind of setting I needed in order to tell the story.
When it came to location, I put Grace into a small apartment, built in the days of the Celtic tiger, when space was at a premium and apartment blocks were built in the shadow of neighbouring blocks, giving Grace a restricted view out of her window. It reflects the inner struggle where Grace feels her life is stifling her. She meets Danny against the gaiety of a Dublin city at Christmas time, so at odds with how she’s feeling right then, and their relationship plays out across a series of feel-good escapades that lift Grace out of her stagnant rut; building a snow man, kite flying in the park, watching the night time stars in the Kerry Dark Sky reserve.
Someone New is not just about Grace. To deepen the story, and act as a foil to Grace, she has an older sister Lucia, who is holding down a successful career with a lifestyle to match, and has a beautiful home straight out of a Better Homes photo-shoot. Everything about Lucia’s life is at a polar opposite to Grace’s. Grace has every reason to think Lucia is following her high-flying dreams and is extremely grateful to be living such a fulfilling life she is…or is she? Then there is Detective Matt Slattery, who comes into Grace’s world at time when hers has fallen apart, but equally so, she comes into his at a time when his life is a debris-strewn mess.
You can imagine what the first draft of Someone New was like by the time I had 100k words written, with three story lines interconnecting and influencing each other; a jumble of scenes and chapters. It was time to go back to the drawing board for more fun. Using a pack of different coloured index cards, and choosing one colour per character, I listed their scenes in order. When I lined up the index cards on a cork board in sequence, it was very clear to see where there were gaps, or where one character dominated a section of the story, and it made draft 2 a whole lot easier, especially when it came to moving scenes around for more effective plot twists.
There are no magic keyboards or golden rules when it comes to writing a book. In a nutshell, it’s one word after another. Rather daunting - and exciting - when you think that all 100k words are formed from just 26 letters in the alphabet.
Thank you Sharon, for having me on your blog!
In her heart, Grace knows the perfect, reliable, good-looking Gavin isn’t right for her. Then she meets Danny. Unpredictable and spontaneous, he turns her world upside down. All of a sudden, Grace is seeing life differently and doing things she never thought she’d do.
But tragedy strikes when Danny dies in a motorbike accident, shattering Grace’s world. As she struggles to come to terms with her loss, she becomes more and more convinced that she’s being followed – sighting a motorbike exactly like Danny’s everywhere she goes. And she starts to wonder if Danny’s death was really an accident.
When she finally voices her suspicions to her family and the police, though, no one seems willing to believe her.
Meanwhile Grace feels ever more under threat as sinister things begin happening to her. What was Danny hiding from her? And what kind of danger is she in now?
Zoë Miller writes contemporary novels laced with suspense and intrigue. She was born on the south side of Dublin, where she still lives with her husband. She has two daughters and a son. As a child, Zoë was always the one with her head stuck in a book and she enjoyed reading so much that it compelled her to write. ‘Someone New’ is Zoë’s eighth book to be published by Hachette Books Ireland, and Zoë fits in her writing between family time and the day job.