But first: More about Firestarter...
Despite Alice's blameless behaviour, boyfriend Tony's obsessive jealousy kicks in. Hamish wants to take Tony's place, but a hoaxer ensures Alice already sees far too much of Hampshire Fire Service. The threat of an explosive sprout surprise, her mum's baking, sister Kate's mind boggling pep talks and the peculiar behaviour of Alice's boss Miles provide distractions.
Is Alice really in danger? What is Kate up to? Can Hamish possibly be as perfect as he seems? It takes Alice masses of wonderful food, disgusting wine, smelly mud, red footed crows and steamy Welsh passion, but she finds the answers. And rethinks her fantasy.
And now, let's get started, shall we? Bold will be me. Not bold will be Patsy.
Hi Patsy! Thanks so much for visiting the Five Year Project today. First things first: Please tell everyone a bit more about yourself.
I’m a British writer. Mostly I write short fiction for women’s magazines and have had hundreds of stories published around the world. Sometimes characters take over to such an extent they fill a whole novel. Firestarter is an example of that.
I’m married to a photographer and we spend a lot of time ‘on location’ in our camper van, either for his work or my writing. Most of Firestarter was written where it’s set.
Very interesting! So what inspired you to write Firestarter? What gave you your first idea that kicked everything off?
Oh help, I don’t know. I often don’t know what sparked off a story. (Oh! Spark - see what I did there?) Now might be a good time to distract you by mentioning there are firemen in this story. Strong, brave hunky firemen with muscular thighs. Handsome Hamish is of course the hottest and hunkiest of all. When he’s not rescuing people from fires or setting women’s desire alight, he’s being nice to animals.
I may have developed just the slightest crush as I was writing about him.
Lol very subtle. :-P
What was your favorite part to writing Firestarter? (Other than Hamish, of course.)
Researching the food was good. There’s a lot of yummy food in the book and obviously I had to eat it all so I could describe it accurately. The there’s the locations and wildlife. Quite a lot of action takes place at a wildlife sanctuary and, although I’m interested in that kind of thing, I didn’t know enough for some of the scenes. Not all the research goes into the book, but I don’t think that means it’s wasted.
When it comes to the actual writing, the parts without Hamish I most enjoyed were the scenes with my main character Alice and her sister. Kate’s dialogue was a lot of fun to write - she said a few things which surprised me! Actually Louise was fun to write too. Even when she was being mean to Alice I felt sympathy for her and let her vent her frustrations a little.
I love when characters surprise me while I'm writing. What's your favorite moment in Firestarter?
The final scene is definitely one of them. I can’t tell you what it is as that would give too much away.
There’s a satisfying bit where sylish wine snob Tony, persuades Alice’s slime-ball of a boss, Miles Molde to drink warm, flat nettle beer which tastes even more awful than it sounds. Sometimes I feel a little guilty about what I put Tony through. Not Miles though - he deserved it all and more.
Sounds like it was fun to write. Tell me about your writing method. Do you have one? Or are you someone who only writes when inspiration strikes?
I do try to be reasonably organised with my writing. There are lists on my desks of everything I’d like to get done, so if I’m not in the mood for writing I have other things I can get on with. Although I don’t write every day, it’s very rare for me to have a day when I don’t do something writing related - editing, researching, submitting, promotion, etc. It all has to be done and to me it makes sense to tackle whichever task is currently most appealing.
It does make sense. Which phase of the process (writing, revision etc) do you prefer and why?
If the writing is going really well then it’s that part as the story just carries me along. Overall though, it’s the first round of editing or revision. At that stage I know I have a story I can make work and whatever I do to it is almost bound to improve it (my first drafts are a real mess).
My first drafts are messy too. Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter. I didn’t think I would be, but I’ve learned that a flexible outline helps.
Oh interesting! Mind sharing how you go about plotting? What works best for you?
Give away all my secrets? Oh, OK then.
First I take a guess at how many chapters there will be and create a document with headings for each. Then I put in any key points I’ve decided on, roughly where they’ll happen. Obviously these vary with each story, but in a romance you’ll likely to have the couple meeting, realising they’re attracted and finally getting together. A murder story will probably have the body being discovered, important clues and the bad guy getting arrested. Of course it needs a lot of twists and turns, but I start with the obvious and build up.
Next stage is to work out, roughly how long a time period will be covered and note in the different months (or days or years). If the period covers for example Christmas, then I note what the characters do, if anything, to celebrate. I consider the weather too - does that alter the storyline?
At this stage I try to work out the normal life of the characters. Where they work, who their friends are, if they have hobbies and note when I’ll introduce these points. I just keep on adding details as they occur to me. Often one note will spark a couple of ideas. For example the gift a character is given for her birthday reveals something both about her and the person who gave it to her. Do these things impact on the main storyline? If so how and when?
If there are too many points in one chapter I divide it into two. If there’s not much going on, I combine a couple. Once I have enough ideas (which will become scenes) in each chapter, I start writing.
Looks like a very sensible process. Where can people find you and your book?
The process is very sensible - sometimes the way I apply it is less so.
I have a website here - patsycollins.uk and the book is available in paperback and ebook from Amazon.
I also have two writing related blogs.
Thanks again for stopping by! So, lovely people... I want to know: Do you enjoy research? What did you enjoy researching the most?