Tag Archive | Best Selling Author

The art of using children and animals in a novel…!

Who was it that said that you should never work with animals or children?

Well, to be fair, they do make the work of an author more difficult, however in real life they exist in almost every family and with that in mind I really feel that we should include them in our books, which is why in House of Secrets I created a three-year-old Poppy, the daughter of my heroine and her puppy Buddy, a naughty, playful springer spaniel… I mean, come on… how many little girls don’t get a puppy for Christmas…??

Give them a purpose?

I needed Poppy to be young, innocent and young enough to be affected by Liam. I needed Madelaine (her mother) to have to protect her, the reader to feel an empathy for her and for her to come over as vulnerable. If Poppy had been a baby, I wouldn’t have been able to get her interacting, nor would I have been able to get her to create a link between Madeleine and Bandit, who automatically wants to look out for her and keep her safe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Buddy had been a recent gift from Liam. He’d been bought for Poppy as a bribe after he’d shouted at her. I needed a puppy that would learn fast and after owning spaniels myself, I know how intelligent they can be. I also knew that teaching a spaniel the command ‘speak’ was simple. Initially, Madeleine teaches Buddy to speak to earn food, a way of trying to get Poppy to eat. I also knew that the command ‘speak’ would come in very useful later on in the book and used this to my advantage.

 

 

 

 

 

Are they plot muppets or not..?

It’s very important not to allow your sub-characters to turn into ‘plot muppets.’ When your heroine has a child it’s important to remember that they are always there. In real life a child can’t just disappear because the scene doesn’t need them. A child always has to be there or they have to have a good reason not to be.

If for any reason you’re writing a scene where the child isn’t needed then they need to either be sleeping, away at a nursery or school, they need to be being looked after by someone else or you need to find a ‘safe’ place for them to be. Children of this age can’t look after themselves.

It’s similar for the pet, a dog always needs to be looked after. As your novel progresses it’s important to remember that the dog needs walking, feeding and playing with. Like the child, you can’t just allow them to disappear without trace for huge parts of the book.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What makes a good secondary character?

And of course this is only my opinion.

Each character in a novel has to be there for a reason. They need to have a purpose. Poppy’s reason was to create a bridge between Madeleine and Liam, she’s scared of him, barely eats and her mother naturally needs to protect her. She’s also instrumental in bringing Madeleine and Bandit together, she creates the softer parts of the book and shows Madeleine’s maternal side to it’s full.

And Buddy, well… he’s instrumental in the novel too and a character in his own right. But, you need to read House of Secrets to find out what happens next….

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Wrea Head Country House Hotel, Scarborough http://www.wrea-head-hotel.co.uk/

Just for you… an exert from the novel which shows both Poppy and Buddy in action..!

‘Oh, Poppy, come on. Don’t cry. It’s not your fault. Mummy should have known better.’ She pulled the child away from her for a moment and stared into her tear-stained face. ‘I know, tomorrow morning, you remind Mummy and we’ll scrub-a-dub you all over until you sparkle like a princess.’ She watched as Poppy began to smile. ‘Come on, sweetheart. Let’s go and let Buddy in.’ Both glanced in the hallway mirror in a well-practiced manoeuvre, flicked their hair back simultaneously and laughed at one another, before running through the old Victorian terraced house, past the two rooms at the front and down the passage that led to the back room and the old kitchen that had long since seen better days.

Madeleine quickly placed Poppy on the floor and opened the back door where an excited Springer Spaniel puppy sat waiting.

Buddy jumped up and down. His tail wagged a hundred miles an hour and as soon as the opening was big enough, he burst in through the back door and straight into the arms of a waiting Poppy, who collapsed on the floor, giggling, as he licked, jumped and wagged his whole body excitedly.

Madeleine smiled. Poppy was so different when Liam wasn’t there. She was happier, playful and appeared to blossom in his absence. Whereas when he was home, she tended to sleep, play with teddy bears in her room or disappear to a quiet corner where she’d sit for hours playing with Buddy. It broke Maddie’s heart to see her daughter unhappy. But what could she do? She’d known moving in with Liam was a mistake but she’d had no choice. The block of flats that she lived in was being demolished. She’d been dating Liam for eight months and he had seemed the perfect boyfriend, loving to her and kind to Poppy, so when he suggested she move in with him, she’d agreed.

‘Look, Poppy, do you think Buddy wants his breakfast?’ she asked and Poppy started nodding enthusiastically.

Reaching for Buddy’s bowl, Maddie pulled a biscuit from the box, broke it with her fingers and crumbled the pieces into the ceramic dish. She then soaked it in milk before placing the bowl on the floor where Buddy immediately pounced, his nose disappearing deep within the dish as it began to rattle around the floor.

‘Would Poppy like some breakfast too?’ Madeleine asked hopefully, but knew what the answer would be. The immediate shake of Poppy’s head confirmed what she’d already thought. She’d noticed over the past two months that Poppy often refused food or only ate tiny amounts and Madeleine nodded her head in confirmation of what she’d been trying to avoid: the days that Poppy didn’t eat always seemed to coincide with Liam being mean to her and Madeleine knew what had to be done. She had no choice but to leave. She needed to take Poppy as far away from this environment as she could.

Madeleine pulled another biscuit from the box and knelt down on the floor. ‘Here, Poppy, watch Buddy eat his biscuits.’ She held the treat up in her hand and waited for Buddy to sit before her. ‘Buddy, speak.’ The puppy barked to order and both Poppy and Madeleine began to clap. ‘Good boy. See, Poppy, Buddy loves his breakfast. Do you think that you’d eat some lovely breakfast too?’ But once again Poppy shook her head, clasped her hand over her mouth and lay down on the kitchen floor.

Madeleine shrugged her shoulders. She had to get her daughter to eat and began searching the cupboards for something that might tempt her, but the cupboards were almost empty and she resigned herself to pushing a slice of bread in the toaster. Maybe she’d find a way to persuade Poppy to eat it.

Madeleine turned around and laughed as she caught sight of Poppy lying flat on her back on the kitchen floor, submerged in what was left of the milky cereal, giggling and squirming as Buddy pinned her to the floor, licking at every remnant he could find.

and finally

 

If you fancy reading any of my novels…. here are the Amazon links

House of Secrets GetBook.at/HouseofSecrets

House of Christmas Secrets ( a sequel to House of Secrets) GetBook.at/ChristmasSecrets

Tell me no secrets GetBook.at/Tellmenosecrets

all 3 books

 

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Rachel Dove talks about her new novel, ‘THE LONG WALK BACK..!’

The Long Walk Back

Here’s the blurb..!!

Does everyone deserve a second chance?

As an army trauma surgeon Kate knows how to keep her cool in the most high pressure of situations. Although back at home in England her marriage is falling apart, out in the desert she’s happy knowing that she’s saving lives.
Until she meets Cooper. It’s up to Kate to make a split-second decision to save Cooper’s life. Yet Cooper doesn’t want to be saved. Can Kate convince him to give his life a second chance even though its turning out dramatically different from how he planned?

cream-tea

Good morning Rachel, thank you for joining me for tea and scones and could I just say, congratulations on the release of your fantastic new book. I’ve already read the advanced copy that you sent me and all I can say is, WOW, your readers are in for a REAL treat…!! What an amazing book…!!

I just have one or two questions to ask, as I’m sure your readers will love to hear your answers..!!

1. I know you’ve wanted to write this book for a long time, so… what was your inspiration for The Long Walk Back?

In today’s political climate, I was always struck by the personal stories behind the war, and a story started to form. If I hadn’t gone into education and writing, I think I would have gone into medicine, as it has always intrigued me and I love medical dramas and reading journals etc. Part of my teaching job involves healthcare dealing with autism etc, and having two children with additional needs means that I always keep abreast of developments. One day, I had a notion of a wounded soldier, and it grew from there.

2. How and when do you find time to write?

I write every day, even if it’s just editing, researching or scribbling details down. I work every single day in some capacity, and I get antsy if I don’t. I write when the kids are at school normally, and when they are still in bed on a morning or late at night. I have been known to write in my car or at the side of a football pitch too, whenever I get chance really. I make time, although now I work from home full time it’s a lot easier. People who work full time and still write a book a year are my heroes. I couldn’t do it!

3. Which character in The Long Walk Back is your favourite?

Cooper without a doubt. I normally identify with my female characters more, but Cooper is a stubborn, sexy, pig headed alpha mate with a soft heart. I love him very much as a character.

4. Are any of the characters based on anyone you know?

Grace and Marlene, two of the lovely ladies from The Chic Boutique on Baker Street are real people, my grandmothers, but other than that, no not really. I try to create completely new people.

5. Do you ever become attached to your characters and have a hard time letting go of them. Or, are you happy to let them go and move onto the next project?

Yes, definitely! Cooper is very special to me, and I could have written him forever. I am currently writing the last book in the Westfield series, and I will be very sorry to say goodbye to the village and its characters.

6. Which comes first, the story, the characters or the setting?

Tricky, because it has been different for some of my books, but I definitely think characters are what comes to mind first. They have to be fully formed in my head before I write, and I use character profiles to keep track of them.

7. How long does it take you to write a book and what sort of research do you do?

On average from start to finish from idea to first draft I would say about 6 months, I have books planned which I haven’t started working on yet, but they will be percolating away in the background. I research by going to places, asking professionals, reading books, and talking to people who have been in similar situations. For The Long Walk Back I did the most research, in terms of medical conditions, dosages of medicines, asking professionals for advice. I wanted to get the story right and not glorify war or one side over the other. That’s not what the book is about.

8. What part of writing a novel do you find most challenging?

Deadlines! I am a terrible one for thinking ‘ah, it’ll be fine’ and playing around with things when really I should be applying bottom to chair and hammering the words out. I need to work on my self editing and do this better in 2018, although with deadlines I generally hit them give or take a few days! School holidays knock my work out of whack as we don’t pay for childcare now, and made a pact never to again for the sake of our boys.

9. Can you described the moment when you realised you were a ‘real’ author?

That’s a tricky one, as there have been many amazing things happening in the last couple of years. Stephen King says “If you wrote something for which someone sent you a check, if you cashed the check and it didn’t bounce, and if you then paid the light bill with the money, I consider you talented.”

I got my first check for a magazine readers letter a good few years ago,  after learning about them on an assignment with my writing course with the Writers Bureau, and I still have the letter. I never stopped, and now I have a folder full of letters like that. Writing is not about money, but the first acceptance does spur you on to the next. The best part for me now is saying ‘I am a writer’ proudly when someone asks what I do, rather than just saying teacher. I have my two dream jobs.

10. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Read. Read about what is selling, read about the world, and devour books. Devour every genre you can stomach, and find out what you love, what speaks to you, and what makes you happy. Enter competitions too, and take that shot. I always enter competitions even now, because without them, I might never have been published. The practice alone is worth the fear!

long walk back cover

If you would like to read ‘THE LONG WALK BACK’ here’s the buying link:

http://mybook.to/thelongwalkback