The talented Janeen Brian has asked me to participate in the Writing Process Blog Hop. Janeen is the author of 70 plus books for children including award winning picture books (my favourite: 'Where Does Thursday Go?') and the amazing historical children's novel, 'That Boy, Jack'. You can read her responses too.
Here are the four questions.
1. What am I working on?
I'm writing the draft of a YA novel due to be published by Allen & Unwin in August 2015. It's the story of a girl from a minority cultural group in a developing country who is wrongfully accused of a crime and jailed without bail. It highlights prejudice and disregard for children's rights, but also inner strength under fire.
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I write across genres in my YA and children's books. I suppose some of my YA works are different because they are not 'true blue' YA but seem to be giving a voice to young people who are powerless in their circumstances, often in cultures different from Australia. I like justice and mercy and want to see young people everywhere have the right to these. At least the characters in my books can have this possibility.
3. Why do I write what I write?
I'm not sure why justice themes happen in some of my stories: trafficking, forced marriage, children in war, asylum seekers, grieving teens. I think compassion for my character fuels the story and because of the character's experiences, the story takes its form. My next book to write is a historical fantasy set in a place reminiscent of Moghul India (UQP). That will be different and I'm looking forward to it.
4. How does my writing process work?
I start with an idea and a character. Sometimes it's hard to separate those too. I got the idea for Marrying Ameera just as I was crossing the Azad Kashmir border; I could even see a girl in my mind. That doesn't usually happen so quickly. After this inspiration I do 'work' on my character in a creative journal, getting to know her/him, using mind maps, lists, images, practising writing in the character's voice, writing more ideas and research. If the character paints, I paint in the journal, usually badly. If she scrapbooks I do a bit too. One of my characters played the violin so I took lessons. I had to rewrite scads of the text after that. Plot, structure voice, tone will all derive from the character, who she/he is, what her goal and motivations are, and of course the conflict will arise from the character's life as well.
I usually have some idea of where the character needs to be emotionally by the end, although it can change. I can retreat to the journal if ever I get stuck, and write rubbish for a while until the story becomes clear again. Young people are aghast when they realise I still write a lot of my first draft by hand. This is because I can write faster by hand than by typing. They think this is funny.
I showed one of my recent journals to a friend and she said, 'I'd never have time to do this.' But actually I don't have time not to do it, as while I'm 'playing' in my journal my mind is busy getting to know the character and thinking up the plot, so that the story flows quicker. After the first draft there is the inevitable mountain of rewriting of course, but I find it all a happy experience.
Now I want to invite the inspiring Vikki Wakefield to share her writing process. Her latest book is Friday Brown which my Writing for YA class is reading. This is true blue classic Australian YA. www.vikkiwakefield.com/blog
After high school, Vikki worked in banking, journalism, communications and graphic design. In 2009 she enrolled in TAFE's Advanced Diploma of Arts (Professional Writing) and found her voice. Her articles have been published in newspapers and magazines and she is an award-winning short story writer. Two of Vikki's short film scripts are currently in production.