The Ideas-Market, by Jane Lovering

Well, here I am again! And, as I promised, I’m here to answer another question – this one has been asked probably to every writer, ever, and also to me…
‘Where do you get your ideas from?’

Sometimes I say ‘a little shop in York, 50p a dozen, bargain’. Sometimes I say ‘the same place you get your ideas from’. Sometimes, if I’m caught in the depths of whimsy, I might explain all about the street-market that can only be found at certain times, by certain people; a place where they sell ideas – ships in bottles, mourning hats, tears ranked by size and cause…

But really, where do I get my ideas from? Honestly, I don’t know. I think it starts with a vague thought, which wafts around for a bit and then kicks off a whole host of ‘what ifs’, which have to be followed up. Hubble Bubble was inspired by me wondering about witchcraft and general psychology (having managed to convince some people that they’d just seen me walk through a solid wall, I was interested to see just how much you can make someone believe something that they REALLY WANT to believe). And then I wondered about the human need to control their environment, the desire to ascribe things to ‘magic’ that are simply poorly-understood phenomina, all woven in with discussions about feelings of abandonment and the sheer claustrophobic nature of winter in North Yorkshire. We’d also been talking about granting of wishes – if you made a wish, what would you wish for, if you thought your life was already pretty good? Money? But that can ruin things… good health? But if you’re already healthy it’s hard to imagine ever being any other way…

Somehow, all this shook down into a story about amateur witchcraft, and wishes either coming true in various, unforeseeable ways, or human wish-fulfillment fantasies making people think that wishes can come true.

Can they? Is there really magic out there in the world? I think Hubble Bubble lets you decide that for yourself…

And, just in case you think that the weather description is overdone in Hubble Bubble…here’s a picture of the view from my bathroom window, one day last winter. And this was a LIGHT snowfall!

church

Jane Lovering on Location Location Location

As should be wildly apparent to anyone who knows me, I don’t get out much. Because of this, all my books are based close to home – far enough away that nobody could point to any one place and say that they could tell it was in one of my books, but near enough that I can do research without having to go too far (there are probably injunctions that actually prevent me from going too far, but since I’ve never tried, I don’t know). But location is very important to me, ever since a far more experienced writer than I told me that ‘place should be as much a character as anyone who speaks’. And it’s true, the right location adds so much to a story; just imagine an old, dark house at the edge of a wood versus a brightly-lit shoeshop, full of comings and goings. They are both good settings, but the stories that they would set would be very different, because the atmospheres that they conjure up are very different.

And so, when it came to Hubble Bubble, as ever, I set it close to home. ‘Barndale Woods’ is actually based on woodland in a village called Sinnington, where I often walk my dogs, and Holly and her brother live in Malton. I could even, if given enough prompting and egg-nog, point to the exact house that Holly lives in, show you where Eve’s little cottage is, and give you general directions to find Kai’s Gothic monstrosity deep in the woods. You wouldn’t find it, of course, like all the locations used in my books, I take a real place and give it a twist, so it’s like, and yet unalike. I don’t know how others do it, maybe they’d like to share their own location-tips?

The picture is of the woods near Sinnington. If you look very closely, you might see Kai, lurking behind a tree. But not too closely, you’ll go blind…

Woods near Sinnington

Bubbling ideas by Jane Lovering

I’m going to continue my Q&A in my next post, because I’ve been struck with a meme recently… You must know it, it’s the ’25 things you never knew about me’ one, and it occurred to me that I could use this to tell you a bit more about Hubble Bubble. So I’m going to, and you can’t stop me! Mwhahahahaha!
Ahem
So. Here we have ’25 Things you didn’t know about Hubble Bubble’, although, given my attention span, you’ll be lucky to get ten and a button.

It is set around the market town of Malton, which is 15 miles south of where I live.
‘Barndale Woods’ don’t really exist, although they are based on woods near Sinnington, which aren’t nearly so menacing.
‘Rufus’ is a scaled-up version of my terrier, Tiggy, who is slightly sticky, like dog-velcro.
I absolutely HATE driving in snow, and wouldn’t have even stuck my nose outside in the conditions Holly drives in.
I’ve never delivered a baby, although I’ve assisted at the births of kittens, calves and foals. Well, I say ‘assisted’, I mostly just cried and went ‘awwwwww’.
The spell that is cast in the book, and the ingredients necessary, came to me in a blinding flash, while I was writing something else.
The first draft of Hubble Bubble was written, beginning to end, in six weeks.
I try to work a ‘Doctor Who’ reference into every book I write. Hubble Bubble is no exception.
Likewise, there is either a dog or a cat mentioned in every book somewhere, except, for some reason, Please Don’t Stop the Music. That one has cows.
While I was writing Hubble Bubble, when I got to the bit where the weather closes in and there are terrific snowstorms, we actually had a terrific snowstorm. I’m going to write about someone who finds Johnny Depp on her doorstep next, you know, just in case…
Cerys’ obsession with toast is based on one of my daughters, who appears to eat little else.

And I’m afraid that will have to do, because I’ve run out of things to say that aren’t blindingly obvious. I consider the meme to be discharged!
The 'original' for Rufus

Did we tell you that Hubble Bubble is currently one of the Best Books of the Month at Apple iTunes here?:-)

THE GENERATION GAME – A GUEST POST FROM MY DAUGHTER, BY JANE LOVERING AND VIENNA JOHNSON.

vienna-and-me2I thought it might be nice for a change to get the other side of writing – what is it like to live with someone who writes?  And who better to ask than another writer?  So, without further ado (well, all right, maybe just a little bit of ado..) here is a guest post from the perspective of my daughter, Vienna.

A little context – Vienna is studying Creative Writing and Critical Practice at Ruskin College, Oxford. She is my eldest daughter and second of the five, and I cannot get into her room for the amount of books stacked all over the place.  Right, over to you, Vienna…

‘Being the writing daughter of a writer is a sort of balancing act between inspiration and pressure. I can’t count the number of times when someone’s asked me if I write in the same genre, or if my interests lie somewhere in the romantic comedy section of Waterstones. They ask if I write ‘what mum writes’, and when I say no, the inevitable “then what?”. Cue shuffling, no eye contact, and a rather inarticulate “um, fantasy, sci-fi, stuff like that”. Sometimes I think of what it would be like if I told them the truth, how my interests are directed more in the category of ‘gay romance in a world infested with zombies’.
The inspiration aspect comes less from the awards won, or drunken speeches given, and more from the fact that despite having five kids (and a diversity of animals that would make a zookeeper wet their pants in excitement), my mum still manages to find the time to write, and write well. I’m not given an inch when it comes to her critiques – something I’m grateful for. Honesty is important when it comes to writing, even more so when it comes from someone you respect.
While growing up, there wasn’t really a sense of wanting to write, of wanting to take after mum. It was just something Mum Did, along with the laundry and dinner. I was fourteen when I decided I wanted to write, a time of self-imprisonment in my bedroom, shunning the sun’s attempt at forcing some vitamin D into me and shooting mutated creatures in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. These video games (and Stephen King, bless his cotton socks) are to blame for my little apocalypse obsession. There’s a perverse curiosity in wanting to see how a lawless society would operate, how individuals react and how far they go to survive.
This is why I should never be allowed to design reality TV programmes. If you see me trying… just alert the proper authorities, okay?
The biggest advantage of having a mother as a writer, I’ve found, is simply the talking. Long road trips to the orthodontist, to town, even while out walking the dogs – all opportunities to learn more about character design, or dialogue. Many a time, I’ve watched a ratty terrier waddle along a country lane while discussing my shocking inability to write endings. I think I’ve learnt more from these casual conversations about writing than any book can teach me. It helps, of course, when your teacher is just down the hall and won’t hesitate to shout advice in your general direction if you need it.
So, what is it like being the writing daughter of a writer? Well, it definitely comes with a certain amount of pressure, but the advantages far outweigh that. And who doesn’t need a little bit of pressure now and again?’

Jane Lovering is inspired!

I need daily gobbets of inspiration to keep me going. I don’t know about all the rest of you out there, but life can sometimes seem like a bit of a grey slog, punctuated only by school holidays which somehow manage to be expensive even if you don’t go anywhere, so I’ve learned to look for those little bubbles of inspiration in ordinary, every day things. Which, since I tend to write about ordinary, every day types of people is quite handy, I’m sure you’ll agree. And it’s amazing how the mundane can hide sparkly little gems of ideas; inspiration can come from such simple things as old gravestones or my garden pond (actually, I think there’s quite complicated things coming from my pond, I fear intelligent life may have evolved in there by now…). I’ve got the ideas for a new novel brewing nicely, inspired by a walk past a non-existent water mill and a man on Radio 4 reading a business report. Other inspirations have included – a room in Leicester University, Babylon 5, a fluffy toy pencil case,an unnaturally quiet area of woodland (at least, it was quiet until I arrived) and a bar of soap.

So, what inspires you? What unusual places or things have sparked off ideas – places and things so ordinary that only a writer could find an idea in there? Do you have any places that just inspire a particular feeling or emotion?

Here’s a picture of one of my inspirations – well, quite a few, if you take all the background into account….

dogs

Jane Lovering lets her inner geek out to play

This weekend I was in Northampton (very nice, bijou cityette) for the inaugural BooQfest, a celebration of gay fiction. I felt a bit of a fraud, actually, not being, you know, gay or anything, but it was an inclusive event for writers of all sorts of fiction and was absolutely brilliant fun. I had my own Minder, a lovely lad called Iain, who ushered me from place to place armed with nothing but a sheepdog whistle and a set of pig boards. I suspect he also had a cattle prod somewhere, if I proved recalcitrant, but I was on my best behaviour all the time, so that was good.
And the geek? Well, among the other authors present were some of the Torchwood/Doctor Who writers. And I got to hang out with them in the bar! They bought me drinks! And we talked about Doctor Who! Yes, I was actually talking to grown-ups about the Doctor and no-body was laughing or sniggering or anything! Well, not at the fact we were talking about Doctor Who, anyway, there was quite a bit of laughing and cake actually came out of my nose at one point.
They were on a Sci Fi panel on the Saturday, which I attended with great glee and thoroughly enjoyed. I also got to chat to a proper fan (ie, one who wasn’t me) and we exchanged views on Nu-Who versus Old Series, when I managed to surprise him with my knowledge of The Myrka. It was great, and I shall definitely be up for returning next year, to talk about my books and meet some of the friendliest, loveliest people in both the reading and the writing world.
(And, for the record, my scariest monster is still the Cybermen).
Mark Michalowski, Joe Lidster, Paul Magrs and Gary Russell. Wonderful chap, all of them.

Jane Lovering – Wednesday Witchcraft

hubble-bubble_front

It may have managed to slip past your fiercely concentrating selves, but I have an upcoming release with Choc Lit, tabled for next year. It’s called Hubble Bubble, it’s about amateur witchcraft, and it looks like this..

You know, just in case you hadn’t seen it.

Anyway.  Witchcraft and I have always had a passing fascination for one another.  I come from a line of hedge-witches, on, oddly enough, my father’s side.  My mother comes from London and wouldn’t know comfrey from a poke in the eye, but my father was born and grew up, as did his father before him, in very rural South Devon.  And this was in an age when rural meant properly isolated, not only having the one pub and being two miles at least from the nearest Waitrose.  I remember my Grandad teaching me dowsing and corn-dolly making, and my dad could always tell the weather from the feel of the air and the look of the sky.  I learned the proper uses of plants, how to tell if a cow was about to calve and how to hypnotise a chicken at an early age and all this probably accounts for my extreme ‘Nanny Oggness’ at times.

And while I remain unable to cast love spells, or perform any damage to enemies at a distance, I can still brew up a cough syrup and a poultice, if called upon to do so.  So a book which deals with the repercussions of attempting magic whilst not quite in possession of the necessary skills, seemed only natural; and no, before you ask, I didn’t run around naked in the woods waving a wand and trying to claim it was ‘research’…

Jane Lovering on Vampire State of Mind’s Release Day

So today my vampires are unleashed upon the world – go forth, my pretties! And I know I should stand back and let them take those first, faltering steps alone but there is still a part of me that hovers alongside, not quite wanting to let go…which is odd really, because, as a parent, I am more than willing to let my children go, in fact I encourage it to the extent of helping them pack.

But there’s still that momentary sadness as they wave me farewell – what if no-one likes them?  Am I going to have to do the authorly equivalent of ‘going up the school’?  Is there an author’s equivalent?  Because, if there is, I might have to avoid it – no-one needs the sight of me in my mismatched slippers, crazed hair and Wellingtons marching along the High Street to Waterstones…

So, vampires.  Get out there and knock ‘em dead!  Er.  Figuratively, of course.

vsom_packshot-copy

Jane Lovering’s Wednesday Wishlist

Anyone who’s been wearing earplugs and sitting in a cave on the moon might have managed to miss the fact that my new novel, ‘Vampire State of Mind’ is out on 7th of August, so I’ve been doing a lot of talks/interviews/mutterings behind my hand about writing in general, and particularly my own writing habits.

And here it is!  Put it on your wishlist now...

And here it is! Put it on your wishlist now...


This has made me think (probably wrongly) that anyone might be interested in my particular ‘wishlist’ of writing, which goes:
Peace and quiet.
Laptop on which the ‘k’ and ‘n’ keys do not stick down, because you can’t tell people that they stick down if those keys don’t work.
Tea. Hot, in a big mug.
A Big Mug who will bring me hot tea, walk the dogs and sort out meals. Edible ones. That don’t feature pizza – nasty stuff.
A window with a nice view, at which I might stare in search of inspiration.
Inspiration/chocolate (these two are interchangeable and, probably, synonymous).
Time. Lots of. Unencumbered by the need to walk dogs and cook (even pizza).
Johnny Depp. Especially if he could take off his shirt and chop down a tree somewhere I can watch him.
A tree for Johnny Depp to cut down.
Sunshine.

That’s probably enough for now. Given all of those things I am positive I could turn out a masterpiece, but I can really only manage a couple (and one of those keeps cooking bl***y pizza). Now, tell me, what would your wishlist be, to make your life absolutely perfect?

When it all becomes real – by Jane Lovering

My life has been pretty exciting lately with lots of occasions to dress up and prance about in public (although I am carefully not referring to that speech which may well become known as ‘Weegate’…). But today, just as I thought everything was calming down and I could get back to living what approximates to a normal life around here, a large box arrived. Containing my author copies of Vampire State of Mind.

With all the writing, and rewriting and editing and re-editing and proof reading, we tend to forget that these books we are creating (when we aren’t talking about ‘wee’ of course, and by we I mean me. Come to think of it, by ‘wee’ I mean me too…) aren’t just word files – they are real, solid entities that go out into the world and earn their living, like children. Except, unlike children, they rarely come back to eat the contents of the fridge. Anyway. Today I have had proof that Vampire State of Mind is an entity in its own right. A glossy-faced, stiff-spined, red-draped entity, which is welcome to the contents of my fridge, any time.

So, here I am, with Cal and one of the Helgas, appreciating the reality…

Me, Cal and one of the Helgas, truly appreciating the end product.