What, Where, When? with Fionnuala Kearney

Continuing the What, Where, When? feature of writers and their writing processes, I am very pleased to welcome Fionnuala Kearney to the blog to talk about her writing life.

Hi Fionnufk headshotala. What do you write – what are you currently writing and what made you start writing in the first place?        I write commercial women’s fiction, the sort of book that deals with the gritty issues that we all face, with common themes like love, loss, betrayal, grief and identity. I usually write from several points of view and try to get in under the skin of the characters that tell the story – in a way that will hopefully make the reader both laugh and cry.

I started dabbling in creative writing classes over twenty years ago, convinced that someday I’d write a book! Family and life delayed the more serious efforts which started about seven years ago. At that time, the internet opened up all sorts of writing opportunities and I joined a brilliant online community www.writewords.org.uk  This introduced a whole new world of fellow writers, learning, feedback and support and to this day, people from that original writer’s group remain close friends.

Since then I’ve written four books and finally, having finished the first part of what I call my ‘apprenticeship’, book four ‘You, Me and Other People’ will be published in Spring 2015 by HarperCollins. It’s a dream come true and I’m beyond thrilled to be working with them.

Right now, I’m working on edits for ‘You, Me and Other People’ – a scary but exciting process!

When do you write – authors tend to have a set routine, morning, lunchtime, night – when do you write and why then? I write in the morning, every morning Monday to Friday, as I find I wake up with fresh ideas and want to get them down as quickly as possible. I tend to take a break after a couple of hours for a half hour or so, catch up on housework, cup of tea, phone-calls, (Twitter and Facebook!), then return to it until lunchtime. I usually squeeze in another couple of hours work during the day, as I always edit as I go along. I never write at night. I find that when I do, the next morning I end up cutting and pasting it all to the file called ‘Save For Another Time’ or ‘Crap You Wrote Last Night’. I just don’t think my cognitive powers fire up properly in the evening. Time then is spent consuming good T.V drama or reading.

Where do you write – some people do it at a desk but some people do it at the kitchen table. Where do you do it?

FK deskI’m lucky that I finally have the office I want at home. It’s MY space, not shared with anyone and I really need that feeling of solitude to be able to work effectively. I’m neurotic about keeping my desk as clear as possible and try and tidy it every day – memories of my father telling me during my school days – “tidy desk, tidy mind”! I really admire people who work with a laptop in front of the telly, but if that were me, I’d merely end out transcribing conversation from Game of Thrones! Same with the kitchen table, I’d just be thinking about putting the next wash on… I have to feel that when I start to write, it’s like going to work and the surroundings need to reflect that.

What do you write on – Apple or Windows? Laptop or Desktop? Word or Scrivener? Or anything else? I use Windows, though Windows eight frustrates the hell out of me. Why is it that the I.T. ‘powers that be’ feel the need to fix something that wasn’t broken??! Most of the time, I work on a desktop in my office, but if I’m travelling, I use a laptop. Word – always word. Scrivener scares the pants off me! I do, though, have the most enormous plotting whiteboard on the wall to the right of my desk, complete with coloured pens and eraser. I’d show it to you except it’s got too many spoilers on it…

How much contact do you have with other writers – are you a solitary writer or do you have a writing group? When I’m nose down working hard on the WIP, I tend to be quite disciplined and work in quite a solitary way. That said, I have daily interaction with other writers through social media and am part of two writers groups that are really very important to me. We meet virtually and in person regularly and I also attend a week long residential writing course once a year with some of them. Without the support of my writer’s network, I don’t think I could do this job.

Finally, writing in coffee shops – yes or no? So many other writers do this now that I feel like I’m missing out! I do often sit in coffee shops and people watch, giggle at snippets of conversations and imagine what all these strangers do for a living… But writing there? I’m not sure. I’d love to give it a go, but suspect I’d get too distracted to concentrate properly.