Thursday, 29 October 2009

Blog Tour Guest Visitor: Cally Taylor

  1. Did you specifically write for a commercial market or did you just write a good story and hope it fitted the market?

    I hoped my book would be commercial but, because there wasn't an established market in the UK for supernatural romantic-comedies at the time (even though there was in the States), there was a bit of a risk that publishers wouldn't be interested. Luckily they were! To be honest I didn't worry about whether or not my book would get a publishing deal while I was writing it - I just wanted to write and finish a novel.

  2. Do you work to a regular writing timetable in order to meet your deadlines?

    Nope, I make it up as I go along! When I was writing Heaven Can Wait I wrote nearly every night for three months and three weeks and squeezed in a social life where I could. With my second book I'm squeezing the writing around my social life! As a result it took me a lot longer to write the first draft (seven months) and now I'm having to work to a timetable so I can deliver it to my editor on time.

  3. How did you create the plot and storyline for your novel? Did you work to a design or did it grow and evolve organically?

    When I came up with the idea for Heaven Can Wait I knew what the first few scenes would be, and what happen at the end, but not how I'd get from A to B! I had to make that bit up as I went along - which was quite a scary way to approach novel-writing but also exciting because I never knew what my characters would do next.

  4. A similar question about your characters: Did you design the characters, their traits and their behaviours up-front, or did they take on a life of their own once the writing was under way?

    I know a few things about my characters before I start. I know what their goals and fears are, what they look like and a little bit about their pasts but I only really get to know them as I'm writing.

  5. Did you write the story in order from beginning, through middle to end, or did you work with a set of scenes and chapters, filling in the details in whatever order you saw fit?

    Yes, I start at the beginning and work through to the end. Because I never know what happens in the middle of my novels I have to work that way.

  6. Are there particular planning techniques that you use, such as storyboards, time lines and character profiles?

    I tend to do things like that after I've finished the first draft and before I start editing. I write a summary of each chapter on an index card, noting down who's in that chapter and what happens (using different coloured cards to indicate main plot or sub plot), and lay them out on the floor. I can then see at a glance whether the novel is balanced or not.

    When I've got the balance right I do something similar, but this time in an Excel spread sheet. I create a row for each chapter and then, in the columns, fill in the time line, setting and the first and last lines of each chapter. I do that to check that a) the time line and settings don't jump around all over the place and b) each chapter starts with a hook and ends with a bit of a cliffhanger.

  7. Tell us about any software that you use for writing your fiction? Do you write longhand, straight to word-processor, or something more sophisticated?

    When I'm brainstorming an idea for a new novel I use a notebook and scribble down everything that comes into my head. When I actually start writing I use my laptop and write into yWriter (free novel-writing software). I couldn't use anything else now. I love how easily you can access the different chapters and scenes, drag them around and edit them.

  8. Once your first draft has been completed, how do you get your manuscript into shape? Do you rely on trusted readers and/or pay for professional critiques?

    With Heaven Can Wait I asked a couple of trusted readers to take a look at the synopsis and posted the first five chapters on the Women's Fiction forum on That was it though and Darley was the first person, other than me, to read the whole novel. I don't think I'm going to have enough time to get feedback on my second novel before I deliver it to my editor and agent and that's a bit of a scary prospect!

  9. Do you use any "how to" books? If so, which ones would you recommend to other writers?

    Do I? I've got two shelves full of them! Some are more useful than others obviously and my favourites include: Writing the Romantic Comedy by Billy Mernit, Plot & Structure by James Scott Bell, Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card and Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King.

  10. How did you go about choosing your agent/publisher?

    I bought a copy of the Writers and Artists' Yearbook and went through the agents looking for the ones that represented chick-lit and women's fiction. I then put a star by the ones who represented authors whose novels I'd enjoyed and approached my "top six". My agent decided which publishers to approach.

  11. How much work do authors themselves have to do these days to publish and promote their books, compared with the work the agent/publisher does?

    I don't have anything to do with who publishes my novels - that's my agent's job (and she does it very well!) - but I have been doing quite a bit to try and promote Heaven Can Wait. Obviously my publisher does a lot to promote it at a national level so what I've been doing is trying to promote it on a smaller, more local level as well as trying to raise awareness in blog-world!

  12. What's the biggest lesson you learned during the production of your first novel?

    Get your second novel written, edited and polished before you start promoting your first one! Trying to do both, and hold down a day job, is an almost impossible task and occasionally very stressful. I need to clone myself!


Debs said...

Thanks for the informative interview.

It's always interesting to know how someone else plans their editing etc.

Karen said...

Lovely interview :o) I wish I knew how to use Ywriter - I've got it, but couldn't get to grips with it!

Leatherdykeuk said...

Super interview!

Colette McCormick said...

That was a great interview Captain. Good questions and informative answers. Thanks both of you.

Cathy said...

Another great interview with Cally!

Fia said...

Great interview. Thanks Cally - and Captain for hosting.

ChrisH said...

It's so nice to see Cally's success - that's a great photo too!

HelenMHunt said...

Very useful interview.

Anonymous said...

Debs: I used to plan my WiPs to death, possibly leading to analysis-paralysis. All too often I would forget to just go with the flow sometimes.

Karen: You and me both. I've tried yWriter, WriteItNow! and a few other packages. They never quite hit the mark for me; either too complex or too lacking in features. I've been tempted to design some writing software myself, but I think the potential market is too small to make it a commercial option for me. Everyone tends to stick to what they're used to, even if it's not ideal.

LDUK: It was, wasn't it. I'm always interested in the tricks of the trade.

Colette: You're welcome. It's proving to be a grand tour for Cally, isn't it?

Cathy: I don't know how she fits it all in, do you?

Fia: 'Tis a pleasure.

ChrisH: Yes, I was getting a bit overloaded with the "official" photo, so I decided to use that one.

Helen: I thought so too.