Friday, 28 March 2014

FUNKY FRIDAY - with writer Gilli Allan

Here we go again with a fab FUNKY FRIDAY.  Drum roll please for fellow author and Twitter buddy, Gilli Allan.

So, Gilli, describe yourself as a writer in five words.

Unconventional, unpredictable, truthful, compassionate, romantic.

You've been invited on Big Brother - Writers Special!  Do you accept?

No! I am painfully aware of the need to promote myself, to raise my head above the gazillions of other Indie writers out there and grab every opportunity that comes my way to communicate with the reading public, but Big Brother (even a special writers’ edition) is a step too far.

It's your dream week as a writer - anything is possible!  Tell us what happens.

On Monday I’m phoned up by a top flight literary agent.  On Tuesday said agent has set up a bidding war between several multinational publishers.  On Wednesday my book is number one in all the bestseller lists and the film deal is confirmed.  On Thursday I win a prestigious literary prize (the Orange perhaps - this is a daydream, right?) and I’m interviewed on The Culture Show on BBC2, and by Mark Lawson on Front Row on BBC radio 4.  On Friday I’m invited to take part in the filming of my book, and to be an adviser on the script and casting.  On Saturday I’m taken out to a posh London Restaurant by my leading man.  On Sunday (after a spending spree) my husband and I fly off to some exotic holiday location.

Shallow?  Moi?

Sounds heavenly to me!  What's the best and worst thing about writing, for you?

I wish I was one of those writers who are bubbling geysers of ideas and plot.  Sadly I’m not. So starting a new book is the worst part of writing for me.  I don’t know what I'm going to say, how I'm going to say it, or where a story is going until I (metaphorically) put pen to paper.

Being a writer like me, sometimes described as ‘into the trees’, is tough.  It’s not just a wander in poetic solitude into a misty copse.  It’s a frustrating stumble through impenetrable fog-cloaked forest, barking shins, stubbing toes, becoming entwined in a tangle of bramble and then veering off-course into a quagmire.  The easiest way to cope with this problem is simply to avoid starting a new book.

But, after the lows, the high.  I know that if I persist there will come a point when the fog clears and I suddenly emerge into the light.  Then the ideas start popping up and the plot unravels in front of me, sometimes so fast I feel I need to run to catch up.  This is the best part of writing the first draft and ‘discovering the story’.  It’s like having an affair - all the breathless bliss of falling in love, but none of the guilt.

If you had to take one book to a desert island, which would it be and why?

This is a hard one.  To take the question seriously, perhaps I should take Swiss Family Robinson, by Johann Wyss, or Robinson Crusoe, by Daniel Defoe, for tips on how to build a shelter and find food. Or even better, a Bear Grylls book on survival.

On the other hand, perhaps you want me to name an all time favourite book, which I could read and reread to while away the time.  I always say that my favourite book is Dostoevsky’s Crime & Punishment, but I’m well aware that this sounds incredibly pretentious.  In all honesty, I read it five times between the ages of sixteen and twenty, but not since.  If it was the only book I had with me on the island, I would soon discover if it still retains at its number one status or whether I’d now find it grim, dark and heavy going!  My next favourite is the Gormenghast trilogy, first discovered in my early twenties.  At least it would offer escapism into the wonderfully eccentric and fantastical world that Mervyn Peake created.  Other than those two, which made an enormous impression on me when I first discovered them, I can’t pick a single favourite book from the thousands I’ve read since.

So, perhaps I’ll go for something long and improving, in the hope that it will keep my mind occupied for the duration of my stay, and I’ll be wiser, more literate and better educated when my rescuers arrive.  In keeping with my “pretentious” reputation, how about Proust’s - A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu?

I read Crime & Punishment at about the same age and loved it.  I dabbled in Proust in my teens when I wanted to look intelligent!  SO  ... if you were offered a squillion pounds to never write again, would you take it?

Yes, I’d take the money.  To begin with it would be a relief (see my fourth answer). I’d never have to put myself through that agony again.  I could just concentrate on art.  But I’m so contrary I guess that once I’d signed a contract NOT to write, that is when the ideas for a new story would inevitably start to bubble up irresistibly, crying out to be written.  So I’d probably cheat.

Nice answer, Gilli!


Planner or Winger?
I think I’ve already answered this.  I am definitely a winger .  All I have, when I start a new book, is an out-of-focus scenario and a few character sketches.

Night or Morning?
I’m not a morning person.  I’m far better in the afternoon/evening.

Doer or procrastinator?

Writing/first draft or editing?
I love the editing process.  I could go on editing forever.

Tea or coffee?
I like both but the one I choose depends on the time of day.

You can find Gilli's books on Amazon (take a 'Look Inside' while you're there!) or visit her Blog, Facebook or Twitter pages.

* * * NEWSFLASH * * *

In case you missed it, this week I posted a guide to The Essential Mummy Misfit.  If you're new to my books or blog, it highlights lots about me and some defining posts.

I had a little dig at the Paltrow/Martin lunacy and my blog hits went wild!  'Conscious uncoupling'?  My bottom! 

The current work in progress is SO close to the end of the first draft.  Blood, sweat and a few tears have been shed but I'm getting there.  Next week should see me jumping for joy and ready to start the next phase.

I met a lovely young man on Twitter in the week when he offered to share the Blue-Tac he uses to glue his bum to the seat for ensuring a lengthy stay at the laptop.  What a weird and wacky place the Twitsville is!  I'd like to introduce you to him and to his work as he starts on his journey and builds his name.  He writes poetry, which you can read here and you can also follow him on Twitter @Kela:LewisMoran.  I particularly liked this poem.   Go on!  He'd love you to read his work and give him some feedback.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much for inviting me here and asking me some interesting questions. It's been fun. Gillix