We welcome Leonora Francis as our Writer of the Week. You can catch Leonora’s story, “In A Spin”, in our June 22 issue.
In your story, “In A Spin”, the main character’s thoughts aren’t far from her mum. How important an influence is family in your stories?
Family is so important, and the inspiration for many of my stories. My children and my grandchildren give me ideas for stories all the time. Close friends, too. Each has her or his own character, and just a word or an action from one of them can set me off writing. In the past, I’ve had so many ideas from my mum. In fact, some of the things Janine’s mum says are direct quotes from my own mum.
Your stories are often character-driven. How challenging is it exploring characters’ feelings and bringing them to light?
When I first started writing, my stories were rejected a lot. I couldn’t understand why. I thought they were wonderful . . . until I read some back to myself. The stories might have been wonderful and exciting to me, but I soon realised the characters were nowhere to be seen.
Now, as soon as I have an idea for a story, I think of the main character. I consider how I would react if I were that character; what I would say and what type of decisions I would make. There’s a lot of me in my stories, so when I’m writing I can always hear my own voice. Using your own voice to bring characters to light is so important.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading in your spare time?
Well-written science fiction is my favourite genre of all time. Up amongst the stars is where I spend my spare time. I do read widely, however, and I’d say that my second favourite books are adventure books – anything that has characters moving from place to place.
You’ve had wide selection of stories appear in the magazine. Has the way you approach your writing, and the types of stories you write, changed over the years?
I’d say that my stories can be quite quirky – just like me, come to think of it! So I’m not sure if my writing approach has changed, but I do think I am more confident writing stories that contain thought-provoking, challenging messages.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Oh, I couldn’t write at a desk. It reminds me too much of office work. I write in bed with my laptop on my knees and stare at the wall if I’m thinking. Once I’ve completed a story, I edit in another room. Anywhere will do, so long as it’s quiet. This is particularly difficult in the house, because of my loving — but often demanding — children or grandchildren hanging around.
P.S., What’s your one top tip to help other become our “Writer Of The Week”?
I’ve heard it said that you should write from the heart, and that is definitely true.
But everyone is different. We’ve all had different upbringings, been to different types of schools, and experienced happy times and sad times that give us our unique voice and personality. When you write, speak with that voice and tell the reader how “you” feel and what “you” would do. Your voice is just as important as everyone else’s — so use it.