Our Writer of the Week is debut author Carolyn Donnelly. Carolyn’s story, “A Piece Of Cake”, appears in the August 7 issue.
There’s a good moral to the story. Were you mindful of this during the writing, or did it naturally occur?
I like a sense of truth and goodness to underpin my writing and love happy endings or at least well-resolved ones. The same applies to twist in the tale, or a surprise at the end. I enjoy writing a story in which the recipient of the happy ending isn’t always the person that you expect, or where the ending is one which you never anticipated at the beginning of the story.
I have to ask this – are you a good baker?
You might have to ask others who have tasted my baking that question! But I am an enthusiastic baker. However, I have to admit that more than the baking itself, I enjoy sharing whatever I bake with family and friends, over a cup of tea or coffee and a chat.
Is writing an emotive experience for you, and do you think writers can sense if they have written a good or not-so-good story?
For me, I write with my heart, so emotion really does play a big part in the words I choose in my stories and in the characters I create. I enjoy developing characters that are real to me and can often see them in my imagination as they live through the various scenarios that I write for them. I want the reader to see them, too. If I achieve that, then for me, that is a good story.
What is your favourite genre to read and watch on TV?
I love reading and always have a book on the go. I don’t really confine myself to one genre but try to focus on reading books that are well-written; where a story – regardless of the literary genre – has twists and turns and takes you to a conclusion that you didn’t expect. I enjoy a good detective story, either to read or watch on television and am a fan of the writers Josephine Tey and Louise Penny.
What have you written that you are most proud of?
Earlier this year I published my first book, “The Giant At My Back” (Instant Apostle, 2021), which I am very proud of. It chronicles the first year following my late husband’s diagnosis of mixed dementia and how this impacted both on our lives – particularly mine as his full-time carer – and on our shared Christian faith.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
Definitely a laptop, sitting at my kitchen island and with a cup of strong coffee nearby which is frequently re-filled. I often find that the story just writes itself, in that the characters seem to grow out of my fingers as I type. If I do hit a problem with a plot or a character’s development, I take a break and listen to some classical music and find that helps me unwind and see things a little more clearly.
P.S., What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
Read your story out loud. I find that it helps me with the flow of the narrative and particularly helps me to get any dialogue right. If it doesn’t “sound” right when you hear it spoken aloud, then it needs editing.
For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.