Our Writer of the Week is Deborah Siepmann. Deborah’s new serial, “The Sapphire Peacock”, starts in this week’s issue.
“The Sapphire Peacock” is an exciting adventure set in India and England during the 1850s. Did you have to do a lot of research before you started the project?
Yes – and although only a fraction of it might actually be used in a story, immersing oneself in the history and atmosphere really helps the creative juices. I read about a famous author who wrote one of his books in a room, which he decorated in the style of the period, so that he walked into his story setting every day. I’d love to do that!
When writing a serial, do you gravitate toward certain characters?
This is one of the reasons it’s a bittersweet moment when a serial is finished, and one has to say goodbye to the characters, and wonder how their lives will unfold from there. There’s a character in the serial who I still find myself thinking about, and wishing I could know even better.
Are you a visual writer – seeing your characters and their actions unfold before you?
This is something I’ve learned from writing for the “Friend” – to “think cinema”. Watching it all happen does a lot of the work for you, and really helps if I feel stuck.
As well as being a successful writer, you are a talented musician. In a creative sense, do you feel the two art forms complement and enhance each other?
I’ve been thinking recently about the parallels between being a musician, and with all that I learn from the inspiring Fiction Team. So much of doing something creative, or helping someone else in their creative process, is a combination of unlocking and nurturing what is inside, along with challenging and expanding it.
What sort of books do you like reading? Any favourite authors?
I love reading beautiful language and losing myself in imagery. One of my favourite books is Marcel Proust’s “Swann’s Way”. I very much enjoy memoirs – Rumer Godden’s “Two Under The Indian Sun” being a favourite as it’s about her life in India. Eva Ibbotson creates delightful atmosphere in her books. I also love audio books. Being read to is one of my greatest joys.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I smile at this, as it’s the subject of a habit I’m constantly trying to acquire. I realised that I’d become very dependent on my laptop, and yet I adore pretty notebooks. Recently I was thrilled to write a large chunk of a story in one of them – the only problem was deciphering my scribblings the next day.
My choice of place depends on the weather. On wintery days I write in a little room under the eaves, where I can feel like Sara Crewe in Frances Hodgson Burnett‘s “A Little Princess”, after the magic happens . . .
P.S. What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
I think the word that sums it up is “nurture”. Treat your writing effort with tender care, attention and unconditional love. Feed it with whatever will help it to grow; be patient with it, allow it to be helped and guided, and commend success, however large or small.
And carefully preserve those seedlings of ideas that magically spring up in your subconscious – you never know where they might lead.