Our Writer of the Week is Leonora Francis. Leonora’s story, “The Right Formula”, appears in the June 17 issue, on sale this week.
What inspired you to write “The Right Formula”?
I was sitting in the garden, worrying about all the weeds that seemed to have sprung up overnight, when lots of green birds with red beaks flew overhead. Of course, I had to look them up on the internet and discovered they were parakeets. Then I researched how they ended up in the UK.
My daughter saw me staring at my phone and asked me what I was reading. She happens to be a maths teacher. I don’t know how I got there, but the formula for this story was parakeets + maths = “The Right Formula”. I don’t know how my own mind works!
Your stories contain realistic, sometimes fragile, characters. What’s the secret to writing characters with beating hearts?
That’s a really difficult question. I will say, though, that I believe dialogue is very important and a sure-fire way of bringing a character to life. I know I shouldn’t, but sometimes when I’m reading back one of my stories, I ignore the prose and just read the dialogue. If it makes sense and if it sounds real, then I’m happy with the entire story.
Also, no matter what you write you should always use your own voice. In “The Right Formula”, Donna is my voice, so is Donna’s mother and so is Simon. I put myself in their situation as I write. It’s almost like acting in my head.
If you could teach your younger self anything about writing, or the writing process, what would it be and why?
I would have told myself that a rejection doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. Nor should you be precious about your work. I have always been a lone writer, but many writers that I now know, even after having being published for years, are still in writers’ groups and attend seminars. As long as you feel comfortable within a group, they can offer a great deal of support.
You are a talented writer. If you were granted a wish, what other art form would you like to excel at?
Why, thank you for the compliment. I would have loved to have been a singer. I don’t mind which: solo, choir, backing; it wouldn’t matter. Unfortunately, I sing like a frog.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I write on my bed. It’s become a habit that I can’t change. However, I always carry a notebook wherever I go in case I get a good idea for a story. If I don’t write the idea down there and then, I’d forget it before I got home, or finished making a cup of tea, or hanging out the washing! I always edit in a different room in the house, if I can find one unoccupied.
P.S. What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Don’t try to write like anyone else. Be yourself because your voice is unique.