Our Writer of the Week is writer Louise McIvor. Instalment one of Louise’s serial, “The Secrets That Bind Us”, is in the October 28 issue.
You are a competent writer of both short stories and serials. Do you prefer writing one format over the other and, if so, why?
Thank you! It took me ages to write short stories that “worked”. I find writing serials much easier, as I can spend longer with the characters and really get to know them.
Where did the idea come from for “The Secrets That Bind Us”?
A few years ago, I had an idea for a story that starts with a new servant in a big house, looking out to see the Lady of the House gathering nettles in the early morning, to cope with the insomnia that went with an unhappy marriage. Ruby and Lilian were born; although I discarded the idea of Lilian being a herbalist at an early stage.
As a writer, do you find it difficult to edit your own work?
Yes and yes again! I was a newspaper sub-editor for years (we’re the ones who edit the journalists’ copy). I tend to over-edit, niggle over tiny details and then end up putting back the bits I’ve taken out.
Write from the heart or the head – or both?
Both. If I write too much from the head, my characters come across as lifeless. If I’m too “heart-led”, I forget about the structure of the story and it ends up like a cake that’s sunk in the middle because you’ve taken it out of the oven too soon.
Who, or what, inspired you to become a writer?
I had a great teacher during English A Level, the late Miss Joan McPherson, at Methodist College, Belfast. The need to be a writer didn’t come immediately, but Miss McPherson started the inspiration.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
All of the above. Working in newspapers taught me to write and edit while all sorts of distractions are going on around me. I don’t need a view and I do both handwriting and typing (and sometimes dictation, but the “dictation robot” on the computer doesn’t always understand my accent!).
What’s your one top tip for aspiring writers?
Write anywhere. If you’ve only got 5 minutes before your doctor’s appointment, write down what you see in the waiting room. And never, ever give up.