Today I’m chatting to Birte Hosken, author of Petroc’s Church and Let Wild Waves Roar about her writing processes, her ideas, and her plans for the future.
Hi Birte – let’s kick off with where the first ideas for a new novel come from for you?
My first ideas for new stories/novels come initially from places I visit or people I meet. I am very lucky to live in a very beautiful part of the country (Cornwall). There are lots of super-inspiring places to visit and see on my doorstep – the sea, beaches, castles, cliffs, caves, woods, hills – you name it! This does not mean that I would not use other places in the UK or abroad for a new novel. I find seeing, hearing, feeling and generally experiencing a place the best for new ideas.
I’m very jealous that you live in Cornwall!
Your first and second novels have featured a male and female protagonist respectively – do you find it easier to create one male or female characters, or is that not an issue?
Looking back at my manuscripts (published or not), I think I probably tend to use one protagonist but I don’t think I would find it hard to change. It would depend on the idea for the story. Generally, I don’t think there is an issue.
How important is a sense of location in your novels?
For me personally, location and setting are absolutely vital. Location and setting are most important for my books. I would like to transport my readers into a different world. I want the reader to feel the setting, see it, imagine it. I think, the combination of a great location and believable characters make a good story.
Which writers have inspired you?
I write romantic novels and fiction.I also read that genre, of course, but strangely enough I often read non-fiction as well. Writers that have inspired me in recent months are Carla Burgess and Sarah Morgan as well as a German writer called Carmen Korn from Hamburg. I found her books and her writing style (in German) fascinating. It is easy-going but totally captivating
In turn, what advice would you give to a new writer just starting out?
The first thing is – don’t be afraid, go for it, learn to take the rough with the smooth and try to grow a “hard skin”. It is not easy being a writer. Unless you are very lucky and have a big breakthrough straight away, it is a long and hard journey. Don’t give up the day job. It is difficult to make a living or earn much money (unless you are already famous or work in journalism). If you enjoy what you are doing, keep at it, try and improve and don’t lose confidence. Be prepared to not only sell your book but sell yourself. Writing is a marketing and advertising exercise. You can’t hide behind your writing. You need to be out there, pushing yourself and your work all of the time.
Sounds like excellent advice! Tell us a little about the process of writing for you. How long did it take to produce each novel; do you have a set writing spot?
Most of my writing takes place at home (not always in my office – it can be in the living room or the garden). I still like to write drafts and ideas out by hand and then type them up later but I also type stories straight into the computer. I have been known to write on the beach or in the bed. When the inspiration comes I need to capture it. Sometimes I think of something for my next book during the day and then I just scribble it down somewhere on the front of a catalogue or a magazine or newspaper but generally I try and write in my office.
It is hard to say how long it takes me to write a novel. It depends on time and inclination. The two novels that are “out” come from manuscripts I wrote a long time ago. I dug them out, worked on them and decided to prepare them for publication. I have a few old manuscripts hanging around which need lots of work but I am also prepared to start afresh. I think, I could probably get a book written in six months but with everything else going on in life a year is probably more realistic.
As writing is unfortunately still just a hobby for me I don’t set any targets.
What’s the best thing about being a writer – and the hardest?
The best thing about writing is the freedom, doing something I really love doing. I love to live in the world of my characters and get away from normal life. It is also nice to see your words in print and receive recognition (not fame?!) but the hardest is to sell your work and make money from it. It is tough to make a name for yourself. Without the support of my family it would be impossible for me to write at all.
So many of the writers I’ve talked to have said that! What’s next for you?
Due to the current circumstances I have not had too much chance to promote my latest book – so the aim is to get “Let Wild Waves Roar” out there a little more. I normally like to attend fairs, literary festivals and give talks but all that has come to a halt for the time being. I am looking at other methods of advertising etc. I would also like to expand into non-fiction, take part in writing competitions, write more short stories and flash fiction – and eventually, I suppose, I will write another novel. Ideas for the next one are in my mind but I have not written anything down yet. I am continually reviewing how to go about finding a new publisher and I am assessing the success of self-publishing. It is a constant learning curve.
And finally – wine gums or chocolate as writing snack of choice?
Neither, I am afraid. I try not to snack while writing! I like both but in moderation and not while writing. I don’t want to put on weight!
That’s probably very sensible! Thanks very much for giving up the time to chat, Birte – and all best wishes with Let Wild Waves Roar!
Find out more about Birte and her books here: https://birtehosken.wixsite.com/author