Today I’m delighted to welcome Lynne North to Me, My Books and I:
I am a children’s author who lives in the north west of England and works as a data analyst for one of the local Health Authorities. I have been a prolific reader all my life, and for many years have spent most of my free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, I have completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers’.
My aim in life has always been to write, and I have had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than I like to admit to having lived. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. I have also completed two children’s novels, ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ and ‘Zac’s Destiny.’ ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was published by Ghostly Publishing in 2013 and launched at Earl’s Court Book Fair. It is available in paperback and on kindle on Amazon worldwide.
I am currently working on a very different children’s humorous fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, a fantasy novel for young adults titled ‘Dimensions’, and something completely different, a compilation of 13 macabre Twist in the Tale short stories, definitely NOT for children!
To find out more:
Where did the idea for Caution: Witch in Progress come from?
Hmm, that’s a hard one to start with because the idea for my children’s humorous fantasy ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ came from a lot of places. I love to write humour, and writing about the unexpected or unusual can often produce humour in almost any situation. I got a few ideas together about characters that could be humorous to write about, and from those characters ‘Caution’ developed. My lead character, Gertie Grimthorpe, was soon walking across the pages completely taking over the stage in her role as the witch who doesn’t even look the part, and certainly can’t act it. Witches are great characters to use in stories because of course with them come all the associated traits of magic, spells, riding broomsticks, strange creatures as their familiars…all too good to miss the opportunity of using. My books have a habit of turning the expected on its head, and you will see this right away even on the first few pages of ‘Caution’.
Who designed the cover and why did you go for that particular design?
The cover for ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was designed by my very talented publisher, Neil Trigger. We discussed ideas and of course Neil had read the book from cover to cover several times during the process leading up to publication. I’m sure he knows the story almost as well as I do! We wanted a cover that doesn’t give too much away about the story, but that has more than a little touch of magic about it and implies humour just by looking at it. I think this is exactly what Neil achieved.
I agree! How do you decide on names for your characters?
I wanted unusual names that leant themselves perfectly to a world of witches, so I played around with many before jotting down the ones that appealed to me most. Gertie became the name of my main character because I could even make a play on words by using it.
‘ In truth, Gertie had been named Gertrude. She soon got it into her head however that she really didn’t like the rude bit, so she persuaded everyone to leave it out’
In this way, I had quite a few names ready before the characters even appeared in my book. Others came into the story as I went along and myself, or Gertie, decided what their names would be. My last sentence will only make perfect sense to you if you have read the book!
Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
I would like to meet them all! I can’t imagine anything more enjoyable than walking around Vile Vale and saying hello to the wonderful characters that came to life when writing ‘Caution’. If I have to just pick a few, then of course Gertie would take priority because without her there would be no story. She became such a likeable character, and I love the way she developed through the story. Another of my favourites is Gertie’s gran, who has a heart of gold but keeps it well hidden. Gran quite takes over any scene that involves her, and certainly became one of the funniest characters in the book. I can’t leave this question without mentioning ‘Bat’ the talking umbrella. I would love to meet him as long as it could be in private, because in company he has the knack of embarrassing anyone he meets!
If you had to write it all over again, would you change anything?
I don’t think I would. If I changed anything then I feel that something important would be missing from the tale. If I had written more, then it would simply have been page filling and would not have added to the flow of the story. The book would also have been too long! I am very pleased to say I was delighted with the finished product, and to hold the published book in my hands was one of the proudest moments of my life.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I tend to write in my bedroom because it is comfortable, quiet, and houses my computer! I begin each chapter in free-hand sitting comfortably on my bed with pen and paper. At this stage I just throw the ideas down with little concern about handwriting, spelling or punctuation. This part is little more than idea flow. Once the chapter is complete, I then type it up on my computer making changes as I go along and taking care of all the necessary writing rules. This process might not appeal to everyone, but it works for me!
Do you follow a plan when you are writing or do you let the story guide you?
Yes and no. I usually know where I want my story to go, and often have the end in mind as I write the beginning. What happens in between however can start life as a free-for-all. My characters take over, go off at tangents, and several unexpected chapters emerge, as if by magic! I love to write this way, and sometimes surprise myself when I read back what I have just written. I don’t think a set plan would ever work for me. I like to let my imagination run riot from page to page.
Which of your books is your favourite and why?
I tend to think that whatever book I am writing at the time is my favourite. I think that you have to feel that way to give the latest book your very best and to think that you are learning and improving all the time as a writer. So, at present, my favourite book is ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, another children’s humorous fantasy that is currently being completed in its final draft. I’m hoping it will be out there before too long!
Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?
Being an author can be very disappointing and you have to have a thick skin. The writing part is wonderful, but then all authors go through the stages of rejection by publishers. This can make some wonder why they went to all the time of writing their wonderful book, but I never feel that way. If there is a book inside me then I believe it deserves to be written. If some publishers don’t want to take it on, then I try, try and try again. My advice to all writers is to have faith in yourself and in your work. There is someone out there waiting to see it. The hardest part is finding them…
Paperback or eBook?
Paperback, every time.
Hot or cold?
Tea or coffee?
Telephone or face to face?
Face to face
Morning or night?
Any last words for your readers?
I hope you enjoy reading ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ as much as I enjoyed writing it. If not, please let me know through my various contacts, and I will strive to do better next time! Any comments, good and bad, are a learning curve. We can’t please everyone all of the time, but I strive to give my readers value for money and a book they will want to read over and over again. I hope that is what I achieve!
Thank you so much for being here today Lynne, it was a pleasure to have you on my blog. I particularly enjoyed reading about how you decided on names for your characters!
Now check out the book:
“Gertie Grimthorpe is born into a society of witches and grows up in Vile Vale, but there is something very wrong with her… she is beautiful and couldn’t be nasty if she tried. When she finds out that she is to attend a private academy for magical children, Gertie hopes to find her witchy way in the world. With a moat monster suffering from stomach ache, a short-sighted owl familiar and mishaps galore, Gertie’s adventures are hilarious and heartwarming. Join Gertie as she struggles with growing up (and longing to grow her first wart), learning magic and working out how to deal with a grumpy enchanted umbrella, named Bat.”