A warm welcome to Louise Charles (pen name of Jo Lamb) who writes both short and long fiction. Louise lives in rural Le Marche in Italy and is now dedicating her pen, ink and paper to her novels, four of which are in varying stages of completion.
Tell us about your proudest writing achievement.
Receiving the proof copy of The Duke’s Shadow in the post. Self-publishing is hard work and it was wonderful to see the final result in my hand.
What are your writing strengths and weaknesses?
I love to read which I think helps to develop my writing. If I plan, I can write out the first draft and believe that rewriting is the real stuff, so am very open to constructive criticism. My weaknesses are commas and apostrophe’s which seem to appear in all the wrong places and a habit to talk down my writing accomplishments.
Do you have a writing routine or any odd writing quirks?
I prefer to write first thing, before my brain really wakes up, in that kind of midway state of consciousness, but that’s not always possible so I do force myself to write at all times of the day. I love to use a fountain pen and paper for first ideas/rough drafts and usually end up with very inky fingers.
How important is it to you to plot your novels?
I used to think I could just sit down and write, but that was a romantic notion. Now I do plan, using a mixture of approaches but most particularly scene planning, just a few words about what I think I want to write, then writing it. In a 45 minute session I can usually write 1500 words if I’ve planned it first.
Are your characters ever based on people you know?
No, never. A mixture of characteristics perhaps but never a real person.
Who is your favourite author and why?
I read across many genres so it would be hard to choose one. At the moment I’m reading George R R Martin (The Game of Thrones) who has wonderful ability to draw a fantastical world, but I also like Kate Mosse for her ability to weave a hint of supernatural, Jodi Piccoult for the difficult themes she portrays so effortlessly and Philippa Gregory for her take on historical happenings.
What qualities do you think writers should have?
Perseverance, determination and more perseverance. The ability to use constructive criticism to develop your writing (for me) is also key.
Which three words best describe you?
Terminal People Watcher (drives my poor husband mad!)
What are you working on at the moment?
Two projects, one is a fantasy novel that I completed during NaNoWriMo 2013 and the other is a series of light vignettes called The Good (Expat) Life, based on some of my experiences moving to and living in Italy.
What advice would you give to an aspiring novelist?
Write, Write and Write! And be prepared to learn new skills, particularly if you go down the self-publishing route.
Louise Charles is an accomplished author and has short stories published in My Weekly, Peoples Friend, in several anthologies as well as numerous online publications.
Louise founded the online writing group for expats, Writers Abroad, which has contributed to and published four anthologies, the profits of which are donated to book charities.