Hazel McHaffie

current writing

Current writing

I’m using this time waiting for the next two manuscripts to metamorphose into books to catch up on reading and to plot my next novel on organ/tissue donation and retention. Lots of thorny issues there.

It’s been a good week for reading this week; I’ve had two whole days travelling. Eighteen uninterrupted hours. In the Quiet Zone of the train – where else? Not so much as a squeak from a mobile phone. If you’re interested in what I’m reading why not join the loyal band of ‘friends’ who exchange reviews and chat about what they’re reading on the goodreads website.

Plotting, now that’s a more sensitive activity and details of what I’m thinking about my new characters remain a secret known only to me at the moment. As Ted Hughes once said, ‘If I talk about anything I’m writing, that’s the end. I can’t write any more … All the steam goes out of it.’ It occurred to me today as the train hurtled northwards and I read about the experiences of families facing organ donation that in the event of a major train crash my ideas might die with me but my organs live on. Hmmm.

I don’t always share the experiences of famous authors but I was gratified to read a quote by Alexander McCall Smith a few weeks ago in The Daily Telegraph. He said that any fiction-writer will tell you that an author doesn’t need to tell his characters what to do or say. Not the view of Mann-Booker winner, John Banville, who I heard scoff at this ‘amateurish’ idea at the Edinburgh Book Festival the year he won the big prize and thought he was unassailable. But it’s my experience. When I just take dictation, that’s when I know the characters are real. They’ve got their birth certificates; they’re telling their own story. I’m not at that stage yet with the next book, but watch this space.

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