I have had a nice chat recently with Author India Drummond, yes - the wonderful lady who wrote Ordinary Angels, whilst we were cyber-munching toasted crumpets with butter and honey, and sipping a cup of coffee.
Oh, what a delight to have India so I'd like to share with you her answers to my questions.
When did you find out you wanted to a writer?
I think I've always known! My mother was a storyteller herself, so we used to spend lots of time making up 'what if' stories when I was a child. It's just always felt right.
Were you working full time when you began to seriously write and finish a novel?
I was working as web developer/programmer. I enjoyed parts of the job, but I also found it a little soulless. It was really a great relief to start writing full-time. I feel like I'm finally doing what I was meant to do.
What was your first job ever?
As a young teenager, I worked as a babysitter for families my parents knew. But my first 'real' job was working at a drug store behind the checkout counter. I was 15.
What was your first story ever written?
The first one I remember was when I was about eight or nine years old. It was about twins called Ka and Ba. (Which I rather inexplicably pronounced Kay and Bay). I don't remember anything about the story at all! I wish I still had it.
Tell us about your book or books
My book Ordinary Angels is a paranormal/urban fantasy novel in which a young woman falls in love with an angel, frees a soul from necromancers, releases a ghost trapped in the Void, and saves his living grandson from demons. It contains strong language and supernatural sizzle. It has come out on the 4th of April from Lyrical Press. My next book, Blood Faerie, is due out in June this year.
Are your characters based on real life or personalities you've seen in real life or television?
I think my early work probably had more in it that was 'me.' Now I tend to write about what I observe in people around me. My stories are character driven in that it's the characters' own personalities and hidden agendas that drive the story rather than external events. Sure, things happen to them, but the characters determine the path through the plot.
Do you ever get a writer's block? If you do, how do you get rid of it and carry on writing?
No. I treat writing like a job. Like anyone with a job, I do my work in rain or shine, no matter my mood. I do tend to have several projects going simultaneously in different stages, so I can change things up if I'm not happy with whatever aspect I'm trying to tackle that day. But no matter what, I put my nose to the grindstone and work.
How long does it take for you to finish the first draft?
That last couple of books have taken me about a week to outline and then 6-8 weeks to compose the first draft. I'm ridiculously jealous of people who say they can write a draft in a week or two. I just don't have that level of stamina anymore. Any less time and I'd not be doing a solid draft. Any more time and the prose would lose focus. It's a good pace for me.
Who are the authors who inspire you?
The ones I know that I interact with on Facebook and Twitter every day. The ones who answer my questions when I pop them up on a social networking site and scream "Ack...help!" I've met some incredibly wonderful, generous writers who share so much of themselves and their experience. I know some who have 15 books under their belts and others who classify themselves as "aspiring". I have learned something from all of them.
Let's talk about your debut novel, Ordinary Angels. What inspired you to write the story?
My husband was doing something funny, but annoying (I can't even remember what now). When I playfully whapped him for it, he said, "What I'm a perfect angel." I replied with something along the lines of "if you're what angels are like, we're all in serious trouble." But of course that got the wheels turning. I thought...if angels were real, they wouldn't be like the religious icons we so often think of...but what would they be like?
Zoe is a very interesting character who sees ghosts and angels, did you have to interview a real psychic or a medium to create Zoe?
Actually, I have met several people over the years who are either practicing mediums or who have had psychic experiences. I'm fascinated by things like this, even if I'm not sure 100% what I believe. I do believe, however, that there is a lot more to life than what we know and understand.
How long did it take for you to finish the first draft of Ordinary Angels?
The first draft took six weeks. I wrote the first 50,000 words as a part of NaNoWriMo in 2008. Then I took another two weeks to finish the story. Then another month to add a subplot and fill in some gaps. Then another couple of months on polish and editing.
Was the journey to publication very difficult for you?
Agonising! It was so angsty and stressful. All the querying and not knowing...getting back just enough feedback from queried agents to make me think I wasn't totally wasting my time, but no contracts. My first book never did make it out of that process. I gave up on it and decided to write something different - Ordinary Angels.
I queried agents with Ordinary Angels for about six months, but then I heard someone say it's actually easier to get a contract directly with a small publisher than it is to get an agent. I sent Ordinary Angels to three small publishers. I had a contract offer within a couple of weeks!
Do you have a sequel coming up, Ordinary Angels Part 2? Or next book coming up?
My next book is titled Blood Faerie. It's an urban fantasy set in Perth, Scotland. It's in the final proofreading stage now, and will be out in June. My third published novel is called Haywire Witch. It's a lighthearted paranormal rom-com due out at the end of this year.
There will be sequel to Ordinary Angels though! It's called Familiar Demons. It'll be coming in 2012! In it you'll find out more about Zoe and her powers and learn who the mysterious Thomas really is.
What advice would you give to writers aspiring to get published out there?
Interact with other writers who are in various stages of their career. Investigate indie publishing. Read many genre - even if it isn't "your cup of tea." Be positive publicly - always. Save your inevitable frustrations for private conversations with friends. Approach your writing professionally. Make a 10-year business plan. I'm sure there's more, but these are some things I've learned along the way!
Anything else you'd like to add?
I just want to say thank you, Len, for sharing your blog space with me today! It's a real pleasure to be here!
Thank you, India, for your time despite your busy schedule. It's a joy to have you here. I've enjoyed this immensely, including the crumpets. And, oh, I love what you said there - "Be positive publicly - always." I will keep that in mind.
I hope you enjoy reading India's answers as much as I did. Please visit India's website to find out more about her and her books - http://www.indiadrummond.com/