Monday, 3 September 2018

#MondayMeet - Heide Goody / @HeideGoody

Monday Meet Author Q&A
This Monday we're thrilled to have Heide Goody talking to us about about her novel A Spell in the Country.

Heide with her writing partner Iain

What inspired you to write A Spell in the Country?
I co-wrote the book with Iain Grant. We're regular co-authors and we like to start with a high concept; something that can be easily summarised in a single sentence. 

We were throwing ideas around on a train journey, and we decided that a fun game would be to write lots of well-known story ideas down (we used films) and mix them all together to see what fun combinations we could find. If you want to try this yourself, see the 'random story generator' tool we've since put on our website.

We kept coming back to the idea of Private Benjamin with Witches and the idea went from there. A bootcamp environment is a very useful way to thrust a group of contrasting characters together.

Thanks for sharing the 'random story generator' – looks like a really fun way to get the ideas flowing. 

Where is A Spell in the Country set?
It's set in rural Lincolnshire. We wanted somewhere isolated (a country house environment is wonderful for that) but within driving distance of Birmingham. It is the setting for a residential self-improvement course for witches. Our witches do make a day trip to Skegness as well, so that we can have some fun at the seaside.

Who is your protagonist?
Jenny has spent her life as an outsider. Not only is she a witch, but she is a wicked witch. Being a wicked witch is a condition that she can't help, even though she tries to be good. She hides this from her fellow witches when she enrols on the course, but it's made harder for her because she has an invisible imp who is always at her side.

How long was the process from idea to publication?
We wrote the book in about four months, but it was about a year before we published it. We write quite quickly, because there are two of us working on the novel, but we had other material to publish in the meantime.

What have you learned anything during this process?
We were surprised that some of the reviews have suggested that this is a cosy mystery. We write comic fantasy and had though of it very much in that space, but it seems to tick that additional box for some readers, because there is a dark secret that the witches uncover.

Do you have any writing routines?
We don't write together, but we very often plan together, so we must schedule regular sessions where we will discuss the upcoming chapters.

That sounds really complicated. How on earth do you make co-authoring work?
We plan out which chapters will be in a book. We very often do this on giant pieces of paper (wallpaper lining paper is useful) and then make 'ideas' documents for each chapter. 

When we start work (and it's generally on two chapters at a time), one of us will write a synopsis for the chapter. We swap and the other person writes the prose. Then we swap back for editing. That way, we smooth out the style and make sure we include and develop all of the fun ideas that we have.

That sounds like a fascinating way to write. I'm really glad you took the time to share with us at Pict, and we wish you and Iain all the best as a writing team.

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