Title: The Angelica Touch
Author: L.J. Sedgwick
Genre: YA contemporary
Release Date: November 25th, 2017
Angelica, 14, has reached three conclusions. Firstly, her mother Molly, who manages a rundown hotel on the wild Drisogue peninsula in Donegal, is desperately lonely. (She's not.) Secondly, it’s entirely her fault that Molly is still single. (It might be.) Thirdly, since she can hardly have a boyfriend of her own if Number Two is true, it’s up to her to find her mother a man. (It really isn't.)
Given her natural gift for matchmaking, Angelica’s solution is to develop a dating website for her mum. With the questions devised by Angelica and best friend, Grace, what could possibly go wrong?
A romantic comedy of errors, set in 2010.
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2hQBt3z Print version should be available by Dec 6th.
Author talking about the book: https://youtu.be/CyHnpNhyoK0
1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
I tend to get a draft written and then step back, do a full outline of what happens in each scene and separate the stories to make sure they all work. Dad’s Red Dress, my first book, was a screenplay first so the ‘form’ of it was there when I wanted to write the book. Although the ending did change and now there’s a sequel brewing away! Writing that is more organic. I’ve brainstormed every character, looking from their points of view, their issues and personalities to see what stories or events could come from them. I’ll sit down in the new year and dive back into Jessie’s world; for now I have a beginning, lots of really fun stuff for the middle and an ending, (a lovely ending!) but no real structure.
My new novel, The Angelica Touch was tightly plotted but then it lost momentum and I had to outline it again, to work out where I could compress the storyline but also allow the characters to breathe. Candlemist, my first fantasy book, was initially written in a notebook my father gave me after my mother died. I wasn’t capable of writing so I made myself write ten pages in it each night. The deal I did with myself was not to worry about what popped up or the logic or the story and see where it led. That became ‘A Sort of Something’ and I returned to it several times over the years in between only to be a bit overwhelmed by the scale of it. The first draft was a glorious muddle of material. I know the structure is in there, if I can just pull it free and that’s heavy work! The current draft is 110,000 words long and I’m outlining it again because there is so much going on and I need to make sure it all works.
I do use post-its to remind myself of things I need to check or add; scraps of paper and the ‘notes’ app in my phone. I have written plays without knowing where they were going because it’s more fun – it does mean you end up cutting material you love but it also means you come up with material you’d never have logically dreamt up.
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
All sorts of places. Dad’s Red Dress was inspired by someone my family knew who was transitioning. I was fascinated as a kid by how her children coped. From that came a feature script in 2002 that was almost made in 2005. I wanted to tell this story and so the book came about. The Angelica Touch, my new book came from a story I was told about another single mum whose child would bring stray men to her at the playground and introduce them as, ‘My mum needs a husband and I need a dad’. But I’d also worked in an introduction agency in the 80s in Australia.
I have a comedy stage play about a woman who steals a thumb from a lab and grows a man – that probably came from being terrified of a film I saw when I was five or six and that I recently discovered was Carry on Laughing. Another came from my fascination with multiple personalities, another from a cutting in a paper about a policeman arrested for attacking women and stealing their shoes. (He was addicted to the glue used in the soles.) Others, Candlemist came purely from some strange place in my mind while another semi-fiction book, SnapShots came from finding holiday snaps of my parents from the 50s that my brother threw out after my father died.
Once I have the germ of an idea, I need a character whose perspective interests me and I explore that. Once they start talking, I have no choice but to write the book or script!
3. How long have you been writing?
Always. I wrote books of poems for my mother when I was in primary school, my first novel at nine. Words fascinated me. Behaviours. I was always an observer and I loved what I could do with words. It felt magical.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Write every day – it’s a boring one but writing is a muscle and even if it’s a factual account or three lines on the back of a bus ticket to remind you of something you’ve just seen, it counts. But the important second part of this is to expect to write rubbish. Regularly. There’s a lot of rubbish in our heads that we need to get out so the good stuff can flow and if you’re afraid to write bad material, you’ll never keep writing.
My second tip, if you set out to finish a script, a novel, a play, finish it. You’ll feel so much better. Unfinished projects stifle creativity and depress writers.
Thirdly, brainstorm everything, to do mindmapping as a regular technique to improve your visual storytelling skills and make sure that you don’t come up with the most obvious next image, setting, line, way to reveal information or character... And use different coloured pens to do it with on the largest sheet of paper you can find. Put a word at the centre of the page. Write down everything that word connects you to without thinking about whether it’s logical. Think sounds, colours, people, memories, other words, tastes, objects. When one of those resonates, do the same for that word. The daily grind can put shackles on our imagination and to write, to keep writing, you need to be able to open your mind up again.
5. How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Very important. If you choose the wrong name, you can be stuck with it. I’ve had to change a character’s surname because someone famous has the same name but usually, if I need to change a name, I struggle with it.
I only realised that I had used the same first name for the lead character in two books when I stood up to read aloud from them at a reading. I had to rename the character in the unpublished book on the spot and, fortunately, the new name is even better. You can get lazy and revert to names you know.I got a book of baby names I got thirty years ago and I use it to find names that have an interesting meaning or mythological connotations. Nicknames are handy too, especially for the hint they can give to something in the character’s past.
6. What are your favorite:
I’ll read just about anything. Currently reading Eleanor Oliphant is Fine by Gail Honeyman, several books on illustrating picture books and Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’ which is excellent.
Gabriel Garcia Marquez blew me away the first time I discovered 100 Years of Solitude. But so did Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie.
I love historical fiction for relaxing to but really I love any book that has characters I believe in and want to know more about. I get depressed by books that have characters I can’t care about!
Tv? The Handmaid’s Tale. Dr Who. Howard’s End. Stranger Things. The Good Wife. West Wing. Love sci-fi on TV.
Films? The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Juno. Little Miss Sunshine. Witness.
I’ve been listening to the soundtrack of The Wire at the moment, almost on a loop, while I edit The Angelica Touch. A recent discover was My Fellow Sponges, an Irish indie band but I love PostModern Jukebox too. I have pretty eclectic taste. Prokopiev’s Romeo and Juliet – there’s one track (Dance of the Knights) I can play over and over and it will make me feel like doing just about anything with strong lyrics..
Crisps (King, Cheese n Onion). Chocolate (almost anything). I don’t need a lot of either, but I need to know I have supplies in the house somewhere! (Usually hidden from my husband!)
About the Author:
A former journalist, Lindsay Jane Sedgwick is a versatile and imaginative award-winning screenwriter and playwright. Her first novel, Dad’s Red Dress was published in March 2017 and her second, The Angelica Touch is out in December 2017.