Which do you enjoy writing the most, fiction or nonfiction?
Fiction. There is nothing quite like inhabiting your own made-up world. It feels both more self-indulgent, and more demanding, than factual writing.
Do you plan out the entire book before you begin writing? Or do you just sit down and write?
A bit of both. A Surrey State of Affairs started off quite haphazardly, with the blog, and then I had to do a lot of work planning and structuring the story for the novel, but at least I had my main character firmly in my mind. I find the ideas for the plot only start to fizz once Iíve written my way into a characterís mind, so I need to do a bit of writing and a bit of plotting as I go along.
Do you have a set time that you write each day? Or do you wait to be inspired?
Again, a bit of both! I have structured writing time (ideally in the morning) when I know I have to get something done, even if Iím not exactly overwhelmed with inspiration. Working as a journalist definitely helps with that: a deadline is a deadline, however you feel. I also do think of ideas at random times of the day, and for that I keep a note on my iphone. That doesnít sound very romantic Ė I wish I had some beautiful, musty leather-bound notebook Ė but if I did, I would probably lose it.
What new doors has your writing opened up for you? Were there any opportunities that you had never considered before?
Iíve been invited onto one of my favourite UK radio programmes (Radio 4ís Womanís Hour) and spoken at literary festivals, both of which were exciting and terrifying in equal measure.
Do you ever become bored with what you are writing? If you do, how do you get past that point?
No. I sometimes feel like Iíve had enough and donít have any words in me at a particular moment, but Iíve never felt bored as such. If I need a break from writing I try to do something mindless, like washing up or going for a walk.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Anything well written, but I have a particular fondness for waspish or comic writers. I love Jane Austen, Edith Wharton, PG Wodehouse, Stella Gibbons and Sue Townsend, and at the moment I am gleefully working my way through the novels of Tom Robbins.
How do you manage to balance your time between family, friends, and writing?
Badly! I gave up on having a social life for the last six months of writing my first novel (on top of the day job) Ė you just have to accept that something will give. It could have been much harder, though: I have no children, and an understanding husband. Now Iím starting to get a better balance. It helps to schedule whatís writing time and when you get to switch off.
If you could spend one hour with just one person, whom would you choose?
Provided I am allowed to bring someone back from the dead, then PG Wodehouse.
Do you have any advice for writers who are striving to be published?
Keep at it, ideally writing a little every day. Set yourself a target for when you will finish your first draft and figure out what you need to write each day or week or month to get there. Look for moral support from other writers, whether online or in actual meet-ups. Read lots, in particular the sort of writers you aspire to be. Donít get demoralized by rejection, which is inevitable, but do look for objective feedback from someone who isnít afraid to hurt your feelings. And most of all, try to enjoy yourself!
Thank you, Ceri Radford, for such an amazing interview! I hope to read more of Constance Harding's misadventures soon.