naked novelist
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She's naked, she's a novelist, she talks!

How do you think being naked effects your writing process?
1. I think writing strips you down to your very soul, so stripping your clothes off is nothing in comparison. Although, I must admit, that I didn't take to the idea of being the Naked Novelist easily. I gave it a lot of thought. Could I really do this? I wasn't prepared to diet to do it. I could never write fiction without a regular intake of chocolate. How would I feel about my elderly relatives knowing about my new vocation? I decided I could live with their opinions whatever they might be. And most importantly, would I seriously be able to write naked. I tried it before starting up the site. It's an odd sensation at first. It was a disctraction until I got used to it. But now it's just part of the ritual. I can still write fully clothed but often find I do my best work naked. Running the site has had a really positive effect on my writing. It has turned what is normally a solitary experience into a very public one. Again I felt very exposed at first, posting up my daily scribblings, but the fact that my fans are waiting to find out what happens next is a real incentive. If I have a cold, they e mail me wishing me better so that I can carry on with the latest chapter. If I have writer's block they write cheery letters, egging me on and saying how they can't wait to read the rest of the book. So my writing and my body are exposed, yes, but I really don't feel alone with my work anymore. I think the trade off has been well worth it!

2. What gave you the idea of the naked novelist site?
A couple of years ago, I caught the end of a TV programme about internet strippers. It showed the ladies concerned as very in control of their lives, as having given up their boring day jobs which didn't pay all that
much and as being happy with their work, which just involved a little filming every day. The technology, they said, was simple. I was working as for a production journalist for a magazine at the time - and I hated it. I was, of course, also writing a novel. I have been writing fiction for around 14 years now. I'd been desperately trying to carve out the time for my fiction which was tricky with the full-time job. I was writing on the tube on the way
into work, writing at lunchtime, writing at every available opportunity. As the credits rolled on the internet strippers programme I turned to my husband and said, 'If I did that, my site would be nakednovelist.com, wouldn't it?'. I only said it as a joke. He laughed out loud and then he looked straight at me. 'Oh, my God, he said. 'You're going to do it. Aren't you.' At some point inbetween him saying that and my initial comment I had decided. It was too good an idea to pass up. With some ideas you instinctively know that they're hot. That they will work. I knew that if I became the Naked Novelist, my fiction would sell. I am so serious about my fiction writing that there was no option but to go for it. I made my husband buy the domain name the next day.

3. Do you ever receive bizarre emails?
Oh, yes. And I print a lot of them on my site. I love my fan mail, even the bizzare stuff. I think the most surprising e mails are those from people who just write to me to tell me about their sex lives. One man wrote and told me proudly that he'd been married for thirty years and last night he and his wife had had the best sex
ever. Oh, and by the way, he really loved my writing and was planning to buy MY MIDDLE CLASS GIRL when it comes out! Other peole work up a bit of a frenzy telling me how attractive they find me - men and women. So many people e mail me to tell me they admire what I'm doing and what I'm writing. The most common e mail I get goes something like this: Great body, great writing. I love the fact that nakednovelist.com has married literature and nudity. On the whole the experience of nakednovelist has been really heartening - it's
has made me feel that the world is full of good folk (and a few weirdos).

4. What inspires you to write?
Life. People. I find I have stories in my head. Beautiful, sad, funny stories. I want to tell them. People often think that being 'creative' means being wild and wacky and a free agent but I've recently realised that when I
write fiction I'm not having some wild creative frenzy. In a sense I'm trying to exercise some control over life. In life I don't always say or do the right thing, sadly. Life is far from tight and perfect. I try to make my fiction tight and perfect. Of course, I can't completely control my characters or my plot but I do try to guide them into a beautiful narrative.

5. Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I write when my children are at school. This gives me two hours in the morning and two in the afternoon. I break for lunch and go and help out in the playground. I have Shreddies for breakfast, almost always. Take
the kids off. Come back. Make an instant coffee and head up to my garret in the attic. I find I can't spend more than two hours up there at a time. Any longer and I end up writing drivel. I try to write about 500 words in each two hour session. Sometimes I forget the word count and work on plot. I plan each chapter and then let my characters put it to the test. Sometimes it suits them perfectly. Sometimes it doesn't and then it's back to the
plotwork I go. Oh, and I knit when I write. Always. I have my knitting by my computer and if I finish a paragraph or write a good sentence I reward myself with a few rows of knitting. I'm an ex-smoker, and I used to reward myself with cigarette. Knitting is better than smoking. It's so soothing. And productive. Even if my novel's not going well I'll usually have done a good half of a sleeve by the end of the day, which is a bit of a result. I like progress in life!

6. How do you cure writer's block?
Usually with plotwork. If I can't write well, it's probably because I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be writing. I stop. I leave the computer. I take a notebook to a cafe, with a copy of my novel-in-progress. I order a latte. And I think. I write out plot suggestions. And only when I'm happy with a plan for the next four or five chapters will I attempt to write again. Plot is like the skeleton. My prose just doesn't hold up without it. This usually works. I haven't had to face a block in terms of coming up with ideas for novels or short stories. Yet.

7. Who is your all-time favourite author?
Angela Carter. Wise Children is probably my favourite book of all time. I think Angela Carter was clever, daring, funny and very interesting, although not always an easy read. Close second is Isaac Bashevis Singer. I
LOVED The Slave. The most moving love story I have ever read. I'm also very impressed by Margaret Atwood. Very. Reading her novels I feel I'm in such a capable writer's hands.

8. What are you reading at the moment?
The Invisible Man by HG Wells. And it's really good fun! I think most modern day readers would find it difficult - they might be hoping for a great sci-fi story and what it actually is is a light English comedy with a sci-fi idea
thrown in. This is the first time I'm reading HG Wells and I will definintely read more.

9. What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
That if you write a great novel it will definitely get into print. My last novel was so well received and was applauded by British publishers as fascinating, touching, original etc but it didn't go. That didn't put me off
writing another novel - I think I will always write novels. But it did make me realise that if taking my clothes was all it would take to get me into print, then I would take my clothes off. I didn't want to get to 70 and think, 'Why didn't I try that nakednovelist.com thing?'

10. What advice would you give budding authors?
You have to finish the novels you start. You can only sell finished products. And you can only learn how to write novels by writing novels. Short stories are a good exercise. I love writing and reading them but they are a
luxury for a novelist. They don't generally sell in the UK. Read all the time, obviously. Oh and carry a notebook and pen around with you wherever you go. You might think you'll always remember a good line or idea that you come up with, but you probably won't remember it quite as well as the first time you thought it up. Oh, and try writing naked, of course - it could be just what you need to get you really inspired!

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