When Gemma discovers a pair of ancient duelling pistols encrusted with rubies in the basement of the local museum, she is immediately intrigued…
On a fateful night in 1838 two sisters were found shot in the cellars of Red Hill Hall. And when Gemma begins to delve deeper into their history she begins to realise that the secrets of that night are darker than anyone had ever imagined.
As the shocking events of the past begin to unravel, Gemma’s own life starts to fall apart. Loyalties are tested and suddenly it seems as if history is repeating itself, as Gemma learns that female friendships can be deadly…
On juggling life and writing
When I was listing ideas for blog posts for this tour, someone asked me to write about how I juggle having a full time day-job with writing. A writer’s life is never an easy one – sitting down and forcing yourself to add a thousand words or so to your work in progress requires a degree of self-discipline that not everyone has. And that is true whether or not the author works at a day job as well as being a writer. As my day-job is what pays the mortgage it has to take priority, and writing must fit around it. But how?
Well, I should first admit that while my job is full time, I am lucky enough to be able to work from home most days, which means there’s no commuting time. I work from 8am till 5pm, Monday to Friday, so actually that leaves a lot more spare time than many other writers I know, especially those with small children! (My own sons are grown up, and one has left home.)
I do most of my writing in the evenings and at weekends. If I’ve a free evening, I’ll write between 7-9pm and aim to do at least 500 words, ideally 1000. I am very easily distracted by Facebook and tend to write a paragraph then nip into Facebook, then write another paragraph etc... if only I had the self-discipline to switch off wifi on my laptop I’d probably write a lot faster! At the weekend, I’ll aim to write approximately 3000 words. So overall I’ll try to write about 5000 words in a week, which in theory means a draft of a novel should be complete in 18-20 weeks. However, I’ve not managed that yet!
I never try to write first thing in the morning before work. I am just not a morning person at all – my brain is like sludge and I can’t even focus on the keyboard let alone type anything.
I do have some techniques to help me make the most of the writing time I have – for instance I write a high level plan of the entire novel before I start, so that I know what is to happen in each chapter. Because I write dual-timeline novels this is particularly important to make sure the two timelines slot together well. I also try to ensure I end a writing session in the middle of a scene, or even the middle of a sentence. This makes it so much easier to pick up the threads next time.
I write better if I am able to get some fresh air and exercise – so that means allowing time in the day to go for a short walk or run, or do a Pilates class. Yes it is a problem fitting it all in, but as my husband is fond of saying it’s wrong to say you have no time: you have the same amount of time as everyone else (24 hours a day, 7 days a week etc) but the question is how you choose to use your time. (Actually, I wrote a little book on this, entitled Give Up Ironing – a Writer’s Guide to Time Management!) So yes, it is a juggling act and can be hard work, but I love writing and have no intention of stopping yet!
Kathleen McGurl lives near the sea in Bournemouth, with her husband, sons and cats. She began her writing career creating short stories, and sold dozens to women’s magazines in the UK and Australia. Then she got side-tracked onto family history research – which led eventually to writing novels with genealogy themes. She has always been fascinated by the past, and the ways in which the past can influence the present., and enjoys exploring these links in her novels.
When not writing or working at her full-time job in IT, she likes to go out running or swimming, both of which she does rather slowly. She is definitely quicker at writing.