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Lucky to be mentored by Lee Weatherly

lee-weatherlyAt the end of 2015, I was accepted onto the WoMentoring project by the hugely talented and lovely Lee Weatherly, bestselling author of Broken Sky and the Angel trilogy.

Lee is an impressive author (with more than 50 books for children to her name) and has literally written the book on writing: Write a BlockbusterAnd Get it Published, co-authored with Helen Corner.

So I was thrilled when Lee agreed to take me on and said lots of positive things about my manuscript. But – and there was a big BUT – she felt I had the potential to do better.

After much soul searching, I abandoned my first story and began a new project. Lee expertly steered me through the process of outlining the plot of The Twisted Tree and read through an early draft, pointing out where I could improve the story.

When Lee invited me to her seaside writer’s cottage for dinner I was hugely excited but also nervous. I needn’t have worried – she was lovely and we chatted about all kinds of things, including our mutual love of ghost stories.

As we were talking, I noticed what looked like a creepy face in the glass door of the wood burner – and it gave me an idea for my story. Talking about it made us both shiver, and we quickly decided to change the subject – Lee was sleeping there alone that night!

When my taxi arrived several hours late (it’s a long story, the first one got stuck in mud), Lee kindly walked me up to the main road. The night sky was alive with stars – and as we hugged goodbye, I thanked every one of them for bringing us together.

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Getting in the mood to write

Some authors prefer the sound of silence with only the clack of the keyboard. Personally, I like to write to music. Or if there’s a really great storm outside, the howl of the wind.

There were a few pieces of music I listened to on a loop while writing The Twisted Tree. If I’m working on a particularly scary scene, I like to work by candle light. Not only did it help set the mood, but the candles, incense, and horror music warned everyone in the house to stay away – which meant I could write in peace.

The only problem was when my boyfriend nudged open the door to pass me a cup of tea and I nearly leapt out of my skin with fright.

These were some of my favourite soundtracks while writing:

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Visual inspiration

winter-colour-sky

I have come to learn that I am a very visual writer. Until I can picture a scene in my head, I don’t attempt to write it.

Whilst working on my current manuscript, I printed out dozens of images which I kept by my computer, as well as using Pinterest.

stigWhether I need to describe a remote cabin or the way a character looks, I will search for images online that capture the idea I have in mind.

I then simply write what I see in the photo. It works for me every time. Not only that, but many of the images I found gave me plot ideas I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.

Feel free to take a peek at my Pinterest boards.

… I couldn’t resist sharing a photo of Stig.

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The Twisted Tree

faceSet in the remote snows of contemporary Norway, The Twisted Tree is a dark Nordic fairy-tale inspired by Norse legend.

Martha can tell things about a person just by touching their clothes, as if their emotions and memories have been absorbed into the material. It started the day she fell from the tree at her grandma’s cabin and became blind in one eye.

Determined to find out about her strange ability, Martha uncovers a disturbing family secret…