T&T author Jon Appleton talks to us about his writing process. His second book London Faces, Going Places is out soon.
How do you come up with your book ideas?
I start with characters and the people around them – colleagues, partners, family and friends. My first book, Ready to Love, was about two people trying to get together. London Faces, Going Places is about people whose lives are so tightly linked they find it hard to break away.
Do you write start to finish, or jump around chapters?
I began writing London Faces as an online serial, with consecutive weekly episodes, inspired by real-life events. I then wove other scenes in and around them because I wanted to explore other character dynamics. So it grew in all different directions, which I really enjoyed.
Do you have a word goal for each day?
Each weekly episode was 1,000 words, so that became my goal for all the chapters. I spent a lot of time editing each episode over the course of the week.
Does the fact that you are self-publishing change your writing habits at all?
I think it’s freed me up to stop being so focused on a conventional end goal – aiming for a novel of a certain length, at a certain price point, in a certain retail slot – and to focus more on the work. When I stopped pitching Ready to Love to agents with the conventional three chapters, I reworked the book into four parts, like acts, which brought it to life for me. Each part was about 18,000 words. When I finished crafting and reordering the pieces in London Faces, and reached a natural conclusion, I realised I’d also reached 18,000 words. I think this is a natural length for me. It doesn’t fit in with conventional publishing models but as an indie author I can work with it.
What advice would you give to a debut author about the writing process?
Take yourself seriously. That means allocating time and resources to help build a writing life. If you’re self-publishing, take other professionals seriously – editors, designers, printers, etc. Use their skills to help improve your work and ensure it’s as good as any published book.