Hi everyone! I’ve been super quiet throughout March, it’s been such a crazy month and I mean who can be surprised about how drastic life has changed at the moment, I kind of feel like I’m in a dystopian novel. But to lighten the mood, the ever lovely Gollancz is doing a blog tour for the amazing Vic James for the release of Sanctuary in paperback & I asked to do a Q&A with Vic!
If you want to read my review of Sanctuary you can find that here.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes! And … no? I mean, I always thought it would be a lovely thing to do, but so does almost everybody, and when I was younger I didn’t have the first idea how to go about it. I come from a working-class family with no history of university education. My father and grandads all worked in grim factory jobs, my grandmothers were both barmaids (!!), and my mum worked in shops and and clerical jobs, until she went back to school when I was older. So it never seemed very realistic. And this was before social media, so I had no idea who agents were, or that writers were people just like the rest of us. It wasn’t until I hit my 30s that I had a book idea and felt that for the first time I’d seen enough of the book world online and at events to understand that everyone has a fair chance of breaking in, if your writing has promise.
Do you have any writing habits?
I’m best first thing in the morning. I get up early and have coffee and a really nice breakfast – I’m a big believer in quality breakfasting! (Scrambled egg and avocado with kimchi is a recent discovery…) I need lots of coffee. I eat all that while reading the papers online. Then off I go! At least that’s the theory. Some days I have breakfast in bed while reading a book, and those days can end up … IDK … unproductive?
My ‘one weird habit’ is that when on deadline. I break each day into two, and sleep twice, so I get two hits at that ‘just woke up’ productivity surge: 8 hours awake, 4 hours sleeping. Repeat. I can’t sustain this for more than a couple of weeks, but it does let me do a month’s work in a fortnight….
What is your writing process like?
Slow. I have to read back the previous few chapters before I’m ready to move on, and usually get caught up editing them, which some days doesn’t leave me much focus left for writing the new bit. Ugh. The plus side is that it means my first drafts are often pretty smooth. (At least I think so, until my editors get hold of them!) I’ve always thought that advice about ‘leave off your day’s writing session at a point where you’re in the middle of it and enjoying the flow’ is genius, as you’d want to dive straight in the next day, but I’ve never managed to put it into practice, alas!
Do you find moments in your life that you implement into your stories?
All the time. All. The. Time. Particularly for visuals and place. Tiny aspects of characters get borrowed. Shameless large-scale theft of buildings and objects. Smells. And I daresay subliminal suggestion plays a part, too. I’m pretty sure Detective Maggie’s love of doughnuts in SANCTUARY is because at the time I was drafting, I was finishing up a TV job at an office with a Crosstown doughnuts stand outside. I’m so weak and suggestible…
And then there’s the personal stuff. I don’t talk about that so much, but yes, it’s fair to say that the complex and often painful female friendship dynamics in SANCTUARY aren’t entirely unlike things I’ve experienced. No former friends have tried to have me burned as a witch, though.
Thank you to Vic James for answering my questions, as lovely and hilarious as always, hopefully no one will ever burn you for a witch..
Don’t forget to go and buy a copy of Sanctuary to read if you haven’t yet, the hardback is out now and the paperback is released on April 2nd 2020, or even the ebook on amazon is only currently £3.99 (at the time of writing this post)