Unlocking the cupboard of creativity – Jessica Redland
By Jessica Redland
Thank you for welcoming me to your blog. I’m delighted to be here. This month sees the launch of my debut novel, Searching for Steven, and last month saw the launch of my debut novella, Raving About Rhys. It’s an incredibly exciting time for me and an absolute dream come true.♥
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I loved English and any essay-based subjects at school and I’ve had a pen pal since I was fourteen. I’m in my forties now and we still write to each other although it’s my turn to write and, shamefully (especially for a writer), I’m way overdue on it! I never considered becoming an author, though.
When I was in my late twenties, I had a job where I’d often have to write business reports. My manager at the time would tell me that they read more like a story than a report and that I should write a book. I had no ideas what to write about, though, so I laughed it off. Then something happened in my personal life, which gave me the perfect premise for a book. When I started writing it, it was almost as though I’d unlocked the cupboard of creativity, because my debut novel became a trilogy and I suddenly had a bunch of other ideas to explore too.
My writing process has changed over the years. When I first started writing Steven, I only had the characters, a premise, and the ending. I had no idea how I was going to get to the ending. In fact, I had no idea where to start the story because I changed the beginning about forty or fifty times! I wrote it over a decade, but had significant gaps during that time when I didn’t do any writing due to huge life changes like getting married, having a baby, moving house etc. I also learned my craft and made a lot of mistakes.
My first draft was written in the third person, but it didn’t feel right so I changed it to first person, which felt more like my voice. I even experimented with present tense, but it didn’t work for me, so I reverted back to past tense.
There was no way I wanted to take a decade to write the second book in the trilogy, so I took a much more structured approach to it. I knew my main characters already so I wasn’t starting completely from scratch, and I’d had a decade to develop in my mind what was going to happen to the plot and characters.
I mapped out what I wanted to happen in each chapter but not in so much detail that I couldn’t write freely. I found this technique worked so much better for me and the first draft of Getting Over Gary took me about seven or eight months to write. Much better than a decade!
Like so many writers, I have a bit of a stationery obsession, particularly for notepads. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that I had an eight-month gap between having the idea of Searching for Steven and actually putting fingers to keyboard. The reason for this was because I wanted to have a trilogy of beautiful notepads to match my trilogy of books in which I’d make notes and plan plot points. Isn’t that crazy? I think it was a bit of a self-preservation procrastination technique in case I started writing and realised I really had no talent for it. But I found my notepads eventually – a trio of gorgeous Paperblank hardbacked ones – and the work commenced. Even though I didn’t initially plan Steven, I still managed to fill my notebook with ideas and plot points as I changed and developed the story. I used my notepads as the starting point for the next two books.
I have lots of notepads to fill, I have lots of ideas, and I can’t wait to get cracking on them and I hope there are lots of readers out there who enjoy reading them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them.
Thank you so much for having me as your guest. Happy reading everyone!
Jessica Redland lives in a seaside town in North Yorkshire, England, with her husband, daughter, cat, and an ever-growing number of collectible teddy bears. She’s a learning & development advisor for a frozen food company by day and a Brown Owl and writer by night. She loves chocolate and cake. Unfortunately it doesn’t love her so she’s up at 5.15am three times a week to attend bootcamp to try and work it off! Searching for Steven is the first book in a trilogy.