Friday, 5 January 2018

Jenny Quintana's writing toolkit

WRITING TOOLKIT gives you an idea of an author's writing process through the tools they use. The tools can be anything (real or virtual) that they think is essential for their writing - serious, fun or even a fetish (that they're willing to own up to)! 

I am delighted to welcome 





The Missing Girl was published on 28 December 2017 by Mantle. 

My study
I’m lucky because I have a room in the house which is mine. At least it’s supposed to be mine - school bags, shoes and musical instruments tend to drift in along with members of my family. The room is a short cut from the hall to the kitchen and as I feel guilty shutting my children out, I always let them in. The truth is I write best when I’m alone in the house or early in the morning when everyone else is sleeping. I prefer to keep my desk tidy – although I don’t always manage that, and I like to have special things around me – ornaments and pictures which remind me of my family.

… but only sometimes. When I really want to get inside a character’s head and experience what they’re feeling, I’ll go on YouTube, find an emotional song and play it over and over. Part of The Missing Girl is set in the eighties so I listened to artists like Kate Bush and Siouxsie and the Banshees. The rest of the time when I’m writing though, I need absolute silence. Even a ticking clock or the fridge groaning away distracts me.

Tea in my special mugs
I drink a lot of tea – PG Tips. I’m not keen on herbal or fruit tea.  When I’m writing, I have my tea in a writing mug as I think it puts me ‘in the zone’. My family knows how much I love these and always buys me a new one for my birthday. My favourite is the Agatha Christie mug even though it’s chipped and faded now.

When I’m writing, I might not have time to stop and cook, so I eat quick things like toast and marmite. I also have a lot of fruit because it stops me from going after the chocolate and the crisps (although I make an exception for marmite crisps). Heading for the fruit bowl forces me to stand up and move which is no bad thing when you’re writing all day. I’m also quite partial to cheese strings.

A glass of wine
Early evening if I’m still writing, I’ll have a glass of wine – red or white depending on my mood, but I like Sauvignon Blanc and Rioja best.  If it’s only one glass, I can keep going. In my head, I’m writing better! If it’s more, it’s probably time to turn off the computer …

Technology and software
I use Word and that’s about it. I have an old iPhone which my children are always telling me I need to update – it works, I understand how to use it, so why change? I’m not very technically minded and have only recently embraced Twitter. However, I do really enjoy being on Twitter and especially meeting book people, so I have to ration my time there. I’ll use it as a reward after I’ve been writing for a set amount of time.   

Books, books and more books. I love the shelves in my study and when I’m feeling a bit stuck, I swivel around on my chair and stare at them for inspiration. And as everyone knows you can’t write unless you read. A lot of my books are very old – from childhood or when I studied English at university. Many of them are scribbled in with words underlined and pages turned down. I’m not the kind of person to keep a book in perfect condition. I like it to feel read.

The dog
Hector, our border collie, keeps me company. He also forces me to get off my chair and go outside for a walk. I go to the gym too, but walking in the fresh air with Hector is not only good exercise, it helps my brain work better. I like it best when the weather’s a bit moody. I like to sort out plot problems while I’m wandering around in the rain.


About Jenny Quintana

Jenny Quintana grew up in Essex and Berkshire, before studying English literature in London. She has taught in London, Seville and Athens and has also written books for teaching as a foreign language. She is a graduate of the Curtis Brown Creative writing course and lives with her family in Berkshire. Jenny has four brothers and no sister but she is fascinated by the relationship between sisters.

Find Jenny on Twitter - @jennyquintana95

About The Missing Girl

Published by Mantle (28 December 2017)

Publisher's description
When Anna Flores' adored older sister goes missing as a teenager, Anna copes by disappearing too, just as soon as she can: running as far away from her family as possible, and eventually building a life for herself abroad. 
Thirty years later, the death of her mother finally forces Anna to return home. Tasked with sorting through her mother's possessions, she begins to confront not just her mother's death, but also the huge hole Gabriella's disappearance left in her life – and finds herself asking a question she's not allowed herself to ask for years: what really happened to her sister? 
With that question comes the revelation that her biggest fear isn't discovering the worst; it's never knowing the answer. But is it too late for Anna to uncover the truth about Gabriella's disappearance?

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