Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Marie Gameson'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 Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) was published on 15 July 2017 by Salt Publishing. 

I’ll just say straight off, that when it comes to a writer’s habits, I am the very antithesis of a role model, as will become evident below.

That advice you get about having to write something each day, I think is rubbish. Very few of us have writing as our full-time job, so we have to write when it is convenient; for me that means weekends and holidays. I have written three books this way, and it suits me more than trying to crowbar 10 minutes of gritted-teeth writing time into each weekday evening.

Where I write
Basically I write anywhere that is reasonably quiet and where I can smoke. At home this means the garden or the ‘outhouse’ (a glorified conservatory, which my long-suffering partner has kindly designated as an OK-to-smoke-if-you-keep-the-door-open zone). I wrote much of Mr Gadd in China, either at cafes or in the garden of one particular hotel, where a sympathetic waiter would keep me topped up with wine or coffee whilst trying to stamp on the cockroaches which whizzed around my table as twilight turned to darkness.

Unfortunately the ability to drink, smoke, have a WiFi connection and balance my lap-top are far more important to me than the ergonomics of my situation in terms of which position is best for my neck/back/eyes. I figure I can sort out the physical problems down the gym some other time. 

Mount Gay rum, Golden Virginia, any non-oaky red wine, café latte and – most importantly – English Breakfast tea, served in a proper big mug rather than one of those silly cups where your index finger gets caught in the handle. For sustenance: lashings of almond butter and either marmite or honey.

Some strange change happened to me between youth and middle-age, so that I turned from someone who wouldn’t have dreamt of doing homework without The Stranglers playing in the background to someone who really dislikes extraneous noise: TV, radio, music. My tinnitus has got a lot worse with age, but fortunately is so constant that it rarely bothers me in the same way as does a TV on in the next room. 

Where I plot
I go on long walks to untangle the plot. If I am visiting my mother in Dorset, then the plots are played out on Maiden Castle – a wonderful massive iron age hillfort – and where I got the idea for Mr Gadd. As I do most of my writing in Suffolk I also walk along the river Deben. I am aware that I sometimes mutter to myself, so it is fortunate that I rarely meet dog-walkers who might be alarmed. I try and row at least twice a week as well – it isn’t so good for plotting, but it is essential for the soul. I would like to think that I look contemplative and ethereal in the photo below.

Social media
I am fairly hopeless at social media, and my only rule about it is to tell myself that ‘tomorrow I will definitely post something’. I’m afraid that when someone tells me I can arrange things so that a single tweet or post to Pinterest spawns a post to Instagram and Facebook and whatnot, I just hear ‘blah blah blah’. It is not so much the technology (I have spent several decades in IT) as trying to dash off something interesting without taking 3 weeks to think about it.

I don’t use anything fancy when writing. I scribble notes and draw mindmaps on notepads and use Word for my manuscript and Excel for plotting. As I have studied screenwriting rather than writing, I tend to plot the story using John Truby’s 22 steps method of screenwriting. It gives a useful rough guide to the first draft.

Having hinted that I am competent at IT, I should go on to say that Windows 10 is my enemy, and that my darkest fantasies involve Microsoft employees, me, and vastly upscaled versions of the weapons in Cluedo. I use different PCs, an old laptop and a tablet – and I have watched each become more enfeebled after being assaulted by various automatic Windows 10 updates. Sadly, my lovely Surface Pro, which I took to China twice to write and re-write Mr Gadd didn’t pull through the last update. I almost wept: Surface Pro 3 (deceased).


About Marie Gameson
Marie Gameson was born in Trinidad but spent her childhood in Kuwait, El Salvador, and Barbados. She is now in England, and getting on a bit.
Marie and her mother co-wrote a book based on the legacy of the ‘English Redlegs’ – the Monmouth Rebels who were exiled from England to Barbados, following their defeat at the Battle of Sedgemoor in Somerset in 1685.

Find Marie on her website and on Twitter - @MarieGameson

About The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased)

Published by Salt Publishing (15 July 2017)

Publisher's description
The Giddy Career of Mr Gadd (deceased) explores the painful themes of having to grieve for someone who is not yet dead, and trying to find one's identity through an absent father. 
Winifred Rigby follows a Zen-like path of serenity and detachment, whilst leaving havoc in her wake. When Fred, a stranger haunted by poltergeist activity, contacts Winnie, he insists that stories she wrote as a teenager hold the key to his supernatural problems, and she is forced to renew acquaintance with her younger self.
Where will it all lead? 

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