Published by Avon/Harper Collins
Ebook and Paperback : 23 February 2017
It’s a pleasure to welcome Alexandra to the blog with a guest post for my turn on the blog tour. I also have a new paperback copy to give away, further details are at the end of this post.
So I Wanted To Be A Writer
by Alexandra Burt
I was no Jane Austen who was known to have flexed her creative muscle as a teenager writing sentimental stories to entertain her family, I was no Virginia Woolf who produced magazines about her family outings. I had never written a single word until about seven years ago. Reading a particularly bad book, I thought I could do better as if my love for books and stories was suffice to write a breakout novel. I spare you the details. Let me just say it became apparent that much was to be learned and it took years to pen a story that was remotely well crafted, coherent, and entertaining. Learning to write was the hardest thing I have ever done and I’m still not the writer I want to be. Not that I could put my finger on what kind of a writer I want to be, but we all look at what we have written six months ago and cringe, it’s just kind of a thing among writers. I guess one automatically improves over time and if you want to get better at anything, you keep on honing the craft.
There’s good news and bad news if you want to write.
The good news first: you can become a solid and successful writer without coming from any sort of literary DNA or being born with a pen in your little clumsy hand destined to pen the next great novel. You can become a solid writer without an MFA in literature or creative writing. The bad news is that you have to put in the time and learning the craft is hard work. Like… really hard work.
Time for some advice.
I went after it with a bat. Hours a day. Every day. I read, I enrolled in classes, studied books on writing, and I wrote. Every day. I wrote badly and did so for a very long time. See, epiphanies and experience take time, no ifs, ands, and buts about it, but eventually my stories became coherent. You might say coherent isn’t what you’re going for but trust me, if you can write a coherent story that’s an achievement in itself. Pat yourself on the back and clap for your own self. What I learned along the way is that craft is nothing more than using the tools of the trade and we all know what a good story calls for: a hook, a compelling setup, a killer plot, thrilling beginnings followed by perfect middles, completed by satisfying endings. The tools of the trade are nothing more than the application of POV, tense, dialogue and action, narrative and exposition. All those tools at your disposal allow you to masterly lure the reader into the worlds of your characters. But having those tools does not a book make.
A novel is like a wristwatch; there’s the rather unassuming case that houses the watch mechanism, a clock face, and two hands. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? But crack open that case and intricate parts and mechanisms become apparent; there are springs controlled by more springs, unwinding into a controlled and periodic release of time. A force is transmitted through a series of gears which oscillate back and forth and with each swing of the balance wheel the hands move forward at a constant rate. And in the background you hear a constant ‘ticking’ sound. Like a wrist watch uses a mechanical apparatus to measure the passage of time, a writer—unbeknownst to the reader—aligns the elements of an intricate story at a certain pace and in the end, if the writer times it just right, the reader will rejoice and give you their time and feel as if they’ve been in good hands. But there’s more.
There’s the part of writing I call art. If craft is execution, art is the design of the novel. If craft is the metal case that houses the watch mechanism, the clock face and the hands, the screws that hold it all together, the springs and gears, then art is the way you put the parts together, the way they connect with fickle timing, and the way you get them to produce a constant ticking in the background. Like every single component inside a watch, the individual parts must be assembled just right to tell time accurately, to produce that tick tick tick. It’s nothing you do overtly. It’s not like you sit down and tell yourself I’m going to produce a work of art. It’s just you telling a story the way only you can. So in a way you are your art. See, you are all you have and if you are so inclined, take the leap and tell a story.
Steady and balanced, combine craft and art, build something that causes a ticking sound in the background, alive like the beat of a heart.
About the Book
What if you were the worst crime your mother ever committed?
Dahlia Waller’s childhood memories consist of stuffy cars, seedy motels, and a rootless existence traveling the country with her eccentric mother. Now grown, she desperately wants to distance herself from that life. Yet one thing is stopping her from moving forward: she has questions.
In order to understand her past, Dahlia must go back. Back to her mother in the stifling town of Aurora, Texas. Back into the past of a woman on the brink of madness. But after she discovers three grave-like mounds on a neighbouring farm, she’ll learn that in her mother’s world of secrets, not all questions are meant to be answered…
About the author:
Alexandra Burt was born in a baroque town in the East Hesse Highlands of Germany. Mere days after her college graduation, she boarded a plane to the U.S and worked as a freelance translator. Determined to acknowledge the voice in the back of her head prompting her to break into literary translations, she eventually decided to tell her own stories. After three years of writing classes her short fiction appeared in online magazines and literary reviews.
She currently lives in Central Texas with her husband, her daughter, and two Labradors. She is an outspoken animal welfare supporter, and a proud vegan. One day she wants to live in a farmhouse and offer rescue dogs a comfy couch to live out their lives.
She is a member of Sisters In Crime, a nationwide network of women crime writers.
I’ve been sent a duplicate copy of The Good Daughter by the publisher and with their permission, can offer a giveaway of a brand new paperback copy. Entry details are below in the Rafflecopter box and the competition closes on 8 March 2017. For postage costs entries are restricted to the UK and Europe. The winner will be notified by Twitter and/or email and if no response is received within 72 hours, then an alternative winner will be selected.