Friday, March 25, 2011

An interview with Fiona Dodwell

Welcome to my blog, writer Fiona Dodwell, author of The Banishing, released this month from Damnation Books here. 

Fiona's great answers to my questions about the creative process of writing follow. Be sure to check out her blog and website. 

You say on your blog that you starting writing at age 11, what was the impetus for starting at an early age?
It is true that I began writing at an early age. I think it's because I surrounded myself with books that I loved from the first moment I learned to read. Books were a passion of mine, and as a child it was my escapism, to get lost in a good book. Reading so much at an early age in turn inspired me to try writing myself, and even when I was still in primary school, I received some very positive and encouraging feedback about my creative writing - I think that is what spurred me on to create poems, short stories and novels over the years. As a teenager I entered fiction contests (some I won, others I wasn't so lucky) but it all gave me a good grounding in writing and helped me find my voice.

Has your preferred genre always been horror, and if so, why? If not, why not?
Yes, I fell in love with horror right from the start and my passion for it has simply grown over the years. I have read other styles and genres, but I always find myself returning to horror. I certainly only ever write horror because it's what I love the most, and, like anything in life, if you love something, you want to be a part of it.
I think I love horror so much because I love the element of suspense, mystery and fear. It's a dark cocktail and I am addicted to it. I read, watch, write and breathe horror!

Like many writers, you seem to be interested in a wide variety of different subjects. Did you pick psychology, theater and theology, or did they pick you and if so, how?
I am quite an inquisitive person by nature, I am always striving to learn, cultivate, experience. I have been interested in so many things over the years - from acting to studying sea life, so you see, it's just who I am to learn and explore these worlds. I don't think I consciously chose to study particular things, I just notice something that grabs my attention and see where it leads me. Often, it will help plant ideas for stories in my mind, which is always helpful.

Do you believe it is a necessity for a writer to study/experience far and wide in order to write? Or is it more an individual thing--a writer can find plenty within a simple life to write about?
I think it might help to experience and study different areas - the more we learn, the more we can explore these things in our writing - however I don't think it's always a necessity. I believe we each learn from everything in our every day life. It doesn't have to be a significant event, sometimes we can learn from watching people on the train next to us, or talking to a manager at work, or even chatting online to friends... learning comes in all shapes and sizes, it's not restricted to academic studies, in my opinion. A writer can learn something valuable even popping into town to shop... it's being part of everyday life that influences us, when all is said and done.

Please tell my readers something about how you work as a writer and creative person.
I try not to plan my novels rigidly. I like to find a tiny seed of an idea, have a very general outline of what I want to happen in my mind, and then write freely as the inspiration comes. Some writers cannot work this way, but our methods vary because we are individuals - what works well for one might be useless to another. I loosely plan plots, events and characters and then let the story come alive in its own way. That's where the magic truly happens as an author: when you see your story come alive and take off on its own journey.

And what's up next for you, Fiona, in your writing career?
I am writing my third novel at the moment, called The Shift. It's another dark horror story, but it's early days so I don't want to give anything away. I'm also working on a novella called The Governess. My second novel, Obsession, is currently being considered for publication.

Thank you, Fiona! Readers, any questions for our guest?


Su Halfwerk said...

@Conda, these are great questions. I've followed you for future contact ;-D

@Fiona, I like your writing process. You mentioned that the magic comes when you loosely plan and let the story come alive in its own way.
What part of your writing process you feel dragging?

Fiona Dodwell said...

Hi Su,
Thanks for your question :)
I honestly only feel the proccess dragging when I try planning too rigidly - that has spoiled the fun in my writing before, which is now why I plan loosely. I once tried writing a novel where I had each chapter and event mapped out and I just had to give up and start again.. I need freedom when I wrote or it does begin to feel too regimented.

Anonymous said...

Fiona, thanks. I was interested in what you said about learning including everyday experiences, observations of life like the person on the train or the conversation with a manager. Do you find too that sometimes the spark that becomes a story can come from shuffling and combining these items, e.g., what if when you got to work you found that the odd person on the train had become the new manager?

Conda Douglas said...

Thanks, Su for the follow!

Dave King said...

Excellent conversation. Fascinating from start to finish.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Great interview! I always love to read about authors' processes.

Kathy McIntosh said...

Excellent interview. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it helps the writer discover ideas.

Carol Kilgore said...

Great interview. Nice to meet an author new to me :)