What inspired the idea for your book?
I’ve always enjoyed listening to stories of times gone by. Many of these stories gave me ideas to write my own story. I always say that fiction is a bit like Chinese whispers. We hear or see something, and we get an idea from it. We take the idea and twist and expand it into something new. I’m drawn to old things; buildings, the smell of old books, old-fashioned clothes etc. and there’s nothing I enjoy more than delving into the past for research. The trouble is, I get carried away and often lose track of time.
Do you participate in writing challenges on social media? Do you recommend any?
I regularly take part in a 99-word story challenge on Carrot Ranch Literary Community. [Link – Blog « Carrot Ranch Literary Community « Making literary art accessible 99 words at a time! ] Writers are given a prompt to write a story in 99 words. It gets the creative juices flowing and helps with the practice of tight writing.
I also participate in Story Chat on Always Write Blog. [Link – Story Chat Y3: a unique blogging program – Marsha Ingrao – Always Write ] What happens in Story Chat is, a different author every month shares their short story while readers come together to chat about it. This is year three of Story Chat and the big change this year is that there’s two authors/two stories per month instead of one. It runs from October to September. My story is scheduled for April 2024.
Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?
I listen to Andre Rieu and music specifically for focus and creativity on YouTube – piano is my favourite. I don’t play anything with lyrics because I end up singing along, which is too distracting!
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?
I feel energized when I’ve hit a goal, or when I’ve had a productive week. It can be frustrating when the brain can’t think straight, the characters won’t behave, the plot isn’t falling into place. People are sometimes under the illusion that writers have a handy time of it; sitting in a cosy chair, with their favourite pen, sipping coffee while the words flow onto the page. The words might flow, but some days they don’t and that’s when it becomes mentally exhausting.
Have you ever killed off a character your readers loved?
Oh yes. I did that in my novel, Secrets in the Babby House. Readers were upset, but later they realised that it was a crucial part of the story. Loved ones die in real life and the book is very much true to life. The death of one person can change the lives of many people.
Do you prefer ebooks, printed books, or audiobooks most of the time?
I prefer printed books. However, I do own a Kindle which I use occasionally. The Kindle is great for downloading a sample of a book before buying it. I can usually tell after reading the sample if it’s a book
I want to buy and read. I’ve also discovered recently the pleasure of listening to audiobooks. What better way to get a book in while you’re driving, walking, or doing housework?
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Some of the characters are harbouring scandalous and sinful secrets, so that part (secrets) was easy. The babby house is what we called a playhouse when we were children. The boys had a fort, and the girls had a babby house. I remember it as a place of comfort and sometimes a bit theatrical. We became different people in our babby houses, acting out many scenarios. Rose and Nancy Connolly spend a lot of time in their babby house, and when Nancy becomes the keeper of some distressing secrets, she hides them there.
If you’re planning a sequel, can you share a tiny bit about your plans for it?
I’m working on a sequel that will work as a standalone too. Nancy is a central character in Secrets in the Babby House and turns quite dark towards the end. In the sequel, Nancy comes up against Sister Catherine, who was sent to a cloistered convent at a very young age. Now Sister Catherine is home, and her plans are not what people might expect.
What’s your writing software of choice?
After researching several writing applications, I chose Scrivener in the end. I’m very happy with it. It’s brilliant for someone like me who’s not usually very organised.
Whom do you trust for objective and constructive criticism of your work?
Writer friends that I’ve made through various on-line writing groups. Friends and family are rarely suitable for the job. Strangers and beta readers are more honest, and they know what to look for when they critique someone’s work.
Thank you very much for having me!
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