Joanna Trollope is one of the most well-known English authors writing today. Her contemporary novels are bestsellers, and several have been turned into television dramas, including The Rector’s Wife and Other People’s Children. We ask her about the creative process, and what tips she has for aspiring novelists.
Why do you write?
A combination of a desire to communicate, and a passionate belief in the power of story to build up relationships, to shape us. People-watching. But also being aware of situations that are currently preoccupying people. Codes of conduct change, but what the human heart wants really doesn’t.
What inspires you?
When I do research for every book, when I’ve chosen an area of life, or emotion, or situation, that I need to know more about, I find people to talk to who DO know. I’ve learned that even the people who look familiar are often the most surprising.
But having said all that, I do love writing about children, not just for themselves but because of the effect they have on adults. And let’s face it, all our lives nowadays are full of children, one way or another, and it would be unrealistic not to include them!
Where do you write?
I have tried many wonderful dedicated places to write… And always end up at the kitchen table with any old pen and self-discipline!
What’s your advice to an aspiring novelist?
Getting started in writing is, I’m sorry to say, very much more difficult than it was when I began over 30 years ago! But what I would suggest is, rather than start with a full scale novel, also begin with smaller pieces – like writing a piece on a village or locality for the local paper, or even something for the parish magazine and working up to something more major in due course.
How can a new writer get started?
Like all creative arts, writing needs an apprenticeship, and it is a good idea to work up slowly rather than to think one can go from a standing start to flying without any of the intermediary processes! So look around for local magazines and publications one might contribute to, and begin sending them samples – and an audience and a public profile will grow.