ShortBookandScribes #BlogTour #GuestPost by Rosie Clarke, Author of New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane @AnneHerries @aria_fiction
Welcome to my stop on the blog tour for New Arrivals at Mulberry Lane by Rosie Clarke. Rosie has very kindly written a guest post today about whether her books are character or plot led and you can read it further down this post. I’d like to thank Vicky Joss from Aria for the place on the tour.
1943 Mulberry Lane, London. In the midst of another bleak winter, life is hard for the residents of The Lane.
When Rose Merchant arrives at Mulberry Lane, she is carrying a secret that haunts her. How can she tell her landlady and the Lanes’ matriarch Peggy Ashley that she is the daughter of a murderer? As Rose learns that she is amongst friends she gradually learns to trust and even to love.
But when Peggy’s estranged husband Laurie returns home for good, both Rose and Peggy’s lives are once again turned upside down.
Can they both find their way through the heartache to find happiness?
IS YOUR BOOK CHARACTER OR PLOT LED?
This is a question I am often asked. I know that some authors sit down and write a 30/40 page synopsis before they start on the book itself. I probably write up to two pages with a brief idea of what the story is about, but increasingly these days I find that the stories I write come from the characters. When I began the Mulberry Lane series I knew it was about three women during the Second World War. I knew that one was the wife of a publican, one a schoolteacher and one the daughter of a shop keeper. Then I brought Peggy, Laurie, Janet and Pip to life and suddenly I had the story of a failing marriage. Once I shaped Maureen Jackson, her father and Gran, I had the story of a daughter being taken advantage of by her demanding father. The friendship between the two women and the other folk living in the lanes created endless stories. Anne’s story developed later, because Janet, Peggy’s daughter, demanded a thread of her own. It was integral to her mother’s story and so became one of the main themes of the first books. I little knew how dramatic and heart breaking Janet’s story would be when I began it.
As I bring more characters into the story so the plots multiply. You’ve seen these fantasy films where some strange alien bug makes everything suddenly divide and become two or three over and over again until there are multitudes of the creatures everywhere. That is how the ideas come to me once the characters are fully grounded. Having created a family, I knew that each one of them had their own lives to lead and that means their stories needed to be blended into a mix that includes mystery, tension and pathos. A war, mystery, crime, injustice or great passion is always good as this sort of mix keeps the reader hanging on to every word and eager to get to the end, but if like me, they then want the next instalment of the story. When you have so many characters there is always a next instalment.
By the time I had finished the first book, it was no longer about three women. Mulberry Lane had become a real community to me, a place where people lived, loved, died and went about their everyday business. The characters were friends of mine and I wanted to know what happened next to them and their loved ones. I’m not sure why people I liked had to die but sometimes it happens and you know it has to happen to carry your story on. Yes, it would be happier for the characters if that loved one didn’t die, and though they move on with their lives they don’t always find the same love as they once had. I think that is what makes the story true. We all have ups and downs in life, even if ours is more humdrum than those portrayed in books sometimes and if everything comes all right in the end of every book, it seems a bit of a fairy tale. However, sometimes, I believe, we can get away with a little miracle and it’s all the better for the tragedy that has gone before it.
When I first started to write, I wrote romances, which were only one book long, and ended with the couple married and that was it – a happy ending. Now I try to write about life as it truly is and we don’t all have happy ever after lives. So, my feeling is that the characters tell their own stories, but we need a strong background and plot to fix the reader’s interest – and the author’s too! We need something to get our teeth into and keep us puzzling how best to work it all out so that the plot hangs together and is believable. It’s a mixture then and it all bubbles up inside the author’s head and heart, erupting on to the paper through madly typing fingers! J
Thank you, Rosie, for that lovely insight into your writing.
Rosie is happily married and lives in a quiet village in East Anglia. Writing books is a passion for Rosie, she also likes to read, watch good films and enjoys holidays in the sunshine. She loves shoes and adores animals, especially squirrels and dogs.