It’s time for a Guest Author blog again and today I’m delighted to welcome fellow Accent author, Laura Wilkinson, whose latest novel, the riveting SKIN DEEP has just been published.
Liverpool born, Laura is a taff at heart. She has published six novels for adults (two under a pseudonym) and numerous short stories, some of which have made the short lists of international competitions. Public Battles, Private Wars, was a Welsh Books Council Book of the month; Redemption Song was a Kindle top twenty. The Family Line is a family drama set in the near future, looking at identity and parenting. Her latest is Skin Deep. Alongside writing, Laura works as an editor & mentor for literary consultancies and runs workshops on aspects of craft. She’s spoken at festivals and events nationwide, including the Frome Festival, Gladfest, University of Kingston, The Women’s Library and Museum in Docklands. She lives in Brighton with her husband and sons.
How to contact Laura
Facebook: Laura Wilkinson Author
Goodreads: Laura_ Wilkinson
I asked Laura to tell us a bit about herself
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
No. As a child I only wrote at school and if threatened with detention! However, I was a voracious reader (and still am) so narrative was a huge, and influential, part of my youth. After a degree in English Literature I worked in business-too-business publishing and then as a journalist and copywriter – stories with a smidgen more truth (perhaps) – before turning to fiction when my boys were young.
Has any author inspired you?
Far too many to list here. I am constantly awed by the talent out there.
What do you like writing most?
Novels. When I began exploring the craft of fiction writing, I began with short stories and I do still knock out the occasional short. But when I tried my hand at a longer tale I knew very quickly that I had found my form. I read way more novels than I do short stories so it makes sense that this is where I feel most at home.
Do you have a special place for writing?
My garden office is new (completed recently) and it is still thrilling to say: Yes! Up till now I’ve worked in whichever corner I can squeeze in to, in our average-to-small house: my bedroom, the dining room, the living room. My husband is a musician and carpenter; my eldest son plays guitar, my youngest piano, so I am forever tripping over instruments and gear. It’s a pleasure and privilege to be able to escape to my garret.
Are you a pantster or a plotter?
A mixture (it wasn’t always thus). I tend to know where the story begins and where it might conclude, and the high point and low point, but not much else. I do enjoy a degree of unknowing. I like to be surprised by my characters and sometimes they lead me to the most unexpected and exciting places. After the first draft, I plot the entire story, filling in the gaps, axing those scenes which lack drive or purpose. It works for me but it’s personal, process, and mine evolves and changes.
Is your writing ever inspired by your family or real life incidents?
My debut was inspired by a newspaper article about a sixty-three year old woman who’d given birth; my second by a photograph of miners’ wives protesting during the strike of 1984/85, and number three – Redemption Song – came from a ‘what if’ question that popped into my head.
The origin of my latest, Skin Deep, is without a doubt the hardest to pinpoint. It sprang from a desire to write about an extraordinary estate in Manchester (which no longer exists) and it has had a long, long gestation period. I love modern art and that has a place in the story too; Diana, my lead, was inspired by the work of artists Cindy Sherman, Orlan and Marina Abramovic. My other lead, Cal, was inspired by copywriting work I did for a charity which helps individuals damaged by congenital deformities. I’m fascinated by ideals of beauty – and so-called ugliness – and this has wormed its way into the novel too. I steer away from pilfering family stories, though my life experiences filter into my work like any writer.
What are you writing at the moment?
A dual narrative about transformation, love and the bond between siblings. Here’s a super-short pitch: Flo looks for her missing sister. Franklin searches for his love. Will they discover the ties that bind them? I’m not a great one for talking about work until it’s complete so that’s as much as you’ll get from me right now!
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m fascinated by the bond between siblings – I have a sister. These relationships are like no others – for good and bad. The other inspiration point is hard to speak about without disclosing a spoiler. Sorry.
What time of the day do you write best?
What are your hobbies?
I love art – especially modern art, though I have no talent myself. I enjoy visiting galleries and I adore eating out. A fabulous cocktail will always brighten an evening and travelling is huge fun; I’d love to do more, and drink more Amaretto Sours. I’m a fan of film and so visiting the cinema and watching Netflix and the such like is a big part of my life, along with reading. But my favourite way to spend my leisure time is hanging out with family and friends – eating out, drinking. Whoops – there’s a pattern here.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Read a lot. Practice a lot. Remember that the major difference between published and unpublished writers (assuming competency) is tenacity. Explore your options – there are plenty nowadays and that’s fantastic.
About Skin Deep
Skin Deep Blurb:
It’s what’s inside that counts…
Art student and former model Diana has always been admired for her beauty but what use are good looks when you want to shine for your talent? Insecure and desperate for inspiration, Diana needs a muse.
Facially disfigured four-year-old Cal lives a life largely hidden from the world. But he was born to be looked at and he needs love too. A chance encounter changes everything; Cal becomes Diana’s muse. But as Diana’s reputation develops and Cal grows up, their relationship implodes.
Both struggle to be accepted for what lies within.
Is it possible to find acceptance in a society where what’s on the outside counts for so much?
Thanks so much for dropping by to talk to us, Laura. Lots of luck with your book.
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