Writers Talk — Frances Cherry

Posted on Sep 11, 2013 | Comments Off on Writers Talk — Frances Cherry

Frances me by B MurisonKia ora. I have known Frances for ages — we’ve been writers forever, we’ve marched for the same causes, laughed at the same jokes, enjoy a glass of wine.  We don’t see so much of each other these days because we live on different ends of the Wellington region and because we’re both busy — but I know, if I asked Frances for help, she’d be there in  flash…come in Frances…

Story — which comes first — subject, characters, story or place — or other?

I have a vague idea of the story I want to write. Sometimes the subject comes first and sometimes it is the characters. To me writing is a discovery. Once I believe in the characters things happen that I haven’t always expected. I love creating worlds that I live in and believe in and I can’t wait to get back to them each day. In a way writing is like reading, I want to know what is going to happen next. I surprise myself.

Planning — do you plan your entire book before you write a word?

No I don’t plan the entire book. I sort of know deep inside me. I never discuss it with others while I’m in the process of writing it because I would lose something. I’m in this special believable (to me)world. This is the best time. Waiting to hear if a work has been accepted is the worst.

Rituals — are there any rituals you like to observe before you sit down to write?

I get up around 6-30 every morning and go for a long walk up the hills. Then I come back and do my own version of yoga exercises, have a shower, make a cup of tea, read the paper and do the code cracker. I love that ritual. Then I make my breakfast, and after that get to the computer and sit there for hours with a break for lunch when I watch Emmerdale, I’ve watched it for years. I often work until 4pm.

Rejection — how do you handle rejection? 

I’m getting used to rejection these days and it’s been a shock. I do moan to friends in the same position . . . but onwards and upwards. I will find a way. I’ve just written my memoir, in fact I was asked to by a publisher who can’t look at it for some time yet. I’ve had a wonderful rejection from Harriet Allan at Random House. She praised it highly but the three others they published didn’t do well enough so she was very sorry to reject it. I’m basically a positive person and will get there somehow.

Success — where were you when you learned your first piece of work had been accepted by editor or pubisher?

I was in a class run by Christine Cole-Catley and a story I wrote in her class, Down to Earth, was accepted by Ian Cross in the actual class. He was the then editor of the Listener and had come to talk to us and also listen to some of our work.

I heard about my first book when I got off the plane after coming back from America. What a thrill that was. The book was called The Daughter-in-Law and other stories.

I have had many stories published in the school journals and think it is a disaster that this extremely important institution has been closed down.