- About the Author
- On Active Service
So, with four novels under my belt, two of them published, I’m starting on the fifth.
It’s always hard starting a new novel. I’m sure every writer has a different approach but in my case it happens like this: first comes the idea, sometimes it’s a dream I had, sometimes just a story that builds gradually in my mind. The characters sort of create themselves, the plot is vague. After that I live with it for a while, getting used to the story, the characters and the setting. Finally I start writing. This is the hard bit. I type the title, type “Chapter One”, then the blank page stares at me. The first line, we are told, is the most important. Writers would kill for a good first line. But if you haven’t got one, you just have to start writing and hope one will come to you. It usually does.
The first chapter is always the most difficult. I write it, re-write it, change the order, add bits, delete bits. There’s so much to establish: introducing the main protagonists, giving them a slight description so the reader can visualise them, making them empathetic (or not), saying where and when the story is set, giving a bit of background to the situation the characters find themselves in. It’s important not to give too much away, but neither must the reader be left totally bewildered.
With the exception of the book about my parents-in-law, my stories are based on my own experience. I’m not one of those writers who can set a story somewhere they have never been. I am more comfortable writing about places and situations I know. This makes my stories semi-autobiographical and I’m sure those who know me will recognise this when they read them. Some people have said this is brave. I have found it quite cathartic. And experience gives insight, and whilst you can imagine how someone may feel under different circumstances, it is far more real if you have actually been through it yourself.
Bethany Askew is the author of five novels:
The Time Before, The World Within, Out of Step, Counting the Days and Poppy’s Seed.
She has also written a short story, The Night of the Storm, and she writes poetry.
Future projects include a new short story, this one for the young adult market, and another full-length novel.
In her spare time she enjoys reading, music, theatre, walking, Pilates, dancing and voluntary work.
Bethany is married and lives in Somerset.