Writers Abroad Magazine 6 May 2017 - Page 25

WRITERS ABROAD MAGAZINE: THE THIRD SPACE Tell us something funny that has happened to you in the course of your writing. I discovered how frightening French gendarmes could be, their hands move to their gun holsters the minute you approach them. One day I had to put a cheque into the bank before it closed at lunchtime. Being market day, the place was heaving, and there was nowhere to park. I abandoned my car on the pavement opposite the bank. Crossing the road, I heard the screech of brakes and turned to see a dark blue van loaded with gendarmes. One of them wound down the window and summoned me. I took a deep breath and advanced. ‘Monsieur Peter May..?’ he boomed. Oh, God, he knows my name, I thought. I’m in trouble. ‘Oui..?’ I said in a tiny voice. He stuck out his hand. ‘J’adore vos livres!’ (I love your books!) I couldn’t believe it! He spent the next ten minutes talking about my books. The traffic was at a complete standstill. No-one dared peep their horn because it was a gendarme van holding everything up! He now comes to my signings and his family like my books! How do you tackle the process of writing? I think there are two different processes to writing. 1. Coming up with the idea and the construction of a plot. 2. Writing the story, giving care and attention to creating the characters, and the atmosphere through descriptions, and paying attention to the pace o f the story through the telling of it. The process for me begins with mulling an idea over, testing it, taking notes, doing research and visiting locations. When it’s ready to bring together I lock myself away for a week and write a detailed outline—perhaps 30,000 words. It’s a time of pure creativity, where I let the story drive me, worrying only about the ideas and the emotional rollercoaster. Then I look at it objectively and tweak and perfect it. Once I’m happy with it, I begin writing the book. I get up at 6am and write precisely 3,000 words a day (no more, no less) Monday to Friday. In this way, I can finish a book in seven to eight weeks. In contrast to writers who plot a story as they go along, I’ve less editing to do. I’m never faced with re-writes, only the linguistic fine-tuning. For further information visit Peter’s website 24 | MAY 2017