Caroline, what was your inspiration for writing IN ANOTHER TIME?
I’m very lucky, as an author of historical fiction, to have an endless supply of inspiring and very real events and people from which to launch a new story. In the case of IN ANOTHER TIME, my inspiration came from my discovery of the lumberjills of the Women’s Timber Corps during World War Two, who took over the work of the male foresters in the woods of Scotland in 1942 when the men went off to fight. The more I read about the lumberjills, the more I knew I wanted to write about them. Many of them came from cities, and from jobs in offices and shops—or in my main character’s case, straight from school—to undertake very physical work chopping down trees and hauling logs, often in harsh weather conditions in remote areas of the Highlands. Even so, they formed incredibly tight-knit groups and made life-long friendships, and given that they were also working alongside Canadian and Newfoundland lumberjacks, many of them also fell in love! They were brave and committed, but also full of fun and compassion, and I hope that IN ANOTHER TIME offers up my tribute to them.
How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?
I know that I’ve had a relatively smooth path to publication, compared to some authors. I’ve gathered in only a handful of rejections, though that was mainly because for a long time (and I mean years) I was simply too scared to send out my work on submission, either to agents or editors. Instead, I started entering the opening pages of what would ultimately became my debut novel, WAIT FOR ME, into competitions run by writing groups like SCBWI and RWA. I won three of them within a few months, and I was lucky enough to get my book deal from one of the judges of the third contest, the wonderful Alice Jerman at Harper Teen. She read the first ten pages as a judge, requested the full manuscript, and amazingly, I had my two-book offer within a couple of weeks of her reading it. I now have two published books—WAIT FOR ME and IN ANOTHER TIME—though I do have another full YA manuscript sitting in my virtual bottom drawer. It’s contemporary coming-of-age-plus-folklore story, set in the very north of Scotland, and I’d love for it to find a publishing home one day. However, since it was the first novel I ever wrote, I suspect it would need such immense revisions, I’m not sure I’d have the same heart to rip it apart in the way I’ve done with the “crappy first draft” (that’s an official author term, you know) of my other two stories.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
I wish I could tell you that I have a heart-warming daily routine of relaxed creation in an idyllic setting, but actually, my writing has always been stuffed into any spare gap in the schedule of a busy three-teenager family. I have to grab whatever time I can, though I’m usually very good about getting straight down to work once I start. If I have to draft a full manuscript, I try to boost my discipline by setting myself a daily word count for a set period of time—I recently did a #1000WordsofSummer challenge, writing at least 1,000 words a day for 14 days, and WAIT FOR ME started life as a NaNoWriMo project, meaning I wrote most of it in bursts of 1,600+ words a day for a month. It’s brutal, but it gets that ‘crappy first draft’ written.
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
I’m sure I bore everyone by repeating this mantra endlessly – “You can’t revise and perfect words that you haven’t written yet.” No matter how bad you think your writing is as it comes out onto your page or screen, and no matter how many plot holes you think there are, you need to just keep writing. Very often, your plot will work itself out in ten/twenty/fifty pages’ time in a way you have not even though of yet, or it may only resolve in your mind after you’ve finished your first draft. Because that’s what it is—a draft. No author has ever published the first version of something they wrote, so while you certainly deserve to have a mini-celebration when you put the last word on your draft manuscript, you do need to remember that you’ve only made it onto the first stepping stone in the book process. So, by all means, crack the champagne or cut an especially large slice of cheesecake, and certainly give your tired eyes and fingers a couple of days off to recover. But then get back to work. This is where the magic really begins to happen.
ABOUT THE BOOKIn Another Time
by Caroline Leech
It’s 1942, and as the war rages in Europe, Maisie McCall is in the Scottish Highlands swinging an axe for the Women’s Timber Corps. Maisie relishes her newfound independence working alongside other lumberjacks—including the mysterious John Lindsay.
As Maisie and John work side by side felling trees together, Maisie can’t help but feel that their friendship has the spark of something more to it. And yet every time she gets close to him, John pulls away. It’s not until Maisie rescues John from a terrible logging accident that he begins to open up to her about the truth of his past, and the pain he’s been hiding.
Suddenly everything is more complicated than Maisie expected. And as she helps John untangle his shattered history, she must decide if she’s willing to risk her heart to help heal his. But in a world devastated by war, love might be the only thing left that can begin to heal what’s broken.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
WAIT FOR ME is her debut novel and she can be found online at www.carolineleech.com and @carolinesblurb.
Have you had a chance to read IN ANOTHER TIME yet? Do you enter your writing in competitions run by writing groups? Are you able to just keep writing? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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