Last year Santa Montefiore was the UK’s bestselling female author. Here we asked her about writing regime, what tips she has for new authors and her next novels.
Did you write stories when you were a child?
Absolutely – I have been writing since I was able to hold a pen. I wrote children’s stories when I was a little girl with lots of illustrations. I think a writer is who I am, not what I do. It’s always been a part of me.
What books and authors did you read when you were young?
I adored The Little White Horse by Elizabeth Goudge. I remember loving Moonfleet by J Meade Falkner. And of course we all loved Enid Blyton! As I got older I adored Jilly Cooper and Daphne du Maurier.
What helps you come up with plotlines? (eg, hot bath, long walks)
Driving, listening to music and lying in bed. My best ideas come just as my head hits the pillow!
What is your writing routine?
I’m at my desk at about nine after going for a run or to the gym, reading the papers and showering. I put my playlist on (right now I’m listening to David Arkenstone Celtic Sanctuary as I’m writing about Ireland), light my scented candles and close the door. I write as long as I need to – sometimes I only have a few hours, sometimes a full day. I have lunch with my husband in the kitchen as he works from home too – or on my own with Grazia magazine!
What tips would you give to aspiring writers?
Loads! Make your office as pleasurable as possible otherwise you’ll think of hundreds of reasons not to go to your desk: flowers, candles, music, light and warmth. Make it your sanctuary. Get writing and keep going – get it written then get it right. Don’t spend days polishing the first chapter, just keep going because the hardest part is finishing. You can always polish and edit when it’s done. Never give up. Write from the heart and take advice from someone you respect. Most importantly love what you do!!! If you write with enthusiasm and pleasure your writing will resonate with your reader. Remember, you’re telling a story – sweep your readers away!!
Do you have an idea for your next novel?
I’m on the second book of my trilogy: The Deverill Chronicles. The first is set in Co Cork, starting in 1910, it follows three women through the First World War, war of independence, and the civil war that followed. I’m now on book II and it’s 1930.
Do you have a favourite classic novel?
I have a few: Pride and Prejudice. Anna Karenina. Love in the Time of Cholera. The Portrait of Dorian Grey.
What novels are you reading at the moment?
Research for my trilogy: F Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (re-reading it); The Randlords by Geoffrey Wheatcroft; We Danced All Night by Martin Pugh.
What’s your favourite literary quote?
‘All women become like their mothers. That is their tragedy. No man does, and that is his.’ Oscar Wilde.