Five Research Tips from this Season’s Speakers

  1. Go Outside – Kate Mosse told us that settings and places that fascinate her are key to her writing success. Taxidermists-Daughter-mmp-217x327Whatever the weather, she stands in her setting, lets her imagination run riot and listens to the voices of those who have passed through the place before her. OK; so you may not be able to stand in exactly the right place, especially if you’re writing Sci Fi, but you get the idea – woodland in the rain, sandy beach in the wind, any stately home, castle or gallery may do and even a car park in hot sunshine. ‘See the vista through their eyes.’ Chris Cleave told us of his characters. As James Marrison suggests; a good walk is soothing when the writing gets tough.
  2. Take the Kids? – Della Galton admitted that much of her writing is driven by emotion. Children are good at provoking an emotional response in us. Yes, cinemas still have Saturday morning clubs – feel free to get emotional; the kids do. Children also have the ability to overlook the macabre in the most natural way, take weirdness in their stride and come up with the original character names. Children are valuable tickets to ‘hands on’ research and ‘behind the scenes’ glimpses that, for some reason museums don’t hand to adults.
  3. Have a nice day! – High Fantasy Author James Barclay gave us a master class in world building and battle creation in which ‘Be Realistic’ was his advice, ‘A peasant is most unlikely to defeat an experienced fighter’. ElvesBeyondtheMistsofKaturaIndividual guides dotted around historic sites or animal park keepers are only too keen to depart with their knowledge. Don’t be shy about asking them either they spend most of their time with people who don’t need to know and then you come along wanting nothing more than to hear their stories. You may not come away with a file full of research, but you’ll most likely pick up a snippet and definitely a feeling.
  4. Volunteer – ‘Put yourself in your reader’s shoes.’ said Jude Evans of Little Tiger Press. ‘Know your market.’ The Library’s annual Summer Reading Challenge plunges children’s writers right in the middle of their target market. Volunteers are needed to man the Reading Challenge desk where you will need to quiz the readers. If you don’t come away with a clear idea of the literary needs of your chosen age range then you haven’t been listening to your market.
  5. Rain stops play? – ‘You’re only really listening to the conversation when you’re not in it’ said Chris Cleave. Clare Morrall told us that dialogue is often underestimated as an aspect of bringing characters to life. WhentheFloodsCame‘Absorb the voices around you and let a hint of the waffle remain for believability’, she advises. So, buy a coffee and nurse it till its cold whilst you listen in on the conversations around you. ‘Carry out your market research.’ said Della Galton. Sit in a waiting room and read the magazines.

Round Up

Report by Lisa Nightingale

1BookFair2016Fourteen book sellers lined the Annual Members’ Book Fair finishing off the Hampshire Writers’ Society’s fifth successful season. Keep an eye on this blog for their details.

It’s been an inspirational year! Talks came from High Fantasy Author James Barclay, Crime Writer M J Arlidge, Kate Walker on her Twelve-point Guide to Romance and Children’s Author Steve Voake. In between these we fitted in a short story masterclass with Della Galton. Screenwriter Robin Mukherjee will be returning as an adjudicator in September’s free competition.

Kate Mosse shared her writing secrets in May and in June Clare Morrall joined Chris Cleave who came over all weird! EveryoneBraveisForgiven

Our competitions this year have been judged by among others; Author Allie Spencer and Adrienne Dines, Emma Scattergood, Senior Lecturer in School of Journalism, English and Communication at University of Bournemouth and Winchester University’s Creative Writing Degree Programme Leader Glenn Fosbraey.

Simon Trewin of WME
Simon Trewin of WME

Our mission is to encourage writers of any style or standard introducing them to Publishing World Professionals. We’ve had talks from Literary Agent Simon Trewin and Little Tiger Press Publisher Jude Evans.

Next season’s programme is all but finalized. Renowned Comics Writer Pat Mills, Historical Romance Writer Adele Parks, Cosy Crime Writer Simon Brett and Women’s Saga Writer Margaret Graham will be joining us. We’ll also talk poetry with Maura Dooley and Maggie Sawkins, short stories with Clare Hey and Radio Programmes with Whistledown’s David Prest.


Legend, Folklore and Taxidermy Kate Mosse

Report by Lisa NightingaleKateMosse2

‘If you are writing; you’re a Writer.’ International Best Selling Author Kate Mosse told us, ‘Say to yourself. I am a Writer.’

Kate writes women’s’ stories. Those that are not about finding a husband or having children – there are plenty of writers doing that. A writer can write in any genre; let the story choose its own genre.

It’s place that triggers her writing finger. Taxidermists-Daughter-mmp-217x327She stands in her setting, whatever the weather, lets her spirit take her and immerses herself in its history, opening her imagination to hear and see the setting’s people.

Using the places that fascinate her in her day-to-day life has always been key to the success of Kate’s writing. ‘Hold the faith’ she says. Keep going until you hit that little spark, the oddment in your research that sets your story off and running.

‘Be kind to yourself.’ She instructs us. ‘Accommodate your real life in your writing.’

Bring it back to your story; find the trip that sets it apart and focus on this, especially when promoting your book.

The sad truth is that for many women in various countries reading and writing is prohibited. The highlighting of their situation is freeing their creativity and they are eternally grateful. The Prize for Fiction which celebrates and promote the very best of international fiction written by women puts their books in the hands of readers.

If you are writing history, you have the freedom to pick your story, but you mustn’t lie. Historical writers occupy two camps – Kate is firmly in the one that believes if you are going to take a historical incident as a setting for your story, then you owe it to those that died there to be true. As a playwright Kate feels the same and urges others to think seriously about their honesty to the facts – otherwise we end up letting in those who would exploit us. She uses the example of Donald Trump influencing the masses who have been led by the incidents and facts of film like The Hurt Locker, which aren’t true.

As for character, Kate knows her stuff – characters and plot are indistinguishable; one leads the other and vice-versa. Characterisation is more about what’s in their heart. This is what drives Kate’s characters. It’s not until much later in telling their story that they will actually appear in her imagination and she can say ‘ah, that was you!’

Kate places character 1 in the story and soon character 2 will present themselves. CitadelIf, in your first draft, a character starts to take over – let them! See where they take themselves. Often, those that you thought would be minor characters turn out to be major players.

LabyrinthThe time slip novels of the Languedoc trilogy allowed Kate to place a character overlooking her setting and gave her the opportunity to love and describe it. The other character, of course couldn’t do that – they lived there! But she doesn’t recommend time slip – it is time-consuming, research heavy (OK for Kate – she loves research) and requires many different drafts.

One genre that she wouldn’t write? ‘Science Fiction,’ she says. She couldn’t do spaceships. But then the setting and place is Kates inspiration and she like to ‘physically feel’ the place. Which of course, is difficult on the moon.

For a list of her books and she urges you to buy from your local, high street book store can be found at