the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

The Next Big Thing: Paula’s Secret

on January 2, 2013

I’ve admired the short stories and flash fiction written by Angela Williams under the name of Susan Carey for sometime time now.  Like me, Angela’s work has featured on the 1000 words website and her story was chosen for inclusion in the National Flash Fiction Day e-anthology for 2012. Angela lives in Amsterdam, and is a member of Writers Abroad. When she shared information about the group’s annual anthology on her blog, it gave me a chance to think back to my expatriate days in Papua New Guinea and I submitted a story that was accepted for publication in ‘Foreign Encounters’.  I was delighted when she tagged me in ‘The Next Big Thing’ blog chain and I answer the questions below:

What is the working title of your next book?

My latest novel started life as ‘First Time Mums’ but then graduated to the new working title of ‘Paula’s Secret’.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I started work on this manuscript during the summer of 2012.  I’d written a couple of pieces of flash fiction about those first few months after childbirth, when relationships shift to give priority to the baby and I thought there was mileage in the idea.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s a romantic comedy and I’m new to this genre. I met Allie Spencer at a story slam in Shaftesbury and when I read a couple of her books and some others, I thought I’d like to give it a try.

Which actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Paula is the main character, previously dotty about her dog but once Baby Boo arrives, she refocuses her attention. She’s juxtaposed with her best friend Kirsty, who is also a new mother and struggling to use the same methods that brought her success in the workplace to become a model parent.  It’s the different approaches to parenting that bring humour to the novel and I guess Ann Hathaway would be a good lead.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Kirsty struggles to make the most of family life with her new-born and when Paula won’t reveal who is the father of her baby, Kirsty decides that bringing her best friend’s family together is her next priority.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I won a competition during 2012 to have sixty copies of my fiction collection ‘Four Buses printed, so I know all about the rewards and pitfalls of self publishing. It may sound mad but getting the book into print isn’t my priority at the moment. I’m much more concerned with getting the writing to the best possible standard.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft took five months and it’s currently in a drawer waiting for me to gather my wits and tackle it again.  I’m planning to begin the rewriting at the end of January, then I’ll be going full pelt ready to submit a decent draft to the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme at the end of August.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I haven’t read many books written about new mothers although when I was researching titles I came across one or two.  ‘The Hand that First Held Mine’ by Maggie O’Farrell is a good example of how the arrival of a baby casts light into the shadows of personal experience. But I can’t begin to compare ‘Paula’s Secret’ to such an accomplished novel and it’s not in the same genre, anyway.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Getting positive comments on the short stories and flash fiction that I’ve written has encouraged me to try writing with strong themes, on a bigger scale.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Floosie the Husky-cross dog has a significant role in the story!

I’d like to tag a wonderful writer of historical fiction, Carol McGrath, who is hugely knowledgeable about the medieval period. She’s a great on-line friend, tweeting early in the mornings and her blog Scribbling in the Margins, provides posts from all over the world. I’ve been lucky enough to spend time with Carol during a writing retreat in Cornwall and another which she hosted in Portugal. Carol is an attentive listener and when I share my writing, her feedback is erudite. She’s a great companion, story-teller and adventurer. I can’t wait to read her first novel, which she wrote while undertaking post-graduate studies at the Royal Holloway University. ‘The Handfasted Wife’ will be published in 2013.


8 responses to “The Next Big Thing: Paula’s Secret

  1. susancarey says:

    Wonderful, Gail to get an insight into what you’re working on at the moment! And thanks for your kind words about me!

  2. nessafrance says:

    Best of luck with Paula’s Secret. It’s great to see what other writers are working on and how they approach it.

  3. Oooooo, sounds interesting! Good luck Gail 🙂


  4. John Wiswell says:

    Getting the writing to the best possible standard is the most important thing, though that will play into how it can be sold later. Do you think any markets will be best for Paula’s Secret? Which, by the way, I think is a much better title!

    • gailaldwin says:

      Hi John, always good to hear from you! The story is very light, Chic Lit, I suppose. Much easier to get down on paper than my other novels but crafting the writing remains my biggest concern.

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