Today let’s give a big welcome to author Paula Lofting. Paula lives in Sussex, England, and writes historical fiction when not working at her day job as a psychiatric nurse.
Linda Covella: When and why did you decide to become a writer?
Paula Lofting: I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I used to write little stories as a child, and then as I got into my teens I started work on an ‘epic’ novel and hand wrote about 500 pages of foolscap paper. But it never got finished and other things seemed to become more important. I also believed, wrongly, that I would never be able to use a typewriter and thought that was the only way to get published so I gave up. Later in my life, I decided to learn how to use a computer so I could go to college to do a Health Studies course where my computer skills improved. It was then that I decided I could write this novel I had always wanted to write whilst I went to university to do my nurse training.
LC: Good for you! Perseverance is one of the keys to finishing and publishing a novel.
What is your writing process: where do you write, how often do you write, are you a full-time or part-time writer, do you outline or do you plot as you go, etc.?
PL: I’m currently working on the third book in a series, and because I work 30 hours a week as a nurse, time is precious, and writing has to be done after work and at weekends. Problem is I often get sidetracked by other things such as family, friends, and other commitments. The first book in the series was written very much ad hoc, in fact the story sort of wrote itself. Of course, being historical fiction, I had to use a factual timeline of events etc. The second had more of a framework but one of the minor characters asserted himself into the plot, running off with his own thread! This third one has an historical framework too, and an outline, however one of the characters is insisting on making this his own book! I’m fighting with him at the moment to give space to the others.
LC: Oh, those pushy characters. 🙂
Where do you find your inspiration for your stories? Do you draw from your own experiences?
PL: I have only written two books so far, the first and second in the series and am working on the third. I was inspired initially to write a novel set in the years leading up to the Norman Invasion of England when I attended a reenactment of the 1066 Battle of Hastings. The inspiration for the setting in which my main character lives came from a book called 1066 The Year of the Conquest.
That aside, I have a whole list of titles I want to write and nearly all of them are inspired by history.
LC: Who is one of your favorite characters from your story(ies), one that you enjoyed creating and writing about, and why?
PL: I have to say Tovi, he is the son of my MC [Main Character] and he also seems to be very much a favourite with my readers too. He was ten when I first started writing about him and is now fifteen. Tovi has developed very much in his own way. He’s been molded by his experiences, most of them bad, which has changed him from being a bright soul, into an introverted lad who is quite confused by the world and the people in it, whom he has trouble understanding. There’s something quite lovable about him, he gets a terrible hand to play and none of it is his fault, but usually the fault of those who should not have, but do, let him down.
LC: He sounds like a complex, very real character.
Do you incorporate (or inadvertently find) any of your own personality traits into your characters?
PL: I don’t believe I deliberately set out to inject myself into any of my characters but I do often invariably recognize myself in some of them. I find there’s a lot of me in one particular character who many of my readers just don’t gel with, she has the sort of emotional responses that I know I would have in the same situations. Some of these traits stem from old behaviours of mine that I don’t do any more, but I think, gosh, yes, that’s what I would have done.
LC: Do you find your stories are more plot driven or character driven? Please explain.
PL: Definitely by the characters. Their decisions, attitudes, behaviours, and character traits are definitely what moves the plot forward.
LC: Did you read much as a child?
PL: Yes, loads. I was known to be a book worm.
LC: How important do you think reading is for writers?
PL: It’s definitely a must. Show me a writer who doesn’t read and I’d be very surprised. You have to read to keep up with popular writing styles, even if you don’t change the way you write, it’s good to know how the writing world evolves. In the early days it’s important to look at different styles and learn what you think is good or not so good and it helps you find your own voice.
LC: Who are some of your favorite authors and/or books? What draws you to them?
PL: I love the Saxon Warrior chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. He’s not the greatest writer in the world technically, but he just knows how to create brilliant characters and a great plotline mixed with historical events.
Of old I used to love Rosemary Sutcliff, I’m sure I still do once I get back to reading them again in my old age, and Sharon Penman. More up-to-date I am enjoying books by Anna Belfrage, and the Game of Throne books are amazing.
LC: Anything new in the works?
PL: Working on the third book in my 11th century set series, Sons of the Wolf.
LC: Bonus question! Do you have anything you’d like to add?
PL: For anyone new starting out, remember that editing is so important, but above all else, the story is king.
LC: Great advice for all writers! Paula, thanks so much for sharing your writing life with us today!
Paula Lofting is the author of the historical series Sons of the Wolf author.to/SonsoftheWolf set in the 11th century in the years leading up to the Norman Invasion of England. She is currently working on book three in the series which will be released in 2020.
By day, she is a psychiatric nurse and writes in her spare time. She lives in Sussex, close to where the events of 1066 happened, and is also a re-enactor with the Anglo-Saxon/Viking/Norman living history society, Regia Anglorum www.regia.org
Connect with Paula:
Website/Blog Read the history behind the story on her blog.
What an interesting part of history to focus on. The series sounds great. I’m fascinated, too, by the fact that Paula takes part in re-enactments. I’m sure that gives lots of “texture” to her scenes. Nice interview!
Elizabeth, I found that interesting, too, that Paula joins the reenactments. Thanks for reading and your comment!
Reenactment is not only great research, but a whole lot of fun too. Thank you so much for your comment Elizabeth.
Good point, Paula. Thanks!