Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Writing Buddy Wednesday: Fiona Gregory

Welcome to another Writing Buddy Wednesday. Today, I have one of my favourite buddies, my critique partner, and all round amazing person, Fiona Gregory. 

Welcome Fiona to the Taverna. 

You have had 4 stories published in different anthologies of Little Gems. What attracts you to shorter fiction?
When I first started writing I did an excellent short story course through Adult Education. I loved every second of it. Ever since then, I've written short stories continually. It's challenging to tell a story in a really short word count. 

How do you approach writing a short story? What comes first – the plot or the character? 
I've got a huge ideas folder - articles and photo's from magazines and newspapers. There's a few scribbled notes in there as well. I usually "go shopping" in my ideas folder and pull out an article, some characters and maybe some scenery. Then the creative process begins.

My latest Little Gems story "Hope for the Future" started life as a clipping about a fireman rescuing a cat from an engine bay, a print catalog from an online retailer of country clothing and watching the construction and commissioning of a new police station near my house. The fireman who was supposed to be the hero of the story is now languishing back at the fire station after the local vet took over the rescue of the trapped kitten.

You also write futuristic romances. What is it about this genre you enjoy?
I'm a huge sci-fi fan from way back. I find writing futuristic a really freeing experience - what's not to love about creating new worlds with all of the associated rules and then thinking "What if?"

What or who inspired you to write?
As corny as it sounds, my high school English teacher - Mr Blond, a six foot tall Shakespeare actor who made books come alive. I went to a "football" high school - sport was a huge priority and in my senior classes girls were outnumbered nearly 3 to 1. Mr Blond took the kids who didn't live and breathe sport on a wonderful creative adventure through a library of treasures.

What do you love about being a writer?
My day job is a really black and white, high pressure environment with absolutely no creativity. I love being able to step away from that and have complete and utter control over what happens to my characters.

And then there's the writer's community, especially RWA. There's nothing better than getting together with your writing buddies for a coffee and a chat and a bit of off the cuff plotting.

What are you working on now? And what’s in the near future for Fiona Gregory?
Our first writing group meeting of every year involves us sharing our goals for the next twelve months and a ceremony for writing them up in a special journal, so I'm trying to tick things off my list - Emerald Entries, draft of next year's Little Gems story, revision of my first and second novels in preparation for subbing, completing NaNoWriMo. I've just completed Angela James' "Before You Hit Send" editing course which was great.

Oh, and to spice things up, my writing group does a creativity exercise called The Black Book. Someone starts the story (in a black notebook) and at the next group meeting the book is the passed on to the next person on the list, who writes the next chapter. We don't discuss the story or in any way plan what happens next, or even identify who wrote what. The aim is to take what you know of the characters from what is shown in the writing, and write them forward. The person who starts the story writes the final chapter. I'm on a deadline to write chapter two of a brand new story before Friday, and I'm busy dissecting the three characters I've been given to work with.

You are currently doing NaNo. This brings me to the question are you a plotter or a pantser? What is it about NaNo that helps you along with a story?
I'm a plotter! I start with a spiral bound notebook for each book and during the pre-writing phase I collect my photos, clippings etc. I use the Index Card Method to plan out my scenes and I carry those cards with me everywhere while I'm working on a story. Then when I start writing, I stick to the basic outline and I have surprise pantser moments along the way.

NaNo is great for me - I don't have time to think. I just bash it out and I find out things about my characters that I'm not consciously aware of. I end up with a story that needs a lot of rewrites and editing. If I wrote and edited I'd never get past the first few chapters in the same timeframe.

This NaNo story was born from someone on TV explaining the derivation of the term "the wrong side of the tracks" to a group of teens. I grew up in a railway town where this old adage was true, and it got me thinking about what would happen if someone who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks returned to their rural hometown and tried to make a life on the other side of the trainline. 

What would be your ultimate research trip? ;))
I guess space travel is out?

I'd want to start with a visit to NASA, spend a few weeks combing through the Intrepid Space, Air and Sea Museum in New York and then head off to look at some ancient ruins - Mayan or Egyptian. (My long-suffering husband is starting to look worried...)

You were recently the Conference Coordinator at the Romance Writers of Australia’s Diamonds Are Forever conference. How much did this impact your writing?
I'll be honest. In the six months prior to conference my writing took a back seat to the conference. Coming out the other side now, I can see how much I learned about the industry, RWA and its members and also about myself - especially the way I work on long term projects (like writing a book). The end result - I'm much better at managing my time now than I've ever been. I found the time to bring the conference together, yet I hadn't previously found that time to write.

I'm looking forward to the Fremantle conference next year - hopefully I'll get to talk to everyone I didn't have a chance to catch up with at Gold Coast this year.

Thanks for joining me once again, Fiona. As always it’s a pleasure having you here.


To celebrate Fiona's inclusion in the Diamonds Little Gems Anthology, I'm giving away a copy. All you have to do is a leave a comment below.

Also here is a list of Fiona's Little Gems stories
The Protector - Little Gems Amethyst 2007
A Happy New Year - Little Gems Turquoise 2009
Seize the Man - Little Gems Topaz 2010
Hope for the Future - Little Gems Diamond 2012

 You can still get a copy of the Little Gems Diamond Anthology from the RWAustralia website.


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