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Negative emotions in writing become easier to contrast with humours tone

Amelia discussed how she got the ideas of writing “The Vicar Man” into a romantic comedy. She has also talked about dealing with different negative emotions. However, dealing with the emotions as a writer, It is as simple as throwing lights to see the shadow. It is a game of vice and versa. To believe in the value of anything, ...

Amelia discussed how she got the ideas of writing “The Vicar Man” into a romantic comedy. She has also talked about dealing with different negative emotions.

However, dealing with the emotions as a writer, It is as simple as throwing lights to see the shadow. It is a game of vice and versa. To believe in the value of anything, we also have to consider its loss. Writers should always keep going. Amelia has discussed her writing schedule and using her favourite app, whenever she travels, she doesn't have to bother carrying a pen and diary.

Could you please tell us more about the book, “The Vicar Man” and how the ideas of writing about the book came from?

I was talking to a friend who writes romance novels, and she mentioned that supernatural romances always use the same ideas: it’s always vampires, werewolves, or angels and demons.

So we began discussing the different types of supernatural creatures that could – or shouldn't – be used in a romantic story, and horror films that you really shouldn’t put a romantic spin on.

At some point I suggested “The Wicker Man as a romantic comedy,” and we fell about laughing.

Then, after we had picked ourselves up, I started thinking: what would happen if The Wicker Man were approached as if it were a romantic comedy?

So, that gave me the basic outline for the book: there’s a cold, muddy, British island where nothing much grows, and the inhabitants regularly attempt to sacrifice people to their ancient, uncaring deity, in the hopes that it will bring them a better harvest.

Into this, I threw a barmaid who is frantically trying to prevent the sacrifice, and a victim who is apparently entirely unaware of everything going on around him. And then I really just let them tell me what they were going to do.

How did you deal with putting different emotions at the same time? Do you find any help from senior or it just a magic of your own?

I think we understand emotions more clearly when they’re thrown into relief.

So, just as we need light to see the shadows, we need to see the potential for mayhem before we can appreciate peace, and we need to believe in the value of a thing before we can appreciate its loss.

For me, this made expressing the emotions in The Vicar Man remarkably easy. 

Because most of the emotions that I needed to express were negative ones: fear, despair, loss, frustration and so forth; it was very easy to contrast them against the generally humorous tone of the novel.

At the same time, when I needed to have a purely happy, contented moment; or when I needed to express pure sadness, without a hint of comedy; I could simply express those things and the very lack of any contrasting emotion shifted the tone and made them stand out from the rest of the book, creating emotional highs and lows.

To incorporate fun, anger, and romance, did you have an encounter with the real characters? Or all of them were fictional.

The characters are definitely all fictional. Some are based on stereotypes of gothic fiction or horror films—there’s one character in particular who desperately wishes that he were being played by Sir Christopher Lee—and others are pure figments of my imagination.

I get a great deal of satisfaction from dropping ordinary kinds of people into a hyperbolic setting and seeing how that alters them: we all know fussy, self-contented, or especially prudish people, but what happens to those personalities when the basic rules by which they live their lives are altered, just a little bit?

I found it very interesting to see those lives take shape.

To you, writing is overnight success, or it takes years, and who gets overnight success and how?

I don’t believe in overnight success, in writing or in anything else.

Even if a person seems to skyrocket into success out of nowhere, there will have been a lot of work behind the scenes.

I think it’s important to acknowledge that work, to appreciate the effort that we don’t see behind the success that we do. And also to never become downhearted if our own work doesn’t bring successes as quickly as we might have hoped.

What is your regular schedule for writing and once you have chosen the topic, how much time you take to complete the novel?

I have set writing days when I must write – currently Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays – and then I also write any time that I’m travelling: I have the Scrivener app on my phone, so as long as I know where I left off, I can continue writing wherever I am.

The rest of the week is taken up with all the additional minutiae of writing, as well as running my house and educating my children: it’s a very tight schedule!

Writing The Vicar Man took a while it was interrupted by Covid-19 and all the lockdowns, so I had to rearrange a lot of things and found it hard to find space to write-in for quite a long time.

The book I’m working on now is going much faster: I started a week after ‘The Vicar Man’ was published – with a month’s break to get my winter holiday story done – and I hope to have the first draft finished in a couple of months. And to have the whole book completed within a year of starting it.

Do you have any book or novel in progress? If yes, would you like to tell us something about it?

At the moment I’m working on The Wolf-Finder General, which is a sequel to The Vicar Man. As well as this, I have a couple of unrelated books in mind that I plan to work once I reach the editing stage. One is a YA dystopia with a strong female lead, but from the point of view of the minor characters, who are starting to realise that they may not be in control of their own lives.

The other is a semi-detective novel, set around the alternative fashion scene. It’s a very odd book, and I’m still not sure if it will ever see the light of day! Besides these, I have two more sequels planned to follow The Wolf-Finder General, and I’m sure there will be more stories in due time. It’s hard to stop them coming, really, when all I have to do is stop and think “What if?”

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