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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Tasses wrote:
Ms. Morton,

My question concerns the craft of writing. I believe, if I recall correctly, that you've mentioned being an avid planner. Some writers jump into a story feet first, returning to rehash the jumble. I, though by no means calling myself a writer yet, have a terrific problem knowing where planning ends and writing begins. I edit continually, and to a fault, during the first draft. How does one get past the planning stage and throw caution to the wind?

I'm thinking it might be best to develop character sketches to such detail that the story flows as a natural outgrowth of the character. Thoughts, please?




Hi there,
I know what you mean: as a planner, it can be difficult to know when to leave the safety of the notebook behind and jump into the writing itself. For me, the process of writing a novel starts with a general plot idea--sometimes as little as a single sentence premise: a what if. Sometimes it's a collection of what ifs... What if a very old lady had a secret she'd kept all her life? What if two sisters were in love with the same man? What if a woman was faced with a terrible choice?

I always have a 'feeling' about the type of book it will be, too: its mood, the atmosphere I'm going to need to create. The characters usually start to appear out of the fog of this premise. Research-wise, I start by doing heaps of general reading around the period, the historical event, or the social/cultural milieu I've chosen for a setting. I read everything I can get my hands on, and bit by bit my characters become clearer until I can see them, and links between them start forming, and the premise fleshes out. Then somehow, quite without warning, I know I'm ready to start. If I had to define that moment, I suppose it's when the characters and the story and the setting have knitted in your mind so that they're no longer a handful of unrelated ideas, but have formed a picture that so vivid it's as if it actually happened. You feel as if you're going to relate true events rather than make up a story.

Of course, you can't ever really 'hold' a 160 000 word story in your mind from the beginning, and there's heaps more research and planning and thinking required throughout the process, but I always think so long as that general sense of the book is strong from the beginning, you're half the way there. Personally, I like to know what I'm writing toward, too. Even if you come up with something better/different along the way, it still gives you a direction.

Starting from character, as you suggest, sounds like a good idea, particularly if you, personally, have a strong feeling for people and their motivations. And if you find yourself editing to the point where you're no longer progressing, perhaps you could try forbidding yourself from going back over your work until you've written three chapters, or 5000 words (or whatever works for you)? Or you could force yourself to jot down a few ideas for the next chapter before allowing yourself to edit the one you've just written--that way you'll have some forward momentum? And remember: you can always change or fix what you've written later, so just keep writing. Freeing yourself to write poorly is very liberating!

I hope that helps a little?
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Kat727 wrote:

Kate,
I enjoy the idea that even though you created them they have gained a life of their own. It must be interesting to see the different views people develop about them. I can agree with the idea that Teddy was asexual, it seems that he might have just been too worried in his career and how the public viewed him to think about other things. The idea though that everything in their marriage was based on if they had a child, seems so strange to me, I'm just glad that things have change since then.
Kat




Hi Kat,
I agree: there are lots of reasons to be glad the times have changed! And yes, I love seeing the different opinions people have about the characters and their motivations.
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


EbonyAngel wrote:
Hi Kate
No questions here. Just wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed your book. This was my first time really participating in an online book club and I was sure that it would be a book I'd have a hard time reading. Not so with "The House at Riverton". I found myself reading it so much I thought I'd better slow down to be in step with the group. Normally I don't think I would have picked it up but now that I've read it, I can't wait until it comes out because I'm recommending it to everyone I know who loves to read.
Your book made my experience in this book club a joy.




Hi EbonyAngel,
I'm so glad you enjoyed Riverton, especially because it's not the sort of book you would usually have picked up--that's one of the best things about bookclubs, isn't it?
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


flamingo wrote:
This was a wonderful book and I couldn't put it down. This is the type book I want on a cold rainy weekend when I would put a pot of veggie soup on the stove and just read away. I too have recommended it to my friends and to two book clubs. They are both anxious to get their hands on it. It is a wonderful discussion book as it leaves somethings unresolved. You could go on with the next generation. As you can tell I hated for it to end.




Oh yes, aren't cold rainy weekends the best for reading?? And as for the pot of soup simmering on the stove--I like the way you think, flamingo!
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: for the Author


KathyS wrote:
Dear Kate,
There have been so many times in which I've said to an author, you leave me speechless. Of course, that never happens, I always find something to say to them. Today, I'm not just speechless, I'm taken so deeply, it's hard to contain what it is I feel.

I've spent this day reading the second, and final half of your novel, and I've cried through most of it. You have painted, literally, a landscape I never imagined. You are a true artist.

Your words, to put it simply, transported me into another place. I'm in awe of your ability to take each and every one of these characters, and bring them to life..... The poetry, the lyrical verse, I found myself not just hearing these words, but feeling these voices you have given to them. It's a true and utter love story.

I was lifted by these characters I grew to love, then plunged into the depths of their deaths. The abruptness, then the caring.....The roller coaster ride was certainly an emotional trip for me, today.

You write with such inspiration......
Don't stop.
Kathy S.




Dear Kathy,
Thank you so much for your lovely words! I'm delighted that you were so moved by the book and its characters, and especially pleased to read that you felt transported by the story: one of my greatest hopes when I was writing THatR was that the story might feel as real for you when you were reading, as it did for me when I was writing.
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author



maude40 wrote:
Thank you so much, Ms. Morton for this incredible book. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I will be purchasing the hardcover when it comes out and also i can't wait for "The Forgotten Garden."
Yvonne




Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it.
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


the_archivist wrote:
Hi Kate,

I have only posted a couple of times, but I have been reading your book every chance I get, and recommending it to my friends. It is absolutely a great read! It always amazes me how fiction writers develop their characters and stories. While I do a fair amount of writing myself, I really envy writers like you who can craft such a marvelous tale.
Thank you for one of the best books I have read in a very long time!

the_archivist




Thanks for your lovely words, and best of luck with you own writing!
Kate


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Inspired Contributor
Tasses
Posts: 117
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Thank you for the insightful, and very helpful, reply. I'm going to try the "what if" slant as an exercise today. I think my editing snafu comes from years of grading papers. I can barely read a novel without editing/ critiquing (someone once called it 'reading like a writer'). Writing is cathartic for me and many times the flowing tears hinder my process further. I especially like the idea of giving myself permission to write poorly. God knows, that's not a stretch.

Looking forward to your next story :-)
See all my reviews at: Reading Rumpus and Many A Quaint & Curious Volume
Distinguished Wordsmith
Carmenere_lady
Posts: 529
Registered: ‎11-05-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hi Ms. Morton,

I enjoyed Riverton and was quite amused by Nanny Brown's brief appearance. I would love to find out more about her and why she still lives on at Riverton. Do you have any plans for a prequal regarding Nanny Brown's time at Riverton?
Thanks for sharing your time with us,
Lynda

"I think of literature.....as a vast country to the far borders of which I am journeying but will never reach."
The Uncommon Reader


"You've been running around naked in the stacks again, haven't you?"
"Um, maybe."
The Time Traveler's Wife

It is with books as with men; a very small number play a great part.
Voltaire
Contributor
Clevegal42
Posts: 17
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author

Hello Ms. Morton -

Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to read and comment on your work. I'm not quite done with it yet, but a question popped up for me as I was going through the boards.

You mentioned earlier that it was "old Grace" that spoke to you the most while "young Grace" was more passive and observant. When you were writing the portions involving "young Grace", were you writing the situations strictly from Grace's "retelling" or were you able to see and hear the situations through Grace's eyes as she was observing? For instance, could you see Hannah's room and hear Hannah as Grace did, or did you get more of an impression that Grace was just retelling what she experienced?

Thanks for being available to answer our questions - I love reading about what goes into a great book.

Take care,
Denise
Contributor
pousterj
Posts: 13
Registered: ‎09-03-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton:
I want to express my pleasure in reading The House at Riverton. I jumped right into the story from the beginning. I really liked that an elderly woman is looking back at her life with clarity and knows she has kept a secret for almost her entire life. I think this kind of thing happens all the time in families and that is what makes this book so real. I also like it being in Britain. I love to read any English mystery novels whenever I can. That is why I was so excited to be in this book club. I really loved how you developed all the characters. I can say that I didn't like all of them, but I think that is what your goal was. I also want to say that the era I also I like to read about. I have read all of Anne Perry's WWI series. This is different, but just as good. Thanks and I am looking forward to your next book!
Sincerely,
Jamie
Frequent Contributor
Readingrat
Posts: 72
Registered: ‎09-26-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Ms. Morton,

I have no questions, just a comment. I've just finished The House at Riverton and I must say brava to you. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from cover to cover. You have done a truly wonderful job of bringing the era of the story to life and have written a wonderful cast of tangible characters. Thank you.

Elaine
Frequent Contributor
FrankieD
Posts: 73
Registered: ‎12-16-2007
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Re: Questions for the Author

Thanks Kate...I was happy to read your note that the characters in a book belong to the reader as much as to the writer:smileyhappy: I feel strongly about that and generally avoid movies based on books that I've read because the characters are portrayed in a specific way and not the way I saw them...and the movie can actually ruin my reading experience. I want to let my imagination fill in the blanks whenever possible.
Oh yeah...and thanks for a very enjoyable book...and a place for me to let my imagination conjure up a lot of different people.
FrankieD :smileyhappy:
" The longer I live...the more beautiful life becomes."
- Frank Lloyd Wright
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Tasses wrote:
Thank you for the insightful, and very helpful, reply. I'm going to try the "what if" slant as an exercise today. I think my editing snafu comes from years of grading papers. I can barely read a novel without editing/ critiquing (someone once called it 'reading like a writer'). Writing is cathartic for me and many times the flowing tears hinder my process further. I especially like the idea of giving myself permission to write poorly. God knows, that's not a stretch.

Looking forward to your next story :-)




How did the 'what if' exercise go? One of my favoutite things to do, especially if I've hit a writing snag, is to take myself to a dim and cosy coffee shop, find a corner booth, open my notebook and write whatever comes into my mind regarding the direction my story could/should/might take. I even scribble the questions I'm asking myself. I think the change of location, plus the focusing power of a direct link between your brain and your pen (much less chance of your mind wandering when you're taking dictation!), ensures new and fresh ideas. Some of them will be rubbish, of course, but there's bound to be gold amongst them.

Re. the writing poorly, a friend of mind, also a writer, always says: 'You can't edit a blank page'. I cling to that motto when I feel like the words I'm typing are dreadful! It's better to write something than nothing, and you can always fix the messy parts in the edit. (No one else need ever know they existed!)
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


Carmenere_lady wrote:
Hi Ms. Morton,

I enjoyed Riverton and was quite amused by Nanny Brown's brief appearance. I would love to find out more about her and why she still lives on at Riverton. Do you have any plans for a prequal regarding Nanny Brown's time at Riverton?
Thanks for sharing your time with us,




What a great idea, LyndaSue! I had never thought of a prequel... and Nanny Brown, having been retained by the family for generations, would be perfectly positioned to narrate the story. My mind is boggling with the possibilities...
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
0 Kudos

Re: Questions for the Author


Clevegal42 wrote:
Hello Ms. Morton -

Thanks so much for giving us the opportunity to read and comment on your work. I'm not quite done with it yet, but a question popped up for me as I was going through the boards.

You mentioned earlier that it was "old Grace" that spoke to you the most while "young Grace" was more passive and observant. When you were writing the portions involving "young Grace", were you writing the situations strictly from Grace's "retelling" or were you able to see and hear the situations through Grace's eyes as she was observing? For instance, could you see Hannah's room and hear Hannah as Grace did, or did you get more of an impression that Grace was just retelling what she experienced?

Thanks for being available to answer our questions - I love reading about what goes into a great book.

Take care,
Denise




Hi Denise,
Thanks for your question. When I was writing the historical strand I definitely saw and heard the events that Grace was narrating. I think that's what I meant about the difficulty of getting a handle on young Grace--in my first draft I was often so involved with what was going on in the scene that Grace was pushed into a purely observational position--I had to keep reminding myself that because she was telling the story we needed to know how _she_ felt about what she was seeing/hearing, rather than just showing the events themselves.
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


pousterj wrote:
Ms. Morton:
I want to express my pleasure in reading The House at Riverton. I jumped right into the story from the beginning. I really liked that an elderly woman is looking back at her life with clarity and knows she has kept a secret for almost her entire life. I think this kind of thing happens all the time in families and that is what makes this book so real. I also like it being in Britain. I love to read any English mystery novels whenever I can. That is why I was so excited to be in this book club. I really loved how you developed all the characters. I can say that I didn't like all of them, but I think that is what your goal was. I also want to say that the era I also I like to read about. I have read all of Anne Perry's WWI series. This is different, but just as good. Thanks and I am looking forward to your next book!
Sincerely,
Jamie




Hi Jamie,
Thanks for your post, I'm so glad you enjoyed the book. I love books in which elderly narrators look back across time, too, and I completely agree about all families having secrets. Anyone who thinks their family is without them, probably just hasn't discovered them yet! I'm a little ashamed to admit that I haven't read Anne Perry's novels, but you're the second person on the board to mention them so I think I'm going to have to put them on The List!
Kate


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Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author



Readingrat wrote:
Ms. Morton,

I have no questions, just a comment. I've just finished The House at Riverton and I must say brava to you. I thoroughly enjoyed the book from cover to cover. You have done a truly wonderful job of bringing the era of the story to life and have written a wonderful cast of tangible characters. Thank you.

Elaine




Hi Elaine,
Thanks for your post and your lovely comments! I'm so glad you enjoyed the book and its characters.
Kate


Learn more about The House at Riverton.
Distinguished Bibliophile
KathyS
Posts: 6,898
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Questions for the Author



KateMorton wrote:

Carmenere_lady wrote:
Hi Ms. Morton,

I enjoyed Riverton and was quite amused by Nanny Brown's brief appearance. I would love to find out more about her and why she still lives on at Riverton. Do you have any plans for a prequal regarding Nanny Brown's time at Riverton?
Thanks for sharing your time with us,




What a great idea, LyndaSue! I had never thought of a prequel... and Nanny Brown, having been retained by the family for generations, would be perfectly positioned to narrate the story. My mind is boggling with the possibilities...
Kate


Did anyone ever take food and water to old Nanny Brown?! I picture her, stuffed along side of that foxhound!

K.
Author
KateMorton
Posts: 81
Registered: ‎01-06-2008
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Re: Questions for the Author


FrankieD wrote:
Thanks Kate...I was happy to read your note that the characters in a book belong to the reader as much as to the writer:smileyhappy: I feel strongly about that and generally avoid movies based on books that I've read because the characters are portrayed in a specific way and not the way I saw them...and the movie can actually ruin my reading experience. I want to let my imagination fill in the blanks whenever possible.
Oh yeah...and thanks for a very enjoyable book...and a place for me to let my imagination conjure up a lot of different people.
FrankieD :smileyhappy:




Hi FrankieD,
I completely agree about movies being more prescriptive. I'm frequently asked who I would cast in a film of my book and I'm always loath to answer. For one thing, in my mind the characters look like themselves and not like any particular actor; for another, if I nominate an actor who you can't stand or who looks vastly different to the way you imagined the character, then some of the book's veracity must surely be lost.
Kate


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