First Drafts… With C.J Finlay

Morning folks, and I’m delighted to say that continuing the First Draft series is a fellow Liverpool writer, whose debut, The Boss is due for release very very soon!

When not writing, C. J. Finlay works as a senior probation officer. She was kind enough to join me for a quick chat about her First Draft process.

Over to you Caz…

1) When you begin the next book, how do you go about it? 

I’ve only written two books so far and have recently started my third, but none of them have followed a particular pattern. I’m not a big planner so I usually start with a character or an idea and then I run with it.  I tend to write in a jigsaw fashion as ideas come to me, rather than writing from start to finish. 

2) Do you follow the same process you did for the book before? 

Kind of. When I wrote The Boss, I started with a single paragraph in the middle of the story and that was the very first thing I wrote. I always had an idea how I would like it to end though. For the sequel, I started from the beginning because it felt like the natural starting point, following on from the end of The Boss. I started my third book at the beginning and then skipped to the middle. I have an idea of the ending in mind but some kinks to work out before I get there. I tend to find that any plot issues tend to work themselves out in my head as I write the rest of the story.

3) What is your research process, if you have one? 

I haven’t really had the need to do much research. I’m a massive daydreamer and always have been. I always have a cast of characters running around my head. I’m very much influenced by the gangster films I used to watch as a teenager, and the gangland thriller books I’ve always loved to read. However, I’m a Senior Probation Officer and have worked within the criminal justice sector for almost sixteen years, so while my characters and events are entirely fictional, my knowledge of the criminal justice system and how it works is very useful in my writing.  

4) How quickly after thinking or planning do you sit down to write? 

I try to write as soon as I have an idea, or I’ll forget it. If I haven’t got my laptop handy, I’ll make a note on my phone or in a notebook as soon as I can. Sometimes I’ll wake up in the night with an idea and then I’ll lie there writing whole chapters in my head. By the morning I’ve usually remembered at least some of it and I’ll write some key phrases down when I wake up, then write the chapters up later that day, as soon as I get half an hour or so to myself.

5) How does the draft form on the screen? 

I have an open document for the novel itself. I use this to write most of the first draft, wherever that might start. I also have a second document open, which I call my ‘working doc’. I use this for chapters that pop into my head that I want to write, but I don’t necessarily know where, or if, they fit in the novel itself. If they do fit, I’ll then copy and paste them into the novel.

6) Where do you write the majority of the draft?

Most of my writing is done on my sofa in the evenings after my boys are in bed. I usually escape to a coffee shop for one evening a week though, just to make sure I get at least 2-3 hours uninterrupted writing time.

Thank you for visiting my blog, Caz. It has been a pleasure to interview you and find out your process when writing.

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