Getting to the First Draft

How did you get to the first draft, Cy?

Kick back. Take a deep breath. It’s Q&A time. Welcome to the blog and Facebook page of Crooked Cat’s Cy Forrest answering questions from his studio in a rural village just south of Bath. His major new novel The Punished is due out on September 13.

Twitter Post - kick back

Can you pass on any advice?

When I met James Kelman, he gave me a great demonstration on how to create drama out of thin air by listening, imagining and using everything. He was a bus driver when he won the Booker and he’d devised this way of writing in the early hours before work out of necessity.

His totally rad ideas for getting to first draft are described in this Guardian article. I used his method in The Punished to imagine what it felt like to have your house requisitioned by the British Army in 1943.

Like Kelman, I have absolutely no idea what kind of a luxury writer’s block could be. I can’t find time to write it all down.

How do you manage time?

My work is pretty grim at the moment as I turn my attention to marketing The Punished. I have no experience of this. It’s not my area of expertise. But it’s not a problem. A routine is essential and marketing is starting to provide a real structure to my day.

At the moment I’m wrestling with the opportunity that Facebook Live provides. When my publisher said Facebook Live was a good opportunity to meet readers, I jumped at it. I’ve no experience of this sort of thing so it won’t be a slick marketing presentation, but I’m warning you all in advance: You’ve read the blurb. You’ve read the Q&A blogs. Now, at some point I hope to go live for 15 minutes on Facebook to answer your questions about my novel. The problem is fitting it in. It’s like I’m waiting for studio time.

I’m asking you to send in your comments and questions in advance. I’ll try to answer as many as I can in 15 minutes. So watch out for the live event on Facebook that could suddenly happen.

What is The Punished about, Cy?

The Punished is about Tyneham, a village on the south coast of England that the British Army, “requisitioned” in 1943. “225 people were displaced.” (Wikipedia).

Wikipedia gives this dispassionate factual top-level description because that’s all that’s known about Tyneham. I visited the ruined forbidden place and it felt a bit sketchy just standing close to a firing range taking it all in and wondering what it felt like to be given a day’s notice to move out forever. I could imagine the pain of each house being “requisitioned” and, as I described here, it broke my heart. Then I started to ask questions and write The Punished in fits and starts. The main thing was I kept wanting to go back to it.

You can preorder it here