I was very thrilled and grateful to be chosen as one of the featured writers in my online writing community, the international London Writers Salon group – see the interview written by fellow writer Lauren McMenemy below, herself an accomplished creative writer and copywriter/writer.
As I have mentioned previously, joining this group – and especially the Weekend Writers offshoot available to Silver patrons – has helped me to stay focused on writing my historical fiction novel all through lockdown, and even now with the new demands of a full-time editing job and things beginning to return to ‘normal’.
I am currently nearing the end of the first draft if chapter 12 / the first act of the novel, and have written at least 65,000 words – it is clearly turning into an epic! Because it takes in several geographies over a period of around 10 years, and features both imaginary and real historical persons, it is quite a labour of imagination and research – perfect for a fact-checking geek like me who is also an unabashed romantic!
It has been an ongoing process of research, writing, more research, more writing and revising as I discover new facts and work with a large canvas, all the while seeing a very rapidly changing and dynamic situation through the eyes of my chief characters – a young Dutch artist who is sent to early Edo era Japan in 1635 to become a silk merchant with the Dutch East India Company and the kabuki-trained Japanese courtesan who becomes his secret lover.
Amid the wealth of historical detail, I aim to keep the pace exciting and filled with lively characters, drama and action-packed sequences. At its heart, it is a culture-clash love story, an exploration of the first seeds of the multiculturalism we know today and how these very disparate cultures and peoples inspired each other, creating a rich fusion of artistic traditions. Watch this space!
Up Close With: Jane Cahane
Meet the wonderful writers and patrons behind LWS.
Writer, journalist/editor, poet, visual artist, dancer and environmental activist: this week’s patron profilee wears many hats. As “une femme d’un certain age”, Jane Cahane has lots of experience in the writing world. She’s joined the Salon to get working on her novel, which focuses on a restless adventurer — just like Jane herself. We head just north of London to meet this Salonista.
Jane (Hurd) Cahane
- Based in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK
- “Je suis une femme d’un certain age”
What do you write, in general?
I’m a freelance journalist and copywriter/editor by trade; used to be a poet primarily, now focusing on fiction.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing a novel — historical fiction, with elements of worldview, romance and action/adventure. I also have a blog and write/pitch other articles as commissioned.
Where and when do you write?
I am a natural owl but have been waking early, so typically join the 8am UK Writers Hour session, sometimes the 1pm or 4pm (in the UK) sessions, and generally on the weekends, too. I usually use the morning session to do a half-hour of morning pages/journalling and then start work on the novel, which is good to continue with or return to later (work permitting).
How do you write?
I usually type directly onto my laptop; however, it is nice to switch to longhand occasionally. My journals are also full of stray dreams, ideas and conversations with myself regarding my novel — I’ve learned the hard way that if I wake up in the night with a brilliant idea, I won’t remember it in the morning unless I make myself get up and write it down!
Why do you write?
Apart from professional reasons — for example, to earn money — I would say my motivations for writing an article as a journalist or pursuing an investigation are very similar to my motivations as a novelist: it begins with a question, a ‘what if?’. That is what leads to research, more questions, and then ideas or threads start to appear, and you can then follow that line of questioning through your writing. Sometimes a character just appears to you almost fully formed — you can hear their voice and feel compelled to tell their story. When I was more fluent in poetry, I also often experienced that the lines also just came to me fully formed, but that was also about expressing something I feel in what I see or experience, even for a fleeting moment.
What inspires your creativity?
I’m an artist so visual images are very important, as are dreams and nature. As I’ve always been a bit of a restless adventurer, loving travel and exploring new ‘exotic’ things, I love the fact my novel’s main character is travelling to all these far-flung destinations that change him so profoundly. There’s definitely a lot of me in that.
Creativity for me is often about putting together seemingly incongruous things, people or situations — perhaps different art styles or genres — to see what new things can emerge from that process. It’s also about discovering solutions and seeing the impossible.
What’s your favourite book?
The Bible; D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths; Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain. Poets: John Donne, Seamus Heaney, Dante.
What’s the best advice you’ve received about creativity?
It’s not advice, really — just the value of focusing on the process, of layering, as one does in art. Focusing on process rather than perfection is important. The journey is as important as the final destination, as it is a craft we are learning and perfecting as we go. I find that exceedingly liberating.
What’s the one thing you would tell other or aspiring writers?
Don’t be afraid to step out into unfamiliar territory. Life — and art — are an adventure of becoming. So enjoy the ride! And don’t quit.
How can we discover more about you and your work?
My blog (www.smallwriteratlarge.com) has examples of my professional and published work (some of which will turn up on a Google search of my name), as well as several articles and interviews I’ve written concerning a few of my other interests and passions (the environment, art, faith, dance, etc).
✍️ Write with Jane and hundreds of other writers each weekday at Writers’ Hour (it’s free).
Connect with fellow writers and build a successful, creative career with London Writers’ Salon.
Gothic/horror writer | Content marketer | Editorial leader | Creative coach | Pop culture junkie | Still figuring my shit out | wherelaurenwrites.comFollowLAUREN MCMENEMY FOLLOWS