Tag Archives: The Runaway Courtesan

Writing Process Blog Hop

5861110528_10f879c335_b

I haven’t blogged about my writing for ages. But that’s because I’ve been busy writing my novel. Now that my manuscript is in the hands of The Beta Readers, I have no manuscript to keep me busy. I don’t know what to do with my spare time (confession: I don’t know how to relax). So I was excited when fellow writer and critique partner Christa Wojo tagged me for this Blog Hop!

Check out Christa’s answers. And here are mine:

 

What are you working on right now?

I’m working on Night Flower, a historical-women’s fiction chronicling the adventures of Amanda Hollingworth, a spirited young prostitute who escapes the brothel and tries to make amends with her troubled past. In the wind-swept county of Dartmoor, she falls in love with horticulture and finds friendship with the magistrate. All the while, the Metropolitan Police are tracking her down like bloodhounds. It’s a story that explores the themes of justice and mercy, grief and hope, and the resilience of the human spirit.

 

How does your work differ from others in the genre?

The fact that my heroine is a prostitute makes Night Flower different from most (though not all) books in my genre. My work also focuses on the Contagious Disease Act of 1866, a legislation that hasn’t been much explored in works of fiction…Correct me if I’m wrong.

 

Why do you write?

I have a compulsive need to capture what I find beautiful in life, and writing allows me to capture a scenery, a moment in time, or a certain emotion I don’t want to let go of.

I love creating my own characters and weaving their lives into a complicated web.

I love writing because it’s magical. Example: I’ll begin a story, thinking I have full control, only to have the characters overthrow my power as ‘The Author.’ The feeling is akin to what a kid might feel when seeing the dolls inside a doll-house come to life.

Mostly, I love writing because I can give to readers. I can give them a story – a story that’ll hopefully tug at a few heartstrings.

 

How does your writing process work?

Stage 1: I do some light research – groundwork to build my story on. Then I write a chapter-by-chapter outline, which I never end up following, but I like having a map of sorts. Inspired by this map, I write my first draft within a few weeks. About a quarter of the novel will consist of point form notes.

Stage 2: I reread the first draft, further develop the story, and turn point form notes into prose. This is the stage I do most of my research. I’ll spend weeks reading primary and secondary sources. My research ends up inspiring new dialogues and scenes. Sometimes what I discover through research redirects the entire plot of the story, and I follow wherever it takes me.

Stage 3: I print out the manuscript and try to read it within a week – with a red pen. I keep an eye open for character/plot consistency and emotional fluidity. I end up rewriting chunks of scenes and dialogues. All these changes I incorporate into the Master Document on my laptop.

Stage 4: I send out my manuscript to The Beta Readers and spend the next few weeks twiddling my thumb, researching some more, and binging on period dramas.

Stage 5: I receive feedback and am overwhelmed for a day or two. But I manage to take things step by step/chapter by chapter. Slowly but surely I manage to incorporate their critiques, which results in a manuscript that leaves me deeply satisfied.

 

Thanks for reading! I’m tagging the following talented writers:

Rika Ashton

Maybelle Leung

Philippa Jane Keyworth

Priscilla Shay

Stephanie A. Allen

 

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Oil-Painting the Character from My Manuscript

Toronto-20140614-04285ssThe Story Behind My Artwork:

I, Miss Bluestocking, was commissioned by well-to-do parents to paint a portrait of their son, Lucas Creswell. He was a young man, 20 years of age, when he first sat down for me and my brush.

I was initially intimidated by his brusqueness but quickly warmed up to him. He was surprisingly humble and unaffected despite his privileged upbringing.

Toronto-20140614-04282 When I revealed the completed portrait to the family, let’s just say the Creswells did not look too pleased. They were expecting something more along the lines of classic realism than impressionism.

There were other issues with the portrait.

Lucas Creswell asked in a solemn voice, “Why, madam, do I have a moustache?”

I expelled a tragic sigh. “My hands, good sir, shook while trying to paint your lips!

Toronto-20140614-04279But the Creswells were still kind to me despite their disappointment.

To this day I am still well-acquainted with Lucas Creswell. We have kept up a correspondence for many years. He is now in his late twenties and is the magistrate of Devonshire.

But when he isn’t busy wielding undisputed power, fixing wages, building and controlling roads and bridges, I often find him taking long walks with his most intimate friend, Miss Amanda Hollingworth. An uncanny young woman with inky brown hair and a crooked smile.

.

The Real Story:

I wanted to take a few hours’ break from writing. Didn’t know what to do. So I oil-painted my story to life.

The sketch behind the paint

Toronto-20140614-04265

Painting always reminds me of writing. Draft by draft, brush stroke by brush stroke, we layer the story until it’s completed.

 

 

8 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Story Character Chart: Your Book Turned into a Movie

As a writer, a guilty pleasure of mine is imagining which actor/actress should play the characters in my book. So I had great fun making this chart for the story I’m hoping to publish one day. The chart looks a little messy, but whateverrr.

 

theNIGHT_FLOWER England 1866: A love story about a prostitute and a gentleman in a time of social turmoil.

Léa Seydoux as Amanda Hollingworth
James Purefoy as Lucas Creswell
Gillian Anderson as Mrs. Creswell
Sally Hawkins as Madame Bedwyn
Amanda Hale as Jane Roderick
David Morrissey as James Roderick
Imogen Poots as Theodosia Drury

It was pretty easy making this chart, though very time consuming (at least for me). I don’t have a photo-editing program so used the following sites:

For pretty text fonts: Picmonkey

For combining photos: Fotoflexer

For cropping photos into circles (and other more complicated but wonderful stuff): Sumopaint*

*But if you’re a newb like me you might want to read the instructions on this site on how to crop circular photos.  

If you do make your own character chart and post it on your blog, send me the link in a comment below! Happy Chart-Making!

13 Comments

Filed under The Runaway Courtesan

Victorian Era Courtesans: The Man of Pleasure’s Illustrated Pocket-Book (1850)

Screenshot from 2013-09-11 230916

In my research, I came across an interesting book (circa 1850) that lists London’s prostitutes, identifying them by name, location, and their special charms. It’s possible to forget that we’re reading about women with a heart and mind of their own, because the way in which they’re described is so objectified.

So-and-So prostitute has…

Screenshot from 2013-09-11 230845“…good teeth…”

“…beautiful legs and feet as the most delicate sensualist would wish to see…”

“…a good complexion, and a fine bloom on her cheeks, but never makes use of any art…”

“…breasts [that] are rather small, but as plump and hard as an untouched virgin’s..”

When describing how these women feel about their profession,  the explanation goes along the lines of: “her life is not worth her care without the thorough gratification of every pleasure.” Prostitution, in other words, allows women unlimited access to their one and only desire: pleasure. Men are therefore assured that there’s no need to feel guilty in seeking out their sexual service.

Screenshot from 2013-09-12 004703

But in introducing these prostitutes, the author leaves out one important factor: the reality. Many prostitutes had to deal with sexually transmitted diseases, fickle-hearted patrons/abandonment, abortion, abuse, depression… etc., Life was not always entertaining, glamorous, and pleasurable.

It’s therefore unsettling to read about women as being no more than objects with good teeth, pretty legs, and plump breasts. There’s so much more to ‘fallen women’ than their bodies, but we’re not told their stories, because they’re not given a voiceScreenshot from 2013-09-11 230752. They don’t deserve a voice (or so the Victorian misogynists believed). They were wicked creatures, lesser humans, unnatural, insane…


On a similar note:

In the current manuscript (TRC) I’m working on, my heroine, Amanda Hollingworth, is one of the women listed in the ‘book of prostitutes’. But I give her a voice, so she has a story to tell, and, at present, I’m a little past the half-way point of her life’s story.

I want to write faster (because I really want to share this story), but life has gotten busier after graduating from university. My days can be summarized by this Facebook status of mine:

Screenshot from 2013-09-11 234412

My Current Writing Music:

6 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Summer Vacation

Dear Readers,

I won’t be updating my blog too often this month as I’ve flown over to S. Korea to spend some quality time with my family. The scenery here in Korea is sooo lovely that I’ll be wandering around a lot, looking for places to read and write.

20130702_111456

Working on my manuscript @ home

Books I’ve brought with me to read: Lawrence Hill’s The Book of Negroes, Jude Morgan’s Charlotte and Emily, and Mrs. Mortimer’s Bad-Tempered Guide to the Victorian World.

Who else will be going abroad this summer?

4 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized