Historical author Sophia James recently visited us on a trip from her home in New Zealand. We grabbed a few minutes to chat to her before she was whisked off to lunch with her editor.
Hi Sophia, it’s lovely to talk to you! In the office we’ve been admiring the gorgeous cover of your summer title, Marriage Made In Hope.
Yes! It’s a great cover, I’m really happy with that one. I never ‘cast’ my characters with actors so I always like seeing them brought to life on the covers. I tend to only have a vague picture of what my characters look like, but instead I can picture their personalities and characteristics perfectly.
How interesting! So what else inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?
I get my ideas from all sorts of places. Poems, sometimes, or events in non-fiction books. Pictures can be inspiring too – one of my stories came from a picture of a Highlander at Culloden looking down out of the picture at me. Most of my stories start from just a seed of an idea like that, then grow and grow until there’s a whole book.
So what is your writing process like? Do you write every day?
I write Monday to Friday and always make myself write 1000 words per day. I never have a ‘first draft’ – I always edit my work as I go along. The stories are driven by the characters and I like to see where they take me, rather than planning out the whole book before I write the first word.
You’ve written over 17 books now, that’s very impressive! What have you learned in that time?
The biggest thing I’ve learned is that to write a book, you have to sit yourself down in the computer chair and write! There is no other way to get the words on the page. Even on the days when I look after my grandson in the mornings and can’t start writing until 2pm, I’ll sit at the computer then and stay there until my thousand words are written for the day, even if that takes me until 8 or 9 in the evening. I used to be more haphazard but I’ve found this works best for me.
That sounds like good advice. Finally, what are you working on at the moment? What can readers look forward to in future?
The heroine in the story I’m working on is an artist. Of course, it being the Regency period, that’s difficult for her as a woman, so she pretends she’s a man! On this trip to Europe, my husband and I have visited a lot of art galleries, which I’m sure will show in the book. I’ve also been on several Regency walks in London which I think will make my future books better, too.