Interview with Penelope Haines

What are you working on next?
I am in the process of editing 'Helen Had a Sister', my novel about ancient Greece. I hope to have this ready for publication by December 2015. In November I will be participating again in Nanowrimo and hope to complete the 'whodunnit' I've got next in the pipeline. This is planned to be a series centred around a female pilot who uncovers mysteries and dead bodies as she flies round New Zealand
Who are your favorite authors?
Too many to count! I am currently enjoying Susanna Kearsley, Anna Huber and Deanna Raybourn when I am in the mood for light romance. Terry Pratchett's last work will be out for Christmas - I can't believe we'll never have another Discworld novel to enjoy each Christmas and I'm a great fan of Ben Aaronovitch.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I'm a natural morning person, so getting up isn't usually too hard, although I don't enjoy the dark mornings during winter. If I'm writing, then I'm up at 5am as I find its the best time of day to write.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Reading, of course!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I find Goodreads helpful, also Amazon do a great job of suggesting possible books. Mind you, I'm sometimes very surprised by their suggestions.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
It was a short story I wrote at school about darting a lion with a tranquiliser. I don't remember a time when I didn't tell myself stories every night when I was tucked into bed. As I grew up these changed of course, but there was always an imaginative narration going on at the back of my mind.
What is your writing process?
I start with a VERY rough idea of the plot. I know the beginning, but never the end of my novels and although I do attempt to plot the pace of the narrative and place important scenes into a framework, the truth is that my characters tend to take over and lead me by the nose in all sorts of directions I hadn't anticipated.

I do try to write every day and persist with the first draft until I complete it. That tends to be the fun part - after that comes the painstaking work of editing which can completely change the work. This is where I tear apart everything I've written and reassemble it.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No. I was fortunate enough to have parents who read to me every night, and encouraged me to read. Books have always been such an integral part of my life that its impossible to remember the first one.
How do you approach cover design?
I want a cover design that moves me. In a sense a graphic designer is doing with images what I try to do with words and tell a story. I have been lucky with the designer of the covers for both 'The Lost One' and 'Helen Had a Sister'. Both covers that she presented appealed to me and made me feel I wanted to enter the novel.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
These can be divided into various phases of my life:
Childhood: The Jungle Books; Swiss Family Robinson
Adolescence: The Lord of the Rings; The Once and Future King
Adulthood: Game of Thrones; Kazuo Ishiguro; Terry Pratchet's whole body of work
These of course are just for starters. How can you limit yourself to 5?
What do you read for pleasure?
Again, how long is a piece of string. I read almost everything I can get, both fiction and non-fiction. I thoroughly enjoyed reading some of Michael King's works recently. He provides a framework for New Zealanders to understand some of the forces shaping our nation. I also enjoyed Eleanor Catton's The Luminaries.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My Kindle. I've just bought the Voyage, and it's great to use.
Published 2015-06-25.
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