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May 17 2015

Writing Superheroes Hannah Methwell

This superhero vacillates between elegant Bond girl and super-puritan housewife.  Read on and find out more…

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What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

About a thousand words a day, at midnight, underneath three cats and listening to Fairport Convention very quietly. Or in my breaks at work. Or longhand, in a rather splendid special pink notebook that lives in my handbag.

Or I tell stories in my head if none of the above are available.

Used for good, rather depends on your opinion of Roundheads – I am determined to redeem the romantic Roundhead!

 

 Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?

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Ah, now, I have several. Somewhat embarrassingly, my re-enactment wardrobe does take in rather a lot of outfits that make it into the books. Sometimes I’ll put my heroines into something that sounds so gorgeous I have to make one, and sometimes I just have something in mind that works its way in.

Other than that,  this  is my Bond villainess look when I’m feeling elegant and when I’m feeling super-Puritan-housewife. As one does.

 

What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?

My little boy! (who thinks my laptop is his television, and is presently writing a novel of his own. At four and a half. It involves pirates and tractors and will probably sell more than mine.

And my lovely 14lb Aubrey tom cat, removing keys from the keyboard. And not having enough hours in the day.

 

What was the supervillian that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

Presently trying to have four different conversations at once on Facebook, the thief of time. All equally important and fun and enjoyable, and fatally distracting. That, and trying to write a romance about a deeply unromantic hero who just happens to have a well-hidden sentimental streak, for an upcoming anthology. He will not behave as he should. I tend to vanquish misbehaving characters by writing their endings. That way I know something they don’t – HA!

 

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

Never give up and never give in. The great thing about what used to be known as “word processing” is the Delete key. That Twitter, and blogs, and Facebook, and all that – good fun, but there’s no substitute for just talking to people to get people to read your stuff. And that success is all relative….

 

What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

Well, today’s memorable experience is the short story prequel to “Red Horse” – it’s called “Kersen”, which is Dutch for “Cherries” – it was intended as a promotional release for the new novel, and damn me if it’s not lurking at #12 in the Kindle charts. I know it’s a meaningless statistic, but – bloody hell. 12.

Having my books accepted at the National Civil War Centre in Newark.

Seeing the first one in print.

Honestly, there is a different something every day. I’m kind of bouncy like that.

 

If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

I’d start sooner, I’d not bother approaching mainstream agents, I’d have chosen a better cover for the first edition of “Red Horse” on Lulu, and I’d have more confidence in my own writing. Oh, and I’d get a catproof laptop,

What would I not change? Rosie Babbitt, of course 🙂 And self-publishing, because I am a shocking control freak and I will not be told that I can’t do something. Can, too….

 

What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

Write for yourself. If other people want to read it, they will come. And if you believe in it sufficiently, so will others.

And that in order to be a writer, you have to write. Not to talk about it, or kick ideas around, or criticise, but to set pen to paper and GET ON WITH IT.

And if they don’t, well, bugger ’em, as Rosie would have it.

 Why is that the best? Because it was given to me by a professional writer who’d sold himself out, and regretted it, bitterly.

 

Tell us about you new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

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Ah, now. The new one is “A Wilderness of Sin” and it starts just after the battle of Naseby in 1645, at which some truly dreadful things happen, and as usual, one of them has happened to Thankful Russell. And as usual Hollie Babbitt is left to pick up the pieces, and –

 

If you’ve read the first two, you will know that Hollie starts off as a somewhat detached and disaffected mercenary captain, and the more ties he has – to a home, to friends, to a wife he never thought he’d have and a daughter he hadn’t even thought of, to the men he commands – the more involved he starts to get with Army politics.  “…the poorest he that is in England hath a life to live, as the greatest he” to quote the Leveller leader Colonel Rainsborough.

So on the one hand you’ve got Rosie Babbitt starting to get involved in political intrigue, and making himself unpopular with the great and the good.

And then you’ve got both Russell – the antiPoldark, a gentleman with a scarred face and a social conscience – and the rather lovely posh poet Luce Pettitt both embroiled in love affairs, although not with the same person, or at least not at the same time.

And there’s one or two bits that have had readers actively in tears. And a moment where you think the author can’t do what she just did, not to that character, that’s not fair. (I did, too. And it is not a typo. It really is permanent.)

Lots of adventure, some romance, a bit of creative swearing, and all-round Babbitty chaos.

They’re all growing up – even Luce – and at the same time, the wheels are starting to come off, and it’s sad and exciting at the same time.

 

 

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

Book 4, “Babylon”, which is back to 1644, about the Siege of Lathom House in Lancashire and the Bolton Massacre. (And where Luce meets his…. yes, well, anyway…. and where the troop acquire Russell and what state he’s in when they get him. And Hollie’s confused personal life.)

And then Book 5 which doesn’t have a name yet which is going to be Naseby, which is going to be challenging, given the dreadful things that happened there.

Possibly in between I may start writing the Babbitt: the Wonder Years stuff – Hollie’s wild youth racketing about Europe raising mercenary hell, stealing Gustavus Adolphus’s boots, being seduced by ageing madams – but only after I’ve been to Bourtange in Holland to scope the place out. In 17th century kit. Hell yeah!

Reckon that should keep me busy for a bit.

 

 You can find Hannah at:

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