Monday, April 30, 2012

Rosamund Upton: Guest Post & Book Giveaway

Today I welcome back Rosamund Lupton. She is the author of the bestseller Sister. Her second novel, Afterwards, was released in the U.S. last week.  

Rosamund Lupton started writing when she could first hold a pencil. She studied English literature at Cambridge University. Following her BA degree, she was a freelance copywriter and reviewer, including writing reviews for the Literary Review. She won a TV play competition and became a full time screenwriter, working for the BBC and independent film companies. When her youngest child started school, she decided to write a novel – Sister which went straight into the UK best seller list. When it was published in the USA, it made the New York Times best seller list and received great reviews. I loved it. A unique voice.  Afterwards is different and equally gripping. 

**Book Giveaway: Make a comment below to win a copy of Afterwards. Be sure and add your email address (ex: joe at Let me know why you'd like to read Afterwards. U.S residents only. Winner will picked at random. **

Rosamund Lupton: 
The Way I approach Writing a Novel

When I was a child, my father would play chess with me, encouraging me to think one then two moves ahead, progressing to about five or six moves when my brain would start to short-circuit. Fortunately he was a kind as well as brilliant chess player and didn’t take advantage of my brain explosion to checkmate me. Plotting the detective story part of my novels feels very similar. (If character A does this, then that action has a consequence on character B which in turn affects character C which a hundred pages later will have some meaning for character A.) And in this plotting game the other player is the reader. Am I leading the reader carefully away from the real perpetrator of the crime or would he or she guess – checkmate me – by chapter 7, if not before? And in this game, are the twists and turns engaging enough for the reader to keep reading/playing? Finally, when I reveal in the last chapters the real perpetrator, will the reader think ‘oh yes of course, why didn’t I see that?’ or feel cheated in some way. Because a detective story, like chess, can never involve cheating. It is this part of novel-writing that I find utterly draining and I’m sure I burn through more calories than if I’ve been on a treadmill all day. (I lost weight during the plotting part of each novel, even though I consumed huge quantities of chocolate biscuits and barely moved from my desk).

Playing a long difficult chess match wasn’t my idea of fun when I was twelve and I wouldn’t write novels if they were simply detective stories. The plotting - that hard brain-aching part, is simply the first stage. It’s a cerebral, intellectual thing that results solely in a map. Then comes the real writing of the book, driven and inspired by the characters. In ‘Afterwards’ a mother and daughter are terribly injured in a school fire. Their search for the truth of that arson attack is the plot part of the book, but the heart of the novel is their loves, fears, thoughts and beliefs and their relationship with one another. Characters are organic things, changing and developing throughout the novel. While plotting is hard work, characters are inspiring and create their own energy. They have voices demanding to be heard and recorded, they challenge me to understand them and to explore their imaginations and beliefs and make me challenge my own.

 I’m always glad to have that plot map pinned up in front of me while I’m writing. Grateful, to know where I’m going. But a map cannot describe the journey. So perhaps more importantly than my childhood chess matches, in terms of writing novels, is that almost every night my father would read – or invent – a story.


skkorman said...

Sounds like a great read—please enter me to win!

skkorman AT bellsouth DOT net

Leslie Kohler said...

I love the weaving of a mother daughter relationship into a mystery. Sounds riveting and heartfelt. Can't wait to read 'Afterwards'!

Gram said...

What a wonderful Father you have. The story sound interesting too. Dee
grammyd01 at

Anonymous said...

I love Rosamund Lupton's style of writing. Sister was so intricately woven, so beautifully told, that I can hardly wait to read Afterwards.

Anonymous said...

Absolutely loved Sisters! Can't wait to read Afterwards. Here in the States it seems as though we've been waiting a long time! :D

janmaus said...

I love your description of the plotting process, particularly since you've put into words the exact elements I look for. I'm planning to look for your books this week!

Marjie said...

A plot map is how I taught my little boys to write composition stories! I love that this technique works so well for Rosamund. I'd love to read this book, and then pass it on to my own 3 daughters.

Edinburgh Flats said...

Interesting piece of writing! I really enjoyed it!