Today I am so excited to welcome Allie Burns, author of THE LAND GIRL, to my blog today for my spot on the book tour! I have a fascinating guest post from Allie all about her writing process for you to peruse, but first, here’s some information about this fabulous book:
War changes everything…
Emily has always lived a life of privilege. That is until the drums of World War One came beating. Her
family may be dramatically affected but it also offers her the freedom that she craves. Away from the
tight control of her mother she grabs every opportunity that the war is giving to women like her, including
Working as a land girl Emily finds a new lease of life but when the war is over, and life returns to normal,
she has to learn what to give up and what she must fight for.
Will life ever be the same again?
How I wrote The Land Girl….
The Land Girl was the second book in my deal with HQ, and was commissioned after I pitched a pithy (short!) premise. My first step was to put some flesh on the idea and show my editor that it could work – I needed to submit a synopsis and three chapters within two months.
Whilst I developed my cast of characters, I embarked on my research. I visited the LSE’s women’s reading room and spoke with the Women Farmers and Gardeners Union who pointed me towards some useful reading on the emergence of the Women’s Land Army during the First World War. I read about the period just after the war and the war itself, both events on the continent and the social change here in Britain. I live in Kent and love the countryside here, the whole Darling Buds of May vibe is still in existence in pockets and I have a romantic hankering for all that, plus we’re close to the continent, so it was an easy choice to make Kent my novel’s setting.
I found a local history book in the library and this helped me to not only plan my fictional village, but also to understand the make-up of the community at the time and to see the scale of industrial development that’s taken place since the war ended and the landed gentry sold their land.
Once I got the approval from my editor of the first three chapters and synopsis, and a suggestion to switch from two points of view to one, I then wrote like crazy for about three months towards my deadline. As I approached the deadline and had just about completed the first draft my publisher made the decision to put back the launch of The Land Girl from 2017 to 2018 to coincide with the centenary year. At this point I took the opportunity to take a step back from the manuscript, one of the secondary characters just wasn’t working for me, and as a result the storyline relating to him wasn’t working either. Meanwhile a minor character had really pushed his way forward during that draft and it seemed as though he deserved a bigger part in the story. I decided to cut the first not-so-compelling character and rework the story to give the minor character a bigger role. With about a month to go until my deadline I still felt things weren’t quite right. The character with the bigger role was overshadowing Emily (the protagonist), I needed to keep him in the foreground, but introduce another stronger sub-plot which affected Emily more directly. Sounds confusing? It was, it really was. But I pinged out of bed one morning certain that though I was giving myself a lot to do, it was the only way and that the new sub plot added something that was currently missing. So, I set about deconstructing the manuscript – Scrivener is perfect for this – and worked in my new sub-plot and that interesting, secondary character found a balanced place in the story I was happy with.
I ran the deadline very close, finishing in the early hours of the day the manuscript was due. I then had a nail biting wait until my editor broke the silence with a tweet to say how much she was enjoying reading it. It was such a relief, and although I still had a further five months of structural revisions ahead of me – the shape and theme of the story were now in place.
About the author
Allie lives in Kent with her family and two tortoises. When she’s not writing for business or penning her women’s historical fiction, Allie enjoys swimming and yoga. She has an MA in Professional Writing from Falmouth University and The Lido Girls is her debut novel. She is currently working on a second interwar years novel, which is due for publication in the summer of 2018.
Thank you so much to Allie for such a great post all about writing–it’s certainly inspired me to get working on my WIP today. You can add THE LAND GIRL on Goodreads, and order it on Amazon, and make sure to check out the other stops in this blog tour!