After a successful singer/songwriting career with Universal Music Publishing, author Shalini Boland is now carving out a new career in self-publishing. Both of her 2016 psychological suspense novels, The Girl from the Sea and The Best Friend are bestsellers, and I thought it would be a good idea to round off this year's author interviews with Shalini to find out more about her journey to date...
What sort of research did you undertake for your latest novel? Do you have any skills that match those of your protagonists?
I live near the settings in my books, so no research was needed on that score other than a few days out to soak up the atmosphere around the beaches – hard work, I know, but someone's got to do it. My main research was quizzing police officers about procedures and plot believability. Luckily I know two lovely officers who were extremely helpful and generous with their time. My protagonists are normal characters who get caught up in extraordinary/scary situations, so they have to navigate the justice system without skills – same as me!
What does your writing space look like? Do you have any pre-writing rituals to get you “in the zone”?
I write in our back room which gets lots of sunshine and looks out on the garden. I sit on the sofa with my netbook, a coffee by my side and my dog at my feet. The coffee table is usually piled up with notebooks and reference books to help me along. I have to tidy the room before I start writing. I can't concentrate if there's too much mess around me.
How do you structure a typical day to ensure you avoid distractions and hit your word count targets?
I start writing around 10am after I've taken the kids to school and done the morning chores. During this three-hour session, I'll try to hit my word count or complete a scene. If I don't manage to reach my target by lunchtime (usually due to a research issue or brain freeze), then I'll try and fit in a writing session later that day. But, rather than having daily word counts, I prefer weekly word-count targets. That way, I can structure my week around my other work, my family's needs – kids' commitments etc.
Song writing is a different process to novel writing. The deadlines were shorter, but so was the initial creation time. All I needed was a few hours of quiet to come up with one song – it was never as mentally draining as writing a book. To write a novel, I need a few months and a sharp brain! Of course, writing a song was just stage one in a more collaborative process. Once the song was written, it then had to be produced and recorded. There were different challenges and rewards.
Join the Kay Hunter mailing list: