Welcome Paula Harmon please tell us a little about yourself and your book.
What inspired you to create Kindling?
Kindling is a collection of short stories, most of which were written in the autumn of 2015. I had only started writing seriously again a few years earlier and took up a Facebook challenge FlashNano to write 30 stories in 30 days. There was a prompt every day which ranged from “something that happened on a sunny day” to “orange”. It was incredibly hard, especially as I was also doing Nanowrimo for the first time and working full-time, but I learnt a tremendous amount and a high proportion of the stories in “Kindling” came from this. One day I was writing a ghost story, the next something about something funny, the next about depression, the next about a memory. The short story entitled “Kindling” however, started off from a prompt on another Facebook page: “a walk in the woods at night”. I wrote two, the other being “Return” which is also in the book. They came from the same inspiration but have completely different perspectives. Many of the stories are true or based on truth and I took the opportunity to revisit places and emotions I’d long buried. But I also had fun. Some of the stories are very tongue in cheek.
What is your writing routine? are you a pantster or planner?
It really depends. With short stories, I’m more of a pantster. I “know” something: the start or the middle or the end or the general mood, but I just write until I work out all the other bits. With longer pieces, like the novels I’m working on, I have an outline and write to that. This worked with the first one but the second one is proving more difficult to keep in check!
Did you have a favourite place you like to write, while you were creating your collection of stories?
I wrote it all over the place. I was often on a train, sometimes in the kitchen, sometimes in the spare room trying to hide away. I have a corner of the spare room which is my go to place. It’s next to a window looking down on the garden and it’s sunny. Unfortunately, I compete for this space with my teenage daughter who likes to draw there and is angling to move into the spare room permanently and leave me her north facing room.
Describe what your Muse looks like to you in three words.
Fidgety, petite, naughty.
What part of writing your novel did you most enjoy? E.g. First draft, research, editing…
First draft when the flow is going right. With short stories, surprisingly to me, I actually quite enjoy the editing part, honing it down to express what you mean. With the novels in hand, editing is harder because I’ve got to keep the whole in mind. I think it’ll be easier with the first one than the second which is, as I say, running away with itself.
If you could be one of your characters, which one would you be and why?
In “Kindling” I’d quite like to be Rose because she’s taken control of her future and is heading out into the unknown. One day, I’m going to write about what happens next, but so far, the muse is keeping that to herself.
Which character did you like writing about the most? Why?
Because “Kindling” has some elements of truth in it, I ended up writing about myself as a child and remembering things I’d forgotten. As a consequence my naughty little sister managed to sneak into one story, which was a true one and then into another which wasn’t. Not content to leave it at that, she then got into my other collection of short stories “The Advent Calendar” too so I dedicated it to her. I had great fun writing about us as children (even when I was making things up) and it won’t be the last you see of her as a character (even if I exaggerate her naughtiness. Obviously she has always been much naughtier than I).
What’s your favourite subject to write about? Why?
I like to write about worlds within worlds. Most of us are head down most of the time, concentrating on work or family or our troubles. We forget, as adults, how to wonder. The idea of the collection I pulled together for “Kindling” is the ancient concept of stepping between worlds, whether they are literal or mental or cultural.
If you could describe one of your main characters in three words what would they be?
Feisty, determined, short.
What is the darkest thing any of your characters have ever done?
What is the funniest thing your characters have ever done?
Complained about a defective husband.
Does any of your characters have any strong beliefs or fears if so what are they?
Good question. In “Kindling” one of the characters believes that motherhood has made her “disappear” and is afraid she no longer has a personality or purpose of her own. In one of my novels in progress, the main character is afraid of her brother dying but slightly more afraid of the sinister intent of the local Women’s Guild. In the other, the main character has a strong belief in her abilities but this is being steadily undermined by everyone around her and she becomes steadily more afraid that she is going mad.
Who are your favourite Authors?
I never know how to answer this one! I don’t think I have one. I read all sorts of writing and I don’t know where to start.
What was the best advice you’ve ever had while writing your novels?
Show not tell. It’s a lot harder work, but the payoff is worth it. Also learning to write flash fiction helped realise that you can get a lot across with fewer words if you try. And finally, to stop writing long sentences with lots of commas and “ands” unless they really add something!
What projects are you working on next?
I am editing a thriller novel. It’s a mystery set in 1956 which starts with Sarah in her mid thirties poised to start life again after a series of set-backs. But strange things keep happening. Is she going mad or is she being haunted? Under serious threat, she has to look back into the past and find out the truth about her dead husband Anthony to find out the truth.
I am also writing a completely different novel which is set nowadays. A young woman, Rose and her TV Wildlife presenter brother, Simon have settled in a remote place because he is chronically ill after a freak incident. They are trying to keep the illness quiet, but the local Women’s Guild is digging for information. Then a naked girl turns up out of the blue looking for Simon and Rose finds trying to work out what is normal and what is supernatural and whom she can trust to help.
Do you have any advice for fellow writers who maybe undertaking creating their first novel at this very moment?
Just go for it. If you get stuck, keep writing, or write a different bit, don’t worry if it’s out of sequence, you can pull it together afterwards. Even if the story is made up, even if the world is fantastic, there should be something authentic in it which readers will recognise. If you really get stuck, write something else entirely, something in a different mood or genre.
Any final words you would like to add?
I wrote prolifically as a child and teenager (in fact, I’ve just found a huge box of writing in the attic). Adult life, especially when I had children, got in the way and I pretty much gave up for years. I was deeply frustrated and having no proper creative outlet made me very unhappy. Meeting an old friend at my father’s funeral was a sort of turning point. She is a writer. We had lost touch several years before but now rekindled our friendship. She read the few bits of writing I’d done and encouraged me. In the end I stopped waiting for the perfect moment or the perfect place or more time. I just started writing again. I entered a local competition and joined some Facebook writing pages. I started a website and eventually joined the local writers’ group. Writing is probably the best therapy I could have had. I’d say it’s never too late to follow your dream.
Thank you Paula Harmon for taking time to do this blog interview, it has been a real pleasure to hear about your novel, I wish you well with your novel and all other writing projects you may undertake in the future.
“The Advent Calendar” a collection of happy, sad, silly, funny, serious short stories about Christmas as it is, as it could be, as it probably never will be (but it would be fun if it was) is also available from Amazon in ebook and paperback
“Kindling” a collection of short stories is available from Amazon in ebook and paperback
My website is:
My twitter page is @Paula_64
My Amazon author page is at