Fiona Snyckers lives in Johannesburg with her husband, three children and four cats. She has published three books – Trinity Rising, Trinity On Air and Team Trinity, as well as numerous short stories.
Since her debut in 2009, Trinity Luhabe (the main character from the Trinity series) has appealed to an unprecedentedly wide cross-section of South African readers. Her character is genuinely loved by fans of all backgrounds and affiliations.
1. From first draft, to published book, how much editing do you do?
I tend to read over and correct the previous day’s work before continuing. Then when the whole book is written I will read through it and make changes three times over before submitting it to a publisher. So far I have been extremely fortunate to work with three exceptional editors during the production process. They have all been meticulous, thorough, and sensitive to the narrative.
2. What research do you do for your books?
We are lucky to live in the age of the internet, where virtually all information is just a mouse-click away. Occasionally, though, I have felt the need to immerse myself in a particular situation. My research has taken me to such diverse locations as a talk-radio station, a strip club, a bakery, a billionaire’s private house, and a boarding school.
3. How many words do you write, on average, per day?
800 words is a pretty good day for me.
4. Explain your writing process – do you write an outline and fill in the story, or do you write from Chapter 1 and let the story and characters lead you?
I’ve tried letting the story lead me, but that didn’t work out too well. I work better if I write a brief, chapter-by-chapter outline of the whole book before starting.
5. Is there anything you find particularly challenging in writing, and if so, how do you overcome it?
Social media (and the internet in general) is a huge distraction to me. I need to be really disciplined to resist that siren song. The only way to stay focused is to give myself a mental kick in the pants.
6. What do you do when you have writer’s block?
I have plenty of days when I am lazy, distracted and unproductive, but I don’t think I have ever suffered from classic writer’s block. I’m always able to put words on the page, even if I delete them all the next day.
7. When you submit your manuscript to a publisher, what information do you include in your proposal?
I try to do my homework and give a particular publisher or agent exactly what they ask for. If they want the first 3 chapters plus a one-page plot synopsis, that’s what I’ll give them. In the letter itself, I follow the advice of Stephen King in his brilliant ‘On Writing’. He gives great advice on how to write a brief and to-the-point letter of introduction, including a list of previous publications, short-listings or awards you might have garnered over the years.
8. What advice can you give aspirant writers?
If you keep getting rejected for publication, it is probably not because the world is in a conspiracy against you. The likelihood is that your writing is just not good enough … yet. Pick yourself up off the ground and write another story – a better one this time. I have been rejected more times than I can count, and each time the story simply wasn’t good enough. The last time I got a letter of rejection was a couple of months ago. I’m working on making that story better.
Click HERE to visit Fiona’s website, and follow her on Twitter on @FionaSnyckers.