Anyone who has checked this site out recently will know that one of our former members, Emma Mooney, has recently had her first book published. We thought we’d ask her some questions about her writing process and share them here. However, as Emma proved us with so much detail we are splitting the interview over two posts. The first part starts below the break.
1) For those who don’t know you, please introduce yourself and A Beautiful Game.
My name is Emma Mooney and I live in Bathgate with my husband and three children. My debut novel, A Beautiful Game, was published in August of this year.
Last week I took my daughter to Inveralmond High School in Livingston for an athletics class and I suddenly remembered driving up there in the dark to go to night classes on creative writing. This was fifteen years ago and I had some daft notion in my head of writing a novel. In the years that immediately followed I was very busy looking after my three young children, but I went to every writing class that I could squeeze in and I listened carefully to all of the advice. When my youngest started school six years ago I didn’t return to work full time but instead focused on getting that novel finished and I spent every spare moment writing or editing. I’ve now written three novels, but the first two were really trial runs and were just part of the learning process. Writing a novel isn’t easy and I certainly made plenty of mistakes along the way.
I started writing A Beautiful Game on the day of the Scottish Cup Final in two thousand and twelve after listening to a discussion on the radio about the dramatic rise in domestic violence after a big football match. I finished the novel within eighteen months and started sending it out to publishers and agents. I was delighted when Crooked Cat offered me a publishing deal.
Since A Beautiful Game was released I’ve been busy promoting the book online and at live literature events as well as trying to write my next novel.
2) In the past you’ve said that A Beautiful Game started out as a short story. How much of that original short story is in the novel?
What a great question! Except for a few changes, the short story is pretty much the first chapter as it still stands. The biggest difference is that the short story had a conclusive ending which I cut completely, stopping instead at the point when Dad comes home after the match. I was honoured when Glasgow Women’s Library asked to use the short story as a source material in an anti-sectarian project they were running at the time called ‘Mixing The Colours’ and this gave me the inspiration to keep writing about the main character.
3) Once you’d decided to turn the short story into a novel did you sit down and plan the novel out or did you write and hoped the story would come together at the end?
When I wrote the short story I was already half way through writing a novel called White Lies. The biggest problem I was having with White Lies was that I’d planned the whole novel through from start to finish and this meant that I was bored. There were very few surprises whilst I was writing it and because I already had an idea of how I wanted it to end I wasn’t allowing the characters to develop freely. After taking a break from this novel to write the short story I realised that the character of Robbie was shouting very loudly to have his story written and so without any thought of planning or structure I gave myself permission to write from the heart.
Robbie’s character developed pretty quickly and I then realised that I wanted to tell the story from the point of view of the women in his life too. At this point I stopped writing and spent some time walking with my female characters getting to know them inside out. I then sat down at the keyboard again and the whole novel just flowed from there.