Stephanie Chapman has been blogging at I’m counting UFO‘s for a long time and was in the Food BiB Shortlist last year but today her novel Getting Over Jesse Franklin is out on Kindle, BritMums got in touch with Stephanie to congratulate her and to ask her how she did it? Have you got a book in you waiting to be written? Read on to be inspired by her amazing work.
But first a taste of the book
Years ago, Cassie loved Jesse. But he was the bass player in her favourite band and didn’t know she even existed. Now the band has broken up and she’s found him on Facebook, and after finally meeting in London, their relationship quickly intensifies and Cassie and Jesse find themselves in a long distance relationship spanning five thousand miles.
But a misunderstanding tears them apart and as she tries to piece her life back together in London, Jesse is planning a way to win her back with the help of her best friend… and a ukulele.
1. How long did it take you to write your novel?
I started at Easter last year, and finished the first draft by September, so the story was there in about 5 months, but the editing and tweaking took at least that long again.
2. Where did you get the initial inspiration from? What inspires you in general?
The inspiration for Getting Over Jesse Franklin came from things I did when I was a teenager. Like Cassie, I used to follow a boy band around the country when they were here, and I had a huge crush on the bass player, so it stemmed from there – but that’s where the similarities end. There are a few bits right at the beginning that actually happened – getting backstage at a gig for example – and drinking in the backstage bar! It was a fun time and I look back on it very fondly. In general, I get inspired by every day things that catch my eye. I read something on Buzzfeed not long ago that I thought might make a good story. Just anything that sparks my curiosity and interest.
3. How did you manage to juggle family and writing. Did you set yourself goals to get you through?
I wrote pretty much every night after the kids were in bed. I took my laptop on holiday with me and wrote in the evenings there, too. It never felt like a chore so I didn’t feel like I wanted a break from it. When I couldn’t sit down at my computer, I’d have a notebook or my phone with me to make notes on. As Getting Over Jesse Franklin started off as a bit of a personal project the only goal I ever set myself was to finish it.
4. Were there any writer’s block moments? How did you overcome them?
Heaps! I went off on little writing tangents, took my characters on weird little journeys and wrote bits that I knew would never make the final version. And when I got really stuck, I just left it for a little while. Or wrote a different part. Jesse Franklin is a bassist, and I spent a lot of time on YouTube watching bass cover videos so I could write about how it looks to play a bass guitar and what they sound like. I ended up getting in touch with a very nice chap who makes amazing bass cover videos, and he helped me with some of the details over Skype, and email.
5. How many drafts did you write? We hear of first draft, second draft and many more, how did you tackle your workload?
There was the first draft, which was very, very basic, and very, very naff in some parts, and then it evolved from there. There was never a point where there was a second or third draft. I just systematically went through it over and over, adding bits and taking bits away. I had a few beta readers who gave me amazing feedback and questioned parts of the plot that I wouldn’t have thought to, which was an enormous help but very nerve-wracking. It’s when they ask you not to take feedback personally that’s tricky because it’s a very personal thing – especially when the subject of the book is something so close to your heart.
6. I am sure you are going to inspire many others out there to start writing a book, what would your top tips be?
1) Carry a notebook with you, you never know when inspiration might strike. I have a book somewhere with heaps of dialogue in, and there’s no way I could have held all that in my head.
2) People watch! Go and sit somewhere and just watch the world go by. If you’re writing about people, it’s a good idea to watch how they interact and behave. The South Bank in London is GREAT for this, and they do a nice coffee at the BFI – that’s where I like to do my people watching.
3) Research research research! You can never do too much of this. If you’re writing about a place you can’t easily get to, use online tools such as Google maps and YouTube to get an idea of what or where something is like.
4) Finally, don’t stress about it. If something isn’t going the way you’d like, leave it for a bit and then go back to it, likewise, if you’re on a good writing streak, get it all down!
Steph was born in Northampton in the mid 1980s, which makes her thirty-something (but if you ask, she’ll probably tell you she’s 27). Now, she lives on the South coast of the UK with her husband and two children, but would generally rather be somewhere in Europe, eating snacks and drinking a nice cold beer by a canal.
The owner of a smart mouth and vibrantly coloured hair, she loves writing, music, and faffing around on her ukulele.
Getting Over Jesse Franklin is Stephie’s first novel, and Franko were very much inspired by her favourite band as a teenager.