The Writing Life of: Erin Curran
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Erin Curran, who will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her book ‘The Seven‘, which was released on 1st July 2019 and answering a few fun questions. This post contains affiliate links.
Erin Curran is a young woman from a small town called Crossgar in Northern Ireland. She has a passion for writing that stemmed from her love of reading at a very young age. She loves creating fantasy worlds for readers to escape to when they need time away from reality.
The Seven is the first book in what she hopes will be a series that will captivate and excite readers just as the idea captivated and excited her.
1) Did you enjoy writing when you were a child?
Absolutely! I have written stories for as long as I can remember. My Dad was a writer, so my sister Alana and I drew a great deal of inspiration from him. We used to sit side by side in our room and write silly little stories when we were kids, occasionally copying from each other.
Titles that immediately come to mind are “Summer Holidays” which was a story about two kids who go to their grandparents’ house for the summer holidays and end up living there, and “Counters Karen” which was about a rich family who held a competition for the most well kempt house where the prize was a mansion. It was a great way for us to spend time together, and we genuinely enjoyed doing it.
2) Which author shaped your childhood?
As insane as it sounds, I wasn’t a huge reader as a child. It wasn’t until I was a pre-teen picking up some Jacqueline Wilson novels and sci-fi stories that I even really glanced at a book. I had had the generic attitude of “reading is boring” and I actively avoided the reading homework I got in school, despite being in the highest reading group. But in 2012, in my second year of high school, I read The Hunger Games trilogy, and that completely changed my perspective on reading as a hobby.
I hungered (no pun intended) for more reading material, more books that gave me the sense of involvement and excitement that Suzanne Collins’ work had given me. So, if I were to choose an author, I would have to say that Suzanne Collins changed my life in a huge way. I have my current reading prowess thanks to her. That and I can’t choose my own sister amidst the fear of nepotism accusations.
3) What motivated you to begin your first novel?
The Seven came to me when I was sitting in my Animal Care course in SERC Technical College. I always finished my coursework early because I didn’t find it very challenging, my failed Maths GCSE having prevented me from doing the upper level in the course. I was fiddling with Skype, chatting with my best friend Niamh when I really shouldn’t have been, when I thought about this old Snow-White movie. Not the Disney version, this one was more obscure and was released in 2001.
Each of the seven dwarves represented a colour of the rainbow and each had a quality from that old rhyme: ‘Monday’s Child is fair of face; Tuesday’s Child is full of grace; etc. etc.’ The rhyme itself doesn’t have a set title, so I call it “The Days of the Week Rhyme”. I stared at my empty inbox and thought, “What if that wasn’t a fictional rhyme? What if it was based on real people?” I started plotting over Skype, sending Niamh character plans; superpowers and how it could all connect to the rhyme in a frenzy. That frenzy didn’t stop until I was finished.
4) Do you plot your book, or are you a pantser?
I’m a total pantser. Like I said before, I have always been writing. The amount of half-baked unfinished story ideas I have strewn over my OneDrive is immense. Not including the hundreds of others that are lost in broken laptops and discarded notebooks. However, I could never seem to finish. The only stories I ever finished were fanfiction and lest I become the next E.L James, publishing those was not an option for me.
The Seven, my first and currently only published novel (watch this space!) was one of the few stories that I had the drive to finish. I was struck by inspiration and couldn’t stop until I was done. Not only that, but I was proud of the finished product because, somehow, my pantsing had connected everything up quite neatly. I wanted to share that with the world.
5) What is your average writing day?
To answer this question, I first need to highlight my process:
Step 1) Procrastinate for days before. This part is essential and unavoidable.
Step 2) Once I’ve dragged myself from that mist of delay and self-doubt, I sit on my bed and write in my notebook. I find that I get my flow going easier if I pen my chapters before even thinking about taking them to my computer. This way I can asterisk to my heart’s content; write in different pen colours; make notes to myself; and squiggle and scribble everywhere.
Step 3) Once satisfied with a handwritten chapter, type it up on the computer. Make changes and edit as I go along.
My average writing day will depend on which step of the process I’m at. With my current work in progress, I hand wrote the majority of it before I even looked at my computer. I went through tons of notebooks, but it worked really well for me, and I think that will most definitely be my process going forward.
6) What is the best thing about being an author?
I honestly don’t comprehend how everyone doesn’t create worlds of their own in their minds. Don’t they wake up from the craziness of their dreams and think, “Man, that would make an interesting book?” Do they not get that urge to write it all down? The best thing about being an author is that I can build those worlds, weave together those dreams, and create something magical for people to read.
Whether they enjoy it or not is something else entirely, but the fact that the option is there will always be amazing to me. Even the smallest chance that I could inspire someone in the same way Suzanne Collins’ trilogy inspired me is so amazing to me that I can barely comprehend it even now, when my book has been out for three years.
Publisher – Vanguard Press
Pages – 292
Release Date – 1st July 2019
ISBN 13 – 978-1784655402
Format – ebook, paperback
Do you remember Thursday’s child, Friday’s child and the rest? That’s who the Seven are, all with individual special abilities which are related to their own day of birth. How do they interact with those who aren’t part of their special group? And what do those normal humans think about the Seven?
Thursday’s child has far to go. But how far will she go to protect the other members of the Seven?
Would you want to have the ability to heal, just like Friday’s child, who is loving and giving? And what happens when Wednesday’s child is full of woe?
Do they all have to stay together – and alive – for all their abilities to work properly?
And what happens when one of the Seven seems to be determined to control – or worse – the remaining six members of the group?
All it takes is two words: “It’s Sunday.”
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7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
As a veteran pantser, I do my research as I go along. Since The Seven is written in the modern day, I did not have to worry about searching obscure details such as whether they had gas lamps in 1789 or if the Belfast sink existed before sliced bread or not. My characters, however, are immortals born in the nineteenth century, and every so often I would have to remind myself of such a fact.
I remember a particular moment where I wrote an entire paragraph about my character Thursday being in high school before I remembered that her high school experience would not have been like mine, so I instead had to add “whenever she was bored and enrolled in school again” or something to that effect for the paragraph to work.
8) How long did it take to go from the ideas stage to writing the last word?
I was struck by the idea for The Seven in late 2016, early 2017, and submitted the finished manuscript to Pegasus Publishing at the beginning of 2018. For me, that is extremely fast, which is made even more evident now that I have taken three years to even get to the computer stage for my next book. I remember reading somewhere that John Boyne wrote The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas in three months, and it boggles my mind. I wouldn’t consider The Seven even half of the calibre of that book and it took me three times longer to write it!
9) What made you choose the genre you write in?
My feet are wholly planted in fantasy and, as a member of the LGBTQ+ community, my books will always be LGBTQ as well. Despite devouring books as a teenager, it was so hard for me as a closeted lesbian to find a book with LGBTQ characters. It was partially responsible for me driving myself further into that closet I was already practically paying rent in. So it won’t matter if I’m writing fantasy; contemporary; historical or sci-fi, it will always be an LGBTQ book. I’ve received online flack for saying as such, but it is what it is. If I can make even one person feel seen by my characters, then that is my life made worth it.
10) How did you come up with the name(s) for your lead character(s)?
Each one of my main cast has a soul day which corresponds to their superpower, which also corresponds with the Days of the Week rhyme. So each name has the same first letter has their soul day, and I often refer to them with their soul day as their surname:
Trish Thursday (despises Trish, goes by Thursday instead).
Due to them being so old, and immortal, they have had a number of surnames over the years, so I use their soul days as reference points. I am embarrassed, however, to have given Sawyer the surname of “Bateman” during the events of the book and the title of “Master”. Say those together and think about it for a moment. I swear I didn’t realise until my sister pointed it out to me. You can open The Seven and see it there in black and white! Not once while I was writing or reading it over did I notice what was wrong with it!
11) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
The best way I can describe my characters without going into detailed profiles on each of them (I have a notebook full of those profiles, don’t tempt me!) is a found family. The Seven aren’t related by blood but brought together by circumstance, and I have always found that kind of bond so beautiful. These people don’t have any family related obligation to each other but are instead drawn together through shared experience and trauma. They heal each other, until eventually one of them goes too far, and hence the book begins.
12) How did you feel when you had completed your book?
Elated! There’s this moment when you write the final sentence, and tap that final full stop, and you stare at the blinking cursor, unable to believe that you’ve done it. Of course, there’s editing and proofreading to follow but at that moment it doesn’t matter. It’s finished! You did it! Have some cake! Or a nap! Whichever comes first.
1) Do you have a favourite quote?
I live by many. There’s “Everything is okay in the end, if it’s not okay then it’s not the end,” said by John Lennon. Or “Normality is a paved road. It’s comfortable to walk, but no flowers grow,” by Vincent Van Gogh. If we’re talking about writing quotes, I believe Neil Gaiman hit the nail on the head when he said, “Being a writer is a very peculiar sort of a job: it’s always you versus a blank sheet of paper (or a blank screen) and quite often the blank piece of paper wins.”
I could spout so many from various mediums on various topics, from Doctor Who to Mary Shelley. I won’t though, since there is nowhere near enough time, and I will certainly leave one out and be frustrated regardless.
Of course, most importantly, there is “The answer to the great question of life, the universe and everything is 42.” Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
2) Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a Jug (a Jack Russell Pug cross breed) called Spyro. I named her after the video game dragon and, yes, she’s a girl. I always said I would name my first dog Spyro and I stuck to that promise despite her not being a boy. I got asked why I didn’t call her Cynder instead (the name of the female dragon in future games), but I never played the games with Cynder in them, and I can’t imagine Spyro being called anything else now.
I also had a beautiful black and white cat called Boo Radley until July of last year. I’m including him because he was there while I was writing The Seven and, hell, he was important to me. He sadly had to be put down in 2021 after heart complications he developed from contracting an illness. He’s still with me, as sappy as that sounds, and his urn has a pride of place in front of our television. Still the centre of everything.
3) What are you currently reading?
It might be easier to ask what’s not on my current reading list! To save time, I’ll go through the books I got at Christmas that I still need to read before I go buying more.
I just finished “A Slip of the Keyboard” by the late Terry Pratchett and am intending to read “Milk and Honey” by Rupi Kaur next. It will be my first dip into poetry, so I am very intrigued. As well as that I have Pillow Thoughts by Courtney Peppernell; The Diary of Anne Frank; The Astonishing Colour of After by Emily X.R Pan; All Our Hidden Gifts by Caroline O’Donoghue and The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandals and Shipwrecks by Mackenzi Lee. And that’s just what I got for Christmas! I have many, many more on my to be read list but I’ll spare you that!
4) Your book has been made into a movie, you’ve been offered a cameo role, what will you be doing?
Okay, so there’s a fight scene that takes place in a hospital corridor, more specifically in the maternity wing. There are people being thrown about; knocked unconscious; dramatic confrontations; yelling and screaming. I would want to be a confused pregnant lady, in the background, who turns to head down the corridor, sees the drama, and goes back in the opposite direction. A wise extra who, unbelievably, does not want to be involved in the craziness that is going on, who doesn’t even want to know what it’s all about, it’s not her business. That would be me.
5) If you could travel to a fictional world from any book for the day, which would you choose?
Panem in The Hunger Games, post the events of Mockingjay and pre-epilogue. Look, hear me out, Peeta Mellark is my hero and is, to this day, my favourite fictional character ever. His actor from the Hunger Games films even served as a suitable beard for me during my closeted years. If I were given the opportunity to meet him, I’d have to take it. I would have to time it right because too soon after the revolution and there would be a possibility he’d kill me BUT if I land once he and Katniss have (SPOILERS) healed and gotten together I think a cup of tea and a cheese bun would be on the table for sure.
6) There’s a penguin sitting in your chair, what’s the first thing he says to you?
First we must know what I say to him, which would be, “Oh my God, would you please finish typing my WIP for me? I’m three quarters of the way through and have developed a posture that would put Quasimodo to shame. I just need a big bell and he’ll be out of a job. Also, your name isn’t Frobisher by any chance?” (Those who know, know.)
And his prompt response would be: “Get a grip woman. Catch yourself and get typing.”
A big thank you to Erin Curran for sharing her writing life with us and for a wonderful interview.