1) I have a cousin with an unusual name. She said she would love to see it featured in one of my stories, so I used it in my next story for Woman's Weekly and I have just heard that they are publishing it. I can't wait to send her a copy. I wonder if the desire to make her wish come true gave me extra reason to make sure the story worked.
2) Yesterday I drove to Cornwall and back from Gloucestershire (long story). The journey gave me lots of ideas for new stories, although tiredness prevented me writing them all down at home later. However, one has stuck and I hope to develop it today. Driving is good for inspiration, especially as you see things/people/places in flashes as they pass by. Those moments are vivid and I can only write a good story if something very intense, fleeting and striking sets it in motion.
3) I loathe it when people ask if I'm going to be the next JK Rowling. I might start giving them pitying looks instead of gushing.
4) I love William Trevor's stories and nothing gives me greater writing impetus than to read his collections, some of them over and over again. If ever I need fresh ideas when I'm thinking about writing a new story, I sit down with one of his books and choose a story at random. As I read, I dissect it, asking myself why a particular word or sentence works so well and how he deploys the technique so successfully. This dissection doesn't spoil my enjoyment of the story. In fact, it enhances it in much the same way as flaking fish from its skeleton before eating it and savouring its succulence without fretting about bones.
5) I don't eat meat, but it features often in my darker stories. As do butchers.
6) I sometimes pretend to phone a character and ask 'What are you doing right at this moment?' I don't allow anything banal, but it must be in keeping with the character. It has to be a shock or amusing in some way. And it has to be instant. No scratching of heads first. The answer will give the story a sharper edge.
7) I do not allow my mother to read some of my stories.
Thank you so much Jo!