Saturday, 14 October 2017

Diana talks to the Review's one and only and totally inimitable Paula Lofting !

Hello Paula!!! How lovely to chat with you!

I am sure that you are tired of being asked the usual questions that would be interviewers ask authors, so hopefully this interview is an interview with a difference and I have come up with some unusual questions!
First things first I am sure there is a question that you have always longed to be asked. Now is the chance. Ask your own question and answer it!

Who is your favourite Character in your books? It has to be Tovi, because a: my readers love him, and b: he’s been given a bum deal by his family.

What is the genre you are best known for? Definitely Historical fiction, well that’s all I’ve managed to write about so far, though I did start a psychological thriller some years ago and only got so far with it. I do plan to write one someday, though, and hopefully a ghosty story and a fantasy.

If your latest book Sons of the Wolf: The Wolf Banner   was adapted into a TV show or a film, who would you like to play the lead role? Probably Charlie Hunman, he’s the right age for Wulfhere. Years ago I would have opted for Kevin McKidd but I think he would be too old now.

What made you choose this genre? A love of history, and a visit to the annual Battle of Hastings inspired me.

How do you get ideas for plots and characters? It all started with a book called 1066: Year of the Conquest by David Howarth. He described his home in Sussex, a little village called Little Horsted, as if it were the year 1066. He talked about the thegn who owned the land, what he owned as per the Domesday Book, and what his duties might have been. He described how life in a village in 1066 might have looked and what might one expect to see if one was to visit. He talked about the forest and a picture of children running through it, swimming in the river, and playing on a rope-swing. As I only love a few miles away, I decided to drive out there. It’s still pretty much the same as it was back then. A little hamlet. When I went home, I just wrote what came into my head as I thought about where I had been and the story began to write itself.

Favourite picture or work of art? Gosh, I don’t really think I have one. I’m not clued up on that sort of thing. I guess I could say my children. They’re my works of art. (That is a lovely sentiment and one I can so totally relate to. Diana)

If, as a one off, (and you could guarantee publication!)  you could write anything you wanted, is there another genre you would love to work with and do you already have a budding plot line in mind? Yes, as I’ve said before, I’d love to write a psychological thriller. And yes, I do have a plot in mind. And I may revisit it at some point in the future.

Was becoming a writer a conscious decision or something that you drifted into (or even something so compelling that it could not be denied?) How old were you when you first started to write seriously. I have always wanted to write since I was a young girl, however as I got older, life went on a tangent. Things were difficult for a while, and my confidence was knocked, but when things improved, the idea that perhaps I could actually write a book and it was all I could think about.

Marmite? Love it or hate it? Love it but it stinks on one’s breath!

Do you have any rituals and routines when writing? Your favourite cup for example or ‘that’ piece of music...?? Silence, that’s all. I need silence otherwise my brain can’t handle it. It can’t filter noise.

I promise I won’t tell them the answer to this, but when you are writing, who is more important, your family or your characters? It sort of has to be my family, mainly because I can’t help but worry about them, so if they need me or want me to do something, I always put the lap top down and attend them!

Other than writing full time, what would be your dream job? I have my dream job. I’m a nurse and work 30 hours a week running a mental health clinic in a GP’s surgery. I love it.

Coffee or tea? Red or white? Tea. I don’t drink because it took away my aspirations and I couldn’t allow that to happen again. (I hear you... That. Diana)
How much of your work is planned before you start? Do you have a full draft or let it find its way? I have a plot in my head, but mostly I let the story write itself. It seems to follow a natural progression of what the characters might do, or how they might behave in a certain situation.

If you had free choice over the font your book is printed in, what font/fonts would you choose? I really font know, lol! (Groan!!)

Imagine that you could get hold of any original source document. What would it be? Imagine being able to get your hands on the Domesday book? OMG that would be like heaven

Have any of your characters ever shocked you and gone off on their own adventure leaving you scratching your head??? If so how did you cope with that!? Absolutely, you know him. Burghred. He was only supposed to have had a minor part and he refused to back down, making a nuisance of himself until I had to go with it. He basically created a thread of his own, took the plot and ran off with it.

How much research do you do and do you ever go on research trips? I’ve been around the West Country to visit the places in my book. But just the once. I’ve also read widely, mainly before and just in the beginnings. Every now and then if I am writing a particular theme, I will read something. I’m also a re-enactor so that helps.

Fiction authors have to contend with real characters invading our stories. Are there any ‘real’ characters you have been tempted to prematurely kill off or ignore because you just don’t like them or they spoil the plot? Yes, but I won’t say who. And I don’t go through with it.

Are you prepared to go away from the known facts for the sake of the story and if so how do you get around this? No, not really. But in the case of like what happened in Wolf Banner, there is only the suggestion of what happens, I’ll try and fill in the gaps with a plausible outcome.

Do you find that the lines between fact and fiction sometimes become blurred? Absolutely. Especially in the period I write in, the 11thc.

Have you ever totally hated or fallen in love with one of your characters? I love all my characters, even the villains. They are my children and deserve for someone to understand why they are driven to do the things they do.

What do you enjoy reading for pleasure? Well, wouldn’t you know it, anything historical, fictional, or factional.

What drink would you recommend drinking whilst reading your latest book? Currently I am drinking pepsi lol.

Last but not least... favourite author? I have to say that currently there are a few, but from my early influences, Charles Dickens, Mary Stewart, Sharon Penman, Rosemary Sutcliffe and Leon Garfield.

About Paula:

Paula has always wanted to write. Since she was a little girl, coming home from school to sit at the table with her notebook and write stories that buzzed around in her head. A prolific reader, she loved nothing better than to spend my weekends with a book in her hand. Earliest influences such as Rosemary Sutcliffe, Leon Garfield, Charles Dickens, C.S.Lewis, inspired an interest in history. It became her lifelong wish to one day write and publish a book, but not being able to type, and having no funds for a typewriter to learn on, this ambition was reluctantly put on hold.
With the advent of PC's and a need to retrain and use a computer, this old ambition was stirred and she decided to rekindle her love of books and writing at the grand old age of 42. at this point, she had reached a turning point in her life and studied nursing, and also decided to write the book she had promised herself one day she would write.

Her d├ębut novel, 'Sons of the Wolf' was first published with the assistance of SilverWood Books in 2012. More recently she has republished it with her new publishing company Longship Books, in kindle. A new paperback version will be published by June. It is a story set in the years leading up to the Norman Conquest of England and the first in the Sons of the Wolf series, about this amazing time in English history.

She has always admired the works of Sharon Penman and Bernard Cornwell, Edith Pargetter and Mary Stewart, amongst many others. History is a great love of hers and her interest in the subject goes beyond that of the keyboard. She also enjoys Anglo-Saxon re-enactment with Regia Anglorum, also a great source of research for my writing.
Paula says:
"Write for enjoyment, write for yourself, regardless of what is popular and selling; for if you don't write what you love, then how can you expect others to love what you write."

Post Script. In addition to all this she is a wonderful friend.

Ms Lofting after defeating the entire Norman army, single handed.

If you would like to read my blog about the group Paula Loftingis in and the building of a Shield Wall, click this link
Regia Anglorum: Building a Shield Wall

 © Diana Milne January 2017 © Paula Lofting October 2017


  1. Oh I loved reading this. I love Paula, and I love her books, they’re so rereadable!

  2. I enjoyed reading little snippets of your writing life, Paula. :) Great interview!