For Evelyn characters are the key. She cites Dickens and Shakespeare as two examples of writers whose characters live on because they are so well cast that they are as good as real. This is no accident, because often they are drawn from experience and Evelyn suggests that we as writers should do the same – observe, make notes and use encounters to cajole known characters into a specific fictional dimension.
From her 16th novel ‘This Time Next Year’ she pictures for us the story that hinges on characters – a prostitute, members of a rich family and others in between. Always there is a secret, something waiting to draw the interest, a hook inciting the desire to read on.
While taking 9 months to write a book, the characters become her family. She notes birthdays, quirks, desires and evolving personalities and consequently how they cope under life’s changing stresses. Years later she can recall in detail fictitious friends and enemies alike!
Evelyn feels that a writer is always learning. Her research has given her an insight into many fields including boat-building, furniture-construction and baking.
She remains the consummate professional within our group, an addicted writer. Evelyn urges us to retain integrity and the freedom to make our own mistakes that is so essential for each individual voyage.
What we should be doing is asking more of her advice, because she has been there and done it yet somehow maintains a humble and open disposition.