Friday, 18 November 2011

Creative Alchemy: 12 steps from inspiration to published novel

I'm always interested in new books about writing and happy to promote them if I feel they would be of interest and use to other writers. In the case of writer and tutor Sue Johnson's new book 'Creative Alchemy: 12 Steps from inspiration to finished novel' it was a "no-brainer" as her book is definitely one to get hold of if like me, you are keen to get a novel published but are having difficulty starting or, as in my case, finishing.

The title 'Creative Alchemy' comes from Sue's belief that writing is "a magical process that turns the base metal of your original idea into a memorable story". I really like this description of writing and it prompted me to ask Sue a few questions about her book and how she came to write it. Here are her answers.

Why did you decide to write 'Creative Alchemy'?
The trigger came from when I read an article stating that for every 100 novels started, only one was completed. The reasons given for the 99 per cent that failed included running out of steam, loss of confidence in the project and negative messages from the past or from friends and family. Many of my writing students have spoken of the "gremlin voice" inside their heads that often sounds like a former teacher or disapproving parent. I've found that once this problem is addressed, it's a bit like opening a door. It's wonderful to witness writers stepping through and seeing their writing blossom. 

How much of 'Creative Alchemy' was based on your experience of writing your own recently published novel 'Fable's Fortune'? (
When I wrote the first draft of Fable's Fortune' in 1998, I was battling these same negative messages as I'd just parted from a husband who would repeatedly say, "Don't tell people you write, they'll think you're weird". Having gained my freedom, I kept writing, spilling words onto the page and determined to reach the end of the story. I didn't return to the first draft for several years but by then the story had grown and developed inside my head. I'd also written the first drafts of several more novels and had numerous poems and short stories published but the determination to see at least one novel published never left me.

How easy was it to get 'Creative Alchemy' published?
It was easier than pitching a novel but the whole process still took about a year.

What advice would you give to someone, such as myself, who is struggling to finish their current novel?
Once a first draft is completed, there is more likelihood of the writer taking time to revise and polish it. Many people worry too much about getting things 'right' as they go along, rather than just getting the whole story down and tidying up later.Over the years I've seen writers with brilliant ideas give up too easily. I've also seen writers of average ability go on to achieve great success because they were determined to do so. My mission with 'Creative Alchemy' is to encourage more people to think positively and not stop until they've achieved their writing dreams.

Thanks Sue. You have definitely inspired me to get on with my novel!

Sue's top tips for writers include:
1. Write every day even if you lack inspiration.
2. Carry a notebook.
3. Finish what you start.
4. Ignore negative criticism and believe in yourself.
5. Have a minimum of five pieces of work in circulation.
6. Keep going until you achieve your dream.

You can find out more about Sue and pick up other useful writing tips at

'Creative Alchemy: 12 steps from inspiration to finished novel' is published by HotHive Books (



  1. I need this book. That gremlin has been sitting on my shoulder and whispering poisonous thoughts in my ear for some time. I've now started on something and am determined to see it through even if it takes some time.

  2. Hi Vanessa.I am also having gremlin problems so let's hope Sue's book will get rid of them for us and we can finish what we started.