Today I’m interviewing O.M. Faure, author of a new trilogy of adventure thrillers.
O. M. Faure studied political science and has worked at the United Nations in Geneva.
Based in London, O. M. Faure is a feminist, a Londoner, a Third Culture Kid, an enthusiastic singer, and a budding activist.
Tell us something about your books.
I write adventure thrillers with a sprinkle of politics and conspiracy. They feature strong female protagonists who have to find a way to overcome impossible odds to save the day.
Olivia and DeAnn, the heroines of The Beautiful Ones, my trilogy that just came out in June, are in their forties and at a crossroads. They both feel like their lives should be more but don’t know what to do to turn things around.
When they’re recruited into The Cassandra Programme, a secretive organization, Olivia and DeAnn have no idea they will accidentally find themselves on a field mission. Unprepared and unqualified, the question becomes: will they rise up to the challenge?
What inspires you to write? Who are your favorite writers?
I became a feminist after reading Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale in 2001 and it’s always stuck in my mind as an example of how fiction can transform people’s understanding of the world. I genuinely believe that any change in society is triggered by ideas and stories.
I’ve worked for twenty years in Change and Transformation as a project manager and time and time again, I’ve seen dozens of corporate projects which try to change a process, a way of working, an operating model. But it never works unless people believe in the change you’re proposing, unless they buy into the narrative that surrounds the need for change.
Our world is at a crucial junction at the moment and change is urgently needed on issues ranging from climate change to the place of women in society. And, for me, the most important aspect of bringing about change is to win over people’s minds and hearts. You can do that with stories. Once people want change, once it becomes part of our narrative as a species, then the rest follows.
That’s why I write. To change the narrative around issues close to my heart. If I can change one person’s views or generate a debate or make readers aware of something they didn’t know before reading my books, then I will feel like I have accomplished my mission.
How do you start writing? Do you have a process or do you fly by the seat of your pants?
I am definitely a plotter. I’m a project manager by trade, so my notebooks are full of tables, timelines and diagrams about what needs to happen in what order and to which character. Usually I start by researching the topic I want to showcase in my book. So I read a lot of essays, articles and books on the topic. For example at the moment I am reading The IPCC’s Climate Change report as preparation for my next trilogy.
Then I try to imagine what it would be like to live in the world that these forecasts and scientific studies portray. What would it feel like, look like, smell like? And little by little, from the facts and the data, a story emerges.
I craft my characters according to the issue I want to talk about. So for example, my current trilogy The Beautiful Ones, is about overpopulation and the degradation of women’s fertility rights in a post-Brexit, post-Trump world. So my characters are women who are on both sides of the fertility coin: one desperately wants to be a mother, the other absolutely not.
Once the bones of the story are in place, I start writing!
How has your writing process changed since you started writing?
I was used to writing memos and executive summaries before I started writing fiction, the objective back then, was to be as clear and as concise as possible. So at the beginning my novel writing career, I had a tendency to spill all the beans much too early and to be crystal clear about where things were going.
Over the past few years, I have learned to distill the information in smaller chunks and to create more suspense by hiding certain pieces of information.
How long does it normally take you to write, and what proportion of the time is spent doing what?
I wrote The Beautiful Ones trilogy in seven months and then it took me about a year and a half to edit and publish it.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Most definitely writing the first draft! It’s so exhilarating to feel the inspiration flowing through you and to see the story taking shape. It’s like you’re a vessel and your fingertips know exactly what to do.
Do you involve other people in your writing, as collaborators or editors? How do you make this work?
I’ve been very fortunate to get advice from my writing friends. The critique group I belong to is ruthless but they give excellent feedback. For example they (eviscerated my writing and then) suggested ways I could change certain scenes and how to make my characters more distinct from each other.
My professional editor provided me with a structural review when I was about mid-way through my edits (version 4 out of 7). She helped me to inject more action in the books and gave me a fresh look on my work.
And finally at the end (version 6 out of 7), I hired a sensitivity reader and was really happy that I did. Her insights were invaluable and she was amazingly supportive and enthusiastic about my work, so it was just what I needed to finish and publish with confidence.
Do you have any writing tips you’d like to share with readers?
I’m on the lovely writing community on Twitter and in a lot of writing groups and I’ve attended a fair number of writers’ conferences and writing classes. That would be my first tip: join the writing community. Writing can be a lonely business and by making lots of friends and connections, you can keep motivated, you can give yourself deadlines because you’ve promised a draft to a beta-reader or a critique group. We can compare notes, commiserate, encourage and lift each other up and that’s really important in order to keep writing.
My second tip is just write. Don’t overthink it. Don’t agonize over comas or repeated words or finding the perfect sentence. That’s what editing is for. The main thing is get in front of that keyboard or that notebook and let the words flow onto the page. You can always change it later.
Thanks to O.M. Faure for taking the time to tell us about your writing.
You can find out more about her books on her website.