Today I’m pleased to welcome Rosie and Stuart Larner, who wrote Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge under the pseudonym Rosy Stewart, to my blog. They have written a guest post/interview about how they write together and what books they like to read.
How did we come to be writers?
We have always composed poetry, and written for radio and the stage. During our working hours most of our time was taken up with academic writing, and compiling professional reports and articles.
Lately, we have expanded our artistic and creative writing and we are particularly interested in fiction that mirrors truth.
We incorporate this into our scripts and the latest novella.
What is our latest book about?
For our latest work, the novella “Hope”, we were inspired by our experiences of people who have suffered abuse. Although our book is fictional, we wanted to build in the feeling that survivors did not always want to be viewed as victims. Therefore, it had elements of empowerment and revenge in the stories.
Three women work together as a vigilante team to help victims by investigating and tracking down their abusers. However, they must also face their own inner dilemmas. The book consists of the cases of twelve people and has both elements of a thriller and a crime novella.
We note how widespread abuse is. It is not just about male-female relationships, but it also pervades all facets of society.
In our clinical work, we met people who were labelled as patients, or victims, who came to us with a history of lifelong trauma and hopelessness. We wanted to show, in fictional form, that people who have suffered horrible abuse can be empowered and are able to change.
If we could write inspiring stories about what people could have done before they became labelled as victims, then we might be able to influence some of the negative thinking that comes with their role in society.
Hopefully it could inspire those who are in an abusive relationship to recognise their situation and seek help. Real people might be influenced by seeing how our fictional characters deal with their challenges and how their stories can have favourable outcomes.
Information and advice about abuse and treatment approaches can be found on our website.
How do we write together?
Writing as a duo poses challenges.
Discipline and time management is important; we must respect each other’s time and domestic duties. We write in short bursts so that we can fit our other activities into the day.
How we write is that we generally have a discussion in the first instance about what the book and each chapter will be roughly about.
During these meetings, there is much lively discussion about the general direction and the characters. This takes place in a fluid, recorded format, and changes from session to session.
Initially we try to set up the characters and create files with the back-story of each character.
Only after we have agreed on what the chapter will be about do we each go away and attempt to write our separate versions of the same story from the same angle in the same voice.
One week later, we meet and bring these two versions of the same chapter together. Often they are nothing like each other. However, there are usually some commonalities that we can build on in a first draft session.
We discuss this first document, which contains all parts of the two versions, and then mull it over separately for another week. When we come back together, we can see that we can make the chapter coherent by each of us agreeing to cut great chunks of paragraphs so that the pieces can be dovetailed into a new version.
We have selected a penname that illustrates this fluid transformative process. It contains changed parts of our names to create a third character, Rosy Stewart. It is almost as if she had written it. She is not a ghost writer, but a writing ghost.
What books do we read?
The books that we admire and have just finished reading include ‘Dombey and Son’ by Charles Dickens, because of its richness, characterisation, and because it reflects life and is a social commentary.
In the same way, we admire the realistic writing of Fred D’Aguiar about the Jonestown tragedy in ‘Children of Paradise’.
For light human modern English relief we enjoyed ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’ by Rachel Joyce, because of its heart-warming tale of a personal epic journey.
About the Authors:
Rosie Larner and Stuart Larner are a husband and wife writing partnership who live in Yorkshire, UK.
Rosie is a retired social worker and lecturer in Health and Social Care. She was co-leader of a Drama Workshop that welcomed participants of all ages and abilities. She has directed and performed at the Edinburgh Fringe. Rosie writes prose, poetry and plays.
You can find Rosie on Facebook
Stuart is a chartered psychologist, who worked in the UK Health Service for over thirty years, and was mental health expert in XL for Men magazine. He writes plays (“The Dilemma Advice Show,” Beach Hut Theatre 2012, “What Matters is What Floats,” Beach Hut Theatre 2013), poems, and stories. His previous book is the cricket novel “Guile and Spin”.
You can find Stuart on his blog
Hope: Stories from a Women’s Refuge by Rosy Stewart is out now and available on Amazon.