Romantic Novelists' Association

The List By D. Wells

15 December 2023

We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it? Thank you for having me! The List is a dual-perspective women’s fiction novel about a young couple on a road trip. The road trip is the last in a list of goals that Rebecca’s late brother wrote and was unable to complete. The list is now coming between Rebecca and husband Reece, and their journey plays out emotionally as they travel around the UK.

What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story? Funnily enough, I was inspired by a song – one that coincidentally had a resurgence of popularity last year. The song is Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God) by Kate Bush. I have been a fan of her music for years, and this particular song was allegedly written about how we sometimes struggle to understand each other when in a relationship. That got me thinking and the idea of a young couple who are in love, but who battle to understand each other’s perspective, was born. The book is dual-perspective. We see both Reece and Rebecca’s frustrations and how they sometimes ‘miss’ their partner’s intentions and motivations. Yet within all that there is hope that they can somehow figure out the other and make the relationship work.

How long did the book take to write? How much re-writing do you normally do? This one took a while as I started writing it just before the first lockdown at the beginning of 2020. I had to stop to home school my children for a large portion of the year, and came back to the manuscript later on. It then went through a period of submissions to agents and publishers, but I eventually pulled it from the pile, so to speak, and decided to self-publish. As I was also launching a series, The List had to wait its turn, so it has taken a while. I did give it another edit, to freshen it up, so The List has had about six drafts in total. I usually do four or five drafts per novel before I am happy.

What is your writing day like? I am up at six thirty, and the first couple of hours of the day are focused on the school run. When I get home I make a coffee and go for a good walk. Sometimes it’s the only exercise I have time for, and it helps clear my head for the writing ahead. I love being out in nature anyway, so this is therapeutic for me. Then I get home, sit and write. I have found that I am more productive writing in bursts, rather than sitting for hours every day, providing I remove all distractions (like my phone) first. I can get about two thousand words written in one session that way. The rest of the day, or week, is set aside for promoting and marketing, admin, and the normal day to day errands of life. Sometimes I will also use the evenings to do more writing, or editing.

Without giving too much away, what was the hardest part of the book to write? The List was the most emotionally draining book I have written so far. It turns out that issues in fictional relationships can be as exhausting as real ones! I found that the hardest aspect of creating the story, but I am so glad I pushed through and kept going. Ultimately, it isn’t a depressing read, but insightful instead, and I think part of the exhaustion was in keeping it balanced and still uplifting.

Where did your research for the book take you? As a large chunk of the book is set over the duration of a road trip, I had to research various different locations. I chose a route that featured a few places I have been to myself, so I could add my own memories to that research. Unfortunately, because of lockdowns, I couldn’t physically revisit them and there were a couple of places that I had never before visited. This meant that I spent hours on Google Earth and online research. I asked a few people questions about specific areas I knew they’d visited, if there was a gap in my own knowledge.  Any mistakes are absolutely my own and I hope I have done each location justice.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors? Read a lot, and try to relax as you figure out your style and routine. There is always plenty of advice out there on how and when to write, but it can be conflicting and confusing and not always suitable for your circumstances. Try different things and work out what is best for you. Every writer is unique. Some may fall into the category of plotter or pantser, and you may recognise instantly where you fit, but maybe you won’t. I think there can be a lot of anxiety when starting out. Perhaps feeling that expectation to fit into a box, because then that’ll mean you are a proper writer. But writers can work differently in various ways. For example, I am not a writer who feels she has to write every day, even when in the middle of writing a book. I tend to have creative ‘bursts’ and while I do set deadlines (otherwise I might never complete anything!), I know the best and freshest creativity will happen on particular days, hours, or even certain seasons, and the rest of the year that all shifts and those things don’t work for me for a while at all! Other authors I know will write every day for a set amount of time, regardless of what else is going on in life. Others only have small pockets of time to invest in their stories, but they might write really fast. Don’t be scared to do things differently if that works best for you.

About the Author

Photo of author D Wells, blonde hair, light blue jumper, smilingD. Wells is the author of uplifting women’s fiction and book club fiction novels 6 Caledon Street, The Things We Regret, The List and the cosy bookshop series Taverton Tales. She has also released short story collections under the pen name D. van de Merwe. Wells is married and lives in East Anglia with her family, as close to the countryside as she can get.