Gemma Lambart’s “Alice’s Promise”; an ACOW Story

Today author Gemma Lambart takes over my page whose short, “Alice’s Promise,” was just published in the anthology “A Contract of Words,” which includes 28 authors from all over the world. Here is what she had to say about life, writing, and her story:

1. Besides writing, what is one thing you couldn’t live without?

Chocolate. Hang on, I was meant to say my children. My children, final answer.

2. What was your inspiration for your story?

A seed planted and the idea just grew from that. I knew I wanted to submit to ACOW before I knew what the “C” stood for. Once I knew it was contracts I decided I wanted something pinkie promise related. Then it was a matter of deciding who would make a pinkie promise, what kind of things would they pinkie promise about and then finally, how could I twist it so it no longer became an innocent pinkie promise.

3. If a genie could grant you 3 wishes, what would you wish for?

First would be money, so I could buy a larger house and have a writing space. No word of a lie as I type this my sons are crawling around the floor behind me, crashing and banging their toys, with NickJr on trying to drown them out.
Second, I would wish that my boys get the happiness they need to have a good life. I’m not talking getting everything they want, but enough for the important things to work out for them.
Third, to be able to visit all my favourite historical eras. The Romans, the Tudors, the Victorians. Enough to see and enjoy it but not long enough to cause or get in any trouble. I quite like my head where it is.

4. Has reading influenced your decision to be a writer? What book(s) made you want to write?

Greatly. It first started with Goosebumps, at aged nine I would attempt to recreate either what I had read or put my own spin on it. In my teens my Grandma got me into the Adams Family Saga by Mary Jane Staples, which prompted me to write my “first” novel. Sadly it was the era of the floppy disk, so it either became missed placed or corrupted a long time ago. The most recent and biggest influence was Harry Potter, I began my RPG and Fanfiction journey which was my longest consecutive run of writing.

5. Would you describe your writing process? For example, do you write in a specific place, have music playing or is that a no-no, lean toward outlining specifics, or are you a pantser?

I am a complete mixed bag. What works one day can be the worst thing to do the next. Most of my stories are planned out in my head, anything long or complicated I will jot down notes for. The novel I am currently writing has the strictest plan I have ever written. Each bullet point has step by step instructions. Whereas Alice’s Promise only has what appears in ACOW, there are no plans or notes.

6. When faced with the dreaded “writers block”, how do you push through and find inspiration? Is there a ritual or process you have to get yourself back on track?

I move away from it. I start a new short story or I world build for my novel. Sometimes I have to come away from writing completely. This can be anything from reading or binge-watching TV shows. I find it is my characters who break out of writers block first and then they come and collect me.

7. Did you know how your story would end when you started writing it? If not, did plans change while writing or did you improvise when you arrived?

I knew what had to happen, but how it happened changed a lot. Originally the final scene was Alice going to Lucy’s home and confronting her, where the showdown would then take place. Then it changed to Alice confronting Lucy and a car chase taking place followed by Alice running Lucy down. I felt these two endings, while fun to write portrayed Alice more as a hunter than a defender and that’s when I decided the final scene had to be in Alice and Robert’s home.

8. If a movie were to be made of your story and you were in charge of casting, who would play your characters? Who would direct?

I’m not a movie person so this is a hard one. Robert would have to be played by someone who can do awkward. When I ordered an illustration of Alice and Robert I used Kristian Schmid and Catherine Tyldesley. As for directors I would choose Matthew Gray Gubler. I find all the episodes of Criminal Minds he directs have the creep factor. He’d find me a very weird Lucy.

9. How close did your story end up being to the original concept you had in your mind? What were the biggest changes? Why did you make them?

Alice’s Promise ended up being very close to my original idea, other than the location of the end being changed, everything I planned and needed to happen still did.

10. What book were you reading when you thought, This stuff sells??? Oh, hell, I can do that…

It was Fire Over London by Mary Jane Staples. Everyday families dealing with both normal and extreme dramas of their time.
11. Did you have to do any odd research for your story? How did you conduct that research, and then how was it used in your story?

I did question my husband extensively about what Alice would need to say after running Lucy over to get away with it and how to stage it to pass it off as an accident.

12. If you could pick one place to sit and write, where would it be?

It would be in a castle, with a view of the grounds. I’m a window gazer and currently all I have to look at from my living room window is the back of my car.

13. How closely do you relate to/identify with your characters? What inspired them? Did they take over your story or did you direct them?

Once I knew I would be writing about an expectant couple, I looked back on my two pregnancies for inspiration. I wanted Alice and Robert to come across as a real couple, so focused on their excitement at becoming parents and the silly little arguments that couples have. They mainly kept to the script, the only surprise for me being their argument about Alice going for a shower. She took me by surprise when she read him the riot act and shocked when Robert didn’t back down.

14. What do you consider your all time favorite novel? One that you would read again and again.

It would be easier to say what novels I wouldn’t read again. If I finish a book, then I’m likely to read it again as I don’t finish books I’m not enjoying. I’m going to be greedy and say it’s any of the Harry Potter books. After all it was that series that got me into writing properly.

15. How much of your writing is outlined from the beginning and how much of it is ‘pantsed’ or written on the fly?

It is mainly a mixture of both. I have a outline in my head and those bits are always used, but every now and then a surprise will crop up and I find myself pantsing my way through a chapter.

16. What are your favorite snack-as-you-write or eat-as-you write foods? How do they help your creative flow or process?

Mainly chocolate, or biscuits. I should say frit and vegetables but that would be lying.

17. How is your ACOW story typical or atypical of your writing in general?

Death. I don’t know what it is but, in every story, someone is either already dead or soon will be. Even stories that are not meant to be horror or paranormal. I can’t help it.

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