Many novelists spend months holed up in their studies, imagining what their characters might experience and feel. But author Rosie Vidovix has a different attitude to it – getting out there and actually living the life of her characters. A strong believer in ‘method writing’ she likes to immerse herself in the situations in the book. This has seen her in all sorts of situations, from buying a goldmine in the Amazon and lived in a hut working alongside the miners, to taking a job as a housemaid.
Having lived in the Amazon when she was younger, Rosie moved to the UK in 1993, basing herself in Folkestone, Kent, where she has raised 5 children.
What first led you to writing?
My ex-husband – he was a great guy – used to tell me that if anyone asked me a question I would never give a straight answer, instead, I would tell a story. He said it so many times that eventually he persuaded me to write and here I am today.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I like writing about people who don’t have a voice. There are too many people in that situation, so I like to tell the world their stories.
Who is your most complex character and how did you create them?
I rarely write about entirely fictional characters. Most of the time I will take parts of real stories about real people and weave them into a larger plot.
Branquinha, from my book Casa da Branca, was pretty difficult to create because although most of the things that happened to her had actually happened to girls elsewhere, the character herself was made up and I struggled to think what she would look like. In the end, I found a person online who looked right for the part, and used her for inspiration.
Describe the most demanding elements of your method of research…
There is nothing I find too demanding. I like immersing myself into things my characters enjoy. It is always a pleasure to explore things from a different angle, and if there are plenty of challenges along the way, all the better!
How emotional are you?
I’m very strong emotionally and psychologically but I am very aware of social inequalities; broken hearts and life tragedies, and these are the things I like writing about.
Who are your female role models? Is it important to have strong women in literature?
I’m not sure about strong but definitely sensitive. I have huge respect for Dame Ellen MacArthur and Amy Johnson the aviator. But my favourite is Malala, oh yes, I love Malala.
What book do you wish you had written?
The Pearl by John Steinbeck and of course Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre.
Do you set yourself targets while researching books, or allow your process to guide you to the end result?
I never set targets. My research methods are very unusual because I don’t do much planning at all, but just allow myself to go where the book takes me. So I have an idea for a story and when I start writing, the questions start coming. For example, recently, I wrote a story about a maid living in São Paulo. When I asked myself the question “What is like to be a maid working for a rich family?” I knew, immediately, that there was only one answer for that. So I got a job as a maid working for a rich family.
Have you ever found yourself in danger as a result of your writing techniques?
Oh goodness yes! I once wanted to write about a character who lived in a favela and when I went there to research for it, I was kindly escorted out by four men with sub-machine guns. It gave me a story to tell, anyway!
What’s the funniest thing that’s happened while you’ve been planning a book?
When I was writing Casa da Branca I visited a brothel in the Amazon and got approached by a guy who mistook me for one of the ladies working there and told me if I was a nice cook he would take me away from that life. He added that if I was faithful to him, he would take me to see the beach. I couldn’t resist being cheeky, and told him the sea was too near and what I really wanted was to visit London. He laughed at my face and told me that a prostitute should not dream that high because London was for wives only. Charming!
Describe a ‘normal’ day when you’re not writing/researching – are you actually quite boring/like the simple things?!
If I’m in the Amazon and it is a sunny day my favourite thing to do is to get into my boat and go on a trip up the river looking for wild orchids. In the evenings I spend hours stargazing.
If I’m in the UK I will be either in an art gallery or heading out on a walk in the country side. The evenings I spend mostly with friends.
- Rosie Vidovix’s latest book Casa Da Branca is out now for £7.99 in paperback, and £2.99 on kindle. Find Rosie on twitter at: @Rosie3012.