How I write – Charles Casha
by Marie Benoit

My writing gravitates round the characters that I create and build, not just from what I observe around me, but also from what I imagine. One can say that in each novel that I have written so far, whether for children or adults, characters have always been my point of departure in the building of the plot. It is as if these characters take hold of the plot and suggest new situations until the final outcome of the story.

I enjoy observing people around me especially small details about them, and I am always on the look out for little things that strike me. These could be positive or negative traits. All this will come handy when I am about to create a new character. Of course like all other authors, my own experiences do have a great effect on my writings.

It is not the norm for me to start writing on my computer and the first drafts are always written on old diaries that have never served their designated purpose. They are easy to carry and come in handy whenever I have a little time on my hands.

On these pages I satisfy my craving to write, plan new stories, compose new characters and take a note of anything that catches my attention at that moment. It could also be a chapter of a novel or one or two paragraphs of a short story or an essay. Lately I have written some poems and these, like all my other writings, were scribbled on these desk diaries.

When I have enough material, I start the actual writing on the computer where changes, sometimes substantial ones from the original script, take place. I really enjoy this phase in my writings, as I feel that the story or novel seems more animated. With reference to what I said earlier, it is at this point that my characters seem to take control and direct me in the development of the story.

When I finish the first draft on the computer, I put it aside and while I occupy myself with other things, the story seems to germinate. On re reading it I find that I can be more objective and critical of my own work. New ideas and situations may usually be included at this point if they are relevant to the plot.

Changes occur until I am satisfied with the version I want to pass on to my publisher. I must admit that some changes have sometimes taken place at the proofreading stage. Notwithstanding I have always found full cooperation from my publishers and also from my friend and proofreader of many years, Karl Coleiro.

It is my habit to work on more than one script at a time. I find this very refreshing. Any change has that effect on me and writing is no exception. Most of my writings originated while out for a walk or during an event where I happened to lose interest in what was going on. Sometimes it may be a topic that somebody brings up in a conversation or it may be a sentence in a book. My latest publication Il-Princep u t-Trogloditi was inspired in this way. Relaxing on the beach in the summer months also helps to trigger new ideas.

As I have already hinted earlier, several of my characters are based on persons I have met during my lifetime. These I endow with some other characteristics to make them slightly different from what they really are and to protect their identity.

In some of my stories I have included myself although this is not always obvious to the reader. The stories in the trilogy Minn Tarf sa Tarf tat-Triq, Minn fuq l-Ghatba and Mill-Gallarija are related in the first person as they are based on memories of days gone by. The environment, customs, characters and events I remember with nostalgia, form the backbone of these stories.

Although it might seem strange, I must admit that I find it a bit difficult when I come to choose a title for the story, novel or poem as it needs to be interesting but not give away too much. I have often been asked whether I seek the advice of anyone before going to the publishers. I do not really like to do it as I am afraid that if I adopt other people’s suggestions, the story would not be mine anymore. That would make me lose interest. However, it is not unusual to seek advice from members of my family and some friends in whom I have great trust. My wife Mary, my daughters Stefanja and Kristjana, can be quite analytical while my son Mark can give me professional advice regarding illustrations and graphics. I feel very grateful for their help.

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