This page will feature interviews with traditionally published authors. You will be able to read about their books, writing, route to publication, and receive helpful advice and tips. NEW author interviews are posted regularly, so make sure you return for updates.
AUTHORS FEATURED: Janice Cairns, Jill Knapp, Swati Sharma, Shari King, Lucy Lord, Sue Moorcroft, Kate Lord Brown, Anna-Lou Weatherley, Victoria Fox, Laura Ziepe, Carole Matthews, Vina Jackson, Talli Roland, Paige Toon, Chris Hill, Jon Rance, Carl Scharwath, Sophie Hart, Suzy Duffy, Alison Jack, Liz Trenow, Sarah Webb, Michelle Cohen Corasanti, Kelly Lawrence, Chris Manby, Vanessa Curtis, Isabel Wolff, Gemma Halliday, Lindsey Kelk, Rowan Coleman, Sue Johnson, Wendy Sexton, Ilana Fox, Rosanna Leo, Kendall Ryan, Zanna Mackenzie, Erin Lawless, Ralph Jones, Sheila Norton, Tasmina Perry, Marie Laval, Jane Lovering, Lucy King, Jessica Brody, C.c Coburn, Micheal Maxwell, Desiree Wilder, Samantha Priestley, Phillipa Ashley, Ronald Paxton, Kerry Lawrence.
Keep posted. Q’s have been sent to several authors, answers up soon! You can expect to see Q&A’s with: Wendy Holden, Rebecca Farnworth, Jane Green, Jack Lacey, & many more!
10 questions with….
Born in Ayrshire and educated at Ayr Academy Janice Cairns has had an assortment of jobs. She’s worked in child-care, law, insurance, media and creative writing. Janice lives in Edinburgh now, the city has been home to her for the last thirty years. It is here that her dream of becoming a writer is coming true. This last year she has polished her debut novel, ‘Forgiving Nancy’, which is being released on the 4th of October, 2014. She is absorbed in the marketing for this novel currently and does feel her days in advertising have helped with the marketing aspects of her being a writer today. In the last year or so she has also spent time developing her social media sites such as Facebook, twitter and her blog. She loves to keep these pages thriving and also is loving taking the photographs she does for her sites. Her main passion being writing, though, it is no surprise to her to find she has a second novel brewing and evolving within her. Already some plans are gurgling in the pipeline for what might follow ‘ Forgiving Nancy’. Janice’s life could be described as a happy mix of active marketing for her first novel and laying some foundations for what is to come. She finds time in her busy schedule to enjoy walks at the Botanic Gardens or by the sea or even in the busy beautiful city she lives in. She has always considered her walks as important to her as she thinks these activate her creative thoughts and actually inspire her to write.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I think I got into writing in a gradual way. I began to write up diaries and journals when I was about fifteen years old. I liked to keep a record of things I had done. It was like a hobby. Then, as time travelled on, when I reached my twenties and my thirties, I began to write short stories. I wrote at greater length and in more detail as time went on. When I got into my forties I was taking my writing much more seriously and it was during this period I began to think of creating a novel. You could say, I evolved into a novelist from my love and habit of writing.
When I decided I definitely wanted to create a whole novel I began to look around me for more ideas. When I got all my plans and ideas sorted out, then outlined the details which would develop my characters, I began the process of piecing the novel together. I sat down to write the book when I saw the novel in my mind like a film.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? On a usual writing day I will begin to write from about 8.00 a.m. I will write for about three hours, adding as much as I can to my work-in-progress. Then, I have a break over lunchtime for about an hour. Sometimes I take a walk over a lunchtime. This gives me time to think over what I’ll add to my WIP in the afternoon. In the evening, at no particular time, I will have a read through what I have written that day. This gives me a good idea how I will progress the following day.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? In my journey as a writer, thankfully I have not had writer’s block. If I found myself to have it I would go and read as many good novels as I could find. I’d see that as the first step to solving it. Reading good novels is an inspiring experience, and, if I have been inspired greatly, then I think that positive experience would be a trigger to my own creativity and my own writing.
4. Are you a plotter/panster when it comes to writing a story? I plot and plan a story up to a point but not completely. I always allow for some spontaneous development because I think by doing so it makes for a more natural sounding story. Also I feel more comfortable going into a story that is not planned and plotted too rigidly. I feel it allows for more creativity, allows the imagination to be used more.
5. What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was lucky to find the publishers I did and found the publishing process to be a very positive and growing experience. The advice I would give to aspiring authors is to try to find a publishers who are a good match for the book you have written, who can see your book’s merits, who want your book to be the best it can be. Finding the right publishers can be the key to the book’s success.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? My highlight since becoming a published author was at the Morningside Library in Edinburgh where I signed my very first paperback copy of ‘Forgiving Nancy’. This was a special moment for me, a moment I will always remember.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish.
From chapter 12 of ‘Forgiving Nancy’
‘Speaking of the Elliots, I’m certain that was Nancy Elliot accompanying her husband last Friday afternoon. They were coming through the door of Mr Elliot’s bank, on to George street. Around three o’clock it was.’
Stella at once seized the opportunity of quizzing Vincent about the recent sighting of the Elliots.
‘What was Nancy wearing?’
‘A most elegant suit in the colour of heather and she carried an expensive leather handbag in the same colour. She was also wearing a simple black hat and black gloves,’ reported Vincent.
‘It must have been Maxwell’s idea to get a suit like that. Indeed, these are changed days. When she visited me here before the wedding, she was dressed as any ordinary girl would be – smart and plain, nothing special. But it does sound as if Maxwell has put his stamp on her or at least is trying to do so’. Stella paused, then burst out. ‘But, you see, Vincent, she’s been put into these elegant and stylish clothes, but underneath the beautiful cuts, the perfect folds, the exclusive fabrics, the designer suits – Nancy Elliot possesses no personal style, no panache! She’s not old enough to have developed it.’
She paused for breath, then started up again.
‘Then, apart from her lack of cultivation, there’s the matter of her education, she’s had little education you know – I can’t help but feel that a man like Maxwell will be too much for a girl like Nancy – too much of an intellectual heavyweight – she’ll not be used to thinking so profoundly and so philosophically about life as Maxwell does and of course, she knows nothing of the business world, the world that Maxwell inhabits. Unless Maxwell has the idea of educating her himself. I know he likes to mould people.’
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I like to visit places that are an inspiration to me. These would include visiting art galleries, walking in the botanic gardens or on the coastline. Some of my spare time is also devoted to catching up on the writing of other authors. I love reading novels, autobiographies and poetry. I also make time for meeting friends for coffee and lunch; sometimes I will go and see a film with friends.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) The tip I would give is to join Facebook and twitter and some of the other social media sites. Also I’d say you should build up a blog site. Devote a certain amount of time each week to this but don’t overdo social media, it’s not a good idea to be on social media 24/7. I’d also advise a new author to arrange as many book signing engagements as they can. Signings can be in local libraries, in hotels and in coffee shops. Try and give an interesting talk about your book especially when the signing is in a library. People like to hear a bit about a new book by a new author and they often like to ask questions about a book before they buy. Make time after the talk so as to invite some questions from the audience. You’ll find people love to connect with an author in this way. I’d also say tell your friends to tell others about your book. This is a good way to spread the news about your new novel too.
10. How would your describe your style of writing? Much of what I write is visual and descriptive. As you read often you can clearly see what I am writing about as if I were painting a picture for the reader. I like to think I have an artistic style of writing too.
A native New Yorker, Jill Knapp is an author with HarperImpulse, HarperCollins UK. She has written two instalments of her “What Happens To Men..?” series, and is currently writing the third, and then the fourth.
A graduate from The School For Social Research in Manhattan, Knapp holds an M.A in Psychology. After graduate school, she taught psychology classes at her undergraduate alma mater, Kean University, for 3 years until moving to the south.
In addition to writing and teaching, she engaged in competitive figure skating for ten years of her life, and then went on to coaching.
She currently resides in North Carolina.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I had always written, but when I was younger it was always just for me. I had a diary when I was young and would write every thought and feeling I had in it. As I got older, I was able to take the types of English classes in school that allowed for more creative writing. Having said that, I never thought about writing as a profession. It always seemed like something I would never succeed at. I lumped becoming a publisher author with getting a role on a television show, or having a major label sign your band. With that in mind, I entered college with a declared major in psychology. Any elective I could take was an English or writing class, but I still never thought of it as anything more than a hobby. It wasn’t until I finished graduate school that I decided to write a book. It was an idea I always toyed with “Oh one of these days I’m going to write a book.” Well, I felt like I could keep saying that forever, or actually sit myself down and begin. When I first started my first book, I wrote feverishly fast. I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head fast enough. That’s when I knew that this was more than just a hobby for me.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I wake up at the same time every day and beginning writing at 9:00 am. I don’t work on weekends unless I am running behind on a deadline and need to catch up. Since I work from home, I have to structure my time very diligently. I always do my best work in the morning with a cup of coffee (or two) in my hand.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I have been battling with writers block recently actually. I can’t say I know how to overcome it unfortunately. I wish I had advice! Essentially I just wait it out, and inspiration always manages to find its way back. Sometimes listening to very emotionally charged music will help speed the process along.
4. Are you a plotter/panster when it comes to writing a story? Hmm I am not sure what you mean by this!
5. What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? The publishing process for me was a bit unusual. My first novel was originally self-published and called Chase. It was acquired by HarperCollins months later. They issued me a contract, had me do edits, changed the title of the book and the cover design. It’s a whole process and before going through it, I had no idea how long all of it took! It really takes a village to turn a story from a word document into a paperback book.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Being able to talk to other published authors, such as Emily Giffin, Sophie Jordan, A.G Howard, Therese Anne Fowler, and the list goes on. And it’s great to meet up and coming authors such as Phoebe Fox, Hilary Grossman, and Mary Frame. Not to mention all of the fabulous authors who I work with at HarperImpulse!
The best thing that happened to me since getting published by Harper was when actress Shiri Appleby read my book and wrote a praise blurb for it. She is one of my favourite actresses and conversing with her was a dream come true for me.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My most recently book that came out not too long ago is called “We’ve Always Got New York”. It’s the second instalment in my New Adult series about New York City. It takes place a few months after the first book ends, and whats different about this book is that the POV switches from Amalia to Olivia every other chapter.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Right now I have Chanukah and Christmas on the brain, so I a pretty much planning for the holidays! I also have two dogs who are just the greatest things ever.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) The very first thing I would say to do if to make a Twitter page. This is the quickest and easiest way to get in contact with other authors, editors, or even agents. It’s also a less invasive option to cold e-mailing someone who doesn’t know you.
The second thing I would say is get over any idea you have about being annoying or over-bearing because when it comes to your work, you have to be diligent about getting it read. It may take contacting the same person twelve times before you finally get a response, but until and unless someone says to you “I am not interested”, keep following up with them about once a week.
Contact as many book bloggers as you can find, even ones who may not have a huge following, and ask them to review your book. You’ll need to offer them either a hard copy or a digital copy of the book. We call these Review Copies or ARC’s. After they have finished your book, find out if they will put their reviews on Amazon also.
Don’t pitch an agent unless you know they represent your genre. For example, don’t pitch an agent who usually works with Women’s Fiction or Young Adult with your Science Fiction novel.
10.What is the hardest thing about writing? Writing the middle of the book!
I am Swati and I was born and grew up in Delhi. I write women centred romantic comedy aka chick lit. Before dabbling into writing, I completed my post graduation in business. Amazingly I have learned Spanish and German and have valid certification in both but sadly can’t speak any of it in decent fluency. Before writing Fashionably Yours, I have authored four coffee-table books and written for a lifestyle magazine. One thing very few people know about me that I am a clairvoyant and no it’s not a joke! Currently I live in Delhi with my extensive collection of nail polishes, lipsticks and with a very neat pile of fashion magazines. Drop by my facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/SwatiSharmaAuthor?ref=bookmarks) or Twitter (https://twitter.com/Author_Swati ) and say hi!
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? Ever since I was a kid, I was good at telling stories. I was always one of those children who never felt lonely even when left alone because I had so many fictional characters and colourful stories going around in my mind to keep me busy. Though, I was bad at everything else, for example, making friends, holding a decent conversation, finishing my homework, reaching tuition on time, maths and basically everything else related to the studies.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured?
I wish I had an actual writing day. I am one of the most unorganised writers ever. I start my morning at 7 O’clock when I go for a walk to a local park or sometimes take Zumba and hip-hop classes. Usually by 9o’clock I am changed and fed and in my bed with my laptop and determination to write (yes, you read that right. I write in my bed!). But as soon as I switch on my laptop, the determination flies out of the window and I find myself juggling and struggling with facebook, twitter, instagram and pinterest. By the time I get my motivation back, it’s time for lunch and couple of episodes of DC cupcakes or any other reality show. It’s generally at 8p.m when I actually start to write and then I write up till 1 or 2 A.M. I find myself more creative and productive around this time. I generally write in mess and edit in a clean, scented room with dim lighting.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Yes. I do get them and quite often too. I usually take a long bath and sleep on it or settle down with a good book and a cup of hot chocolate. I am usually out of it in two days max.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? As I mentioned it earlier, I am the most unorganized writer ever. I didn’t at all plan my debut novel “Fashionably Yours” and worked on chapter to chapter bases but with my second novel I am doing everything properly.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I got my publishing deal with Harlequin India in a very dramatic way. I sent out my entry into the Annual Passion Aspiring Authors Auditions 2013 only an hour before it was supposed to be closed down as I wasn’t even aware of this contest till the very last. After that I waited to hear from them for couple of months and when after the long, tiring wait they announced the result of the winners, I found out that I didn’t win. That was the heartbreaking moment for me and if truth to be told, I did cry a river. For two days straight I didn’t step out of my room and then suddenly something unexpected happened. I got the email from Amrita Chawdhary, Publishing Head of Harlequin India and in the mail she mentioned that though I didn’t win but she would like to read my full manuscript. I was over the moon. I couldn’t believe my luck! Without much delay I sat down to polish my book and after several mails back and forth and various rounds of edits, I finally got the deal.
My advice to the aspiring writers is never stop dreaming and keep writing. If I can do it, they can too.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
7.Can you share a little of your next book with us? Well I have temporarily named it “Written In The Stars”.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I read, a lot and watch the insane amount of Hollywood flicks and reality shows.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Writing a book and getting it published is only half of the task. The fate of the book is hugely depend on the amount and quality of marketing. Connect to people through facebook, twitter, pinterest, instagram and so on. Talk about your work. Make your presence felt but don’t overdo any of it as it could annoy the people and left them irritated.
10.How would you describe your writing style? My writing style is quite witty, funny and flowing. I don’t use dictionary wording, rather I hate it. I try to keep things simple and enjoyable. In the words of my publisher, my voice is my USP.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? Ross & I have been friends since we were teenagers, and over recent years we’d occasionally chatted about writing a book, but we thought it would be a biography of his eventful life. It was only during a phone conversation last January that he raised the idea of a novel. The following week we met up to discuss it and after several cups of tea and copious muffins, we had the whole storyline, characters and settings mapped out for Taking Hollywood. Combining our names for the pseudonym Shari King was the idea of our publisher, but other than that, the finished book is exactly as we envisaged it that day.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I drop my children at school, then write until they come home. I take a break to do all the family stuff and take them to their hectic schedule of sporting activities, then start writing again around 9pm. I’m frequently to be found snoozing with my forehead on the keyboard at 4am.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I do. And sadly, there’s no way around it other than to just write and hope some flash of inspiration kicks in. It usually does. Eventually.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m afraid not. I’m fifteen books down the line (I also write as Shari Low, Shari King, Ronni Cooper and Millie Conway) and I have no idea what I’m going to write until the day I’m writing it. Planning just doesn’t work for me at all. I like to be as surprised as the reader. Apologies to creative writing teachers who are horrified by this approach!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was incredibly lucky to get a publishing deal with the first 10 000 words I ever wrote. It was back in 2000, and my manuscript hit the right desk at the right time, just as the chick-lit genre was taking off. Since then, my publishing history has been peppered with 14 years of highs and lows (but mostly highs!). Now I write relationship comedies and thrillers so I’ve switched genres and styles along the way. I just feel incredibly grateful to still be writing, published and selling books. My only advice to aspiring authors is to stick in at it and don’t get disheartened – and never take rejection to heart.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? It was probably the phone call to tell me about that very first deal. After years of trying to have a family, and a lifetime of dreaming about becoming a writer, I got a book deal and then twenty minutes later, found out I was pregnant. My whole life changed in one day. Thankfully, the book deal/pregnancy synergy didn’t continue or 15 books later we’d have had to find a much bigger house.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Right now I’m working on Breaking Hollywood – the sequel to Taking Hollywood. It opens on the night that Taking Hollywood ends and it’s just as dark, sexy and scandalous.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I’d love to come up with something impressively highbrow, but the truth is I’m official social secretary, entertainment co-ordinator and taxi driver for my teenagers. Oh, and I drink tea with my pals around our kitchen table and sort out the world. And then there’s the high-grade writing-avoidance ebay habit…
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.)
Just keep on blogging, posting on facebook, tweeting… but most of all, keep writing and putting out new material.
10.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about. The fantastic team at Macmillan came up with the cover for Taking Hollywood and we loved it on sight. It’s exactly how we imagined it!
Bio: Lucy Lord is a full-time novelist whose books have been described as ‘Filthy-bright, brash and laugh-out-loud funny,’ ‘Bridget Jones times 10,’ ‘A fresh, funny and honest look at life in the hippest heart of London’ and ‘This Life for the 21st Century’. Before writing novels she was a journalist for more than ten years, writing for publications including the Times, Guardian, Independent, Evening Standard, Time Out and Arena. She lives in London with her musician husband.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember and have a box under my bed stuffed with embarrassing half-finished manuscripts dating back to my schooldays. The first novel I actually completed, Revelry, came about as the result of a chick lit competition in Cosmo – you had to write a synopsis and the first 3,000 words. Stupidly, I hadn’t read the small print (double spacing, Times New Roman etc etc), so was disqualified, but I loved what I’d written so much that I wanted to carry on with it. And having a synopsis, so I knew, vaguely, what was actually going to happen, was an enormous help!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? If things go according to plan, I’ll wake up between 8 and 9 (usually nearer 9!), potter about for a bit, listening to the radio, making tea, having breakfast while checking emails, Facebook, Twitter etc. Then I’ll go for a run around the park or a swim, get back around midday and write for the rest of the day, grabbing lunch when I can, until my husband gets home from work, when it’s wine time. Sometimes I’ll carry on writing into the small hours, in which case I’m unlikely to get up between 8 and 9, and the following day’s structure will be completely different!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? If I really can’t think what my characters are going to say or do next, I find the best thing to do is to start a completely new chapter. It’ll be much easier to go back to the one I’m stuck on in a few days’ time. Failing that, a run, bike ride (or a couple of glasses of wine!) can work wonders at untangling the mess in my brain.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Yes, to an extent – although my characters often surprise me by doing things I hadn’t expected! And sometimes editors want you to change entire plotlines, which can be a pain, but usually results in a much better book. I’ve actually planned my next novel out, chapter by chapter, but can’t find the notebook I wrote the notes in, which is extremely frustrating…
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Long! I sent off letters to agents, five at a time, preparing myself for rejection. And yes, the rejections came. It took about a year to get published, then another year to get a deal – but it was worth the wait when that deal was a three-book one from Harper Collins! My main advice to aspiring authors would be to enjoy what you’re writing (if you’re not enjoying it, chances are the reader won’t enjoy reading it), be prepared to make changes to your masterpiece (editors exist for a reason), and – above all – persevere.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I can’t think of one in particular, but it’s always wonderful when somebody says they loved your book – whether in person, via email, Facebook or Twitter! Authors are needy creatures who thrive on praise!
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. A Girl Called summer is set mainly on the beautiful island of Ibiza, with bits of St Tropez, LA and Coachella thrown in. It revolves around three main female protagonists: Bella, who’s moved to the White Isle with her partner and baby, and is trying to renovate the beautiful old finca they live in; Tamara, once Hollywood’s most notorious wild child, now clean, sober and engaged to Tinseltown’s hottest leading man; and beautiful, free-spirited Summer, who grew up on the beach with happy, hippy parents. When Bella’s glamorous Hollywood friends visit Ibiza for the summer, the results are explosive!
My first two books, Revelry and Vanity, are actually prequels to A Girl Called Summer, and involve many of the same characters – but you don’t have to have read them to enjoy it. On the other hand, they’re both damn good reads, so why not?!
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I read – a lot! I also love cooking, browsing in the market on Portobello Road, where I live, throwing parties and travelling. I’m probably my absolute happiest having lunch in a beach bar or lying in a hammock somewhere hot and sunny with a book in one hand and a cold drink in the other.
9.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? My first book, Revelry, was fairly autobiographical – but I think a lot of first novels are. The bit when Bella nearly shags the Manumission dwarf really did happen! Since then, I’d say a lot of what I write is based on things I see around me – your own experiences are bound to influence what you write about – but your imagination has to come into play, too. I certainly don’t count any Hollywood A Listers or rock stars among my close friends!
10.What is the hardest thing about writing? Procrastination! I find the actual writing easy – but only once I knuckle down to it and stop mucking about on the Internet/convincing myself that half an hour’s more sleep will make me more productive/rearranging my books in colour order. Silly really, because writing is what I enjoy doing more than anything else in the world!
Michelle Kelly is a writer, teacher and mother from the West Midlands in the UK. After becoming a full-time writer in 2013 she has written a series of historical romances for Mills and Boon, a series of paranormal romances ‘The Paranormal Investigations Agency’ for Xcite Books and her first crime novel, ‘When I Wasn’t Watching’ released 4th August 2014 by Harlequin Carina. She has just finished the first in a cozy mystery series, to be published Fall 2015 in the US, and is currently working on the sequel to this and her second crime novel, also published 2015.
Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?
While writing my latest book – a murder mystery for the US publisher St Martins Press to be released Fall 2015 – I hit what I call ‘writers fatigue’. Not a case of lack of ideas, but rather a complete inability to write a word. I’ve heard it referred to as ‘burnout’ or ‘hitting the wall’. My tips for getting through this, based on my own experience, are
Leave it alone. Give yourself one or two days off.
Move. Do something that is physically creative; decorate, garden, cook, fix your car. It will get your juices going on.
Take advice and inspiration from your favourite authors by reading what they have to say about it. Any Google search will show you you’re not alone. Even – sometimes especially – the greats have been through this.
Be grateful. You are blessed to be able to write, to have the luxury to write.
Remind yourself of all your achievements, literary or otherwise. You might feel it right now, but you are not crap! Then sit down and write. One word at a time, if you have to.
Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? Here’s the official blurb for ‘When I Wasn’t Watching. It’s released on the 4th August by Harlequin Carina.
Every parent’s worst nightmare…
Eight years ago, Lucy and Ethan Randall’s little boy, Jack, was abducted and murdered by teenager Terry Prince. A moment’s distraction had ripped a family apart – and with the loss of their son came the collapse of the Randalls’ marriage. Tortured by memories, Lucy was left to battle her grief while raising her remaining son alone.
Now, Jack’s killer has walked free, giving him the second chance at life that little Jack never had. Lucy’s wounds newly opened, her world is turned upside down a second time when another child goes missing – and she can’t shake the suspicion that Prince has struck again.
When DI Matt Winston, the same officer who found Jack’s body, is assigned to the case, the echoes of Lucy’s past grow ever more insistent. Bound by their tragic shared experiences, Matt and Lucy grow closer – and become fixated on bringing the culprit to justice. But now history has repeated itself, answers seem even further out of reach. And for Lucy, it’s time to face her ghosts, and ask the most terrible question of all: can she ever really forgive herself?
The first chapter is available FREE on my blog http://www.michellekellyauthor.wordpress.com from the 1st August.
How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? The idea for ‘When I Wasn’t Watching’ came from reading a newspaper story about the release of Jon Venables (one of the killers of toddler Jamie Bulger in the 1990s). I remember thinking; how must the mother feel? The story then came into my head as one – characters, plot, the lot. I deliberately didn’t do any further research into the Bulger story as I didn’t want it to be confused with some kind of commentary on that particular case – it’s a work of fiction built out of my own musings. But that was my starting point.
How much research do you do when starting a story? Although I didn’t look into that particular case, I did have to do a lot of research into things like police procedures, how the Missing Person alerts work when a child goes missing in the UK, even into foresic procedures. This being my first crime (ish) novel, it’s the first time I’ve had to do such extensive background research, and although enjoyable it doesn’t make the writing process longer and feel more like ‘work’. But it’s necessary. I also had to research in some depth for my historical Regency romances ‘The Virgin Courtesan’ and ‘The Rake of Gendir’ but it’s a time period I had prior interest in, so thakfully I already had much of the material I needed to hand. For the book I’ve just finished, a murder mystery/cozy romance for American publisher St Martins Press, I had to research the most effective ways to poison a dog, and where to bash someone over the head if you were intending to kill. I wouldn’t want my Google searches to end up in the wrong hands!
Ronald Paxton is the author of over forty short stories, two of which have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net awards. He has also written five novels. “Winter Songs” and “Deep Water” are currently available on Amazon, and “Broken” will be published in April 2014. “Haven” and “Soul Man” are pending publication.
Mr. Paxton grew up in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the setting for most of his stories He and his wife and their Siamese cat live in Newport News, Virginia.
1. What got you into writing? I retired from the corporate world in 2007 and suddenly found that I had the time and mental energy to pursue something creative. Since I’ve always enjoyed creative writing, I began working on some short stories. My first story was accepted for publication in December 2008.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? When I’m working on a novel or a short story I write every day. I edit my work carefully as I write, so anything over a thousand words is a good day for me. I’m used to getting up early, so I normally write in the morning and afternoon.
3. Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it? I haven’t really experienced writer’s block and hope I never do! I recently finished my fifth novel and am currently thinking about my next project. My process is to let my mind free associate potential titles and story ideas. I also will create a cast of characters and build a story around them. I get some of my best ideas when I’m out for a morning walk or sleeping at night.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I don’t have a big story board or rigid outline that I use. I create a short synopsis and use it as a loose guide and checklist for the development of the book’s narrative and the introduction of my characters. I don’t try to force the story or the people in it to fit the synopsis. Once I start writing the story takes on a life of its own, and I can’t always predict what my characters will do next!
5. What was the publishing process like for you. any advice for aspiring authors? It took me about eighteen months to find a publisher for my first short story. After that it went more easily, although I still received my share of rejection letters. I had almost lost hope that I would ever see my novels published until I received an e-mail acceptance for “Winter Songs” from World Castle Publishing in July 2012. I cried when I read it.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Actually holding the book in my hand and seeing my name on the cover. It’s still an amazing feeling.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? “Broken” is the sequel to “Deep Water” and the second book in the Salem Matthews series. It’s set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and centers around the kidnapping of five year old Monday Matthews. “Soul Man,” which I just completed, continues the story of Salem Matthews and his family. Anyone who likes family drama/suspense with elements of mystery and romance will enjoy these books.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love to read, of course. In addition to fiction, I also enjoy non-fiction, particularly southern history. I also like listening to music (classic rock ), walking, and keeping my cat company.
9. Any advice on building a fan base? Do as much as you can and then do some more because you can never do enough. As far as I can tell there is no magic answer, so spread your efforts. I have a website, blog, Facebook page, Pinterest account, and Linkedin account. I also belong to a number of author groups. Although it sometimes feels like work, it’s important to be active and visible on social media. Occasional giveaways and free days can be useful in raising your profile and garnering reviews. What doesn’t work? Submitting press releases to various media outlets and donating a copy of my book to the local library has done nothing for my sales. Your results may vary.
10. What is the hardest thing about writing? The hardest thing about writing is writing. Writers are notorious procrastinators. It’s very easy to spend the day on Facebook, Twitter, and a number of other social media sites as the author tries to build his brand and increase his visibility, all the while hoping to attract friends, readers, and reviewers, or at least a few Likes. When I’m writing I force social media to take a back seat. I set weekly and monthly word count goals to help me stay on task.
http://www.facebook.com/ronald.paxton.3 http://www.ronaldpaxton.wordpress.com http://www.ronaldpaxton.webs.com http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Water-Ronald-Paxton/dp/1629890340/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1386624431&sr=8-1&keywords=Deep+Water+by+ronald+paxton http://www.amazon.com/Winter-Songs-1-Ronald-Paxton/dp/1938961528/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1354414997&sr=1-1&keywords=9781938961526
Pippa Croft is the pen name of an award-winning romantic novelist. After studying English at Oxford, she worked as a copywriter and journalist before writing her debut novel, which won the RNA’s New Writers’ award and was later made into a TV movie. She lives in a village in the heart of England with her husband and daughter.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always written factual pieces, because I worked as a journalist and copywriter but I didn’t start on a novel until November 2004. I was inspired to write a fanfic by a BBC TV series called North & South. To my amazement, I found I loved writing romantic, funny, sexy stories – totally different from what I read at the time.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? Every day is different but I tend to get up reasonably early and try and get some writing done in the morning. After lunch, I often do my commercial copywriting and go swimming, to the gym, or to meet author friends or shopping/errands. Then I write again until about 7pm. In the evening, I hang out on twitter and Facebook.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’ve had a couple of six month periods when I wasn’t motivated to write. Eventually I got back into the whole thing, by writing two short stories. Now I’m under contract with Penguin for my three book Oxford Blue series, I don’t need motivation!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? A bit of both.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? I guess I was fortunate or at least in the right place at the right time. My first novel was taken on by the first agent and publisher we sent it to, won a major award and was made into a TV movie! That sounds like a fairytale and was something that every one I’d asked, said not to expect but somehow, it did! There have been many ups and downs since, but I’ve kept writing and experimenting. So never ever give up!
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? In my early career, winning the Romantic Novelists Association New Writers Award and having my book made into the TV movie, 12 Men of Christmas. Then last year I heard I’d got a three book deal from Penguin which was incredible.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. The First Time We Met is the first novel in the sizzling new Oxford Blue romance series from Pippa Croft.
When US Senator’s daughter Lauren Cusack arrives at the enchanting Wyckham College of Oxford University, she hopes to mend her broken heart by throwing herself into her studies.
But then English aristocrat Alexander Hunt walks into her life and everything changes. Handsome, brooding, and with his own dark past to escape, Alexander is exactly what Lauren doesn’t need – but she finds herself helplessly drawn towards him.
Both Alexander and Lauren know that they should stay away from each other . . . but sometimes desire is so powerful that it conquers all else.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love to go on holiday with my husband and to spend time with my grown up daughter. I also like swimming, bodyboarding, shopping and meeting my author friends to talk about writing.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Jane Austen to ask her so many things about her stories, published and unfinished.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thanks for reading my books, and to you Sophia for having me on your lovely blog!
Samantha is a UK based writer of fiction and articles on various subjects. Her first novel, Despite Losing it on Finkle Street, is published by Fygleaves publishing, and her short stories and articles have been published in anthologies and magazines around the world. She won first prize in The H E Bates competition and The Tacchi-Morris Arts Centre Prize. Samantha’s first single story chapbook will be published by Folded Word in August.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I loved reading and writing when I was at school, but I didn’t think it was something ordinary people did. Then I went to work for Blackwells and I realised, through meeting authors and publishers, it is something ordinary people do! I couldn’t find enough time for it while I worked full time, but when I had children I thought, it’s now or never.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I turn on my computer at 7.30 am and deal with emails, facebook, twitter etc. Then I eat breakfast and have a shower. That usually takes me to about 9.00 am when I open up whatever I’m working on at the moment. I work for a bit then I go for a short walk before lunch. This helps me to think and figure out any plot problems etc. I find I can do about 2,000 words a day, less than 1,000 before lunch and more than 1,000 after, but I don’t beat myself up about it on the days that doesn’t happen. I stop at about 3.00 pm when my kids are heading in from school and college. Then I deal with anything else – emails, more facebook and twitter, jotting down ideas, research etc. In the evening I watch a film or TV (drama) and read – all of which can still be considered work 😉
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t really believe in writer’s block. It’s just a term to describe the times you don’t feel like working, but everyone feels like that sometimes in whatever it is they do. The solution is to write. If the thing you’re working on isn’t flowing then work on something else for a while. Go for a walk, keep thinking and keep writing.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? You do need to have a plan of some sort, but I don’t plot everything out in detail. I know who it’s about and what happens and where it happens. I plan out the order things will happen in and have a very short note for each section ahead of me writing it, but I never know the exact ending before I start.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I read somewhere that agents and publishers like to see you’ve had some experience and some success and that they particularly like prize winners, so I started out by writing short stories and entering a lot of competitions, while writing a novel. It was through one of these competitions that an invitation to send in a novel was extended. Out of all the novels sent in to that call out, mine was chosen. My advice to others would be to write a lot and submit a lot. I see many hopeful writers who seem so scared of rejection they never send anything out. The more you write the better you’ll get at it, and the more you submit the more you’ll learn from the process, not to mention you’ll get accustomed to rejection, which you will have to learn to get used to.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The highlight is definitely receiving messages from strangers, telling you how much they enjoyed the book. I also had a lovely moment at a signing when a little girl came up to me to tell me how much she wants to be a writer too.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Despite Losing it on Finkle Street explores the dynamics of two very different families. Rachel Murdoch is living a lonely village life in the Lake District in the shadow of the memory of her grandparents. When she finds a young man who connects with her, she wonders if she may have at last found the new start she is looking for, despite the opposition she faces from his family.
But is Will hiding a secret, or is it just that the emotional holes in his life go to a depth that will stretch her beyond her limits? It is up to Rachel to put together the pieces of his past, and to decide whether she is still committed enough to stand by him.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? There’s not a lot of spare time! I watch films and read, meet family and friends for drinks and food. I love going to the theatre, but don’t get the chance to go that often.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Understand that most of this is going to be down to you, no matter who your publisher is. Engage with readers, bloggers, bookshops, festivals etc on Twitter and Facebook. Have a blog and a website. Be positive and put yourself out there, but don’t spam anyone or try to sell your book aggressively. Reply to comments and questions as much as you possibly can. Seek out any events – book fairs, festivals, readings – that you can be a part of and use the opportunity to meet people.
10.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people There is always some truth in them. The characters tend to have bits of different people all pulled together to make one new person, and the events will be based on something that has really happened (not usually to me). But it all gets altered and re-worked and written around, so it’s always fiction in the end.
Desiree Wilder was born in South Dakota and grew up in a small town where she thrived in school and developed a love for reading and writing. Her younger days were filled hanging out with her older brother and younger sister riding bikes, playing board games and watching General Hospital. As a teen she became less interested in learning academics and became more interested in learning how to get into mischief without getting caught.
As an adult, Desiree loves cooking, shopping, reading, concert-going, camping and spending time with her crazy yet supportive family. She’d rather take the dirt road and crank up some eighty’s rock or some good ‘ol Hank Jr. than the paved fast track.
Just recently she started writing and something inside her came alive. It fulfilled her and unexpectedly took over what had become a robotic daily routine. She is a hopeless romantic and believes in love at first sight. Nowadays you can catch her doing ‘research’ for her next book at a concert or getting inspired for her next leading man in the romantic comedy section!
1. What got you into writing/ what made you sit down and write something? I loved to write when I was younger. I remember having several poems published in our little school writing showcase. Then, other things took precedence over my writing, yes, I’m talking about boys! Anyway, by the time I graduated high school I’d forgotten all about writing and how it made me feel. I got a job, got married, had babies, you know, all the real-life stuff. Never once, even as I looked desperately for something, did I consider writing. It was my sister-in-law who suggested I write. I sat down in front of my computer a couple of days later and as I typed, I found the creative outlet I’d needed for so long.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? A usual writing day for me goes like this: Crawl out of bed, take my daughter to school, crank some tunes on the way home to not only wake me but inspire me, grab a cup of coffee and my laptop, get comfy on the futon downstairs, and go at it until I am either completely exhausted, or forced to stop by an intrusion, (i.e. phone call, doorbell, Schwan’s salesman, tornado, etc.). Pretty glamorous, huh?
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Fortunately I haven’t had much trouble with writer’s block as of yet. Sure, I get stuck on certain parts of the book where I take a couple of days off from writing to ponder different scenarios, but it’s usually more of a case of deciding which way to run, I’ve never actually stopped running.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a sotry? When it comes to writing a story I’m not much of a plotter or planner. I know who I want my characters to be and I just start typing. Somewhere in the midst of it all I get a feeling of how I want the story to end and I head that direction. I love sitting back after I’ve feverishly typed for three hours straight and think, “I never saw that coming!” I never know what my characters are going to do or say until I get there. It’s exciting!
5. What was the publishing process like for you, & any advice to aspiring authors? The publishing process was a bit overwhelming to me. Keep in mind, not only had I not written anything in 20+ years, the only thing I’d read in that time was Fifty Shades of Grey. I had no clue about anything. I had no business doing what I was fortunate enough to be doing. I’d used Facebook, but had never used Twitter, Goodreads, or even been on Amazon. It was hell trying to get set up in social media and even when I did, I didn’t understand it! My publisher was patient and helpful and I’m grateful for that. My advice to aspiring authors is simple, keep it positive! Nothing is more powerful than BELIEVING you’re going to get where you want to be and KNOWING you can do it!
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I’d have to say the highlight for me since becoming a published author was the first time I actually held my book. I’d waited for FedEx all day. My heart pounded in my chest every time I thought I heard the truck come down my street. At four o’clock I had to head to work. I was sick knowing they’d be delivered while I was gone and I’d have to suffer through the next five hours empty-handed. As I backed out of my driveway I saw the truck pull up. The poor driver probably thought I was going to take him down on the lawn as I jumped out of my car to meet him halfway. When I opened the box and took one of the copies of Losing Control out, I was as proud of myself as I have ever been. It was a moment I’ll never, ever forget.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? My most recent published book, Total Control, is the last of the Losing Control series. I am completely content with the way the story turned out and very proud of it. I’d come a long way since the first book and my hope is that my readers will stick with the series all the way to the end. It’s sexy, funny, and heartbreaking at times but above all it’s a story of unconditional love and acceptance. I’ve just finished a spin-off to the Losing Control series with Sean as the main character. Sean was introduced about half way through Total Control and there was something about him that I couldn’t let go of. I had to give him his own story. Finally, I’ve started a new series that I’m very excited about! It’s untitled but book one is close to half-way written. The series revolves around four women in their early to mid-thirties who are close friends. My plan is to write four books in this series, focusing on one woman in each book. I love the dynamic us women have when we are surrounded by our friends and able to be ourselves, open and honestly. I really hope to convey that in this series while making you laugh, cry, and proud to be who you are.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I like to cook, shop, and spend time with my amazing family. Music is a big part of my everyday life. It inspires me and can change my mood in an instant. I love going to concerts and sharing the experience with the people around me. I also like to watch football, go camping, take bubble baths, read, and laugh.
9. If you could trade places with someone famous or not, dead or alive, who would it be & why? If I could trade places with someone for a week…hmm…without overthinking it I’m just going to say Anastasia Steele. Why you ask? Seriously, Christian Grey, that’s why!
10. Do you have anything you’d like to say to your readers? I’d like to say, “Thank you!” to all my readers. You’ve all been so good to me and I appreciate each and every one of you more than you know. I get emotional when I read your reviews of my work and whether you love it or hate it, it’s important to me to get the feed-back. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we should hit a concert together ‘cause I know you’re a bunch of party animals! Keep reading and be good to yourselves!
I was taught the amazing beauty and majesty of the English language by Bob Dylan, Robertson Davies, Charles Dickens and Leonard Cohen in a way school could never inspire.
I’ve travelled the globe, dined with politicians, rock stars and beggars. I’ve rubbed shoulders with priests and murderers, surgeons and drug dealers, and they will all live again in my books.
I live in Forbes 5th Most Miserable City in America, with my beautiful wife Janet. We have three sons and three grandchildren.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I have always wanted to be a writer. As a young child I wrote lots of stories. I hope to do a “Collected Works” anthology of short stories and I think it would be fun to go back and put some of those in the front of the book.
As an adult I have always kept a file of story ideas, outlines and even titles for unwritten books. When my first son was born I worked where I was pretty isolated and really didn’t know anyone. Every day I would write during my lunch hour. I think that was the real beginning. Everyone who read the manuscript begged me to get it published. As with most “wannabes” I had no clue what was involved. So it still sits in a drawer with the letters, comments and multiple copies I ran off.
Fast forward twenty years. As they say life happens. Driving to work one day I heard a song. By the time I arrived, the outline for an entire book was bouncing around in my head. I ran in, wrote a one page summary, and promised myself to write the book. And I did! Now I can’t seem to stop!
What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I have a habit of re-reading the chapter I am working on, kind of like priming a pump. With that done I usually get into “the zone” pretty quickly. Since I am employed full time, I really have to plan to sit down and write. Once I get going I usually bang out 1,500 to 2,000 words in a sitting.
Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Writer’s block has never been a problem for me. When I lay out a book I give myself a four or five line summary of where I want to go at the top of each chapter. If I feel I’m not doing well or it is feeling contrived, I will jump to another chapter or section and write a scene that seems more fun. Then I go back to where I was and it has magically been swept of creative cobwebs!
Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? When I start, I always have a pretty good idea of the basic plot. I use a 13 chapter template for creating a chapter by chapter framework. The fun of writing, particularly a series, is that major characters have a personality and mind of their own. So, I keep structure fairly loose to let them go, do and say what would be natural within the basic plot idea. A to Z is the journey, what happens in between is why I keep writing.
What was the publishing process like for you, & any advice to aspiring authors? Confession time! I am a horrible proof-reader. After I think I’ve caught every possible error, I send the manuscript to my proof reader and she finds a million or so more! When it comes back I re-read it several times and make cuts, changes and modifications. I have a couple of trusted friends who read the book with fresh eyes and look for inconsistencies or glaring plot flaws. One more round of tightening and tweaking and off it goes!
Next to writing the book itself, my favourite part is working with the cover artist. I’m a frustrated graphic designer at heart so seeing my ideas done by a pro is really fulfilling.
My advice to anyone wanting to be a writer is write. Is sounds obvious, but like any craft the act of just doing it brings increased creativity, quality, and increased quantity. You must write every day. Write something; a character sketch, descriptions, random observations, make lists of titles, punch lines, pithy remarks, or just re-tell a story, whatever puts words on paper. Words are your tools, the more you use them the more comfortable they will become and the better you’ll be able to work with them.
Find or create a circle of writers. Read each other’s stuff. Good, bad or indifferent you all should swear to give honest feedback. Then, don’t be offended when they don’t like it. It’s OK to disagree but the main thing a writer needs to have is THICK SKIN. If you can’t take criticism, better take up another outlet for your creativity.
What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Seeing my face on Amazon.com was one of the most surreal things that has ever happened to me. What a thrill that was the first time (liar, every time!)
The other highlight would have to be old friends reading one of my books and telling me it moved them in some way, or even more importantly that they are proud of me. That is worth a million dollars to me.
Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Cole Dust is the fourth and most recent release in the Cole Sage Mystery Series. I am extremely proud of the way it turned out. It tells the story of Cole’s grandfather, a man he never knew and who was shunned by Cole’s parents to a large degree. It is a book within a book. Cole’s part of the story is the mystery wrapped around the grandfather’s diaries and the tale they tell. We meet him as a ten year old and through the journals follow him through two World Wars, The Dust Bowl, the Depression, and the highs and lows of his battle with alcohol and gambling. It is a sweeping romantic tale of what racism, poverty and society can do to the soul of a man. Of course Cole Sage gets caught up in his grandfather’s story and the remarkable mystery he is finally able to solve.
Three Nails is my most recent release. It is not part of the Cole Sage Series. It tells the story of a teacher who tragically loses his college age son. Through the course of a school year we journey with him through the despair and into the freedom of dealing with his grief. It is a year that changes everything he thought he knew and believed. Along the way we meet a cast of colleagues, students and family members that can break our hearts and renew our faith in what matters most.
I have to put a pitch in for the next Cole Sage book Cole Shoot. A street gang shoot out at the San Francisco Chinese New Year’s Parade leaves a friend of Cole’s dead, and another old friend comes to town and becomes a pawn in a deadly game of revenge. Gangs, guns, dragons and a couple of missing special needs kids finds Cole calling for help from the most unexpected places.
Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Music, film and travel are my greatest passions, besides my wonderful wife. We have now travelled to over 30 countries together and plan an extended visit to Ecuador. Music has woven a soundtrack to my life and gives me inspiration and has given me the countless daydreams that are the wellspring of ideas for writing. As I write this I am listening to the Jerry Garcia Band. Film is my way to escape. I love to get totally absorbed in a story, the characters and the beauty of the filmmaker’s art. Thanks to the internet we can now watch the incredible offerings of television dramas from around the world. Sorry to say, all of which, makes USA TV seem embarrassingly shallow.
What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) I am still finding my way on this one, but I think what I am finding is be true to yourself. Listen to advice from people you trust, don’t wear your heart on your sleeve, and then do what your heart tells you is right for you.
Read a few biographies of writers of the past. You’ll be dumbfounded at the number who were told no! “Change this, change that,” but they stayed true to their vision.
I think the thing that has kept me going and the thing that people are responding to is that I really love what I do. I am always amazed by the remarks posted on social media of the tortured artist “alone in the room struggling with every sentence” Unless you are a masochist or using it as part of some deep psychological therapy, find something else to do. Like we used to say, “If it ain’t fun, don’t do it.”
Most of all be proud of what you do and offer it as a gift to the world. If they like it, celebrate; if they don’t write something else.
How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? and how much research do you do when starting a story? When I was in high school I saw Steve Allen, the original host of the Tonight Show, say that he kept 3×5 cards in his pocket at all times. I remember him pulling a small stack from his pocket and explaining how he jotted down notes all day long. Words, things he saw, thoughts, ideas for stories, anything that he thought might help him later.
I did that for a while. Sorry to say I didn’t continue. But the idea has always stuck with me. People, places and things I’ve seen all play a part in my writer’s palette of colour used to paint a vision of my ideas.
I am blessed to have lived a life of amazing events, people and sights. I am even more blessed to have the ability to go to my memory file cabinet and pull out these experiences and use them to base new characters, landscapes, and situations on.
As far as research, I try to make sure my ideas are based on fact. Memory is a lovely mistress but she tends to tell things the way she wants. Always good to do a little fact checking as we go.
1.What got you into writing? It happened so long ago I can’t remember 🙂 No actually I was thinking up a story surrounding the drug trade in northern Queensland and how they import drugs etc. It was an adventure/thriller and supposed to be like Clive Cussler or Wilbur Smith or something. I thought I only had enough for a novella so never got around to writing it – this was probably 30 years ago btw. Then years later, I was pregnant with my 3rd child and fell off my bike and was told to go home and put my broken foot up and rest. So instead I started writing the story. Six weeks later I had a new baby and a 120,000 words manuscript (that has never seen the light of day since, I might add!) Anyway, I enjoyed writing the story, seeing the characters develop, was surprised about the romance in it, so I started reading a couple of romances and then wrote one, and then another and another. None of those early efforts are published either 🙂 But I enjoyed the intellectual stimulus.
My husband and I had a very traditional marriage – he went to work and I stayed home and raised the kids – so I needed something to keep me sane. Eventually, I joined a critique group and then Romance Writers of Australia and really found out how to write. A few years later I went to University and did a Creative Arts degree thinking I’d learn even more about writing, but really, I learned far more being a member of RWA and entering competitions to hone my skills. (Is that TMI?)
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I don’t have one. If I don’t have hours to devote to it, I won’t even attempt to write. This can happen for weeks on end – especially when I was raising young kids. But when I’m on a roll (I don’t plot – just write by the seat of my pants – Pantsers they call us in RWA) 🙂 I can write obsessively – 1500 words an hour. One day I wrote over 17,000 words. And strangely enough, its those scenes that I write like that, that rarely need any polishing. I used to write late at night after the kids were in bed, but I kicked them all out a few years ago and now I can write any time I like 🙂
3.Who influences you? Hmm… hard question. No idea. I’m not easily “influenced” 🙂 I enjoy stories of adventure and incredible bravery, romantic comedy – whoever writes good ones might influence my writing but I really don’t know.
4.What is your all time favourite book? I have to pick only one? I can’t do that. My favourite book as a young child was anything about Winnie the Pooh. Still have the entire set somewhere. Then The Secret Seven and Famous Five. Can you see a pattern of enjoying adventure stories developing here?
As a teen, Gone With The Wind – OMG both the book and the movie were superb and the characterizations and conflicts. Actually GWTW makes an appearance in my upcoming War Trilogy.
A book I read a few years back and keep recommending to anyone who’ll listen is “The Bronze Horseman”, by Paulina Simons. Set during the Siege of Leningrad, it’s absolutely gripping and realistic (since her parents and grandparents grew up during it, they’d have told her in great detail all about it – far more than you’ll ever learn in newsreels that’s for sure). Read it and you’ll understand what I mean. I’m going to visit St. Petersburg next year, so am looking forward to re-reading the book and visiting the places she mentions and learning more of the siege and the stupidity and sheer hubris of Hitler invading Russia.
Oh, sorry, getting carried away. It’s a tremendous love story set against War. LOTS of hot sex. The hero, Alexander, is divine. Read it! The second book in the series – Sometimes titled The Bridge to Holly Cross and sometimes, Tatiana and Alexander is wonderful too. The third book was rubbish. Obviously written to appease American readers and sell more books. I hope PS never reads this…! But she should have stopped at the end of Book 2 – the first 2 were almost flawless and I loved the interweaving of historical facts.
And of course Pride and Prejudice. Austen was a genius. My next book after the War Trilogy is called “Austen in Love” – I intend that Jane will experience deep love and find happiness. She deserves it. I’ve visited Chawton House where she did most of her writing and revised all her manuscripts before they were published. If you’re an Austen fan, do yourself a favour and go!
5.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Never.
6.Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing? I ski and travel a lot. Read. Watch tellie (loving Downton Abbey). Hug my Labrador.
7.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to starting a story? Hell, No! If I plotted and planned and knew how the story developed and ended, there would be no pleasure in writing it for me, so I’d never start.
I usually start off with a premise – maybe a setting or situation and think “what if?” – Throw two opposite characters together and let ’em at it! I’m often surprised with what they come up with. How they often develop and change from how I’d expected.
8.Do you prefer self publishing or traditional publishing? Please advise of the reason(s). Since I’ve done both and am enjoying being the master of my writing future and not writing to guidelines or deadlines set by my former publishers, Harlequin in Toronto, I’d have to say Indie publishing.
I hate the term self-publishing – it so harkens back to vanity publishing of the olden days or the earlier efforts of people e-publishing their crappy books they couldn’t sell to a trad publisher so they stuck them up on Amazon or whatever. God they were crap. Okay, some might have been good, (I’m saying that so no-one comes after me with a knife!) but for the most part they were rubbish. Actually I have no idea why I’m saying that as I’ve never read any to the end – just the first paragraph or so was enough.
But now of course, Indie publishing has really taken off. And why not? Wouldn’t you rather earn 70% royalties than 6% – or even less from a Trad publishing house?
These days, authors published with traditional houses and going Indie, KNOW they need to have their manuscript professionally edited (and I’m not talking typos and grammar – I’m talking nuts and bolts, story development, revising, revising, revising etc. etc.) unlike the e-published authors of a decade or so ago. I once swore I’d never self- publish as the books were so bad – I’ve since eaten my words [Symbol] I have a brilliant freelance editor – Tessa Shapcott. Without securing her services I doubt I’d have ventured into Indie yet.
I made some wonderful friends through being published with Harlequin, developed a name and best of all, my Harlequin editor, Paul Eykelhof, and I are great friends and still correspond a couple of times a week. But I doubt I’d ever go back to Trad. I can earn more with Indie and write what I want to write. Nuff said?
9.Can you tell us a bit about your latest book? Latest book is a love story set during WW2. It started off as one book but got to be over 180,000 words and as it seemed to break neatly into three parts, I made it a trilogy.
The series is called The War Trilogy and is based on the concept of the Hero’s Journey – except my hero is a heroine and this is her journey[Symbol]
In Book One, “In Love and War”, Amalie is a 19 year old French girl living in occupied France whose life changes when she reluctantly agrees to help a friend on a mission to meet up with some allied commandoes. On the mission are two men, both of whom she will fall in love with throughout the course of the three books and will provide I hope, a lot of intrigue for my readers. One is an English officer and the heir to an Earldom. The other is his best friend, an American who signed up with the British forces at the outbreak of war as he was studying at Oxford at the time.
At the end of the first book, something horrendous happens to Amalie and that leads into Book 2 – “The Descent Into Hell”. The war deepens into hell on earth and Amalie descends into her own psychological hell. The story of her recovery is heart-wrenching and had me in tears writing parts of it as Amalie lives through and overcomes her own private hell and marries one of the heroes after being evacuated to England. But he’s not the man she really loves…
Book Three – “Peace and Redemption” develops Amalie’s character further – she’s no longer that naïve young woman who thought it would be adventurous to help some commandos. She faces all sorts of adversities, her husband is reported killed after being captured by the Nazis and interrogated by the Gestapo. I can’t give away much more – you’ll have to read it! But much like Gone With The Wind, it’s a love story with a strong female lead, who is forced to draw on all her resources to survive and is set against the background of War – when people would do things they’d never do in peacetime.
Coming out sometime late November I should think. I’ll be offering Book 1 FREE for 3 days on Amazon, so will let you know when 🙂 Or friend me on Facebook – C.c. Coburn and you’ll get the announcement. https://www.facebook.com/CCCoburn
10.Where is the best place you’ve visited, or what’s your best experience? I’ve had so many. I’ve been very lucky that I was born with a thirst for adventure and have had the opportunity to travel. (Pooh would be so proud!) At 21 I travelled from Kathmandu to London on a bus and was caught up in the middle of a military coup in Afghanistan. So many experiences on that trip that changed my life and outlook. The abject poverty, the filth, the great civilizations that crumbled into dust, the appalling treatment of women in some countries (I left one of those countries with my boobs, crotch and bum, black and blue from being pinched in the streets – and yes, I was wearing neck to ankle clothing!)
The incredible beauty and silence of the Hindu Kush, the eerie quiet of Anzac Cove and the serenity of the war graves and how beautifully they’re kept are memories I will cherish forever. (Well, I obviously won’t cherish the memory of being molested in broad daylight!)
My most recent life-changing experience was last month when I visited the grave of my uncle who died on The Somme in WW1. I learned so much more about the war and what they went through–the hideous futility-the horrendous loss of life fighting over 12 kilometers of land for so many months. So many gravestones in the cemetery (one of over 1000 cemetaries on the front) bore the words – “Here lies a soldier of the New Zealand forces”; “Here lies a South African officer”; “Here lies a soldier of the Australian Infantry” “Here lies a British captain,” etc. etc. etc. It’s so heartbreaking that they were so blown to bits (over 70% of deaths were caused by artillery fire, not guns) that they could never be identified! Their poor, poor mothers. Over 70,000 soldiers were never identified and over 1.2 million died in those few months fighting over that bit of land – the statistics are staggering. I knew the war was bad, but had no idea of the extent, the futility. As a psychic friend said to me: those fields were soaked in blood.
In a bar in Pozierres, I asked the barman if I could buy one of his Aussie flags to put on the grave of my uncle.
He gave it to me and showed me a room he has out back that is a tribute to the Aussie soldiers who tried to save the town. There were hundreds of photographs but I was drawn to a young soldier in one of them and the hair stood up on the back of my neck. This young man was posing with probably a hundred other soldiers, but he bore an uncanny resemblance to one of my brothers and his son at the same age as my uncle was when he died (20). Plus he stood head and shoulders above everyone else – my father was 6’6 and his brother was a similar height. The young man also had my father’s ears and chin. I’m going to research the photograph through Australian war archives. Wouldn’t it be amazing if it was my uncle? And of all the photos in the room, why was I drawn to that one? Why did I notice him when everyone else’s face was a blur?
The experience has me thinking of a plot for a love story set in WW1 – what if my uncle had fallen in love and gotten a young French girl pregnant? What if a young Aussie woman goes on a pilgrimage to the Somme and sees that photograph, sees a resemblance to some of her male relatives and asks the barman about it, and he says, “That’s the great- grandfather of Guillaume. He was going to marry a local girl but was killed the day after the photograph was taken. Guillaume lives in the next town, you should go and meet him.”
I guess I find inspiration for stories everywhere. The problem is, finding the time to write them.
Jessica Brody is the author of 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, My Life Undecided, The Karma Club, and the first two books in a new sci-fi/suspense/romance trilogy: Unremembered and Unforgotten. Her books have been translated and published in over 20 countries and several have been optioned for film and TV. Sometimes she wishes her memories could be erased so she could reread all her favorite books for the first time. She splits her time between California and Colorado.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I read the book, Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding and it completely cracked me up. Until then, I hadn’t been a big fan of reading. Because everything I read was for school. I didn’t realize that books could be fun and entertaining and make you laugh! I remember reading it and thinking to myself, “I want to do that.” I want to write books that make people laugh and turn non-readers into readers. Just like that book did with me. I think that’s what started my yearning to be published.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Get up. Get dressed. Make coffee. Write 1500 words (usually takes me about 2-3 hours). Gripe to husband about latest story crisis. Listen to husband suggest ideas about how to solve latest story crisis. Shoot down everything husband has to say because it’s stupid and he doesn’t understand anything! Wait two hours. Realize husband is actually quite brilliant and his solution fixes everything. Apologize to husband for being a difficult, moody writer (and praise him for his brilliance). Eat dinner. Watch TV. Sleep. Repeat.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I never use the term “writer’s block”…well, except right there. I’m a firm believer in the law of attraction. What you resist persists. What you focus on only gets bigger. If I went around saying, “Crap, I have writer’s block,” then yes, I would have writer’s block. If I refuse to even acknowledge the concept, then it doesn’t exist. And guess what? I’ve never had it. Of course, I get stuck from time to time as any writer does. To deal with it, I usually just mediate and tell myself, “the solution already exists; I just have to remember what it is.” By the time I wake up the next morning, the problem is almost always solved.
I wrote a much longer article with 5 specific tips on how to overcome writer’s block. Here it is!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m a huge outliner! I always outline before I start writing. I use a plotting method called Save the Cat, created by Blake Snyder. It’s amazing! It basically breaks down all stories into 15 beats and then teaches you how to create those 15 beats so that you have a well-crafted, engaging story that will resonate with readers. I never start writing until all 15 beats are in place.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? The publishing process was really really difficult! It took me five years to sell my first book. Actually my “first” book was never published. It’s still sitting on my shelf! I tried for three years to get an agent for that book and eventually started a new book that would become my first published novel. After five years, I finally landed my first agent and she sold my book in only 10 days! That’s the power of a good agent.
My advice to writers: Don’t be afraid to write badly. All writers have awful first drafts. That’s why they’re called first drafts. Sometimes you have to just get through the story before you can make it pretty. I think a lot of new authors quit halfway through the book because they’re afraid that it’s not good. The first draft won’t be good. Just finish it and fix it later. The hardest part about writing a book is getting to that last page.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Definitely getting fan mail. It just makes my day when a reader likes my book enough to take the time to tell me about it.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. I just released the second book in the Unremembered Trilogy, called Unforgotten. The Unremembered Trilogy is a little bit like the Bourne Identity, with an Inception-like twist. It’s a sci-fi/suspense trilogy about a teen girl who survives a plane crash but has no memories and no identity. She has to piece together the mystery of who she is with really only one clue: a boy who claims he helped her escape from a top secret science experient.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? What spare time? What is this phenomenon of which you speak?
9. What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) You have to have a web presence. Website, Facebook Page, and Twitter profile are the essentials. Being accessible and visible online really helps you connect with readers. But be sure to separate your personal pages from your author pages. Keeping that separation is important for you and your readers.
10.What is the hardest thing about writing? The easiest part of every book I write is the beginning. I LOOOOVE set ups. I love setting up new worlds and characters and giving them all sorts of fun challenges and embarking them on great adventures. The hardest (and my least favorite part) is the middle (act 2 for all you screenwriters) when I actually have to deal with all these fun challenges and great adventures. I end up not only hating my characters and my story, I hate myself for setting up so many impossible storylines. Then by Act 3, all is forgiven and I’m back to loving everyone again.
Lucy spent her formative years lost in the world of Mills & Boon romance when she really ought to have been paying attention to her teachers. Up against sparkling heroines, gorgeous heroes and the magic of falling in love, the dissolution of the monasteries and ablative absolutes didn’t stand a chance. Now she writes for them – nine books to date – and she still can’t quite believe it. Originally from London, she and her family live in Spain where she spends much of the time reading, failing to finish cryptic crosswords and trying to convince herself that the beach really is the best place to work.
1. What got you into writing? Principally, I wanted to try and write a Mills & Boon. Having devoured them in my teens I hadn’t read one in years, but then I had a month off work and set about tackling that challenge. Unsuccessfully to begin with, but it didn’t matter because by then I’d been bitten by the bug.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? Thanks to nursery/pre-school I can write from around 8.30am until 4pm. Not that I do – I wish! Instead my day looks a bit like this: check emails, mess around on Facebook/Twitter, read the news, make coffee, write a bit, repeat. I aim for 10,000 words a week (although it varies depending on what stage in the book I’m at), and am pleased if I get to half that.
3. Do you get writers’ block? If so, how do you overcome it? I haven’t had it yet, thank goodness, although some days even writing a measly couple of hundred words can feel like pulling teeth. Having written nine books, though, I’ve come to realise that this is simply part of my process and have to trust that it’ll pass.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I used to be a complete panster, revelling in the idea of total creative freedom – until I realised that it meant my books could veer spectacularly off course and inevitably led to some truly horrendous revisions. Now I have a vague idea of where the story’s going to go, and try to know my characters as much as possible before I start. I send my editor a brief outline of my ideas so she can advise me of any potential pitfalls she can see and then the story in chunks. Seems to be working so far!
5. What was the publishing process like for you and do you have any advice for aspiring authors? The publishing process for me was relatively straightforward. Having submitted a number of partials to Mills & Boon with limited success, I entered the Feel the Heat contest that they ran in 2008. I sent in Chapter 1 and synopsis of the story I was working on, and to my complete surprise and amazement won. Around two months and a few tweaks later the full manuscript was accepted, and subsequently published as Bought: Damsel in Distress. It was then that things got really hard because my next couple of books were a nightmare!
My advice to aspiring authors would be keep at it, and remember that a rejection isn’t personal. One submission might not be what they’re looking for at that particular time, but another might just.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? There have been so many! Seeing my book on the shelves for the first time, receiving my first box of author copies, my first translations, winning the RNA’s NWS Joan Hessayon award, having people who aren’t family come up to me and saying they like my books… The list is endless!
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish? Out now (or around about now) I have a trio of books connected by siblings. The Reunion Lie came out in December 2013 and features socially awkward statistician, Zoe Montgomery, advertising hotshot Dan Forrester, and a moment of madness at a school reunion. Next up in April is One Night with Her Ex, a second chance-at-love romance between Lily (Zoe’s sister) and her ex-husband, Kit,
who have a whole load of baggage to work through before they can get their happy ending. Finally, in June, The Best Man for the Job hits the shelves. In this story Dan’s uptight workaholic sister, Celia, comes up against her nemesis, Dan’s best friend, Marcus, although an accidental pregnancy soon gives them something other than their mutual dislike to focus on.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? When I’m not treading on Lego, searching for missing jigsaw pieces, finding the TV remote control in the cutlery drawer or trying to think of something new to do with mince, I read and guiltily eye up the exercise bike that’s gathering dust in the corner of my study.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? Right now, I’d like to trade places with top human rights and extradition lawyer, Amal Alamuddin. Not only does she rock international law and speak three languages (one of which, Arabic, I have a degree in but can’t remember a word, so to be fluent would be awesome), she also gets to snog George Clooney.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Nothing more than a great big thank you for reading my books. Without my lovely readers I wouldn’t be able to do the job I love.
Jane lives in North Yorkshire with her five children, three cats, two dogs and an ever-increasing number of bacteria. Jane believes housework happens to other people, and writes romantic comedy novels in a frantic attempt to avoid being asked to ever do any. She works by day in a local school, writes in the evenings and never watches television, unless it’s Doctor Who. She is published by Choc Lit publishing.
Her novel ‘Please Don’t Stop the Music’ was voted Romantic Comedy of the Year and overall Romantic Novel of the Year for 2012.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I have written stories for as long as I can remember – I used to write ‘alternative endings’ to books I enjoyed, as a child. I’d be so disappointed that the book was over that I’d try to prolong the fun by writing more…and more… honestly, if Enid Blyton had known what I was up to she’d have sued me! That kind of proto-fanfic carried on until I began having my own ideas for stories, which got longer and more involved and, whoops, before I knew it I was writing novels! Very, very bad ones of course – I hadn’t worked out the whole ‘characters have to grow and change’ thing, but I got there in the end.
Then I started writing the kind of thing I wanted to read, on the grounds that, if I never got published, at least I’d had a good time.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I very rarely have the luxury of a whole day for writing, because of that pesky day job that pays the bills, so I have to turn up and look as though I’m doing something. But I am lucky in that I don’t mind never eating, so I work mornings only, and the afternoon is given over to writing…hah, listen to me, it’s mostly given over to Facebook, Twitter, reading the Fortean Times Message Board and exchanging lurid e mails with friends. But I do manage to turn out a book a year, so I must be doing some work. Possibly in my sleep, or something.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I remind myself that I’m a single mum with a day job that only pays half the bills. If I don’t get books out then I can say goodbye to running water and electricity and hello to typhoid and writing books with a biro. There are still times when the story just doesn’t want to come out, but I can use those times to concentrate on getting my face over to Twitter a bit more, and eventually I can coax the words onto the page. If all else fails, I read a couple of books until I’m full of words again.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Absolutely not. I start a story with a handful of characters, an opening line, and maybe a scene or two, and see what happens. My subconscious usually has a good handle on what needs to happen though, and I’m always surprising myself with the way that things I write early on in the story almost as throwaway lines become really important later on. My subconscious is a lot more intelligent than I am. Also better looking, and not so addicted to marshmallows.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? I’d been sending stuff everywhere for years, and getting positive feedback but no offers. I had begun to think that I was never going to make it, I mean, really, really this close to giving up and taking up a less humiliating hobby, like jigsaws or something. Finally I submitted to Samhain in the US, who liked the British Voice, and bought my first two books. That got me an agent, who sold me to Choc Lit, and the rest, as they say… So my advice would be – if you want to do it, don’t give up. You need the hide of a buffalo and nerves of titanium though. Also a constant supply of gin.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Winning Romantic Novel of the Year in 2012 with Please Don’t Stop the Music. Apparently it was a fabulous evening, but I was too drunk to remember. I do remember giving a speech though, in which I might have talked about wee…
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish.
My last novel was Hubble Bubble, published in June last year. Here’s the blurb…
‘Be careful what you wish for…
Holly Grey joined the women’s group to keep her friend out of trouble – and now she’s knee-deep in hassle, in the form of apocalyptic weather, armed men, midwifery and a sarcastic Welsh journalist.
Kai has been drawn to darkest Yorkshire by his desire to find out who he really is. What he hadn’t bargained on was getting caught up in amateur magic and dealing with a bunch of women who are trying really hard to make their dreams come true.
Together they realise that getting what you wish for is sometimes just a matter of knowing what it is you want…’
This year I’ve got two books coming out, in June it’s ‘Falling Apart’, the second in my vampire series. I’ve got a blurb for that one too…
‘In the mean streets of York, the stakes just got higher – and even pointier.
Jessica Grant liaises with Otherworlders for York Council so she knows that falling in love with a vampire takes a leap of faith. But her lover Sil, the City Vampire in charge of Otherworld York, he wouldn’t run out on her, would he? He wouldn’t let his demon get the better of him. Or would he?
Sil knows there’s a reason for his bad haircut, worse clothes and the trail of bleeding humans in his wake. If only he could remember exactly what he did before someone finds him and shoots him on sight.
With her loyalties already questioned for defending zombies, the Otherworlders no one cares about, Jess must choose which side she’s on, either help her lover or turn him in. Human or Other? Whatever she decides, there’s a high price to pay – and someone to lose.’
And then, at the risk of boring you all rigid, in December my stand-alone novel ‘How I Wonder What You Are’ is released. You can guess what’s coming next, can’t you? Yep, blurb-city…
‘Maybe he wasn’t here because of the lights – maybe they were here because of him …”
It’s been over eighteen months since Molly Gilchrist has had a man (as her best friend, Caro, is so fond of reminding her) so when she as good as stumbles upon one on the moors one bitterly cold morning, it seems like the Universe is having a laugh at her expense.
But Phinn Baxter (that’s Doctor Phinneas Baxter) is no common drunkard, as Molly is soon to discover; with a PhD in astrophysics and a tortured past that is a match for Molly’s own disastrous love life.
Finding mysterious men on the moors isn’t the weirdest thing Molly has to contend with, however. There’s also those strange lights she keeps seeing in the sky. The ones she’s only started seeing since meeting Phinn …’
Bet you’re sorry you asked now.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Spare…Time… I know the words, I just can’t put a meaning to them… Well, I try to stay outside as much as possible, to avoid housework, so I enjoy riding horses and I’m hoping to learn falconry later this year. I walk, away from the housework mostly, with my dogs
and…do you know, I’m not really sure what I do. Not housework, that’s for sure.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) Get out there. People love to meet authors, so attend everything you are invited to, taking along your cards and bookmarks. Hand them out, leave them in conspicuous places (I have a friend who regularly travels to Holland and leaves my bookmarks on the ferry). Talk to people, not just about writing, and that applies on Facebook and Twitter too, nobody wants your books forced down their throat, but if they like you they’re more likely to buy. Be likeable. Be friendly. Be nice to everybody because you never know who might end up being influential – never be rude, however rude someone is to you (which is a good thing to remember in life, generally. Nothing makes a rude person crosser than someone who refuses to descend to their level).
Never badmouth. Tell the dog, yell it into a cushion, but never take to Twitter to denounce someone who’s rejected you or given a bad review. Reputations are lost in a second and you can never get them back, and if you get a reputation for being unprofessional then no-one in the industry will touch you with a stick, even a very long one.
And enjoy it. Honestly, don’t moan about what a hard job writing is (even if it is). There are people out there whose day jobs make writing a novel look like drinking sangria on a sandy beach. Look, it’s indoor work, no heavy lifting, and nobody is making you do it, so, even if dragging your novel out is like pulling all your teeth out with a blunt spanner, try to enjoy it. I mean, what other jobs do you get to do in your pyjamas, with a gin in one hand and a TV remote in the other?
10.How would you describe your writing style? Well, I always describe my books as ‘psychological romance, with jokes’. I write character-led romantic comedy, which some people try to call chick lit, although I disagree. Everyone who knows me says that I write like I talk, and they can ‘hear’ me reading my books to them, which always makes me wonder what they do when they get to the sex scenes…. never like to ask. Apparently, I have a very strong ‘voice’. It’s probably all the shouting I have to do.
Website and blog http://www.janelovering.co.uk
Originally from Lyon in France, Marie Laval studied History and Law at university there and developed a passionate interest in historical research and the study of ancient civilizations. The beauty and mysteries of the Sahara desert always fascinated her and provide the background for THE LION’S EMBRACE, a story of adventure and romance set in 1840s Algeria and England. Marie Laval now lives in Northern England with her family. THE LION’S EMBRACE is Marie Laval’s second novel.
1. What got you into writing? My love of reading, especially romance and poetry.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? I wish I had real writing days…I work as a modern foreign languages teacher and during the week I don’t start writing until quite late in the evening after I come back from work, take care of the children and plan my lessons. By the time I actually start writing, I am often so tired I fall asleep at the keyboard! I love the school holidays when I can write from 7am until night time!
3. Do you get writers’ block? If so, how do you overcome it? When I was writing my latest historical romance, I experienced a very annoying writers block for the first time, but that was because I hadn’t planned my story enough and found myself in a sticky situation! Scribbling ideas, words, bits of dialogue on a notebook actually helps me figure out what to do when I get stuck. Going out for a walk on my own helps too.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I am a total pantser – hence the sticky situation I found myself in recently. I tend to go with the flow and let the characters take over which means I often have to backtrack because I have reached a dead end.
5. What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors?
I would only have one piece of advice: keep writing and keep submitting. It’s hard and disheartening to receive rejection letters, but if you give up then you give up your dream too. I had a fair few rejections but I will never forget the joy I felt when my first story was accepted for publication. It was a wonderful moment.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?
The best part of being a published author for me has to be receiving readers’ comments. It’s wonderful to hear that readers enjoyed my stories. The second best thing was to meet up, in the flesh or in cyberspace, so many friendly and supportive fellow writers. I attended the RNA conference in Sheffield last July and it was a fantastic experience. I can’t wait for the next conference in Telford in July.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. I have published two historical romances so far, both ebooks by MuseitUp Publishing. My debut novel, ANGEL HEART, is mostly set in France in 1815 and is a blend of romance, adventure, political intrigue and a hint of paranormal. My second novel is called THE LION’S EMBRACE and is set in North Africa in 1845. Here is the blurb. Arrogant, selfish and dangerous, Lucas Saintclair is everything Harriet Montague dislikes in a man. He is also the best guide in the whole of the Barbary States, the only man who can rescue her archaeologist father from the gang of Tuareg fighters that has kidnapped him. As Harriet embarks on a perilous journey across Algeria with Saintclair and Archibald Drake, her father’s most trusted friend, she discovers a bewitching but brutal land where nothing is what it seems. Who are these men intent on stealing her father’s ransom? What was her father hoping to find in Tuareg queen Tin Hinan’s tomb? Is Lucas Saintclair really as callous as he claims—or is he a man haunted by a past he cannot forgive? Dangerous passions engulf Harriet’s heart in the heat of the Sahara. Secrets of lost treasures, rebel fighters, and a sinister criminal brotherhood threaten her life and the life of the man she loves.Does forever lie in the lion’s embrace? I have just signed a publishing contract with Áccent Press for a contemporary romantic suspense set in Provence and I have submitted another historical romance, this time set in the far North of Scotland, so I am keeping my fingers crossed for that. I have a few projects after that and can’t wait to get started!
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time?
I don’t really have much spare time but I do read a lot and I love going for walks either on my own or with my children in the lovely, but often very muddy and very wet, Lancashire countryside where I live.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why?
This is a very tricky question and one I cannot answer. There are so many different lives I would love to experience, I think that’s why I love writing so much. It enables me to pretend I am someone else for a few months…
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers?
Only that I am always very grateful and delighted to hear that readers like my stories.
THE LION’S EMBRACE is Marie Laval’s second novel.It is available from https://museituppublishing.com/
You can find Marie at http://marielaval.blogspot.co.uk/
TASMINA PERRY is the author of the huge Sunday Times bestsellers Daddy’s Girls, Kiss Heaven Goodbye and, most recently, Perfect Strangers. She left a career in law to enter the world of women’s magazine publishing, going on to become an award-winning writer and contributor to titles such as Elle, Glamour and Marie-Claire. In 2004 she launched her own travel and fashion magazine, Jaunt, and was editing InStyle magazine when she left the industry to write books full time. Tasmina lives with her husband and son in London.
1.What got you into writing? I was a journalist for many years so I was already in the habit of writing copy most days. Thoughts turned to fiction writing when I was at the airport about to go on my honeymoon and I couldn’t find a fun, sunlounger book for the trip. So when I got to the beach, I started writing one and Daddy’s Girls was born.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I start at 9am after the school drop-off and work til 4pm when I have to pick my son up from school. I used to work most evenings but I’m trying to get some work/balance in my life!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I think the secret is to get out and meet people, see friends, do interesting things – otherwise a writer’s life can be quite solitary and insular and that’s when you can start running out of ideas.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? A real plotter. I spend weeks sketching out a story before I start typing. I trained as a lawyer so there is a very methodical side to me!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? I got an agent and a publishing deal quick quickly, then again, my manuscript for Daddy’s Girls went out just at the time that my editor-to-be was looking for a glamorous, escapist read. So write the book you want to write, but try and anticipate what could become popular or what publishers might want. For instance, you’ll be lucky getting a deal for a vampire novel right now, because so many of them hit the market after the success of Twilight. But if you can think of something fresh and exciting, you have more chance of getting a deal.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Seeing your first book in print is a such a thrill. And when Daddy’s Girls went into the Sunday Times Best-sellers list, I honestly couldn’t believe it.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. I really loved writing my latest novel The Proposal. It’s different from my usual novels in that it has a dual timeline – going between the present day and the 1958s Debutante Season. I loved doing all the historical research and writing about those fabulous gowns and cocktail parties.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love photography in fact I have just done a course at Central St Martins to try and get my techinical skills up to scratch! I worked in magazines for many years and a love of beautiful images has stayed with me. I am also a big traveller. My favourite recent holiday was a coast to coast tour of America.
Sheila Norton lives near Chelmsford, Essex, and has been a full-time author since retiring from her previous work as a medical secretary.
She has been writing all her life, her first publications being short stories for children. After twice winning first prize in the Writers’ News short story competitions in the 1990s, her stories were regularly published in women’s magazines.
Her first novel, The Trouble With Ally was published in 2003, and she went on to have a further seven books published, including three under the pseudonym of Olivia Ryan, before beginning to self-publish her novels on Amazon.
Her latest book YESTERDAY is a novel set in the 1960s, being published in 2014 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the ‘Mods and Rockers’ riots in 1964, which form the background of the book.
For more information please go to http://www.sheilanorton.co.uk.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve been writing since I was a child – it was always my hobby. My big break was winning two first prizes in short story competitions in the mid 1990s. This gave me the confidence to submit stories to women’s magazines and over the years I’ve had over 100 published. The first of my novels, ‘The Trouble with Ally’, was published in 2003.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I don’t have a fixed routine. When I was working at my day job, my writing was always done in the evenings, but now I’m retired, I’m fortunate to be able to write whenever I want to. That means pretty much whenever I’m not busy doing anything else! If I have chores to do (including routine emails/social media etc) I’ll normally get them out of the way during the morning and write for the whole afternoon. But if I’m seeing family or friends I’ll often take a whole day off, and occasionally I’ll write all day if there’s nothing else I need to do. I like being free of time constraints; I had enough of that when I was at work!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Of course, there are times when the plot seems to stall and it feels like wading through treacle. But I never think of it as ‘writer’s block’ because I don’t believe in waiting for inspiration to strike – I think you just have to sit down and get on with it, writing what feels like rubbish if necessary. Eventually you get back into your stride and the rubbish can be deleted or edited in due course, but you can’t edit a blank screen.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? No. I have a rough outline, and notes about the characters – their ages and appearances etc – but that’s normally all. I like the element of excitement in finding out what happens to my characters as I write their stories. I’ve been known to change my mind about which man a heroine ended up with, as the book progressed – and have killed someone off without realising I was going to do it!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? My first eight books were published by a traditional publisher. I was taken on directly by the editor without having an agent – which rarely happened even then, and is almost impossible now. It was a great privilege and a fantastic experience. I’m now self-publishing with Amazon. With the advent of ebooks, self-publishing has become more ‘respectable’, and at the same time easier and more profitable. I enjoy being in complete control of what happens to my work – but without being published by Piatkus first, it would have been hard to make a name for myself and stand out from the crowd on Amazon. I’d advise aspiring authors to write whatever they enjoy writing – and make it as perfect as they possibly can before submitting to agents or self-publishing. And be prepared for the rejections! I had plenty before my first book was accepted.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Nothing could ever quite match up to the moment of receiving the first email from Piatkus in 2002 telling me my first book had been accepted! But seeing my novels on the shelves of shops in different parts of the country was always a thrill too. And so was uploading my first self-published ebook edition to Amazon!
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. The following extract is the opening of my new book, YESTERDAY, which is set in 1964 during the troubles between the Mods and the Rockers. It opens forty years later with my heroine, Cathy, now a middle-aged journalist being forced to look back and remember the pain and heartbreak she suffered back then as a teenager.
‘Mods and rockers!’ Andy shouts at me down the phone, so enthusiastically that I blink in surprise. ‘Rampaging idiots on bikes and scooters, terrorising quiet seaside resorts, beating the shit out of each other, scaring old ladies and little kids. That’s what I need, OK?’
‘Right.’ I blink again. ‘I’ll see if I can …’
‘Find someone who lived through it, yeah? Someone who was there – actually there, taking part. I don’t care which side they were on. I just want a good story. Right?’
‘Andy. I lived through it. You seem to forget I’m approaching my dotage.’
‘You were … actually around in the sixties? Christ, Cath – yes, I s’pose you must have been. You’re wearing well!’ he jokes.
He doesn’t mean to be offensive. He’s only about thirty. I’ve got children almost as old as him. Come to think of it, I’ve probably got knickers almost as old as him, although they sure as hell don’t fit me anymore. Andy’s the editor of one of the magazines I write for as a freelance – one of the best, in fact, with one of the biggest circulations: Xtra, the supplement to one of the tabloid Sunday newspapers – you know the one. Sensationalist, but somehow managing to style itself as a middle-class, middle-of-the-road, man-of-the-people publication. I haven’t done anything for them for months, and I just decided, today, to give him a call to see if I could write anything topical – I don’t know, perhaps interviewing some local Essex environmentalists who are protesting about the plans for the new runway at Stansted – when he sprung this Sixties thing on me. You could call it serendipity. Or you could call it a dilemma.
‘Well,’ he’s saying now, sounding like an excited schoolboy at Christmas, ‘that’s even better! You’ve got the background already – if you can remember that far back!’
‘Very funny. I remember it all too well, thanks, Andy.’ I hesitate. ‘How soon do you need this story? Only … I’m not sure …’
‘I’m thinking Easter – to coincide with the fortieth anniversary, get it? It was Easter 1964, apparently, when it all kicked off.’
‘I know,’ I say, wearily. ‘I was there.’
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? My family is the most important part of my life – we have three daughters/sons in law, and six gorgeous little grandchildren. I’ll always stop writing in order to see any of them! I’m also an avid reader, and enjoy photography, swimming, travel, music and seeing my friends.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? It would have to be a very successful author whose work I admire. Perhaps JoJo Moyes, because like me she lives in Essex and has three children (but is about twenty years younger than me!)and has written some fantastic books, particularly ‘Me Before You’, which made me cry! I’d like to try out her life for a week – but only a week, because I’d want to get back into my own. I’m happy with it.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Just – thank you so much for reading my books. And please get in touch via my website to let me know whether you enjoy them – especially the new book, YESTERDAY, because it’s so different from my previous novels. We authors crave feedback!
I am a 60 year old former miner who worked in the coal mines for 21 years.My first book the silent wheels is a true account of the 1984 British miners strike,it is not a political statement,but it tells of the comical things that happened during the year long strike.
My other two books are a gangster story,(the rage within),and a book of satirical verse,(Odes and Stories)
I have never had any formal writing training my writing is mostly from the heart and true life experiences,with the exception of the rage within which is purely fictional.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I have always enjoyed reading a good book,but after the miners strike a group of friends and myself would always talk about our experiences,and we would always end up by saying somebody should write a book about it.So I thought I would try it.I based it around my best friend,who was a real character.When the book was almost finished he sadly passed away and I almost deleted the file. I was urged not to do it by my son who told me that my friend would have loved it,so I finished the book and had it published as a tribute to him,and all the other people in the book have also sadly passed away.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? I have no particular writing pattern,I write when I am alone or when I have an idea in my head.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?I don’t get writers block as such.But when I was doing the satirical verse stories,if I was stuck for a line I would leave it and move on to a new story and then come back to it
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I do try to plot a story,but a lot of the things I have written are from true life experiences,especially the mining related ones,which are close to my heart.I also think of a lot of the poems when I am walking my dog.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors?The publishing process was sometimes very daunting.I sent a lot of letters to different people,like agents and publishing companies and kept on getting refused or told that they were too busy.Until I finally got one to accept me.My advice would be to keep trying as you will always have hope when you are trying.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author?The highlight must be when you hold the first copy of your book in your hands.It is always quite nice to see a good review or when somebody tells you that they have read your book and enjoyed it.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish.The most recent book is called Odes and Stories.It is full of satirical verse stories.A lot are mining related,but there are others which are true stories that friends of mine have told me.There is one poem there called What kind of animal,which is about the Holocaust,which I was awarded a creative writing award for,which I am quite proud of,as it was read out in a Holocaust memorial service.
The other two as I said earlier are a true story of the 1984 miners strike and a gangster novel which has a lot of twists and turns in it.It also involves a lot of violence,deceit,blackmail,police corruption, murder and a sprinkling of sex.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I like watching my local rugby side and I like walking my dog and spending time with my family.I also enjoy reading.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) The best advice I can give is to keep trying and always be polite even though some publishers can be really brutal in the way word their replies (some though don’t even reply). Also if there are reading clubs,or Libraries in your area it is a good idea to contact them,my local Library has been really helpful to me.Also you can share ideas with other writers,online or by joining writing clubs.
You can also try to get interviews on local television or radio stations.It is important to keep trying but also not to make a nuisance by asking too much when you keep getting turned down/
10.How would you describe your writing style? I think my writing style is from the heart and are mostly based on true life experiences,whether it is myself of or friends or people I know.I also like to look at people in the street or wherever I am wrie about the funny things that I have seen.The perfect example is in the book Odes and other Stories,there is a story there called the holiday,which is based on a holiday my wife and myself took in Benidorm,which is true.
I live a happy life full of wonderful friends, in love with a man who buys me books instead of flowers. To mix things up a little, I write books where friends and lovers hit obstacles and (usually) overcome them. When I’m not doing that I read absolutely everything I can get my hands on, spend an inordinate amount of time in pyjamas and run a fun-but-informative blog on British history.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I have always written. When I was a teen, it was fanfiction, and when I was a little older I got into writing short stories and flash fiction. My life seemed already too full to even contemplate writing a full length novel, even though it was a not-so-secret dream of mine. What finally gave me the proverbial kick up the arse to start was simply that the story for The Best Thing I Never Had came into my head and wouldn’t let me go until I wrote it, simple as that!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Unfortunately I don’t have a usual writing day. Bills have to be paid and therefore I have a full time office job. Writing is therefore usually squeezed into lunchtimes and rare free evenings or weekends. When I was finishing off the first draft of what would become The Best Thing I Never Had I started coming into my office an hour early or staying an hour late and making myself write for the whole hour. It was surprisingly effective!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I think everybody gets writers block. I’m quite lucky in that I run a history blog, so if I hit a wall with my fiction I just go and write a post for my website. I could never possibly run dry of non-fiction subjects to write about and so it takes my mind off my book whilst keeping my creative juices flowing!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m a definite plotter. I won’t start typing until I have a clear plotline and – most importantly – a very clear handle on who my characters and what their motivations are. Things do tend to veer off the designated course whilst I’m writing though, and I think that’s a good thing – my characters get minds of their own and start reshaping the story from within!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? I don’t think I had a typical “publishing process”. I submitted my finished manuscript to a few agents, and those who replied to me all said the same thing: they loved the story, but they weren’t sure what genre it was, and they couldn’t see it selling. I shrugged it off and self-published but not long after was picked up by Harper Impulse, a fresh, new and innovative digital-first imprint of Harper Collins. I got “the call” at the end of August (and my two book deal!) and The Best Thing I Never Had released on December 5th. That’s light-speed in the publishing industry!
Any advice I could give to aspiring authors would be just to reiterate what I’m sure they already know. Write the book you’d want to read. And make sure you always write because you love writing first and foremost, not because you necessarily aspire to be read. And of course, an oldie but goodie: never, ever give up.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? It’s been such a rollercoaster that it almost feels like each week brings its own new highlight. Each new review, each time someone takes the time to tweet at me to tell me they enjoyed reading my book, it makes me dance for joy. I’ve been bestselling on Amazon.co.uk, iTunes and Google Play in just three months, which obviously is a definite high! Hearing my father-in-law recount how he proudly went into his local independent bookstore to order my paperback in was a personal highpoint [Symbol]
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. The Best Thing I Never Had opens with the proposal of Nicky and Miles. They decide to ask their old friends from university to be their bridesmaids and groomsmen – much to said friends’ collective horror, as most of them are no longer talking. The book then jumps back five years to chart the gang’s final year at university – tracing how they all came together, and how it all fell apart – before returning to the dreaded wedding, where ‘five years ago’ rapidly changes to feeling like no time at all…
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? At the moment spare time seems like a complete myth! I somehow manage to fit in my day job, writing my second novel, marketing my first, running my blog, reading, doing an online course AND wedding planning! I think any time left spare after all of that should be filled by sleeping!
9. What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) There’s a real temptation to just bang on and on about your books – there’s a fine balance that needs to be struck between self-promotion and being wildly annoying. I think the most important thing about social media and interacting with current and potential fans is to ensure they get to know you as the person you are rather than someone who’s trying to flog paperbacks to them all the time. Although I do obviously send promotional tweets and retweet reviews for my books, etc, I mainly use my Twitter for chatting rubbish about good books I’ve read recently, or asking people for help as I write my second book (I’m RUBBISH at picking names) or sharing links to things I find interesting.
10.How much of your books are realistic / based on true experiences/ people? It would be a lie if I said that parts of my writing weren’t inspired by real life experiences. I don’t think that any writer can help that. Years ago I fell out with my friends, and that experience helped me to write The Best Thing I Never Had with a degree of empathy and depth that someone who had never known that pain might not have been able to manage. My new book coming later this year, Indefinite Leave to Remain, is inspired wholly by the fact that my best friend is at this very moment legally fighting for her Indefinite Leave to Remain in the UK. I think it’s very important to write about issues that you feel comfortable with and strongly about. Having said that I do insist that none of my characters are ever directly inspired by real people – the worst I may do is pinch a surname here or there! – I wouldn’t be able to write my characters as the fully understandable, three-dimensional people I hope they come across as if I was simply writing a pastiche of someone I actually knew…
Sue Moorcroft writes romantic novels of dauntless heroines and irresistible heroes. Is this Love? was nominated for the Readers’ Best Romantic Read Award. Love & Freedom won the Best Romantic Read Award 2011 and Dream a Little Dream was nominated for a RoNA in 2013. She received three nominations at the Festival of Romance 2012, and is a Katie Fforde Bursary Award winner. She’s vice chair of the RNA and editor of its two anthologies, published by Harlequin.
Sue also writes short stories, serials, articles, writing ‘how to’ and is a competition judge and creative writing tutor.
1.What got you into writing? It’s a compulsion, really. I was a little late to learning to read and write but once I had learned I was entranced by the world of fiction. And I could get good marks for making things up! The compulsion to make things up, to create scenarios that turn into stories, never left me. The compulsion to become published came along a little later and it took a while to make it happen, but push and persistence won in the end.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? Quite long. I work 50 or 60 hours most weeks. I have lots of projects on the go – usually a novel, also columns, short stories etc. And I teach creative writing via distance learning and also running workshops. Quite often, I work with students in the mornings and write my current novel in the afternoons. I find I’m more productive than, say, an entire day on one or the other. I also break my week up with a few classes: zumba, yoga and piano. The beauty of what I do is that so long as the work gets done it doesn’t matter whether I do it 9 to 5 or work 7.30 to 6 (which is the usual, either 5 or 6 days a week) and stop in the middle for a class and a cup of tea.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I can’t afford writer’s block. Sometimes whatever I’m writing has turned to treacle, particularly if it’s the first draft of a novel (the part I find hardest), so I move onto one of my other projects for a while so that my head can try and untangle whatever the problem is. Research sometimes helps, too – if I can’t think what happens next, reading around the subject in question will throw up something interesting. Or, like everyone else, I go and spend 10 minutes on Twitter or Facebook and return to my work refreshed.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Kind of. But in a messy way. It’s not exactly disorganised but it’s not exactly regimented. I will usually begin with two characters and I’ll write their bios, looking at their history and their family position and stuff like that. I’ll write about them from the points of view of others – what does his father feel about him? What does her boss think about her? I think this makes the characters real to me. I also like to know about quests and goals and whether I can make his quest conflict with her goal or if I can keep her goal a secret and trip him up with it. So I have a sort of compost heap of material. I have a fair idea of the ending, too – not just that they’ll end up together but how the quests/conflicts work out. I find writing an ending that satisfies me quite hard.
In my WIP (The Wedding Proposal, due out in September), Lucas and Elle were together four years ago and I decided it would be nice to put them together on a small boat in a marina in Malta and see what they think of one another now. What I hadn’t appreciated is how much backstory I’d need to know and plot out. It was almost like plotting two books – the backstory and the frontstory. I found it so time consuming that I seriously considered abandoning the frontstory and just making the backstory the book. I ended up plotting quite a lot of the book on sticky notes along a wall. It worked quite well until my son came home and wanted the wall to his room back.
That was more ‘plotty’ than I usually am. Generally, ‘the compost heap’ provides me with a heap of material from which the story will grow.
5.What was the publishing process like for you, & any advice to aspiring authors? I wrote two novels – totally unpublishable. I threw them away and have never regretted it.
So I decided I needed some education. I read that if you could get 20 short stories published in national newsstand magazines then publishers of novels would take you more seriously. So I made that my aim and I began by doing a distance-learning course, similar to the one I now teach on. Loosely speaking, my strategy worked, except the figure was 87 rather than 20, and I’d also sold a serial.
My advice is always to educate yourself and to persist. Network, keep sending your work out.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The day that I got The Call from my then agent was one. I’d had a seriously bad day and was in someone else’s office trying to get the telephone number of yet another person so that I could get urgent work off a computer that had just broken, when I got a message to call my agent. I dropped everything and called her and she said the magic words ‘I have an offer for you’. It was a truly life-changing moment.
Another happened much more recently, when I was doing a signing in a bookshop. A lady stopped to look at my books and then pounced on All That Mullarkey and said, ‘There! That’s the book I’m reading. Do you write anything like her?’ I sort of squeaked, ‘I am her!’ And she told me she’d been in hospital very ill and now had to rest for part of each day. All That Mullarkey was her current after-nap treat. Her husband came over and bought a copy of each of my books for her except for Want to Know a Secret? because it has a hospital in it and she had had enough of them … We chatted for a while and she rang a friend to tell them what had happened, because the friend was reading All That Mullarkey, too. It was a real privilege to know that my work had helped this lady cope with a bad time.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Is This Love? came out in November. It’s about the various qualities and types of love. Tamara’s life has been shaped by her big sister, Lyddie, who was the victim of a hit-and-run accident in her teens and needs more care than most adults. Lyddie is very loveable and it would break her heart if Tamara moved out of the village. So Tamara stays, regardless of whatever anybody else thinks she should or could do. What a lot of people don’t get is that she stays because she wants to, not because others think she ought to.
The story begins when Lyddie’s teenage sweetheart, Jed, returns to tell the family who was driving the car that hit Lyddie all those years ago. Jed’s an interesting man. He has no qualifications – how did he get his great job? Who’s his mysterious employer, Mr H? A lot has happened to Jed while he’s been away and a lot of it is tied up with his older stepbrother, Manny.
It’s a Middledip book, ie it takes place in Middledip village, where several of my books have already been set.
The book created some interesting research for me – alpacas, yoga, close protection, money laundering and living outside of society. I was pleased with the way it came out and it has had some lovely reviews (thank you, reviewers).
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? The classes I mentioned. I love Formula 1 and am confident in labelling myself as a Formula 1 bore. I love reading. And chatting with friends, preferably in the sunshine with a glass of wine, is one of the abiding pleasures of my life. (But over dinner or a cup of tea will do.)
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? A team principal in a leading Formula 1 team. I don’t want to be part of the hard decision process or take the stress, I just want to sit on the pit wall and monitor everything all the members of the team are saying to one another. And know all the insider secrets …
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you. Especially if you’re one of the readers who has contacted me on Facebook or Twitter to say that you’ve enjoyed a book. There are few things that give me more pleasure than knowing that you’ve enjoyed my work.
Kate Lord Brown
Kate grew up in the wild and beautiful Devon countryside. After studying philosophy at Durham University and art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art, she worked as an international art consultant. Kate was a finalist in ITV’s The People’s Authorcontest, and she has just been shortlisted for the Romantic Novel of the Year Awards. She is married to a pilot, and lives with her family in the Middle East, where she has just completed a MA in Creative Writing. Her debut novel ‘The Beauty Chorus’ was inspired by the many hours she spent on airfields in the UK, and the experiences of pilots in her family during WW2. Her second novel about the Spanish Civil War, ‘The Perfume Garden’, draws upon the years she lived in Spain, and was published in paperback in April 2013 by Atlantic.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always written since childhood – I used to write love letters for friends to give their boyfriends on theschool bus! Then later I started writing short stories, and plays, and was first published in sixth form.But like a lot of writers I was (and am), a reader first.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? The day starts early here at 5.30am – after the school run and a swim or the gym, I work through til lunchtime each day. In the evening I’ll read the latest WIP to see how the day’s work has gone and mark up changes for the morning.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Touch wood, no. I think writing has a rhythm to it, and if you are reading and writing every day – not always at the same intensity – it keeps your creative muscles moving.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? A bit of both – I like to know where a story begins and ends before starting out, and one or two key scenes that are just burning to be written. With hist fic there is a factual scaffold to any story – immovable dates and facts, that form a skeleton for the fiction. Beyond that, I love the exhilaration of the story and characters developing and surprising you as you go along.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? It’s been a long process. My advice is simply this – writers write. Join a writer’s circle, in real life or online. Read widely. Only send out work when it’s the very best it can be, and write from the heart not what you think the market wants.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Being shortlisted for Romantic Novel of the Year this year in the Epic category for ‘The Perfume Garden’ is a real honour, and a great thrill.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish.‘The Perfume Garden’ was inspired by the years we lived in Spain – it’s the story of a family of women, and the effect the Spanish Civil War had on them. There’s a twin timeline between the 1930s and the present day, and the story draws on a lot of things that are close to my heart – the beauty of Valencia, photography and perfume.
If you’d like a free ‘taster’ ‘The Last Rose of Summer’ a short story prequel to The Perfume Garden is available free on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords etc http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-Lord-Brown/e/B004S0QPPM/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I have a young family, so the days are full! We live in the Middle East, so when it’s not 50 degrees plus in the summer, we’re outdoors a lot, swimming and cycling. I love art, photography, design, gardening – pretty much anything creative.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I’d love to trade places with Lee Miller for a week in Paris, in the 1920s when she worked with Man Ray – it was such an incredibly exciting, creative time, and she’s one of my heroes.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Just thank you – as a new writer, it’s still a great thrill to be published, and read, and I really appreciate it when people take the time to get in touch or leave a review online to share how they felt about the books. So – thanks and happy reading!
Anna-Lou Weatherley was born in Hampshire and grew up in London where she still lives with her two children. An award-winning journalist and women’s lifestyle writer for over fifteen years, she is the editor and acting editor of J-17 and Smash Hits respectively and has written for all the major glossies including Grazia, More, Company and Marie Claire among others. She is the author of two ten titles, Ibiza Summer and The Wrong Boy (Piccadilly Press). Her first adult novel, Chelsea Wives, was published in 2012, with Wicked Wives being published in 2013. She is currently writing her third novel. Check out anna-lou’s website and sign up for her latest releases, gossip and info at http://annalouweatherley.com/email/ Follow anna-lou on twitter @annaloulondon or check out facebook/chelseawives
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always written, even from a very young age I was always creating stories, writing poetry, plays, keeping a diary….it’s instinctive and I’m never happiest than when I’m doing it. When I was eleven years old I wrote a play called ‘Greensleeves’ which my then English teacher turned into a production at school. It was crap looking back but I was so chuffed! Writing is a compulsion for me I suppose. I can’t do anything else…well, nothing much else brings me as much pleasure.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? No such things as a usual writing day – I have two kids! When I’m on a deadline or writing a novel I drop the kids off at school, come home, ignore the mess, put the kettle on and open my laptop then lose myself in it for a few hours until pick up time…sometimes I forget to eat if I’m on a roll. Then, once they’re in bed in the evening, I get back on my laptop, swap the coffee for red wine and get cracking again. I write best in chaos actually, which is a good job! In the summer I like to write in the garden, top up my tan while I’m at it. I have been known to write from a sun lounger. How decadent!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I write through it, even if I end up deleting what I’ve written. I don’t believe in writer’s block. I’m too focused, too dedicated and too scared of it to entertain it as a real possibility. I just keep going and won’t allow my mind to play tricks on me because that’s what writer’s block is. If I’m struggling, I go back and re-read what I’ve already done, which seems to give me inspiration, or call a friend for a chat, have a little break, a latte, sadly a cigarette or two (I am trying to give up, OK) and then get back to it and tell myself not to be silly.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? To a degree I think all writers are, some more than others. I have a plotline for sure and pretty much know where I want to start and end up. Whatever happens in between can sometimes deviate from what I initially thought, characters take on their own identity, but I always have a loose thread. I’m not a post-it note writer though, it’s all pretty much in my head.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? A steep learning experience. Here’s the thing; if you want to get rich quick, or like to see immediate results then publishing is not the business for you. It’s a long, sometimes slow, occasionally painful process but ultimately the most rewarding. Starting out as a journalist I was used to working to tight deadlines and more immediate results and therefore gratification, but publishing moves at a slower, more methodical pace. For me, in short, it went something like this: began writing script for Chelsea Wives, shelved it. Re-discovered it, eventually sent it to an agent, was stunned to be signed up (thought the initial call was a prank), finished script, waited for publishing deal with fingers crossed…waited some more…and some more…rejection…more rejection…and some more rejection then, OMG! Publishing deal! I was incredibly lucky and extremely honoured and eternally grateful to be picked up by Harper Collins. Then it was edit, a little more editing, then OMG!!! My book is on the shelves! The first moment I saw my book in WHSmith made me want to scream, laugh and cry simultaneously. It was one of the best moments of my life so far.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? See above. That first moment of seeing your book on the shelf is like no other feeling I’ve experienced. It’s close to giving birth. The sense of achievement was enormous, and also humbling. I will never ever forget it. Being published in Italy was a big deal for me too. When I stepped off the plane and saw my book cover on a billboard at the airport I nearly had a heart attack. It was a real Carrie from SATC moment – amazing! The first Harper Collins summer party at Kensington Palace was pretty memorable too!
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? Wicked Wives is a tale of sin, excess, adultery, crime, passion, revenge, glamour and intrigue. It’s based around three women’s love for one rather delicious but dangerous man, Tom Black, a man who leaves a trail of destruction and broken hearts in his wake. When he goes missing, the finger of suspicion points to the three women, and their husbands…it’s full of intrigue, and is quite gritty as well as glamorous. Tom Black has become a bit of a celebrity in his own right and even has his own fan page! 8.Is anything in your books based on real life experiences, or purely all from imagination? Hmm, difficult. It’s an odd mix of both. I wouldn’t say real-life experience exactly, though some of the character’s emotions and the occasional situation I can relate to my own life, but I wouldn’t say there has been anything completely direct. Most of it is imagination – I have a very active one! That said, a few little true life tales do creep in, not always my own, though I couldn’t possibly tell you which ones!
9.What do you like to do besides writing? I’m a trained pole dance instructor so I like to hang upside down on a pole! I took it up many year ago and then went on to teach it. It’s ridiculously addictive, fun, good for self-confidence and even better for your abs. I also enjoy making dance music with my very talented musician boyfriend. He’s just too clever at it for his own good. I have been known to sing but I’m not giving up the day job just yet, put it like that.
10.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? There’s a few people: Lady Ga Ga, that would be nuts, but I like her mad costumes…Rosie Huntigton-Whitely because she has the biggest collection of Isabel Marant clothes I’ve ever seen and always looks fabulous at airports and Debbie Harry, simply because she is my all-time favourite Icon and is ridiculously cool.
By day Victoria Fox lives in London. By night she relaxes in her fantasy LA mansion, sipping Krug in a Jacuzzi and watching a bare-chested man clean out her pool. Her first novel, Hollywood Sinners, was described by Closer magazine as ‘a heady mix of corruption, glamour, lust and power’, Temptation Island went on to be tagged the Sun’s ‘best bonkbuster of 2012’, while Wicked Ambition cemented her place as Cosmopolitan’s ‘favourite new-generation bonkbuster author’. Even Jackie Collins, queen of La Bonk, agrees that ‘Victoria Fox is always a fun read!’ victoriafox.net @VFoxWrites
1.What got you into writing? Lifelong ambition. I’ve always wanted to write and be published, ever since I can remember. But passion is only half of it – it’s a lot of hard grind, too! After uni I worked in publishing for a few years and while there wrote a partial manuscript and sent it off to an agent. When she agreed to represent me, I quit my job and finished the book in two months. Knowing I only had weeks to make it financially was a pretty effective motivation!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I’m most productive in the morning, so on tight deadlines I’ll get up about six, work through the morning then take an hour or two for lunch. If I’m feeling virtuous, I’ll go to the gym or do some yoga – otherwise a walk, because getting away from the words is the key thing. Depending how much I’ve achieved in the morning, I’ll either plan the next day’s sections or plough on. My boyfriend comes home about six and we’ll cook a meal together, or else head out for drinks with friends.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’m skeptical about writers’ block. I think it’s often a reluctance to sit down and get on with it – at least it is for me. There’s a fine line between being genuinely blocked for ideas and simply preferring to do something else, like check Twitter, or call a friend, or watch telly (I am guilty of all three). The only way through writers block – and there is a way through – is to strap yourself to your desk and keep trying.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Bonkbusters have loads of intertwined characters and storylines, so I have to be. I like to know my beginning, my end, and crucial milestones along the way. But that said, planning too rigidly can be counter-productive: characters make their own minds up about what happens in a book, and if you keep trying to steer them back on to an original, outdated template, you’ll tie yourself in all sorts of knots. My advice is to keep your signposts in place, but be fluid as well and happy to let your story take the lead.
5.What was the publishing process like for you, & any advice to aspiring authors? It definitely helped that I knew the industry already. This made me see that writing a book is a commercial endeavour: you need to feel confident in which authors you’d sit alongside, what books you’d compare yourself with, what market you’d be appealing to. Publishing is a business like any other and your work needs to make money for people. When approaching agents, demonstrate that you’ve thought about this. Pitch your novel concisely, in one or two lines, with a clear, sellable angle. Also, choose carefully which agent you approach: look at their lists, the writers they represent, and their personal tastes. Agents have stacks of submissions to read every day and it makes such a difference when the writer has taken time to target their recipient.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Earlier in 2013 I was a judge on ITV’s Lorraine, setting out to find the next big name in romantic fiction – this was easily a highlight! Not least because I was judging alongside my all-time idol Jackie Collins. I adore Jackie’s bonkbusters – they were what made me want to try ones of my own – and to work with her was a dream come true.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? My most recent book was a romance for Mills & Boon, called Glittering Fortunes. It’s about a glamorous but crumbling country estate in the English West Country, and two rival brothers at war over their inheritance. Think Downton Abbey meets Hollywood!
8.Is anything in your books based on real life experiences, or purely all from imagination? Every book draws to some extent on the author’s own life experiences, but I can safely say that much of what I write comes from the imagination! As a starting point I like to take a character in the press, or a headline, always someone drastically rich and famous, and imagine what life must be like for them behind closed doors. In that way my books are inspired by real life, but my musings make up the rest of it.
9.What do you like to do besides writing? Well, all this year I’ve been mostly planning my wedding – but once that’s over normal life will resume. I love having dinner with friends, hanging out with my sister, shopping or going to see a movie, and I’ve recently taken up sketching (I’m not very good!)
10.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Right now I’d love to get inside Miley Cyrus’s head. What is going on there? I think she’s far more clued up and savvy than people give her credit for – this whole revamp thing, all the controversy, she knows exactly what she is doing. It would be great to be a fly on that wall!
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always loved to read and I think this is why I also love to write. From a very young age I knew that reading and English were my strong points at school and I used to borrow books from the school library and read them in a day. Judy Blume was a firm favourite growing up. I remember particularly enjoying the book Deenie. I also recall receiving a gift for my birthday (a pretty notepad and pen) and writing my own story in it (I liked to imagine it was my own book), which I still have to this day. It makes me smile when I read it; it’s actually quite long!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? My writing days completely vary. I also run My Celebrity Dress, a designer dress hiring website and some days I’m really busy and only have a spare thirty minutes. Whenever I get a free moment though I make sure I’m writing and I’m always thinking about my story and the characters. Some days I write early in the morning or some days I’ll be writing until ten at night. No two days are the same with me!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I get some days where I think I should be writing and I’ll sit down and try, but I’m just not in the mood. When this happens, I just try again the next day as I feel like there is no point in forcing yourself to write, so I don’t beat myself up about it. Some days I’ll manage about 20 words, whereas others I’ll manage 4000; no two days are ever the same! I come up with the best ideas and storylines when I’m really enjoying writing and my fingers just can’t type quickly enough!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? When I first started Essex Girls I didn’t have a storyline at all. I just wrote every day and see where it took me. I would be walking the dogs or cooking dinner and I’d suddenly think ‘I know what can happen next to this character or that character’. It was always on my mind, which shows just how much a novel takes over my life when I’m writing it. Even now, when I meet new people, I look out for their expressions and traits and imagine them as characters in my book! I prefer to make stories up as I go along, though for my second book I did a very rough plan, which I constantly changed. I don’t have a routine due to my other jobs, but I do find that I work best in the evenings.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was very lucky and it took only 4-5 months after completing my first novel to be told it was going to be published. It took me about 8-9 months to write it (though I stopped in the middle because I moved house) and it was the first book I’d ever completed. I studied creative writing at university and I’d only ever written short stories before this; writing a novel is a completely different ball game! When I’d finished Essex Girls, I actually contacted a local author (Kimberley Chambers) and asked her for some advice. Kimberley kindly got back to me about a week later and told me to buy ‘The Writers and Artists Yearbook’ and go from there so this is exactly what I did. I contacted a few agents I felt I’d be suited to, and not long after I heard from my agent, Hannah Ferguson at The Marsh Agency. Before I knew it, I was meeting an editor from Harper Collins who was keen on publishing my book. It all happened really fast and I know how lucky I was to strike gold on my first attempt at getting published. I would advise authors to look for a gap in the market before they even start writing. I did some research before I began writing Essex Girls to see if there was any other Essex inspired chick lit, which at the time, there wasn’t. I really believe this helped me to get published. I would also recommend two books: The Writers and Artists Yearbook and the Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Book Published by Rachael Stock, which I found really helpful. There are tips in there about writing cover letters, how to approach agents and what you should and shouldn’t do; it’s a really useful book. I honestly believe if writing is your passion, then getting published should just be a bonus, so never give up. It’s difficult, but try not to let rejections dampen your spirits. Keep going! I’ve spoken to several authors recently who have told me it took them years to get published. I had previously attempted to get some short stories published in women’s magazines, without success, but it didn’t put me off trying again. Writing is a release for me and a great way to escape; if you feel the same then never give up hope. It’s good to remember that even JK Rowling received rejection letters!
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Seeing my book for the first time I felt a great sense of achievement. I loved my launch party too, it was so much fun! I’ve had some great times promoting the book doing radio interviews and even getting my hair blow dried just for doing a short interview (def one of the highlights!).
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? Its light hearted and fun like Essex Girls, but there is a twist in the storyline this time and the readers will see much more of Adele. It has some new characters too such as Chloe Sam’s sister and Adele’s friend, Donna. Jade and Sam face some problems in their relationship, as do Kelly and Billy. The question is, will their relationships survive?
8.What do you enjoy doing besides writing? Shopping, walking my dogs, going to the gym, spending time with friends and family. Going on holiday is always nice too.
9.What is your all time favourite book(s)? I honestly couldn’t say! (sorry) Such a hard questions to answer. I love Sophie Kinsella, Kimberley Chambers, Lesley Pearce, Martina Cole and Lianne Moriarty; quite a mixed bag!
10.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Victoria Beckham. I would dress down in flats and smile for the paparazzi to give them a field day. Oh and of course because of the fact that David would be my husband…
Carole Matthews is an internationally bestselling author of hugely successful romantic comedy novels. Her unique sense of humour has won her legions of fans and critical acclaim all over the world. As well as appearing on the Sunday Times and USA Today bestseller lists, Carole is published in 31 different countries. Her novel Welcome To The Real World was shortlisted for the RNA romantic novel of the year award. She has recently been given an award from The Festival of Romance for her Outstanding Contribution to Romantic Fiction. Previously very unlucky in love, she now lives happily ever after with her partner, Lovely Kev, in a minimalist home with no ornaments or curtains. She likes to drink champagne, eat chocolate and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter. http://www.carolematthews.com
1.What got you into writing? I entered a short story competition and won a thousand pounds which I spent on a writing course. When I was on the course, the tutor liked my work and recommended that I send it to an agent. The agent took me straight on and that book became my first novel, Let’s Meet on Platform 8. That was seventeen years ago!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I usually have an early start in the office – anywhere between 4 and 8am. I’m not a great sleeper, so am often working pre-dawn. Then I work through until about 6pm and take an hour for lunch. I also usually end up working a few nights in the wee small hours – my punishment for having a busy brain! I write two books a year, so I’ve got to put the hours in. I do fritter quite a lot of time on social media too!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Never had it. Thankfully! My writing pays my bills and I don’t think my bank manager believes in it.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Yes, definitely. Everything is thoroughly plotted, but when I’m writing things naturally develop, so it doesn’t always end up as I’ve intended. But then that’s one of the joys of writing.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? It’s hard to get a start now, so determination is important. A lot of people I meet are in a rush to get their work out there when it’s not quite ready. Making sure it’s the best it can be is so important.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Thanks to my lovely readers, my current Christmas book – Calling Mrs Christmas – is currently at number 7 in the Sunday Times bestseller list, I’d say that was pretty much up there among my best moments!
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? Calling Mrs Christmas is the story of Cassie Smith, who decides to set up a Christmas planning business when she’s made redundant from her job. But when divorced millionaire Carter Randall calls on her to organise the perfect Christmas for his children, Cassie doesn’t realise that it’s about to turn her world upside down. I’m really proud of this book and it’s one of my personal favourites. Thankfully, my readers feel the same way!
8.If you could be a superhero, what powers would you possess? The power to eat anything I liked – particularly chocolate – and not put on weight.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I’d like to change places with the Queen. I currently have a cardboard cut-out of her in my conservatory – left over from the Diamond Jubilee. I reckon she has a pretty nice life.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? My readers are the most fabulous, funny, friendly lot on the planet. They give me constant support and encouragement. Without them I’d have no job, so I’m always so very grateful they love my books enough to go out and buy them.
Vina Jackson is a collaboration between two London writers, one an award-winning author and publishing insider and the other a City professional. They met at a conference and found they share similar tastes and obsessions and were surprised to discover how well they work together. It just keeps on getting better, although they both continue to write on the side under their own names.
1.What got you into writing? Both of us have written as far back as we remember. We love books, reading, telling stories, so writing became in a way self-evident
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? One of us wakes up at 6.30 am and invariably writes until 11 or midday, day in and day out, while the other mostly writes in evenings and weekends or when deadline looms whenever possible
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? The answer is NO for both of us.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Our novels are carefully planned and plotted as all have sold to publishers before they were actually written so we had to propose something, but we improvise a fair bit along the way and change things. Short stories have more of an improvisatory feel.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Everything we have written has quickly sold to publishers via our agent (one of us worked for many years in book publishing and has published a lot under real name and writes full-time while other had already published a small book and several stories before the birth of VJ). Only advice re. writing is don’t talk about it and just write.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Getting into the Sunday Times top 10 bestseller list on numerous occasions, as well as German and frequent overseas ones.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? MISTRESS OF NIGHT AND DAWN is an erotic extravaganza and an attempt to move beyond the 80 DAYS series and reach a larger readership. It’s romantic, kinky, historical and supernatural.
8.Do you have a writing place/space? Our studies and sometimes bed or sofa or hotel rooms.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Not a thought that’s ever occurred, sorry
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? We just hope they enjoy our books as we try to make them as exciting and varied as possible.
1.What got you into writing? I don’t even remember starting to write – I just did. I was always scribbling something . a poem, a short story, a make-believe newspaper article. When I was nine, I wrote my first travelogue, a non-fiction piece called ‘Disasters in Florida’, based on a family trip to Orlando. My real piece de résistance, though, was my novel called ‘Glint off the Gold’, which I completed on the Commodore 64 at age thirteen and sent off to various publishers. And thus began my long love affair with rejections!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I try to get up at 5 a.m. to shoe-horn in some writing time before my baby wakes around half-six. I’ll write again while he has his morning and afternoon naps, and sometimes in the evening if I haven’t achieved my word count for the day. I always set a goal otherwise, I know I’ll come up with many excuses not to write!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I sometimes get stuck, but I’ve found the best way around that is to sit at the desk and force yourself to write, even if you know you might delete it later. Somehow, through the process of writing, the answer becomes clear.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I always plan the main turning points for my characters, and I try to understand what they want and how they change by the end of the novel. The first draft never turns out how I think it will, though! Writing is a process of discovery for me, which I love.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? My first big break was when Prospera Publishing contracted me to write a London travel guide. Although non-fiction was never really my dream, I figured being published in any genre was a good first step. It taught me a lot about how the process works, and they went on to publish my next two novels. I had a very satisfactory experience, but with hardly any distribution in print and 99% of my sales in ebooks, it made more sense for me to pay a one-off fee to an editor and cover designer, and keep the remainder of the profits for myself. I self-published three novels and three novellas, and hit the top 100 on Amazon UK three times. I’ve recently signed a two-book deal with Amazon Publishing. Amazon has huge power and clout in the industry, and I believe they will continue to be a dominant player. I’m very excited to be working with them to expand my readership. My advice would be to keep writing! The more you write, the better you get. There are so many distractions these days, but sitting down at the desk and getting on with your novel is critical.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The highlight for me has definitely been hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed my books. It’s such a lovely feeling to know someone appreciates the story you’ve developed.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My most recent book is a novella called ‘Last Christmas’. The main character, Lucy, is eager to banish the ghost of Christmas past – when her boyfriend dumped her on the streets of Paris. Determined to make this the best Christmas ever, she rallies friends and family for an epic celebration that just happens to fall on the same day as her ex’s festive wedding. Furious at how she’s been treated, Lucy can’t help relishing the party v wedding smackdown. But when the wedding is threatened and only Lucy can help, can she find the spirit inside to save the day, or will this Christmas be even more disastrous than the last?
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Spare time? What’s that? Apart from writing, I’ve become very adept in the sport of baby wrangling. My son is almost a year old now and he’s hard to keep up with!
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Hmm, interesting question! I’m in the Christmas spirit right now, so I’ll say Santa Claus. I’m not a huge fan of snow, but I’d love to work at making people happy all the time.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Just a huge thank you! I love writing, and it’s a constant source of amazement to me that people want to read what I’ve written. My readers are so supportive and lovely, and their kind words make the struggle of writing a novel more than worth it.
Paige Toon was born in 1975 and grew up between England, Australia and America. A philosophy graduate, she worked at teen, film and women’s magazines, before ending up at Heat magazine as Reviews Editor. Paige is married, has two small children and lives in Cambridge. The Longest Holiday is her seventh book.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always wanted to write – it wasn’t a choice, it was just something I did. To be able to write for a living is so crazily brilliant, it still makes me laugh.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I drop my kids at school and nursery then go to a local coffee shop and write for four hours (squeezing in some Twitter & Facebook, too), then collect my daughter from nursery and play!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I usually have a tricky spot during all of my books and I’ve just had a nasty bout of writers block for Thirteen Weddings, where I stalled for about a week, just as I was approaching my deadline. I asked for a two-week extension to take the pressure off, then went for a couple of long walks until my characters started talking to me inside my head again!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I usually plot loosely, then let the story take me where it wants to go. I didn’t plot enough with Thirteen Weddings though – hence the writers block probably!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I was very, very lucky and got a book deal based on an idea (for Lucy in the Sky) and a synopsis and the first three chapters. But I worked at heat magazine and had met publishers, so I had an ‘in’. Don’t underestimate the power of already being a working writer – it’s worth considering journalism as a stepping stone to a publishing deal.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Reading my Amazon reviews for Lucy in the Sky, my debut novel. Hearing that ordinary people read and loved my book, and could feel all of the emotions I felt when writing it, was the most amazing thing ever. Reading my reviews is still the highlight, even now.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. The Longest Holiday came out earlier this year and is about a girl who goes on a girls’ holiday to get away from something awful her husband has done – she falls hard for a hot scuba diving instructor and doesn’t want to go home again to face the music. Johnny’s Girl is an ebook short story which came out in November and it’s a sequel to Baby Be Mine, which gives us an update to Meg and rock star Johnny, telling us how they cope when he finds out he has a fifteen-year-old daughter he never knew about. Her name is Jessie, and in January comes the first of a new series of books about her – an ordinary girl who finds out her dad is a rock star. It’s called The Accidental Life of Jessie Jefferson. I’ve also just finished my next adult chick-lit book Thirteen Weddings, which comes out in May and is about a wedding photographer who falls for a groom…
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Hang out with my family, catch up with friends, go to the movies.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Oh, the pressure! I’ll change my mind as soon as I press send on these questions and it will bother me for ages, but for now I’ll say Mrs Chris Hemsworth or Bella from Twilight.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? You guys never fail to amaze me with your continuous love and affection for my books. Please keep your messages and reviews coming – and come say hi on Facebook.com/PaigeToonAuthor or Twitter @PaigeToonAuthor if you haven’t already. Love ya!
1.What got you into writing? Truth is I don’t really know – it seems like I have always done it. Even as a school kid I used to scribble away in the back of old exercise books. I suppose the first thing which drew me to writing was the love of reading. I have always read a lot and am entranced by the magic of books – I suppose I wanted to learn how to do a little bit of that magic myself.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I write round the day. I work in PR for the UK children’s health charity WellChild and have a growing family so I’m kept fairly busy but it’s always been important to me to write so I find the time – an hour in the evening, scribbling in a note book on the bus, whatever it takes. I do little and often and then get stuck in more once I’m properly underway with something – it all gets done in the end if you keep at it I find.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t really get it. Though I am a slow starter – it takes me a couple of years to write a book so I don’t embark on something lightly and I often have false starts which I abandon – but I consider that to be part of the process. The best advice I ever heard was an author who said ‘if I ever suffer writers’ block I lower my standards and carry on.’ That’s what I do. Once you have something on the page you can go back and rewrite it.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I do plan yes. But it’s a more organic process than just laying out a road map at the start then following it. You start with an idea of your destination and plan as you go along. So I like to have a general idea then I might add to it and embellish it as I work. I sometimes do diagrams too and character sketches – all sorts of things along the way.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I’ve written three books so far and only found a publisher for one of those. It took me a lot of time and a lot of rejection slips to find a publisher. It’s not easy to find one, there’s lots of competition for their attention. But I got there in the end and Skylight Press who published my book Song of the Sea God have been great and I’m delighted I found a publisher who are the right fit for my book. That’s the key thing I think, finding someone who’s the right fit. I don’t necessarily think it will become easier for me now I’ve been published once, but we will see. The advice I have for people is work hard and keep on keeping on.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? There have been a few! One was signing the contract with the publisher, another was the first time I saw my book in a bookshop window (I confess I took a photo). The most satisfying thing now is when I come across people on websites and so on who have reviewed or are discussing aspects of my book and I didn’t even know they were doing it. It is as though the book has left me and taken on a life of its own. Their opinions of the book are taking it in directions I didn’t anticipate and that’s a remarkable feeling – it really brings it home for you that you have created something worthwhile.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Song of the Sea God is a book about a man who comes to a small island off the coast of northern England and tries to convince the locals he is a god. In some ways I suppose it’s a book about the nature of religion – what it means to people, how it works. I’d like to think there’s humour in there, particularly in the narrative voice, but it’s quite a dark book as well, it delves into some quite murky places. I’m thrilled by the reaction it’s had so far from readers – people seem to think of it in different ways, it’s dark or comic or lyrical, and so on. That’s great because I was aiming to write something rich and layered and hard to pin down. It’s available on Amazon here and you can read the first few pages to get a feel for it. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Song-Sea-God-Chris-Hill/dp/1908011556/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1349468028&sr=1-1
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Entertain the kids basically. I run a bit, play guitar, grow flowers and veg in my garden. But it’s mostly family stuff which is great of course. I don’t plot to become a god or anything like that. I’m refreshingly normal for someone who’s written such a crazy book.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Ooh, that’s a good one. I’m going to say Shakespeare – basically because surprisingly little is known about him. There are a handful of written records of his existence, a few contemporary mentions, but basically nothing. And I’d love to know what made him tick, what kind of a person he was.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Well, thank you very much, of course. The joy of social media is that I talk to my readers all the time – often they ask me questions, or interview me, tell me what they think, review my book on Amazon or on websites and blogs. It has changed the game altogether and made the relationship between authors and readers much closer I would say. The thing I would say to them is – please do get in touch and tell me what you thought of Song of the Sea God, I am always fascinated to hear. You can find me on Twitter @ChilledCH or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/#!/chris.hill.3726 And I have a blog at http://songoftheseagod.wordpress.com/
1. What got you into writing? I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t into writing. When I was younger I was always writing short stories and drawing cartoons. I’ve always loved comedy and the idea of creating it is something I’ve always been drawn to. I remember reading the Adrian Mole diaries when I was in my early teens and loving them. I personally think that if you want to be a writer it’s just in you. I’ve been telling my friends for years that I wanted to be a writer and they were probably bored of hearing me talking about it. I’ve sacrificed a lot to be an author and luckily for me it’s worked out and I finally get to do what I love for a living. Let’s just hope it continues.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? At the moment I’m technically a stay-at-home dad first and a writer second so I don’t really have a usual writing day. I write when I can for as long as I can. I also have an absolutely incredible wife who helps me grab as much writing time as I can. In a couple of years both of my kids will be at school, so then hopefully I’ll have a usual writing day. I write best in the morning, so ideally I’d like to write between say 9am and 1pm during the week, but as you know, it’s always on my mind. Authors never really stop working.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Not too much. Sometimes when I’m starting a new book I find it hard to get into the characters’ heads and so writing is quite slow and lots of it gets deleted or edited. I don’t really suffer from writers block though and if I do, I just start working on something else and I usually find it soon comes back to me.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I never used to be. I think my first few books were very much just start and see what happens. As most writers will tell you though, once you start working with agents and publishers, they sort of demand that you plan a bit more. My agent wants me to show her fully formed ideas, so although the whole book isn’t planned out, it’s at least a well thought out idea. Saying that, when I start writing the actual book things do change and it’s definitely an organic process. I think I’m a sort of hybrid writer now – I plan the story out to get going, but let the creativity evolve the idea once it’s started.
5. What was the publishing process like for you, & any advice to aspiring authors? I was very lucky that I was actually approached by a publishing company. I originally self-published my debut novel This Thirtysomething Life and it got into the Kindle top ten on Amazon. Due to this success, I was approached by an Editorial Assistant at Hodder and Stoughton and after quite a few meetings and lots of waiting (the process takes a long time even when they want you), I was offered a two book deal. I was also quite unique in that I didn’t have an agent and so I was working with the publishers directly. I definitely learnt a lot from the experience and now I have an agent and I work with her and it’s a brilliant relationship. She really understands me and constantly pushes me to do better and to keep improving. In terms of advice for aspiring authors, I would say write a really incredible book and then get it out there. I spent a few years trying to get an agent the old fashioned way, but I think the publishing world is changing. Self-publish on Kindle and get it read. Make sure you get the book proofread properly and preferably edited too before you publish – there’s nothing worse than a book full of errors to put people off. Design a brilliant, eye-catching cover and learn how to market your book. Trust me, even when you get a book deal, you still have to do most of your own marketing. You need a website, a presence on Twitter and Facebook. No matter how good the book is, if no-one knows who you are, no-one is going to read it. Publishers and agents love to work with people who know how to sell books and advertise themselves.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I think just holding the first copy of my first published novel in my hands. Although I got published because of my EBook sales, there’s nothing quite like having an actual copy. It was a proud moment and one I’ll never forget.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Of course. My latest book and my second novel is called HAPPY ENDINGS and it’s the story of Kate, Ed, Emma and Jack, four late-twentysomethings all searching for their own version of a happy ending. I was inspired to write the book because I think that so many people in their twenties are all searching for the same thing – happiness. The thing is we don’t often know what it is we need to be happy and often the things we think we need or strive for, isn’t what we need at all. The book is about that search and I hope it’s funny, sad, sweet, heartwarming and life-affirming. I also wanted to write a proper ensemble piece and so I wrote the book from four first person perspectives. I think this gives the story a real depth and we’re able to see the same story in four different ways. If you love books about growing up, love and happy endings, then this is a book for you. My first book is called THIS THIRTYSOMETHING LIFE and it’s about a man, Harry Spencer, who goes through a bit of an early midlife crisis when he finds out his wife is pregnant. It’s a hilarious and heartwarming story about one man’s bumbling journey to adulthood. Told in diary format, it covers nine months in his life leading up to the birth of his first child. I wrote this after going through the same thing in my own life. My wife had just had our first baby and I really wanted to write a funny book about what men go through during pregnancy and how it changes us. It was a Kindle top ten bestseller and it will always be the book that changed my life, in more ways than one. I’ve also just finished writing the sequel to this and it’s called THIS FAMILY LIFE and it covers Harry’s first year of parenthood. It’s a book I really love and I hope the fans of the first one will love it too.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I have two kids and so I’m constantly busy. However, in my ‘spare’ time I read a lot (obviously), I love travelling and my wife and I plan on seeing as many countries as we can and one day, when I actually have spare time, I plan to take up golf.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Gosh that’s a hard one to answer. There’s so many people, but if I had to pick one it would be Stephen Fry, simply because I would love to know how it feels to be that clever. I have an awful memory and trying to remember anything is a real struggle, but he just knows so much and has a vocabulary I’d die for. So I’d love to be him for a week and if I was, I’d have to get together with Hugh Laurie and maybe he could play the piano while I served us cocktails – this is only amusing if you’re a big fan of A Bit of Fry and Laurie.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Yes, just a big old THANK YOU. Since getting published and even before when I was self-published, I received so many lovely emails and tweets from people saying how much they loved my book and it really does mean a lot. Writing is such a singular, lonely old game, but then you put this thing out there you’ve created and when it genuinely touches people it’s a truly wonderful feeling. Also, without readers, I’d just be a bloke writing books for himself and that isn’t nearly as much fun. So thank you, thank you, thank you. And merry Christmas and a happy New Year!
Carl Scharwath / The Running Poet
Photograph credit to: Amanda Sofia Sinco
- What got you into writing? I started to write for the very first time after a near accident. While out on a night run and feeling great, I walked across the street on my way home. Looking left and right my first few steps were leading me to the other side. I heard someone talking and turned to look when out of the darkness a car emerged a few feet from me. I escaped being hit by inches and had this out of body type experience walking home. Having never written anything before that very night I wrote a poem about the experience and then a short story as well. Both were published and I fell in love with writing. Being an avid reader also inspires me to write. Running is a special compliment to my writing as they now work hand in and in the creative process.
2. What is a usual writing day for you? Having a full time career, being a grand-pa and training for competitive running sadly only leaves about two hours per week dedicated to my writing. Most of my poem and story ideas come to me while running so the outlines only need to be completed. A future goal would be to dedicate more time to writing.
3. Do you get writers block? If so how do you overcome it? Yes, the best way to fill that empty page I am staring at in apprehension is go for a run and come back invigorated and ready.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Yes, I always write an outline to my short stories, and through the week lines and thoughts will come. I am inspired by all the writers who can write for hours with a great focus. My three to four page short stories can take up to two months to complete. There is a feeling they are never complete as they will be edited and changed many times. I have written over 60 poems, a play and sport articles and those I can write efficiently but a story can be a painstaking yet rewarding process.
5. What was the publishing process like for you, and advice any aspiring authors? All writers whether they are famous or just starting out have been rejected many times. Art is truly in the eye of the beholder and that is my philosophy when I submit my writing. I can send the same short story to numerous publications and receive feedback the story is not for us and then like magic another editor will accept it and give you positive feedback. My advice is never give up and when an editor takes the time to suggest changes accept that and learn from all your rejections. Finally think outside of the box with your writing. Tell the world you are a writer and look for creative ways to network, whether social media, public readings or searching for other non traditional opportunities to share your passion with others.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Having my first poetry book published and my first non fiction article on ways to give back to the sport of running, which were featured in two major runner’s magazines.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? My first published book of poetry concentrated on the general theme that there are people in our society who need help. The human condition is a general philosophy I tend to share in all my writing. My poetry and short stories tend to be of the minimalist style and I want my readers to hopefully reflect on how the writing brings the beauty of life to everyone. Currently I just completed my first 10 minute play and am excited to be working with my daughter on a children’s book. My daughter will supply the artwork and my grandson will be the character in this book.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Being a father and grandfather is my true blessing in life. I am a competitive runner who races every other weekend. I also train and compete in sprint triathlons. My newest love is art-photography and I love the surrealistic style. I am happy that on my first submission to a photography journal they accepted the work for publication.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Mother Theresa, the supreme person who gave of herself to others without any question.
10. Do you have anything you want to say to your readers? Please read, with so many other entertainment options, reading is the one special joy that can bring you peace, joy and knowledge. http://barometricpressures.blogspot.com/2013/10/journey-to-become-forgotten-carl.html
1.What got you into writing? I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember, and as a child I was always making up stories. It took a very long time for me to get a publishing deal, but once I got an agent (Madeleine Milburn) everything happened very quickly.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I work part time (three days a week) so I don’t tend to write on those days, unless I’m up against a tight deadline. On my days off (including the weekend) I’ll usually write every day. I don’t have a particular routine – I always feel that I should be writing, so if I’m way from the laptop then I feel guilty!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t really get writer’s block. I always know where the plot is going, although some days the writing doesn’t flow as easily. Depending on how tight my deadline is, I’ll either write through it (knowing that I can always edit it later, or even delete it if it’s particularly bad) or maybe polish up some earlier chapters, as that can spark off ideas for what will happen later. Failing that, a walk or a bath are always good for working through tricky plotlines.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m not a big planner – I’ll work out plotlines in my head, but I’m not the type to create spreadsheets and plan everything in detail chapter by chapter. I know the major plot makers, but enjoy the process of discovering what happens in between.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Publishing definitely has its ups and downs, so I’d say develop a thick-skin and persevere.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Ooh, so many! I was thrilled when the foreign rights were sold (to Italy, Spain and Germany). Seeing my book in Italian was amazing. I also run an online book club on Facebook which I’ve loved doing. And any time someone sends you a tweet or a message saying they’ve loved your book it’s a real highlight and gives you a huge boost.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My most recent book is The Naughty Girls Book Club, about a varied group of women (and one man!) who join a Bristol-based book group that ends up reading erotica novels! Unexpected friendships are made, as the group help each other to make changes in their own lives, and they even pick up some helpful tips for spicing things up in the bedroom! I’ve included an extract below from the first book club meeting. The group have been discussing Tess of the D’Urbervilles and found it very dull, when a copy of Ten Sweet Lessons, the latest erotica sensation, falls out of Estelle’s handbag… “What’s that?” asked Sue, craning her neck to look around Reggie. “Ten Sweet Lessons!” burst out Gracie, looking shocked. “Wait a minute, isn’t that..?” “Is that what you’re reading, Estelle?” demanded Rebecca. Estelle looked up, her face glowing like a beacon, to see them all staring at her accusingly. Oh, this was so humiliating! Here she was, trying to run a serious book group, and now she’d blown her cover, revealing that all along, she preferred mass market, low-brow erotica. “Sort of…” Estelle began slowly, trying to brazen it out. The next moment, her brain no longer seemed to be connected to the words that were coming out of her mouth, and she heard herself say, “I was actually testing it out in advance of the next meeting. It’s going to be our next read.” Trying to regain her dignity, Estelle bent over and picked the book up off the floor, placing it squarely on the table in front of her. “Yes, that’s right,” she continued more confidently, ignoring their shocked expressions. “Ten Sweet Lessons by C J Jones. I hope there are no objections?” There were horrified gasps from around the table as they stared at her in disbelief, shock written across their faces. “B… But that’s… porn,” Sue burst out, whispering the word under her breath. “Erotica, I’d say,” Estelle replied thoughtfully. “Although it’s a very fine distinction – something we could discuss at the next meeting, perhaps?” “Well I’ve heard that it’s deeply misogynistic,” Gracie began furiously. “And that it sets feminism back fifty years.” “You could always read it and make up your own mind,” Estelle couldn’t resist saying, her eyes sparkling mischievously. “I’d love to hear your opinions next time.” “I wouldn’t mind seeing what all the fuss is about, actually,” Rebecca admitted shyly. “All the mums at the school gates have read it.” Estelle smiled at her, grateful for her support. “Thank you, Rebecca. Reggie?” Reggie said nothing, his cheeks flaming red as he stared at the ground like he wanted it to swallow him up. “Good, then that’s settled,” Estelle said firmly, feeling a remarkable sense of calm now that she’d taken control and made her decision. “The next read for the Cafe Crumb book club will be Ten Sweet Lessons by C J Jones. The meeting will be held two weeks today, and I look forward to seeing you all back here to find out exactly what you thought of it.”
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Read! I read a lot, especially other female fiction writers. I also watch more TV than I probably should! As it says in my biography, I like to go on nice holidays, so I try and get away whenever I can.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Oh wow, interesting question… I think I’ll say Rachel Weisz – she’s stunningly beautiful and very talented, with an amazing career. And (this is the real reason) I would I get to wake up (and more!) with the delicious Daniel Craig!
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you so much! The reaction to Naughty Girls has been more incredible than I could have imagined, and I’ve had such lovely comments about it. People on Twitter (I’m @Cafe_Crumb ) and Facebook have been so friendly and supportive, and I’m extremely grateful for all their kind words.
1. What got you into writing? I’ve loved writing all my life but it took the back-seat when I got into broadcasting at college. After university, I became a full time radio DJ and worked my way up the ladder until I was a national radio and Television presenter in Ireland. It was only when I retired from media after my second baby was born that I started to write seriously. The kind of TV I did involved jumping out of helicopters and swimming with dolphins – great fun but not very baby-friendly.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? I write new material every morning, Mon – Fri. I’m a full time Mummy in the afternoons because I have five children. I edit in the evenings when the younger ones have gone to bed. The weekends are all about family.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’ve just completed my seventh novel. For the last three years I’ve averaged a book a year. It means I don’t have the luxury of stopping. The trick is to work through writer’s block and then delete the weaker material later. It’s the only way to get through to the good bits again. JUST REMEMBER TO DELETE. You may find you can axe a full three or four chapters and the book will be better as a result. Always respect your reader. Don’t take their patience for granted. Delete everything you’re not proud of.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I love a strong start that will pull the reader in fast. That’s probably more important now than ever because readers check your first few chapters on Amazon before they commit to buying. Make your first sentence, page and chapter the best it can be. After that I let the characters run free but step back every four or five chapters to ensure it’s going in a good direction. I’m a broad strokes kind of person with a mental image of where it will end.
5. What was the publishing process like for you & any advice to aspiring authors? I was lucky because I came into it with the background of being a national radio DJ and TV presenter. For somebody starting today, without an angle or reason for grabbing a publisher’s attention – it’s going to be very hard. Many of the big publishing houses are losing money and may have to close or merge over the next few years to survive financially. That said self-publishing is a very interesting option. Think of it as a cottage industry. You have to build up your own followers through social media. The larger publishing houses will start to take you seriously when you have a big enough fan base. If you get enough sales and fans through self-publishing you’ll be able to take your pick of the publishers. But by then, you mightn’t even want them.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I will never forget the time my Irish publisher phoned me and told me I was number one in the Irish Times Bestseller’s List. I was living in Ireland at the time and burst out crying in the middle of the street. People walking by thought I’d been given bad news but it was the best news possible. I stayed at No. 1 for five glorious weeks. Last year Wellesley Wives became an Amazon EBook Bestseller within 10 days of being published. That was another happy-tears day. My Australian publishers flew me to the Sydney Writers Festival in Australia earlier this year to guest talk on how to write romantic comedy which was pretty fantastic. I think I’m very lucky. I’ve had books translated into German and Norwegian at this stage so sometimes I just look at those paperbacks and think – Wow. I’ve had quite a few highlights.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My newest release is Newton Neighbors where; “The only thing worse than a weak dollar is a weak martini.” It’s a romantic comedy about the colorful residents of Crystal Lake. The lake exists in real life and the houses around it are spectacular. It was once called Wiswall’s Pond – because a man named Wiswall owned it, which makes sense. After that, the name was change to Baptist Pond because they started to do Baptisms in it – again reasonable. But eventually the name was changed to Crystal Lake because some entrepreneurial person wanted to sell the ice to the southerners. I thought this was very funny and appealed to the cynic in me. Crystal Lake sounds so romantic and evocative but who would want ice that any oul’ heathen had been dunked in for a Baptism? That got me to thinking about the kind of people who could live around such a lake. Naturally there are the women who are scrambling to get in. Meet Cathi who is a bit mad and will go to any lengths – hint, Botox and Bollinger parties. Then there’s Maria who sort of ended up there by accident a decade ago and now really wants to move on. The story will take you to Puerto Rico as we escape with her to the tropical paradise. Noreen is my favorite character because she’s been there the longest and her wild days would shock today’s neighbors. It’s a story to make you laugh at the lighter side of life and appreciate the neighbors you have… Last year I launched Wellesley Wives. It was published in Norway a few months ago. It’s a romantic comedy about Popsy Power – a Boston society-wife and her best friend, Sandra. They have it all with adoring husbands and fabulous daughters. Rosie is married with a baby of her own and Lily has a glittering career. Life is incredibly good but then it goes bad. They have to move from Ferraris and fine art to working in a boat house in Banagher (in the middle of Ireland) and when Lily runs off with her father’s best friend and Rosie finds herself on a yacht with another woman’s husband, it’s hardly surprising that their mother should worry about the next generation of Wellesley Wives. It’s a roller coaster ride of laughter and tears and a reminder to all of us how precious our best friends are. It will make you want to call you mother or your best friend and tell her how much you love her.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I loved gardening back in Ireland but the winters are much bigger here Boston. We can have up to ten feet of snow in one winter so I spend more quality time with the children and of these days I’m going to ski.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Wow – that’s quite a selection. Being a woman, I guess it would be fun to live inside a male body for a week – you know just to see how different it feels…. It makes sense to time travel too and who wouldn’t want to be in a position of authority? So I’ll go back in time – Okay, I’m going to be John F Kennedy, President of America when he lived in the white house. I might even get to meet Marilyn and I could check out Jackie Kennedy’s closet as long as I didn’t get caught. That would start off a whole new set of rumors!
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thanks for joining us today. Like me on Facebook for giveaways, stories and lots of laughs! https://www.facebook.com/Suzyduffybooks1 Here are a few other links too. https://twitter.com/suzyduffybooks http://pinterest.com/suzyduffybooks/boards http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6420971.Suzy_Duffy
1. What got you into writing? Learning to write at the age of five probably! I’ve always enjoyed creating stories and characters, and a couple of my school friends still have some of my early attempts to write a book. My first foray into novel writing was when I was about nine. I decided to write an anthology; I didn’t even know what an anthology was, but I liked the word! It was self-illustrated, which was a laugh as I can’t draw for toffee, and it was awful. Undeterred, my ambition to become an author one day lived on, and when my full time job came to an end last year I finally had the time to realise my dream.
2. What route of publishing did you take, (self-publishing/traditional publishing) and why? I chose traditional publishing for my first novel as I felt I needed the guidance of the professionals, but my manuscript was ignored by most publishers. They didn’t even send me a rejection letter, so fifteen months on I guess it’s a ‘no’ from them. Being a bit naïve, I did end up parting with money towards the printing and publishing costs, but I was desperate to get my work out. Book Guild Publishing did a good job, and the result is a beautiful book, but it’s difficult to get it noticed with legions of good new writers all vying for attention. I have learned so much about publishing and book marketing in the last year that my second novel will definitely be self-published. I like to have control!
3. What is a usual writing day like for you? Disorganised, to be honest. Gradually I’m learning to manage my time, but it’s taking a while. I do my best work first thing in the morning, so I usually get up when my partner goes to work at 6 am and write/edit intensively until my eyes can’t tolerate the computer screen any more. In the evening I tend to go over whatever I’ve written, or read through editing I’ve done, at a more relaxed pace.
4. Are you a planner/plotter when it comes to starting a story? I’m a ‘panster’, without a doubt. My characters have a habit of taking over the telling of their story, and have surprised me in the past with their ideas. Only an author would understand that statement; my friends think I’m crazy! Dory’s Avengers was written in three months, and even I didn’t know how it was going to end which was a really exciting way to write. Book Two (as yet unnamed) is taking longer as I’ve got so much more going on writing wise: blogging, editing, marketing Dory’s etc. As I’ve had so long to think about the story, I’ve a fair idea of how I want it to turn out, but there will probably be some surprises along the way.
5. Do you get writers block, if so, how do you overcome it? Touch wood, I have never had writer’s block. In fact I tend to get the opposite: my imagination simply won’t shut up, which is really annoying when I’m trying to sleep.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? The Dory’s Avengers book launch in the Cambridge branch of Waterstones. It was the best night of my life. The Waterstones manager was reluctant at first to let me host my launch in the shop, as obviously they’d never heard of me, but despite the fact they hid me at the back of the third floor I sold 59 copies that night. It was a lovely social event too; my wonderful family and friends turned out in force to support me, and I still get a bit misty eyed when I think about it.
7. Who influences you? I love classics by Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, so my writing can be a little old fashioned sometimes, but I like it that way. Charles Dickens has such a humorous turn of phrase which I hope has influenced me – I feel a bit cheeky comparing myself to such a great author! More recent authors I enjoy are JK Rowling and Simon Kernick, and the American author Dean Koontz has definitely influenced my characterisation. I love the way his readers get to know his characters through dialogue and interactions, and that the characters all have their own distinct personalities.
8. What advice would you give to aspiring authors? The only way to discover your own writing style is to write. It annoys me when authors give out rules for writing; what works for them won’t necessarily work for you. As long as you’ve got basic grammar, a good command of the language and a story to tell, there are no rules. As far as publishing is concerned, and this is something I learned the hard way, really sell your writing in your query letter. Write a gripping synopsis, be specific on your target market and your book’s genre if possible, and add any ideas (such as blogging, getting reviews, networking) that you have for marketing the book yourself. Publishers won’t look twice at a book they don’t think they can sell. If you’re going self-published, make sure you get your manuscript properly edited, proof read and formatted for e-readers. It’s worth paying out for the best cover art you can find, as that will catch the eyes of potential readers. A professionally finished book will sell so much better than one done on the cheap, so it’s all money well spent.
9. Where’s the best place that you’ve ever visited, and why? Or one of your favorite experiences and why? Favourite experience, or one of them, was walking nonstop from London to Brighton earlier this year. 100km in one go. I was pretty nervous beforehand, especially about walking overnight, but I met some lovely people and it was all amazing. When the sun came up after the night stretch of the walk and a group of deer ran across our path it was the most incredible moment. The sense of achievement was immense; most of us were moved to tears walking in to Brighton with people congratulating us and car drivers tooting their horns. I have a lot of favourite places, but being mad on walking in beautiful surroundings the English Lake District tops them all for me. A lot of Dory’s Avengers is set in the Lake District, and the rest is set in another of my favourite places: London.
10. Please can you tell the readers a little bit about your published book, Dory’s Avengers? Dory’s Avengers is set in an alternative UK. Freedom is nothing more than a distant memory as the population is stifled and bullied by the dictatorial Sponsorship Scheme, headed by the malevolent Lord William. Oppressed for so long, the public has become docile, and the Sponsors are complacent in the belief that there is no one who will dare to challenge them. In a forgotten Lake District village, a glimmer of hope appears. Almost imperceptibly at first the fight back begins, eventually leading a band of unlikely heroes from their tranquil world to face a spectacular showdown with the Sponsors against the backdrop of the London Olympic Games. Don’t sleep too easily, Lord William. Dory’s Avengers are coming… If you’d like to connect with Alison: Website – http://www.alisonjack-author.com/ Blog – http://alisonjack-blog.com/ Editing service – http://alisonjack-blog.com/editing/ Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AlisonJackAuthor Twitter – https://twitter.com/AlisonJack66 Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7246491.Alison_Jack Dory’s Avengers purchase links can be found here: http://www.alisonjack-author.com/books/
Liz Trenow is a former journalist who spent fifteen years on regional and national newspapers, and on BBC radio and television news, before turning her hand to fiction. Her first novel, The Last Telegram, was nominated for a national award and has also sold in the US and Germany. The Forgotten Seamstress is her second novel. She lives in East Anglia with her artist husband, and they have two grown up daughters. Find out more at http://www.liztrenow.com and join her on Twitter @LizTrenow. Liz Trenow, author of The Forgotten Seamstress Harper Collins: ebook 5 December 2013, paperback 16 January 2014
1.What got you into writing? I studied English at university and started my working life as a journalist, so I have always written. But although I have dabbled with short stories and poetry, I came to writing novels quite late. It was something I’d always wanted to do but never had time for. So, when I was lucky enough to get early retirement from my job, I went freelance and at the same time decided to try writing a novel. I suppose it felt like my equivalent of climbing Everest or getting a hole in one on the golf course, and I wasn’t at all sure I’d be able to do it.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? I write in the mornings when my mind is freshest – usually starting around 8.30ish and continuing till my stomach rumbles for lunch. I start by reviewing and editing the section I wrote yesterday, to get me back into the ‘zone’ and then I usually try to write between 500 – 1,000 words each day. I always write in my study, a small room at the front of the house where there are not too many distractions! But I keep the door open so I can hear the comings and goings in the rest of the house. My imagination seems to close down after lunch so then I do research, admin, replying to emails, blogging and, when I’ve got to that stage, proof reading.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Everyone gets ‘writer’s block’ from time to time. It’s just psychological and I tend to just call it ‘feeling unimaginative / uninspired’. In a television documentary the best-selling crime writer Ian Rankin talked about how, with each novel, he experiences what he describes as ‘the fear’, a point at which he thinks he’s writing complete rubbish that will never get published, and even if it did, that reviewers would slate and readers hate. I recognise that very well, and it was inspiring to hear such an experienced novelist talking about he has to work his way through it and hold faith that it will come right in time. So, to get over it, I just write. You just have to keep on going. Even though I know it’s not great writing, I know that I can go back and improve it tomorrow, or the next day.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Some and some. I like to write novels based on historical facts and/or characters so the history tends to dictate the plot in some respects. I usually know who the main characters are going to be and roughly what happens to them in the end. But secondary characters and plotlines tend to pop up along the way and the best thing is to go with them to see where they lead – that’s the exciting part of writing for me.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I knew that I would need help to write my first novel, so I enrolled on a part-time MA in Creative Writing at City University in London. The first draft of my debut novel, The Last Telegram, was written as the ‘dissertation’ for this degree, and on the strength of it I was lucky enough to get an agent (Caroline Hardman, then with The Christopher Little Agency and now running her own agency). After lots of rejections Harper Collins Avon signed me for a two-book deal. The Forgotten Seamstress is my second novel. My advice to aspiring authors is to join a group: the support of my fellow MA students was invaluable. Once you trust your fellow-writers, make sure you are really honest with each other in your constructive criticism. Don’t submit anything to an agent unless you are really confident of it. Have your readership in mind but don’t get hidebound by it. Write characters whose company you enjoy / feel passionate about – you are going to spend at least a couple of years with them!
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? a) receiving the box of bound copies of my first book, The Last Telegram. b) appearing on Radio 4’s Midweek programme with Libby Purves c) the photoshoot for an article I wrote about the book for the Daily Express – they even sent a ‘stylist’ to do my hair, make-up and clothes!
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? In The Forgotten Seamstress (ebook published 5 December 2013, paperback 16 January 2014), two stories are told in parallel: In 1910 a young seamstress, Maria, is noticed by Queen Mary, patron of the London Needlework Guild, and employed in the royal household. In 2010 Caroline discovers that a patchwork quilt inherited from her grandmother contains unique royal silks. Through the fading memories of her mother, some family letters and photographs, some old cassette tapes and the help of a local journalist Caroline uncovers an extraordinary story involving a royal affair, a life of incarceration and two women whose lives collided with devastating consequences. Finally, she comes to understand what her Granny wanted her to know – the truth about herself and how she wants to live her own life. Here’s an excerpt from the first chapter: Cassette 1 Side 1, April 1970 They told me you want to know my story, why I ended up in that place? Well, there’s a rum question and I’ve been asking it meself for the past fifty years. I can tell you how I got there, and what happened to me. But why? Now that’s a mystery. It’s a deep, smoke-filled voice, with a strong East London accent, and you can hear the smile in it, as if she’s about to break into an asthmatic chuckle at any moment. They’ve probably warned you about me, told you my story is all made up. At least that’s what those trick-cyclists would have you believe. Another voice, with the carefully-modulated, well-educated tones of a younger woman:‘Trick-cyclist?’ Sorry, dearie, it’s what we used to call the psychiatrist, in them old days. Any roads, he used to say that telling tales – he calls them fantasies – is a response to some ‘ungratified need’. ‘You’re not wrong there,’ I’d tell him, giving him the old eyelash flutter. ‘I’ve been stuck in here most of me life, I’ve got plenty of ungratified needs.’
8. What do you like to do besides writing? Reading (of course, all writers must also read, for inspiration) and singing (I love to sing early and Baroque music). Also, spending time with my two grown-up daughters and walking on the beach at Walberswick in Suffolk – one of my favourite places in the whole world.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Anna Maria Garthwaite, the 18th century silk designer, because my next novel will be based on her life, and very little is known about her. Becoming her for a week would solve all my research problems.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you for being my readers. I wouldn’t be here without you. If you love my books, please tell your friends! Look out for my next novel, The Poppy Factory, to be published in August 2014.
Sarah Webb is from Dublin and writes for both children and adults. A former children’s bookseller, her Ask Amy Green series for age 10+ (Walker Books) has been shortlisted for the Queen of Teen Awards in the UK (twice) and the Irish Book Awards. The latest book in the series is Ask Amy Green: Wedding Belles. She also recently contributed a short story to the teen collection, And Then He Kissed Me (Walker Books). Her latest book for adults is The Memory Box (Pan Macmillan). Her websites are http://www.sarahwebb.ie and http://www.askamygreen.com and you can find her on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/sarahwebbwriter or Twitter @sarahwebbishere The Memory Box, my latest novel for adults, has just been published in Ireland and the UK Ask Amy Green: Wedding Belles has also just been published (Sept 2013) www.askamygreen.com http://www.sarahwebb.ie Or find me on Facebook or Twitter
1.What got you into writing? Reading! I’ve always been a huge reader and I read every day. I couldn’t live without books.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I pack the kids off to school, go for a walk or swim, then sit down at my desk for about 4 hours. I am to write 2k words a day, but it doesn’t always happen.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Not really. Sometimes I’m too tired to write or too preoccupied with other things, but generally if I sit down at my desk, I can write.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I plot a bit, but leave a lot of the story open. I think about my characters a lot before and during writing.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I’ve been published since 1997. My first book was a cookery book for children, published in Ireland. Advice – read, write and never give up. If you want to write, write!
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Being able to write for a living. The actual writing is the highlight for me.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? I have 2 – one for children, 1 for adults! The Memory Box is about a woman, Pandora who may or may not have a breast cancer gene. It’s quite sad at times, but readers seem to like it. Ask Amy Green:Wedding Belles is for age 10+ and is about Amy who has to help plan her mum’s second wedding. Of course, everything goes wrong and Amy has to solve a lot of problems along the way.
8.If you could be a superhero, what powers would you possess? Flying. I’d love to be able to fly.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Oliver Jeffers – so I could illustrate one of my books with his amazing drawings!
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thanks for reading!
Michelle Cohen Corasanti
http:thealmondtreebook.com I have a BA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, an MA from Harvard, both in Middle Eastern studies. I’m also a lawyer trained in international and human rights law. I lived in Jerusalem for seven years.
1.What got you into writing? I read the book The Kite Runner and realized that a writer can reach into readers’ hearts and change them.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? When I write, I can’t find enough hours in the day. I write from when I get up until I go to sleep.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t get writers’ block.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I would like to be, but it hasn’t worked out that way. My stories take on lives of their own and I just have to go with it.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Try to get the best agent possible because they have the connections with the editors at the publishing houses. Look to see who represented books like yours and who published them and then target those people. Many writers will write who their agent is in the acknowledgements. I was a lawyer, not a writer so I wasn’t familiar with the process. I thought all agents and publishers were created equal. They’re not. Try and get the agent who has had the greatest success. When I wrote The Almond Tree, I thought it would be interesting to those interested in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My publisher specializes in the Middle East. What I didn’t realize was that The Almond Tree was like The Kite Runner. People across the board like it. My publisher didn’t have adequate distribution to keep up with the demand so I had to buy back my foreign rights and English and South Asia. Then I found the Pontas Agency in Spain that does a lot of foreign rights sales so I signed with them. I think I have a sold rights to 10 different publishers.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Great reviews in publications throughout the world. Translation rights to The Almond Tree sold in 8 languages within a year of publicaton.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? The Almond Tree was about a Palestinian who makes it against all odds. A section in The Almond Tree is about his relationship with a Jewish human rights activist. I wrote from the POV of a Palestinian man. In retrospect, I can say I didn’t want him to see her flaws so I made her perfect. As a result, she could only have a small part in the book because main characters have to be complex. When Moe Diab decided to become my protagonist, he wanted me to expand on the Nora/Ahmed relationship. I started to write from Nora’s POV and the book just poured out. The Almond Tree took 7 years to write, this one was pretty much done in two months. Right now I’m just doing some rewrites.
8.If you could be a superhero, what powers would you possess? The power to cure people.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? As a writer, I have had to become two other people, one is dead now and the other had to overcome great adversity. I wouldn’t wish either of their lives on anyone. I might want to be myself at a younger age during a week of bad decision making so that I could change the trajectory of my life.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you so much for all your support.
Kelly Lawrence is the author of erotic memoir ‘Wicked Games’ and the forthcoming YA romance ‘Unconditional’. She also writes for Harlequin Historical as Michelle Kelly and her first historical romance ‘The Virgin Courtesan’ came out in October 2013.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always loved writing stories; I can’t remember a time when I didn’t. I only made the decision to try writing for a living just over a year ago after being made redundant. It was a total leap in the dark; but it paid off!
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I get up, get the kids off to school and usually end up pottering around all morning before finally sitting down on my laptop and then I’ll write for a few hours. If I have a deadline you’ll find me still there at midnight. I keep drawing up schedules for myself but never stick to them.
3.Who influences you? My literary influences are many and varied. JK Rowling is a goddess, but I write erotic romance so it’s a very different genre! Anais Nin for erotica, Nora Roberts for romance and for characterisation you can’t beat Dickens.
4.What is your all time favourite book? Can I have three? ‘Women who Run with the Wolves’ by Clarissa Pinkola Estes for non-fiction, ‘Tale of Two Cities’ for classic fiction, and ‘Gone Girl’ by Gillian Flynn for contemporary fiction. I read it a few months ago and it blew me away. I didn’t see the twist coming either; normally with twisty thrillers I’ve got it sussed in the first few chapters.
5.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I think there are two kinds of block – one where you have no ideas whatsoever, and the endless procrastination when you’ve got the story in your head but keep putting off getting down to the hard work of putting it on paper. The only way to deal with that is to be strict with yourself. There’s a saying ‘you wouldn’t phone a plumber and think it acceptable for them to refuse to fix your pipes because they had plumber’s block!’ Writing is a discipline.
6.Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing? I practice yoga, love going to the cinema and for long walks with the dog. Girlie nights in with a bottle of wine never hurt either!
7.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to starting a story? Yes; I plan meticulously before I even start the first chapter. But I quite often make changes as I go – I see it as more of a framework to work within, Sometimes the best ideas only occur to you in the middle of the story, when the characters are more alive for you.
8.Did you choose self publishing or traditional publishing? What reason(s) did you choose this route of publishing? I’m traditionally published by Random House, Harlequin and John Hunt. I think there’s still a certain amount of kudos attached to being with a big-name publisher, though this doesn’t necessarily translate into sales. I’ve recently self-published a collection of short stories to Kindle called ‘Sinful Stories’ however and ideally I’d like to have a finger in both pies.
9.Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Yes. Don’t give up. There’s a quote I have pinned to my desk, though I can never remember who said it…’Don’t ask anyone else, however knowledgeable, if you are a real writer. If you wake up thinking about writing, you’re already a real writer.’
10.Where is the best place you’ve visited, or whats your best experience? Best place I’ve ever visited would be Dublin. My mother’s family hail from Dublin and Galway. Ireland in general is an amazing place. My best experience? Giving birth, though getting my first book deal comes a close second! Please check out her Facebook: Kelly Lawrence Author
Chrissie Manby is the author of sixteen romantic comedies including Getting Personal, The Matchbreaker and Seven Sunny Days. She has had several Sunday Times bestsellers and her recent novel about behaving badly after a break-up, Getting Over Mr. Right, was nominated for the 2011 Melissa Nathan Award. She was also one of the editors of the Girls’ Night In anthologies, which raised over £1,000,000.00 for humanitarian projects with War Child.
1.What got you into writing? I always enjoyed writing at school and was lucky enough to have a great English teacher called Mrs Pocock. Her encouragement gave me the guts to send off my first short story to Just Seventeen when I was fourteen years old. It was accepted for publication and, though I’ve had plenty of rejections since, that early vote of confidence made me believe I could make my living from writing one day.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? Hmmm. It starts with tea, lots of it, then way too much fannying around on the internet, then I force myself to do a hundred words. If I’m lucky, the words start to flow so well that I forget to be distracted by Facebook. If not, I reward myself with another quick trawl of the net and proceed like that: 100 words, five minutes on-line, until I hit my target for the day, which can be 1000 or 4000 words depending on my deadline.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Of course I get writers’ block, in that there are days when I don’t feel inspired, but I pay my mortgage by writing so there’s no way I can give in and wait weeks for the muse to show up again. I plan my novels meticulously, chapter by chapter, so there’s usually a part of the book I can skip ahead to, coming back to the sticky part that’s blocking me later on.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? As I explained in my approach to writer’s block, I plan my novels very carefully so that I can write them quickly (the shortest deadline I’ve ever had was two months for 90,000 words!). I based my method on traditional screenwriting structure and you can read all about it in my e-book, Writing for Love.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I published my first novel almost twenty years ago and the publishing process has changed enormously. In some ways, it’s easier now. In other ways, it’s harder. Publishers are probably more cautious now, especially since the downturn, but the goodnews is, if nobody in the traditional publishing world wants to put your book out there, you can put it out there yourself online. And voila, the next Fifty Shades…
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Getting to visit the cellars at Bollinger – and taste the champagne! – in the name of research for my Olivia Darling novel ‘Vintage’.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? My next book is called ‘A Proper Family Holiday’ and it will be published in June 2014. It’s the story of two estranged sisters, who are reunited on a family trip to Lanzarote to celebrate their mother’s sixtieth birthday. It’s about family ties and dangerous secrets. And hopefully it’s funny as well.
8.What do you enjoy doing besides writing? I spend way too much time on Pinterest, creating my ideal fantasy wardrobe. But when I’m not at my desk, I like long walks with the people I love. Especially by the sea.
9.What is your all time favourite book(s)? All-time favourite is impossible to choose, but I just read Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch and loved it. She is such a wonderful writer and that book is a tour de force. 800 pages and I devoured every single one without once feeling the need to skip ahead. She creates such real, vulnerable characters, you just don’t want to leave them alone.
10.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Pippa Middleton, for all the free handbags.
1. What got you into writing? I’ve always written since I was a little girl. I used to win the school poetry competitions and read my poems up on the stage at school assembly. I had a very inspiring English teacher at school as well as having parents who taught English and loved books, so books have always been my pleasure and escapism. I never thought I would end up writing children’s books, but my passion for good Young Adult literature has spilled over into another career and I now help new writers get their novels into shape by working as a literary consultant (www.curtisliterary.co.uk)
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? I don’t really have one. I divide my time between working on my own children’s novels and writing editorial reports/mentoring new novelists. So I work on whichever has the closest deadline. If I am writing my own novels I try for 1,000 words a day but often put in more than that.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I’m not sure it’s writer’s block or more a fear of starting a novel that I tend to suffer from occasionally. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve got published – there’s always that fear that the next one won’t be good enough. I can spend ages avoiding my computer, dreading that look of The Blank Page, worrying that the research I’ve done hasn’t covered enough. But once I’ve pushed myself through writing the first two chapters, then the flow usually comes. Virginia Woolf once said that writing fiction was like heaving heavy bricks over a high garden wall, and I can see exactly what she meant by that.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? With my historical novels I have to be – for example, the YA fiction I have coming out next year (‘The Earth is Singing’, Usborne) is very closely based around the true events of the tragic fate of the Jews of Riga, Latvia, in 1941. Not only did I have to plot out the timeline of events but I also had charts and lists hanging over my desk detailing Latvian street names, lists of Jewish festivals, Jewish food that would have been eaten at the time and a 1941 calendar.
5. What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I used to publish a lot of freelance journalism in newspapers and magazines when I was younger. Then I published two non-fiction books about Virginia Woolf about twelve years ago and I got those deals by writing directly to publishers. With fiction however it’s become more and more difficult to get read without an agent, so when I wrote ‘Zelah Green’ (Egmont), my first children’s book, I submitted it to six carefully-chosen agents and one of them signed me up. Since then I’ve published five novels for children and have another three due to be published next year. But despite all that, for every novel I publish there will usually be another one which never sees the light of day – either my agent doesn’t like it enough to send out, or publishers are too cautious to commit. So don’t expect being published to mean the end of rejection, because in my experience it never does! I would suggest reading the websites of prospective agents very carefully to ensure that they are interested in your sort of genre – no point sending a historical novel to somebody who only represents Sci-Fi, etc! I’d suggest also making your cover letter brief, to the point and well-written. Some agents will not read past the letter if it’s not to their liking! The most important advice I could give any aspiring novelist is to keep working, keep learning, keep improving and realise that this is a lifelong process that never lets up.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Winning the Manchester Children’s Book Awards with my first novel ‘Zelah Green’ was exciting, as was being short-listed for the Waterstones Award for that novel too. I also got seven short-listings for my fifth novel, ‘The Haunting of Tabitha Grey’ (Egmont). It’s nice to get that recognition.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? ‘The Earth is Singing’ is to be published on International Holocaust Memorial Day 2015 and tells the story of the Jews of Latvia 1941 through the eyes of fourteen-year-old Hanna Michelson, a schoolgirl from Riga. It’s a tragic story, but I believe that these events should be kept in the public eye and taught to today’s schoolchildren. I also am currently awaiting news of a two-book deal which will feature some books that are very different to the one I just described and which may just possibly involve rather a lot of – cake! Watch this space!
8. What do you enjoy doing besides writing? I love the research stage of writing historical novels – love it. It’s a chance to learn about stuff I might never have heard of. I also write ghost stories and enjoy watching films and reading books on the paranormal as part of the research for that. Elsewhere in life I play/teach piano and enjoy living in the countryside with my husband and cat.
9. What is your all time favourite book(s)? Hmm. I’ve got so many. I’m a big fan of the five diaries of Virginia Woolf. If ever the ups, downs, insecurities and pleasures of being a novelist were described in painful honesty, then it’s in those diaries. I used to love ‘Picnic at Hanging Rock’ by Joan Lindsay when I was younger – that’s supposedly based upon a true mystery about some schoolgirls who went missing on a school outing. And I liked those semi-autobiographical sorts of novels for teenagers, such as ‘Frost in May’ by Antonia White which was based in part upon her own life. I love a good ghost story, so anything by M R James or a new novel by Susan Hill who of course wrote ‘The Woman in Black.’ Michelle Paver wrote a cracking ghost novel called ‘Dark Matter’ a few years ago. I know from experience that it’s very hard to relay the feeling of a haunting on the page so I admire writers who can really pull this off.
10. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I’ve often quite fancied the idea of experiencing a brief moment of time-travelling back to the Victorian era. We live in a house built in 1896 and I’d love to see what it looked like when it was first built – to see the coal fires lit, watch what went on in the old scullery and see the attic which is now my husband’s scullery, as a maidservant’s bedroom. But other than that, I wouldn’t trade places with anybody. I have a pretty good life.
I would be pleased to offer 10% off my literary consultancy services to anybody who discovers it via Sophia’s website.
Isabel Wolff was born in Warwickshire in the English Midlands, and studied English at Cambridge. Her ten novels are published in 30 languages. She lives in London with her family. For more information about Isabel, please ‘like’ her Isabel Wolff Author Page on Facebook, follow her on Twitter – @IsabelWolff – or visit her website, www.IsabelWolff.com.
1.What got you into writing? I think I was already half way to being a novelist, because I was working for the BBC World Service as a radio reporter while also writing for newspapers and magazines. I’d always hoped that I’d be able to write a novel but didn’t think I’d ever be able to afford to take six months off work in order to do it; but in 1997 I had a stroke of luck. The Daily Telegraph commissioned me to write a comical ‘girl about town’ column. It was called ‘Tiffany Trott’ and within a fortnight of it first appearing, publishers were trying to find out who Tiffany Trott really was and whether she would be interested in writing a book. So I wrote a synopsis for ‘The Trials of Tiffany Trott’ and an agent friend, Clare Conville, sent it out, and sold it to HarperCollins. The novel took about four months to write and I remember enjoying the process immensely. As a journalist I’d been able to report only what was factual and true; now I was writing fiction and was free to invent, a process I found liberating and exciting. From time to time I re-read it and am happy to say that Tiffany’s trials and tribulations still make me laugh. It was a big success, selling a million copies round the world. I was very happy but assumed, once it was all over, that I’d go back to being a journalist; but HarperCollins wanted me to write more books, so I did, and have just finished my tenth novel which they’ll publish in March.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I walk the children to school, then charge round Kensington Gardens with our black cocker spaniel, Alfie. I then go home and start work. I have five hours, in which I try to write at least a thousand new words, though very often it’s less. In the afternoon I edit what I’ve done and try to make it as good as it can possibly be. Then Alfie and I go and collect the children. I try to do a bit more writing late at night, when the family are asleep, but it’s tiring working at this time. Sometimes I wake to find my forehead on the keyboard, and nothing but fdsjkdjklalkdjfalskdjfaldkfjasldklskdjf on the screen.
3.Do you get writer’s block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t get writer’s block – I find the actual writing reasonably easy. But I do get plotter’s block. I have to know where I’m going when I write a novel, otherwise I feel insecure. So I plan my books as meticulously as I can, and this is the hardest part. Working out a storyline that hangs together in a satisfying and credible way is very hard. Essentially it’s problem solving, and requires analytical skills. When I get stuck gloom descends, and I get a horrible feeling that I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. But I just keep chipping away at it in my mind, trying to find a way through the creative maze to make it all work. Usually, given a bit of time, I can.
4.Are you a plotter and planner when it comes to writing a story? Yes, definitely and absolutely. See above. Some writers just start and then see where the story or the characters take them. I could never ever do that: it would freak me out.
5.What is the publishing process like for you and do you have any advice for aspiring authors? I enjoy the publishing process a lot as long as I have not delivered the manuscript late. Once or twice I have let time slip, then found myself racing to finish, with the publication date looming dangerously close. This is not ideal either for the writer or the publisher. It’s far better to keep to their schedule so that there is time to do bound proofs that can be sent out to newspapers and magazines, as this helps to get coverage and reviews. So the main advice I have for aspiring authors is to deliver the book on time. If something happens and you know you won’t be able to, then let your publisher know well in advance so that they can re-schedule you for a later slot. You’ve worked so hard to write you novel – you want to allow enough time for it to be published well.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I’ve been an author for sixteen years now, and there have been a few highlights along the way; being a Sunday Times bestseller was one; learning that I’ve now sold 5 million books round the world was another. And I had a very exciting response to my eighth novel, ‘A Vintage Affair’ which was translated into 26 languages, was an international bestseller and is still selling very well, five years on. A lot of women from all over the world have contacted me on Twitter and Facebook to tell me how much that book moved them and I do feel very happy about that.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us – and any other books of yours? My most recent book, my tenth, is called Ghostwritten and is set in present day Cornwall, and on wartime Java during the Japanese occupation of the Dutch East Indies. The main character, Jenni, is a ‘ghost writer’. She loves to immerse herself in the lives of others, because it leaves less time to think about her own life, and her own painful memories of the childhood tragedy which still haunts her, twenty five years on. One day Jenni is commissioned to write the memoirs of an elderly woman, Klara, who has lived in Cornwall for 60 years. But Klara didn’t grow up in Cornwall, but on a rubber plantation on Java. During the Japanese occupation Klara was imprisoned in an internment camp with her mother and younger brother. With many thousands of other women and children, they had cope with starvation, illness and the brutality of their captors. Klara’s is a story of survival – a story that she has never told before. As the two women get to know each other Jenni realises that she and Klara have a lot in common. Their friendship may help Jenni to find peace at last.
The novel before Ghostwritten was The Very Picture of You which is about a portrait painter, Ella, and the people that she’s commissioned to paint. It’s about the secrets – and lies – that they tell her during the sittings. Before that was A Vintage Affair which is a story of fashion and friendship, regret and redemption. It centres on Phoebe Swift, a textiles expert who opens a vintage dress shop in south London. One day she goes to buy a collection of lovely old clothes from an elderly French woman, Mrs Bell. Amongst the suits and gowns in Mrs Bell’s wardrobe is a child’s blue coat, made in 1943 that she says she will never ever part with. Phoebe uncovers the poignant story of that blue coat, and of the little girl for whom it was intended, in Nazi-occupied Provence. As for what I’m going to write next, I’m not sure, but I think that it will another semi-historical, past/present novel, possibly set in India.
8.Apart from writing what do you do in your spare time? I have children, step-children, and a dog, and so I don’t have much spare time. In between taking the children to their various activities, and looking after our spaniel, Alfie, I try to go to the cinema and theatre as often as possible with my partner, Greg. I love playing tennis, though I don’t play as often as I’d like. I don’t like to boast, but I’m very good at table football.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be and why? If I could have chosen any life in the world, I’d love to have been an opera singer. When I go to the ENO or Covent Garden and hear the mezzo sing with such emotion and power that it makes the hair on my neck stand up, I am in total awe, and more than a little envious. How wonderful to be able to move people so much that you make them cry; what a privilege to touch someone’s soul with the beauty of your voice. So I think I’d like to have been Kiri Te Kanawa, Renee Fleming or Elisabeth Shwarzkopf – but a week would be more than enough, because being an opera singer must be very hard.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? The only thing I’d like to say is that my novels are changing. The early contemporary romantic comedies such as The Making of Minty Malone, Rescuing Rose and Behaving Badly have given way to stories that are set in the present and the past. This began with A Vintage Affair and Ghostwritten continues that process of change, and it’s my hope that my readers will like these later, semi-historical novels too.
Ghostwritten will be published by HarperCollins on 27th March.
Gemma had a hard time figuring out what she wanted to be when she grew up. She worked as a film and television actress, a teddy bear importer, a department store administrator, a preschool teacher, a temporary tattoo artist, and a 900 number psychic, before finally deciding to be a writer. Since then, Gemma has written several mystery novels and been the recipient of numerous awards, including a National Reader’s Choice award and three RITA nominations. Her books have hit both the USA Today and the New York Times Bestseller lists, as well has hitting #1 on the Kindle bestseller list. Gemma now makes her home in the San Francisco Bay area where she is hard at work on her next book.
1.How did you start writing? One day, out of reading material, I picked up a romance novel that had come free with some promotion. Sadly, it stank. Really badly. It was the worst thing I had ever read. So, after chucking it across the room during one particularly laughable chapter, I said to myself, “Well, even I can do better than that.” So I set out to be a romance writer. I’ll admit, at first I wrote a couple of really awful manuscripts. It was a lot harder than I thought to write a terrible book let alone a good one But then I wrote a couple that weren’t so bad, and then even a couple pretty good ones. Eventually my writing style evolved more toward mystery, and I hit on one manuscript good enough to publish. And the rest is history.
2.How many manuscripts did you write before selling one? Six. It was lucky number seven that was finally published. What was your road to publishing like? It was not pretty. The path was strewn with rejection letters. Some encouraging, some… not so much. Originally I had this idea I would write deep books. Serious ones. With lots of drama. So, I wrote about five of those over the next two years before someone finally told me, “Um, your serious dramas are just a little too funny for us.” *Mental forehead smack* So, I wrote a couple funny, fashionable books and, what do you know, those were actually kinda good. I was originally published with Dorchester publishing, which was a fanatic experience for several years, then it fell off the deep end as the company ran into financial trouble and dissolved. After that I took on contracts with St. Martin’s Press and Harper Teen, but at that point Dorchester had been unable to pay authors for several months. Meaning, I was in deep financial trouble myself. A good friend of mine, J.R. Rain, was having some success selfpublishing, so he convinced me to try my hand at it. That was in 2010, and I figured I could use a little extra spending money. I had no idea how exciting self-publishing would be. In 2011 I sold my 1 millionth self-published ebook.
3.Where do you get your inspiration? Everywhere. I know, cop-out answer, but it’s so true. Any little bit of dialogue I hear at Starbucks, song I hear on the radio, or guy in line at the grocery store can inspire a new idea. The only thing I can say for certain is that I steal from the people I know a lot. Thankfully my family and friends get a kick out of seeing me exaggerate their finer traits on paper, but there are a few ex-boyfriends that probably shouldn’t read my books. I do write about murders after all.
4.Have you always been interested in mysteries? Actually, yes I have. I grew up reading the Happy Hollisters mystery series as a kid, then later graduated to Agatha Christie. I love the kind of stories that keep you on the edge of your seat, and if there’s a great twist at the end, so much the better. Is the character Maddie from your High Heels series based on you at all? Um…yes, I admit, she is. I’m almost as crazy about shoes as she is, though I couldn’t design one to save my life. Quite a few of Maddie’s friends and family are based in part on people that I know. And, I’ll admit, I do have ditzy blonde syndrome at times myself. I’ve actually stuck my stiletto in my mouth the same way Maddie does on numerous occasions. But, unlike Maddie, I’m happy to say that I have yet to stumble over any dead bodies.
5.What does a typical work day look like for you? Typical day? Do I have one of those? Let’s see… yesterday I got up, went straight to the gym (because unlike my characters, I gotta work for my figure), then came home and answered emails for an hour or so before grabbing my laptop and hitting the corner Starbucks for a few hours of writing. I usually write until a) I get the caffeine shakes, b) my fingers get sore from typing, or c) I run out of ideas. Unless I’m coming up on a deadline, I don’t generally write in the evenings (hey, a girl’s gotta have a social life) but, if I do, it’s with a glass of wine in hand.
6.What’s the toughest thing about writing a mystery series? What’s the best? Hands down the hardest thing about writing a series is keeping the characters and storylines fresh. There’s a fine line between being repetitive and staying true to the characters, so straddling that line has been my biggest challenge with my series. Hopefully I‘ve pulled it off! The best part is when readers come up to me and start talking about my characters as if they’re real people. I love that! I think the great thing about a continuing series is that readers really get to know the characters as well as I do, which is totally fun for me.
7.Which aspect of writing do you enjoy the most? I love plotting. I grab a pad of paper, a fresh pen, and a latte, and I can just visualize the whole book coming together.
8.Which aspect of writing do you enjoy the least? Actually having to write it once I have it all plotted out. It takes so much longer! 😉 When you’re not writing what do you do to relax? I’m an admitted shopaholic. If there were an Olympic medal in this sport, I’d have the gold, hands down. Obviously I do a lot of reading in my spare time, but I’m also a huge movie and TV fan. DVR is the best thing that ever happened to me. And I’m totally addicted to Amazon streaming.
9.What is one piece of advice for aspiring writers? One thing not to do? To do: read a ton of books in the style/genre you want to write. Even more so than craft books, this really helped me to know the rhythm and flow of my particular genre and what the readers of that genre would expect from my books. Not to do: Over analyze. I’ve seen writers spend over a year revising one manuscript over and over and over until it’s so polished that it’s lost all of its character and charm. I say revise to the best of your ability, but then let it go and start something new. You’re going to get better with each manuscript, so don’t sweat making #1 your one shining masterpiece.
10.Which one of your books is your favorite? My personal favorite is the first in my Hollywood Headlines series, HOLLYWOOD SCANDALS. I really loved writing the main character, Tina, who had a distinct edge to her character. She had a lot of depth to her, and I think she was a lot of fun.
Lindsey Kelk is a British writer and used to be a children’s book editor. When she isn’t writing, reading, listening to music or watching more TV than is healthy, Lindsey likes to wear shoes, shop for shoes and judge the shoes of others. She loves living in New York but misses Sherbert Fountains, London and drinking Gin & Elderflower cocktails with her friends. Not necessarily in that order.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always written stories, even from being very young so there wasn’t really a time when I wasn’t writing. I started writing my books when I was 26, just generally bored with life and desperate for a change – writing was my escape. Happily, other people seemed to like it too and I’ve been writing full time for four years now.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? My days are so different, all the time, it’s hard to say. When I’m working on a book, I find I get the best work done in the evening so I’ll get all my chores out of the way in the daytime, go to the gym, laundry, shopping, that sort of thing, and settle down to write for a couple of hours at around seven or eight. As I get closer to deadline, I write for longer, starting earlier and working into the night.
When I’m not on deadline, my life has very little routine. I travel a lot and watch way too much TV. The only thing that’s pretty much guaranteed is that I’ll be online at some point!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I do but I try not to let it get under my skin. If I’m on deadline, I try to write through it and eventually something useful will come out. If I’ve got more time, I might take a day off and try not to think about the book at all. Eventually a solution presents itself.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Nope. I have a vague idea of the beginning and end but I usually only know what’s happening for the next couple of chapters. It can be really scary but if I overplan, it just doesn’t work.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? Same as anyone else. The main thing is to have patience and persevere – the publishing process is not a fast or easy one. I signed my first deal in spring 2008 and the book didn’t come out until summer 2009.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? There have been so many. I love doing events because I get to meet so many awesome people. I’ve also met so many great people through social media, readers and other writers, people who have become genuine friends and supports in my life. Publishing the books have given me a million opportunities I wouldn’t have had otherwise, I’ve written for magazines, I’ve traveled everywhere and more importantly, I get to do something I love and share stories that make people happy all over the world. Pretty awesome.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? My next book is going to be called What a Girl Wants and publishes in July 2014.
8.If you could be a superhero, what powers would you possess? Ooh, good one. I think teleportation. I love to travel but I’m totally over airports.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? That’s SO HARD. I’m really not sure, I really like my life. that said, I wouldn’t mind being Michael Fassbender for five minutes, if only to put my number in his phone…
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? YOU GUYS ARE AWESOME. Sorry I talk so much nonsense on Twitter.
To get in touch with Lindsey, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For all media, press and publishing queries, please contact email@example.com
1. What got you into writing? I have always been a storyteller, since I was little, although my mum used to call it fibbing – but I love a tall tale. I’ve written most of my life, but it was winning Company Magazine’s Young Writer of the Year more than ten years ago (now I am an old writer) that opened doors for me in terms of being published.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? I get the children who go to school off to school, settle the others with their day care, and I’m usually at my desk at nine, and I most often stay there until six. If I’m stuck I go out and sit in a cafe, a change of scene often helps. I don’t have a daily word count, sometimes I write five thousand words, sometimes I write five. Mostly it’s something in between.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t really believe in writer’s block, although I know it affects some writers quite badly, but for me I know there will be some days when everything I write is horrible, or when I just can’t find the right words at all, or when no ideas come, but I write anyway, even if it feels like walking uphill through treacle, even if every word makes me cringe, becauase you have to get through the crap words to get the good ones. And eventually the good words always come back.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I’m a bit of a plotter, yes. I think its important to have a road map so that you have a direction to go in, and you don’t end up writing yourself into a corner. Having said that its important to allow for spontaneity. The best bits of all my books are always the bits I didn’t see coming.
5. What was the publishing process like for you, and any advice to aspiring authors? Over the last decade there have been ups and downs, great praise, and lots of rejections. Becoming traditionally published is not easy, its more competetive now than its ever been and more difficult to find a deal as a first time author. Also if your book doesn’t perform publishers are less likely to want to stick with you and grow you. But the good news is that a writers fate is also much more in their own hands now. Its perfectly respectable to test the waters with self publishing, see if you have a readership and a market, and often it can be the route to traditional publication. But which ever way you go, you have to work really hard. Being a writer is not a job for a part timer, even if you are a part time writer. You have to put the hours in, you have to hone your craft, know your book, and have a thick skin or nerves of steel, and yet we all do it anyway because we love it. So maybe you just have to love it, love it so much you will keep trying.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Oh, gosh – there have been a lot. Holding my first ever printed book in my hands, appearing in the New York Times bestsellers list, winning two awards for ‘Dearest Rose,’ having such incredible support for my project to raise money for Refuge – which has raised £3500 so far. But I think the high list always is hearing from readers who have enjoyed a book I’ve written, there is actually nothing better than that.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. ‘The Memory Book’ is the story of Claire Armstrong and her family, and what happened to them after they discover that Claire as Early Onset Alzheimer’s. Claire is a bright, beautiful, funny clever woman, finally married to the man of her dreams, with two daughters. Twenty year old Caitlin and three year old Esther. Her husband buys her a memory book, for her and all of her family to write their favourite memories of her in it, and it also follows the relationship between mothers, and daughters, husband and wife, as the disease takes hold. Ultimately its a book about love, living in the moment, and hope.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Sleep! I’ve just got myself a hobby, actually – I am going to build a dollhouse and decorate it and furnish it with tiny things! I’m very excited about it!
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Oh, wow… I think I’d like to be a Bronte for a week, Charlotte because she is my favourite. I’d love to have a week in that rectory in Haworth, perhaps when the girls were young and making those tiny little books. Yes, I’d like to do that, to feel first hand all the creative genius in one place.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you, is what I want to say to my readers. Thanks for reading my books, and talking about them and getting in touch and telling me you’ve read them. Its what its all about really.
Sue Johnson was born in Kent and has had a variety of jobs during her working life, including training administrator, vicar’s secretary, cinema usherette, supermarket janitor and running her own patchwork quilt-making business. Sue is published as a poet, short story writer and novelist. Her first novel Fable’s Fortune was published by Indigo Dreams Publishing in 2011. Her first full collection of poetry Tasting Words, Hearing Colours will be published by them in 2014. Many of her poems are inspired by the stunning Worcestershire countryside where she now lives. Sue’s short stories have been published in Woman, My Weekly, Woman’s Weekly, Take a Break, The People’s Friend and That’s Life – Australia. She is a Writers’ News Home Study Tutor and also runs her own brand of writing workshops. Sue has published several books aimed at helping other writers. Details of these can be found on her website: http://www.writers-toolkit.co.uk
1. What got you into writing? I’ve written ever since I could write! When I was eight I told my teacher that when I grew up I wanted to draw pictures and write stories. She told me it wasn’t a proper job!
2. What is a usual writing day like for you? My writing day varies according to whether I’ve got a workshop to run – but I aim to write an absolute minimum of 500 words a day + since January 2013 I’ve written a poem a day, every day. Some of these have developed into stories and novellas.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t get writer’s block because I always have several projects on the go. If I get stuck on one I switch to something else.
4. Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I nearly always have to write my way into a story by scribbling some random ideas first. Planning comes in after the idea has had a chance to run free for a while.
5. What was the publishing process like for you, and any advice to aspiring authors? My first publication success came with magazine fiction, but I always wanted to be published as a novelist. My first novel ‘Fable’s Fortune’ was rejected a number of times. I began by targeting agents. The quickest rejection was 59 seconds – and the agent responded with ‘after careful consideration of your manuscript…’ The first publisher I tried was Indigo Dreams and after an extremely rigorous selection process they said yes. My best advice to any writer is – if you’ve got a story you feel passionate about, keep going until you get the result you want.
6. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? There was something very special about holding my first novel! I kept a copy by my bed for weeks.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. Two months after ‘Fable’ was published, ‘Creative Alchemy: 12 steps from inspiration to finished novel’ was published by HotHive Books. This was followed by ‘Surfing the Rainbow: visualization and chakra balancing for writers’ (Compass Books). Both are aimed at helping other writers. In the last year, I’ve co-written three books (also aimed at helping writers) with Val Andrews. The first of these ‘Unlock Your Creativity: a 21 day sensory workout for writers’ is published by Compass Books next month. I am also looking forward to the publication of my second novel ‘The Yellow Silk Dress’ – with Indigo Dreams Publishing. The novel is set in Cornwall, London and Paris and is the story of a young girl from a poor background who dreams of becoming an actress.
8. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? In my spare time I enjoy reading, walking and yoga. I also attend a weekly Italian class.
9. If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I’m having so much fun at the moment and meeting so many lovely people that I wouldn’t want to trade places with anyone.
10. Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? I’d like to thank my readers for their support and interest. I am always happy to help new writers.
Wendy grew up in Norwalk, California adopted at the age of two days. At the age of 44 Wendy found her Birth Mother. They are making up for time lost. When Wendy is not drag racing, with her husband of 23years, she is running the racing team, or shopping at the Coach Store. You can find her running the highways between Phoenix, Las Vegas and California. You can always find her with some-kind of coffee product in her hand. She loves fast cars, music and tattoos, writing what ever pops in to her crazy little head.
1.What got you into writing?I was on a flight to Boston and a guy started asking me questions. After we talked for a while. He said you need to write your story. So I started, it was too painful, so I made up my first three girls which is my Quest Series.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I write by the seat of my pants. When I feel a good idea I stop what I’m doing even if it is shopping, I grab what ever is close and write it down.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Oh. Yes! I change my surroundings move the chairs around go to the local Starbucks and watch people and make up fake lives for them.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? No. I was never that good at that.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I would say time. Patience lots of patience.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Getting noticed at the store and being told that your book is awesome I want more.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. I have one coming out called My Pleasure, My Love. It is based off of a story about a friend of mine. She falls for man that she has never seen but admired his work. She has the chance to learn from him.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I own a Drag Race team. We race all over the US.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I would have to say I would like to be my grandson Michael. He has diabetics type 1. I would like to take all his issues away if it was only for a week.
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? I would just like to say I hope you enjoy my crazy little stories. Just know that there is truth in every story I write. I hope I made you laugh and scream with a little bit of sadness. That would make it all worth it. http://wendysexton.com/ twitter @WL_Sexton.
Illana Fox has so far had three novels published by Orion Books: ‘The Making Of Mia,’ ‘Spotlight,’ and ‘All That Glitters.’. Her fourth will be delivered in the spring of 2014. Ilana is also a writer and has had features in several newspapers including the Daily Telegraph, Daily Mail, and the Evening Standard, and she also had her own technology column in NMA magazine. She currently writes a monthly column for ABSOLUTELY DULWICH and ABSOLUTELY SOUTH-EAST magazines.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always been a big reader – I much prefer to read a book than to watch TV: I don’t even know why I have one as it’s never turned on! – but there was a point when I was struggling to find the sort of book I wanted to read. So I decided to write it myself…
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? There is no usual sort of day, but I generally go through what I wrote the day before, edit it a fair bit, and then move onto the next scene or chapter. Some days the words flow, and other days it’s incredibly difficult. But I’ve learned that if I’m struggling then there’s something not right with the direction the story is going.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Honestly, I don’t know. If I sit down to write I’m mostly able to do it, but I need to be in the right frame of mind – if there’s something going wrong in my life I struggle to get into the right mindset.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Yes. Actually, I’m doing my rewrites on my third novel, and every single point I need to address is in a spreadsheet divided up by character / time frame / and how I’m going to resolve the issue. Novels can get fairly complicated so if you don’t plan things in advance the you’re going to get a bit lost!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? I’ve been really lucky with my career so far – I love my agents and my editor is fantastic. My advice is for authors to read a lot, write a lot, and to never give up.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Seeing strangers reading my books is always a massive highlight, as are emails from readers – when people take the time to let you know that they loved one of your books it’s brilliant, the best feeling in the world.
7. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. It’s still a work in progress, so I’d rather not if you don’t mind! I never let people read my drafts until I’m 100% happy with them.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? Lots! I’m a consultant, I write a column for Absolutely Magazine, and I’m into rifle shooting. I’m also trying to improve my swimming and I’m at the gym about four times a week right now.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? Nobody has ever asked me this question before! I’d really like to go back in time to go and be at aged 16 again – I’d love to go and experience that feeling of having the whole world in front of you and knowing you could do anything you wanted. Of course, I still feel like that now … but I’m a bit more jaded than I was back then!
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? I am SO SORRY that it’s taking me FOREVER to finish my fourth novel! For some reason I’ve really struggled with this one, but I hope it will be worth it!
Rosanna Leo is a multi-published, erotic romance author with Liquid Silver Books who lives and breathes paranormal romance. Several of her books about Greek gods, selkies and shape shifters have been named Night Owl Romance and Two Lips Recommended Reads. When not writing, she can be found haunting dusty library stacks or planning her next star-crossed love affair.
1.What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I was always an artsy person. I began writing for fun at an early age, but also sang in church choirs and ended up as a classical soprano in a Toronto chamber ensemble. However, writing was always my secret passion. I never envisioned it as a career. While I floundered from job to job, I dreamed of writing professionally. When I was on my first maternity leave, I found I had a lot of spare time when my son napped and picked up the pen again. Soon, I had my first novel.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? Because I work part-time in a library, I don’t have unlimited time in which to write. I need to be very focused during the moments when I can write. If my kids are at school, and I have time off from work, it means my bum is in my chair and I write as much as I can. There’s no real structure. Bum in seat does it every time.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Yes, and I think we all do. The best way for me to tackle writer’s block is to get up and remove myself from my writing room. Sometimes just moving locations helps. More often than not, I do something else or concentrate on a different manuscript. Having a little break always helps one come back refreshed. Often I will talk aloud as well. While vacuuming or washing dishes, I talk through my plot points.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I do plot a bit and have a general idea where I want to go with each story. I think it’s very important to provide good histories for one’s characters, and I like to know my endgame. I need to know my characters’ struggles and why their romance might have challenges. That being said, I like to keep my plot fluid and flexible as well, to allow for any changes or sudden inspiration.
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advice to aspiring authors? The publishing process for me was, as I’d imagine it was for most, daunting at first. I had my share of rejections. However, I try very hard to consider any feedback a gift. A new author really shouldn’t expect success on the first try, and every publishing house will have different guidelines anyway. I made sure I always researched house guidelines and submitted according to their rules. I was also flexible as far as publishers. After the first few rejections, I expanded my search, researched the e-book world and found Liquid Silver Books. They accepted my first novel and have kindly accepted everything since. I’m so fortunate to have found them and they have really nurtured my talent. I would suggest to any new authors to persevere, but also do a lot of soul searching. If you get discouraged easily, writing might be a better hobby than a profession.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Last year I had a wonderful experience. My publisher notified me and told me BBC Radio Orkney Scotland was interested in my Orkney Selkies series. I was told they wanted to do a radio interview with me about the books, and were interested in why an author would set an erotic romance in their part of the world. I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been a BBC fanatic for years, so for me to get interviewed by them was a dream come true. It was a short interview, but very fun, and broadcast on the Orkney BBC radio outlet as well as online. I will never forget that moment.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. My most recent series is the Gemini Island Shifters series, set in the fictional community of Gemini Island, Ontario. The setting is a resort that caters to shape shifters and in which teen shifters can come to receive mentoring from adult shifters. Each book features a different romance and employee on the resort and I’m so pleased to see how they’ve been embraced by my readers. The most recent is Predator’s Refuge, Gemini Island Shifters 3.
Blurb: Lynx shifter Marci Lennox has worked at the shifter-friendly Ursa Fishing Lodge and Resort all her adult life. It’s more a home to her than a job. When her boss goes on vacation, putting her in charge, Marci is thrilled. Finally a chance to prove she has the mettle to run a resort.
Her confidence is shaken when new employee Anton Gaspar appears. One look at the mysterious tiger shifter spells trouble for Marci and for her sex-crazed lynx. Anton is judgmental, condescending, and a little misogynistic. Unfortunately, Marci’s lynx thinks his tiger is more delicious than an oversized bag of Maltesers.
It becomes difficult for Marci to remain neutral near Anton, especially when she learns of his troubling past and unusual family circumstances. However, when dangerous incidents occur on the resort, the lynx woman and tiger man join forces to combat the threat to the lodge and its guests.
Harder still is the quest to combat their explosive feelings for one another. As they explore their mutual passion, they realize the danger at the resort is more insidious than they ever envisioned. Their dreams, their love, and their very lives are at stake.
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love getting outside. My hubby and I do a lot of hiking and like to walk trails. We try to get our sons out to a lot of conservation areas and parks. I love visiting beautiful gardens, although I’m a bad gardener and always plant flowers in the worst area possible. We also love traveling and visiting new places.
9.What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) I would suggest joining an online community that caters to the same genre as you write. One can learn so much from like-minded authors and find new networking opportunities. I would also suggest not getting dragged down by social media. As important and amusing as it can be, you don’t want to let it interfere with what you should be doing: writing.
10.Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about. My publisher Liquid Silver Books arranges for my book covers, so I am spared having to make those difficult choices myself. Once a book is contracted, they send me a cover art request form on which I detail how the characters look, setting, etc. The info is sent to a graphic artist who makes my vision come to life. It is such a thrilling process, and I’ve been blessed by such wonderful artists. I’m very happy with my covers and the emotions they inspire.
1.What got you into writing? My life long love affair with reading and the desire to add to the romance genre. Plus a lot of hard work and a little bit of crazy.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? It usually consists of hefty doses of caffeine, music and being distracted by social media!
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? I don’t believe in writer’s block. *shoo, go away!
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? Yes I do spend a fair amount of time plotting and working out character motivations and scene order before I begin writing. It helps me stay on track as I get into the thick of the story.
5.What was the publishing process like for you & any advice to aspiring authors? I began with self-publishing and I am so grateful for that opportunity. Then I was fortunate enough to land a traditional publication deal too, so I consider myself a hybrid author, which is very fun. Advice I would have for others is not never give up, keep challenging yourself, take risks and learn all you can. Succeeding at this takes dogged determination and don’t let your self-doubt stop you.
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? So many things…seeing my book in bookstores, reading reactions and reviews online from readers. To me, that was a big moment because it meant my story was out in the world being experienced by others, which was an amazing feeling. It no longer existed only in my head.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? When I Break, out now is about Knox, a sex addict who begins to fall for his addiction counselor. It is part of a three-book series.
8.Besides writing, what do you do in your spare time? I’m a new mom to a little baby boy, and I have an adorable husband – both of them keep me busy. But I also love to read, cook new recipes and get pedicures!
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? I’ve been staring at my screen trying to figure out an answer for close to five minutes now and am coming up blank. I think the reason why is that I love my life, I’m living a dream come true and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. 🙂
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Yep! I appreciate every single one of you. And invite you to visit me on social media!
Zanna Mackenzie lives on the Derbyshire/Leicestershire border with her husband, 4 dogs, a vegetable patch that’s home to far too many weeds and an ever expanding library of books waiting to be read.
Being a freelance writer and editor of business publications is her ‘day job’ but, at every opportunity, she can be found scribbling down notes on scenes for whatever novel she’s working on. She loves it when the characters in her novels take on minds of their own and start deviating from the original plot!
If You Only Knew is Zanna’s third novel; her previous books The Love Programme, and How Do You Spell Love? were both published in 2013.
1.What got you into writing? I’ve always wanted to write, ever since I was a child. At school I wanted to be a journalist but soon realised I wasn’t forthright enough so I ended up working as a travel agent. Then I started writing copy for holiday brochures and articles for magazines. I had the writing bug again and started trying my hand at short stories before eventually writing full novels. I love writing. I feel it’s want I’m meant to be doing.
2.What is a usual writing day like for you? I work from home as a freelance writer, editor and proof reader of business publications for a chamber of commerce so that takes priority each day. I try to keep Fridays free as a writing day but it doesn’t always work out that way if I have copy or proofing deadlines on the business publications. I have to try and fit writing in around my ‘day job’ so I often end up scribbling bits of scenes and dialogue in a notebook at all times of the day and night.
3.Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? Not long after I signed my book contracts with my publishers (I signed one book and then two months later signed another book with a different publisher) I felt the pressure to write, write and write some more. I did too much and I think that the creative part of my brain went into overload and I found myself unable to string two sentences of fiction together. I panicked and sought advice from fellow authors on how to get back into the creative zone again. They had lots of good ideas – have a day out and visit a new place for fresh energy and inspiration worked best for me – and I thankfully soon found myself able to write again. I tried to pace myself better after that but I get so many ideas for plots going round in my head and I want to write them all at once so I have to be careful.
4.Are you a plotter/planner when it comes to writing a story? I start off with a setting, a plot outline, listing the key plot points and where they occur in the story, and have detailed biogs for the characters then I start writing and inevitably things take on a mind of their own and the plot deviates somewhat and characters start behaving how they want to rather than how I had planned! I remember in one book a man who should have been a minor character suddenly started getting ideas above his station and decided he wanted to compete with the ‘hero’ for the attentions of the lead female. I ran with this change and let him give it his best shot to try to win her over!
5.What was the publishing process like for you,& any advise to aspiring authors? I was part of a new writers appraisal scheme and that helped me to shape my writing a lot at the start of my writing journey. After the books had gone through the appraisal scheme I did nothing with them for years and it was my husband who nagged me to start sending the books out to publishers for consideration. I sent one book to a publisher in America and another to a UK publisher and told myself to forget about them whilst mentally preparing myself for the rejection emails. Within one month the American publisher came back and said they loved the book and offered me a contract. Two months later the other publisher came back to me and offered me a contract on that book. Cue much crying and dancing around the room. I still have to pinch myself – I can’t believe I’m a published author. I feel so fortunate.
My advice to aspiring authors would be plain and simple – do not give up!!!!
6.What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? I think it was about a week before How Do You Spell Love? was due to be launched and the publishers sent me a copy of the paperback of the book in the post. Holding a proper book with my name on it felt amazing – I went all goose-bumpy.
7.Can you share a little of your most recent book with us? And any other books of yours, if you wish. The latest release of my three books is called If You Only Knew, here’s a taster –
Faith owns The Coffee Pot in the outdoor adventure sports mecca of Derbyshire’s Peak District. She hasn’t had a man in her life for a while, as she’s been too busy serving cakes to weary rock climbers and mountain bikers to find time for the complications of a relationship with the male of the species.
At least, that’s what she tells herself. The truth is that since she got her heart broken she’s had problems trusting men.
When she meets Zane, one of the new owners at the Carrdale Extreme Sports Centre, Faith finds herself enjoying his company even though part of her can’t help wondering why he’s so reluctant to talk about himself.
Then the past comes back to haunt her in the shape of Zane’s business partner Matt, who just happens to be the guy who broke Faith’s heart all those years ago.
With Matt out to cause trouble and Zane keeping secrets Faith’s life is about to get very complicated indeed…
Here’s a sneaky little extract from If you Only Knew:
She took a step back, wrapping her arms around herself. Suddenly she felt cold and shaky. Aaron was back? This was impossible.
Yet here he was, standing in her kitchen. She felt dizzy and light-headed.
How should she react? Should she admit they knew each other? Why had Aaron changed his name to Matt anyway? Would he prefer it if the fact they knew each other was kept quiet?
But she knew she couldn’t keep something like that from Zane.
As she debated what to say and do next, the room remained awkwardly silent. Zane was looking at her questioningly.
What should she say?
Come on, think, woman. Think.
Too late. Aaron spoke first.
“Faith, it’s amazing to see you again after all these years.”
OK. So he didn’t want to keep it a secret that they already knew each other.
“Aaron,” she managed to say. “This is a bit of a shock.”
“That’s an understatement,” Matt replied, stepping forward to pull her into a hug.
“Hang on a second,” Zane said, pushing into the room. “Aaron? That’s your proper name isn’t it?” He raised enquiring eyebrows at Matt. “What’s going on? You two already know each other?”
8.Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I love gardening. Our garden is on the small side but each spring I plan how I can redesign it to try and fit more plants in. I love propagating from cuttings and collecting and sowing seeds so I can add more plants without spending more money. I also love getting out into the countryside and walking the dogs; we have 4 labradors so there’s plenty of opportunity for walks! My other favourite way to spend time is reading. Until a week or so ago I was a strict ‘real’ books only person until I realised I had about 70 downloaded ebooks on the Kindle app on my computer I wanted to read but never got around to because when I was sat in front of the computer I was working with no time for a spot of reading here and there. So I finally gave in and somewhat reluctantly purchased a basic Kindle – now I’m a convert and can see that both real and ebooks have their place in the world.
9.If you could trade places with any other person for a week, famous or not famous, living or dead, real or fictional, who would it be & why? My favourite TV programme at the moment is the supernatural series Haven about a small New England town which has ‘troubles’ with people taking on strange powers. Audrey Parker is one half of the local police department which has to tackle the problems, working alongside Police Chief Nathan. I could quite like the idea of being Audrey for a day. She’s strong, confident, capable and, at the same time, kind and compassionate. Plus Nathan is rather cute so it would be rather nice to get to spend some time with him…
10.Do you have anything that you want to say to your readers? Thank you very much for buying my books and I sincerely hope you enjoyed them!