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Posts tagged ‘writers’

Stephanie Bretherton has the Last Word

Bone Lines, Stephanie Bretherton’s debut novel, considers what it is to be human by engaging us in the lives of two women, separated by millenia. Stephanie is a wonderful communicator who has a fascinating backstory of her own – Born in Hong Kong to a pair of Liverpudlians, she is now based in London, but manages her sanity by escaping to any kind of coast, particularly far west Cornwall.

LWOTW: Welcome, Stephanie, it’s lovely to meet you. Thanks for sharing this Q&A about writers and writing. Tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer.

Stephanie: Probably the first time I got an A for a school composition! Those kind of dopamine hits can become as addictive as sugar. Just as well, really, as I have struggled with ‘numbers’ all my life. Words, on the other hand, have been my friends. It’s amazing what you can do with them, from creating and escaping into your own imaginary worlds, to coming back out into the ‘real’ world and communicating ideas, forming friendships, entertaining people, making them feel good.

If I had lived in the times of the prehistoric character in my book, Bone Lines, I would have been a rubbish hunter but would probably have made myself useful as the storyteller of the tribe.

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That’s a great thought. You are obviously good at imagining yourself into the texture of your stories. Do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

I use all three. A dream might inspire, or help solve a problem, but that’s more passive. Active imagination is the key driver. Planning tends to come retrospectively, if that makes sense. I reverse engineer the planning once I have a character, a world, a theme, an idea that has been allowed to run free and take its own shape.

I love that notion! Reverse engineering planning – brilliant strategy for the imaginative writer! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

I have always worked with words, communication or ‘storytelling’ in one form or another, and there have been quite a few thrills and spills along the way, from reading the weather report on Hong Kong television to building my successful ‘boutique’ communications agency. But creative writing fiction in particular has always been my first love and publishing a book was a lifelong goal. So undoubtedly bringing my debut novel Bone Lines out into the world last September, as exciting and terrifying as that journey has been, has to be the highpoint so far

I’m glad you mention the terror. It’s something writers don’t always expect, but it’s certainly there, hiding among the joys and delights. What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

Three weeks unbroken chill at my bolthole in Cornwall in the summer, to rest, write, walk and play. I am very blessed to have found a corner of the world that fills my soul. I’ve had a rather nomadic life since childhood (though I have always been drawn to a coast) and I while recent generations of my family are not from Cornwall (we are misplaced Scousers) and I’d never spent much time there before, I had the strangest sense of ‘coming home’ when I visited friends near Land’s End three years ago.

I had a small inheritance after my widowed mother had died, and I found a tiny place near the sea that weekend, put in an offer on the train back to London and knew it would gradually become ‘my soul’s landscape.’ I still have to spend a lot of time in London for work, but whenever I can get back to Cornwall, it’s just magic. The perfect place to write. (And I really need to crack on with book two.)

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That sounds divine – but yes, we need Book Two. (I’ll put aside thoughts of Poldark for the moment…very distracting…) If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

If it’s what you want to do so badly that you are prepared to make sacrifices of your time, ego, cash flow, personal life, and sometimes what feels like your sanity, then just keep writing – whether you are ever published or not.

If you have something that has to be said, a story that has to told, a head full of characters demanding to written about, if you feel most ‘yourself’ (and at peace with yourself) when you are writing, then write, write, write. But there are no guarantees. Anything can happen and you can get lucky, but it’s a hard profession in which to make either headway or money. On the other hand it’s also a wonderful profession to be a part of. You can also self-publish – but do that as well as you can too. All readers deserve your best, most professional work.

Do the work, learn the craft, take advice from those whose track record speaks for itself. Work with a good editor. If you can, pick a genre. I haven’t really yet, so am no example, but it will help when it comes to selling to the industry and then marketing – and know that marketing is a huge part of being an author too, so start to learn those skills as well. Nothing will just come to you though. Take rejection on the chin. You are unique, but you are not ‘special’ (yet) – writing is graft, but worth every minute, at least it has been to me.

Wonderful advice, thank you! And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

Atticus Finch, and Scout. The father in The Road, and his kid. Cathy and Heathcliffe. Pip, Abel Magwitch, and Estella. Or Joe and Biddy. Luke, Han and Leia. And Chewie. My Dr Eloise and all her lost lovers, and John, the priest. My ‘Sarah’ and all her ‘children.’ Aren’t we all the characters we have ever loved, learned from, or imagined?

LWOTW: Indeed we are! Writers and readers are the most changeable, and perecptive, of humand. Thank you so much for speaking with me, Stephanie, it has been pure joy.

Stephanie’s important links:

Stephanie’s Website is at http://stephaniebretherton.com/

Bone Lines is available online at all the usual places such as Book Depository

 

 

 

Last Word: Barbara Quinn

Barbara Quinn is an award-winning short story writer and author of a variety of novels including her latest, The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me, a novel about the healing power of the music of the Boss.

A longtime Springsteen fan, and native New Yorker with roots in the Bronx, Long Island, and Westchester, Barbara lives with her husband in Bradley Beach, NJ and Holmes Beach, FL. She has travelled to forty-seven states and six continents where she’s encountered fascinating settings and inspiring people that populate her work.

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Barbara’s many past jobs include lawyer, record shop owner, reporter, process server, lingerie sales clerk, waitress, and postal worker. She enjoys spending time with her son and his family, planning her next adventure, and listening to the Boss.

With that background, I can’t wait to hear how Barbara approaches writing. ‘I’m sick of sitting right here trying to write this book’ (Dancing in the Dark) seems to be one line from the Boss that doesn’t apply!

LWOTW: Welcome, Barbara. Tell me about when you first realised that you are a writer.

Barbara: As a child I was drawn to books at an early age. I became lost in stories my parents read to me of far off lands and fairytales. I started writing stories and plays that my brother and I performed for family. I never stopped. My first produced play was for my Girl Scout troop. That was a fractured fairytale about a good wolf and an evil Red Riding Hood. Ah, I can still feel the joy caused by the audience clapping.

I love the sound of that version – the good wolf especially. Do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

I have a vivid imagination. I can’t control it but have learned to depend on it and to suddenly be taken someplace new and unexpected. Once there, other skills take over.

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What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Having my latest novel The Summer Springsteen’s Songs Saved Me published brought me so much pleasure. What a kick to see it out there. But the part that really made me happy was the incredible fan mail I received. There’s simply nothing like having complete strangers connect with my work to the extent that they are so moved they write and tell me about it. We are all human and that need to connect is real and is so rewarding when we accomplish it.

That sounds wonderful. What a great experience. What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

I’m looking forward to finishing another novel so stay tuned! And to traveling more now that my husband is retired.

If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Read widely. Write often. And find a place to share your work.

And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

Alice in Wonderland! I so would love to jump down that rabbit hole.

That does sound like a great place to travel Thank you so much for talking with me today, Barbara. I can’t wait for news of the new novel.

Barbara’s Links:

Twitter: @BarbaraQuinn
Instagram: @authorbarbaraquinn
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Healthy.Lifestyle

Website: http://baquinn.wixsite.com/barbaraquinn

 

Last Word: Laura Laakso

Laura Laakso, my fabulous guest today on Last Word of the Week, is a Finn who has spent most of her adult life in England. She currently lives in Hertfordshire with her two dogs (and you know I love dog people). Books and storytelling have always been a big part of Laura’s life, from writing fanfiction to running tabletop roleplaying games and now writing original fiction. When she is not writing, editing or plotting, Laura works as an accountant. With two degrees in archaeology, she possesses frighteningly useful skills for disposing of or digging up bodies, and if her internet search history is anything to go by, she is on several international watch lists.

Laura’s debut novel, Fallible Justice, was published last November by the excellent Louise Walters Books and her next two books in the Wilde Investigations series, Echo Murder and Roots of Corruption are due for publication in June 2019 and March 2020. Laura’s Wilde Investigations are paranormal crime novels set in modern day London, but with magic, murder and general mayhem.

Laura Laakso

LWOTW: Laura, it’s wonderful to meet you! Tell us about when you first realised that you are a writer.

Laura: Probably back at university, when I was preparing a Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying campaign. I got completely carried away with the world I’d created and suddenly realised that I cared more about the back story of my supporting characters than what my players were going to do in the present. Naturally, I had to write everything down. Many years later, I began dabbling in fanfiction, until an extraordinary beta reader showed that I have the skills to write original fiction and told me that I should do just that. My debut novel, Fallible Justice, was dedicated to him as a thank you.

That’s a great story! These days, do you rely more on dreams, imagination, and planning?

Dreams and imagination are the greatest tools a writer has. Daring to dream big and imagine a different world, and then putting them into words is what makes writing so exciting. You never know what your mind creates, both awake and asleep!

That said, I’m a big fan of planning these days, given that I write paranormal crime novels. Having a detailed plan in place before I start writing not only helps me remember all the details, but gives me confidence in the story arcs and red herrings. If I draw up a story progression and it looks more like a tree than a straight line, I know I’m off to a good start. About half the time, my characters ignore the plans completely, but I feel better knowing I at least tried to plan the story.

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I love characters who ignore plans! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Having readers contact me to say how much they loved one or more of my characters. It’s one thing for me to adore the people I’ve made up, but for others to share those feelings is simply extraordinary. My first reader even wrote me a fanfiction drabble about one of my characters, which I will always treasure. I recently dropped a few hints about my evil plans for future books and made people very anxious. I even received a few threats were I to start hurting their favourite characters.

Oh, that’s a sure sign of success! What are you most looking forward to at the moment?

You mean aside from the good night’s sleep? My publisher and I are about to start work on Roots of Corruption, the third book in my Wilde Investigations series. I absolutely adored writing the story and I can’t wait to see how the editing process turns it into a beautiful novel. I’m also ridiculously excited to see what our talented cover designer Jennie Rawlings will come up with for this book.

If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Dream boldly. The world is full of rules and restrictions, both in terms of writing and in general, and you need believe that you can do the things that keep you going. Be ambitions, but write with self-compassion.

And finally: Who would you be if you were a fictional character?

I’d love to be Miss Marple’s regular sidekick!

You’d be perfect in the role. And all those cups of tea and biscuits, how fabulous :-). Thank you so much for sharing with me today. Go Wilde!

Laura’s links:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LLaaksoWriter

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lauralaaksowriter

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lauralaaksowriter/

Website: https://lauralaaksobooks.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17986279.Laura_Laakso
Buy Laura’s books here:

https://www.louisewaltersbooks.co.uk/product-page/fallible-justice-by-laura-laakso
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fallible-Justice-Wilde-Investigations-Laakso/dp/1999780930

https://www.amazon.com/Fallible-Justice-Wilde-Investigations-Laakso/dp/1999780930/

https://www.louisewaltersbooks.co.uk/product-page/echo-murder

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07PDNVYQ1/

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07PDNVYQ1/

Last Word: Rachel Sargeant

Rachel Sargeant is the author of Kindle Top Ten bestseller The Perfect Neighbours. She is a previous winner of Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been placed or shortlisted in various competitions, including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Accent Press Saucy Shorts series. Rachel grew up in Lincolnshire, spent several years living in Germany and now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and children. It’s wonderful to have Rachel here on Last Word of the Week. Here she is!

Hello, everyone and a big thank you to Clare for hosting me here.

LWOTW: My pleasure! Lovely to meet you. Rachel, when did you write your first story?

I wrote my first short story about sixteen years ago and was overwhelmed when it won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition. This story has now become the basis for my latest novel The Good Teacher.

That’s completely awesome, congratulations! What about your writing process – what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Ideas for scenes sometimes come to me when I’m swimming, but I don’t very often dream about my writing. I suppose planning is the most important to me. I’ll come up with an idea and need to plot it out to build it into something worthwhile. Sadly, I don’t have boundless imagination so I have to work at it.

When you’re swimming? Interesting! What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

The success of The Perfect Neighbours has been very special. I got a real buzz out of seeing it at WHSmith in Waterloo Station next to the Booker Prize winner. And it was lovely to get a bouquet of flowers from HarperCollins when it reached 100,000 sales. They are great to work with.

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That’s fabulous, congratulations Rachel. What a winner. What are you most busy with at the moment?

I’m working on the fourth draft of a serial killer thriller that features a new character, a forty-three year old detective inspector called Steph. I’m also gearing up for the promotional tour of The Roommates, a psychological thriller set in a university freshers’ week which comes out later this year.

If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Never give up. Despite beginner’s luck with my first story, it took me another fourteen years to improve my writing technique enough to attract an agent and a mainstream publisher. Just write, write and keep writing.

And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Green

More about The Good Teacher by Rachel Sargeant

Even the good have to die.
A beloved teacher is murdered and left in a ditch beside a country lane. His wife is found beaten and gagged in their suburban home.

Even the best schools have secrets.
New detective Pippa Adams learns that the teacher ran a homework club for vulnerable pupils. But what did he really teach them?

Even the perfect family has something to hide.
When Pippa scratches the surface of the school community, she meets families who’ve learned a shattering lesson. And finally uncovers the good teacher’s darkest secrets…

Available from Amazon.co.uk as an eBook (UK customers only)

Or for the rest of us via Amazon.com

https://www.amazon.com/Good-Teacher-gripping-bestselling-Neighbours-ebook/dp/B07GJB38F3/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1542724464&sr=1-1&keywords=9780008327224

Or HarperCollins website (various eBook formats):

https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008327224/

Rachel’s Links:

Website: www.rachelsargeant.co.uk

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RachelSargeant3

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelsargeantauthor/

 

 

Last Word: Richard Dee

Exciting, engrossing, engaging and surprising: prolific UK writer Richard Dee and all his works can be described with these words. From life as a master mariner and Thames Estuary pilot to baking organic bread and writing sci-fi and steam punk, Richard Dee is one interesting man. In this post we’re going to hear a little about his process, and a bit more about what drives him. I’m so pleased to speak with Richard in today’s Last Word of the Week.

LWOTW: Welcome, Richard Dee! Do you remember when you wrote your first story?

Richard: In 1979, I wrote a short story about a farm in space. It eventually turned into my first novel; Freefall, in 2011-13. I guess that life got in the way there.

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That’s quite a journey! Persistence and hanging onto the writing dream are very important, I think. Tell me, what do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

A lot of my stories came from dreams. They still do, my upcoming adventure Life and Other Dreams is based on the possibility that our dreams may just be real.

I see all my stories develop, like watching a film in my head. I can rewind, and I can slow the playback to watch the story unfold slowly, but I can never fast forward to the end.

Because of that, I don’t bother trying to plan, I just type what I see and let the characters move my fingers around the keys. The ending will be as much of a surprise to you as it was to me!

That’s a wonderful method – quite like the visitation of a muse. You’re obviously a born writer. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

Fame and fortune has sadly eluded me so far! My highlight is getting a good review from someone I’ve never met. And a royalty payment.

Good reviews are gold, aren’t they? Great to get – but I’m sure the fame and fortune would be nice too. What are you most busy with at the moment?

Developing an online course in world building.

Encouraging struggling writers with my Showcase series of blog posts, where I give new and Indie authors a platform.

Writing sequels, prequels, spin-offs and new work.

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That’s a lot to be getting on with. Well done you! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Get the words down somewhere and more will flow. You can’t do much with great ideas if they stay in your head.

Excellent advice! And finally – the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Red

Richard’s website is at richarddeescifi.co.uk. Head over there to see what he gets up to, click the FREE STUFF tab or the PORTFOLIO tab to get all the details about Richard’s work and pick up a free novel or short story.

Richard is on Facebook at RichardDeeAuthor and Twitter at Richard Dee Sci-Fi

Last Word of the Week: Deborah Sheldon

Deborah Sheldon leans to the darker side. Although she too is a Melbourne-based author and a member of Writers Victoria, I met Deborah for the first time last year when she had Something to Say. Deborah’s novel Contrition was published late last year, and her new novel is about to be released.

Welcome to LWOTW, Deborah! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

I’ve been a professional writer since 1986 when I sold a feature article on steroid abuse to an Australian bodybuilding magazine. The first short story I ever wrote, “300 Degree Days”, was published by Quadrant magazine in 2005. I began switching my attention from non-fiction to fiction in 2007.

My fiction has always leaned towards the darker side, but I’ve been writing horror ever since Midnight Echo published my first horror story “Perfect Little Stitches” in 2015. I’m indulging myself in the various subgenres and having a blast.

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What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Dreams don’t often motivate me but when they do, it’s a punch to the face. My novelette “The Again-Walkers”, inspired by my interest in ninth-century Danish mythology and included in my collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories, began its life as a terrible dream. The nightmare woke me in a literal sweat, unable to return to sleep. In the dark, even as my heart raced, I thought: damn, that nightmare would make one hell of a climax to a story. And yes, I believe it did!

I plan everything I write but not meticulously. As soon as I envisage the premise, my imagination runs straight to the ending. With a finale in mind, I decide on the story’s length whether it be flash fiction, short story, novella or novel, as each form requires a drastically different approach from the get-go. My outlining is sparse. As an example, I’ll block out 24 points (with a sentence or two per point) for a 24-chapter novel. The outline prevents me from meandering in pointless circles as I write.

Imagination is critical. Premises, plots and characters are always noodling around in my thoughts. I keep a work diary, jotter pads and stacks of post-it notes on my desk.

What’s the highlight of your career so far?

As far as fiction is concerned, in June 2018, winning the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2017” for Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories. The collection getting long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award would come a very close second!perfect-little-stitches-final-cover-sm-e1512690490918

That said, every acceptance letter is a highlight. I celebrate a story getting published, a new contract with a publisher, a great review. My noir-horror novel Contrition was released in September 2018, which was another career highlight. (My favourite way to celebrate a book release is a restaurant meal with my husband and son, and plenty of chardonnay.)

About mid-year, I have a dark fiction collection coming out, and I’m looking forward to that very much.

 

That chardy sounds like a good plan! What are you most busy with at the moment?

During 2016 and 2017, I wrote two long-form titles back to back: the novel Contrition (IFWG Publishing Australia) and the bio-horror novella Thylacines (Severed Press). To help my brain to “decompress” and revitalise, I wrote short stories throughout most of 2018. The intensity of such a condensed and challenging medium always gives me an endorphin high.

Right now, I’m about halfway through a novel in a horror subgenre I’ve never attempted before, and loving every minute of it.

I’ll be interested to see what develops next! If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Prepare yourself to commit to a lifelong endeavour. This is a joyful thing! Like Hemingway said, “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.” If you keep his words in mind and your ego in check, you will improve with every story you write.

And the last word of the week: What’s your favourite colour?

Purple: in every shade from lavender to wine.

 

Deborah’s Links

Website: https://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3312459.Deborah_Sheldon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Deborah-Sheldon-936388749723500/

Amazon Author Page: here

Last Word of the Week: Jeannie Wycherley

Blessed with a wildly overactive imagination, English author Jeannie Wycherley is chatting with me today. Jeannie lives in Devon with her husband and the fur-kids, three beloved dogs who are spoilt rotten (something I totally understand). Jeannie writes stories that are dark, suspenseful, horror-filled … and sometimes just plain weird in a wonderful kind of way.

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LWOTW: It’s so lovely to meet you, Jeannie! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Jeannie: I suppose like most writers I began in school. I loved writing, but you know what careers officers are like. They put me off. Instead I followed an academic path – right through to a PhD in history (which I loved doing, don’t get me wrong) – and worked in education for a long time. I ended up burnt out, on anti-depressants and receiving counselling for my struggle with work. Turned out I was just doing the wrong job and needed something more creative.

I started to write again in my early-forties and fell in love with it. It’s a rare day indeed where I don’t now do something related to my writing. My first success was an erotic story entered into a competition. I forget what it was called but it won. I was hooked!

Thanks, Jeannie, that really is a marvellous story and a bit of a reminder to those of us who have put off writing to do something more mainstream! What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Where would we be without any of those things? For as long as I can remember I have lived inside my imagination, a rich and colourful tapestry of weirdness for sure. I dwell there, with the characters I meet in other people’s work and the ones I conjure up myself. On long journeys I settle down for a good day-dream and put those characters in my head to work in different situations. My mind is a magical place, preferable to day-to-day reality sometimes!

Dreams are extremely important on a number of levels. I have my own dreams, as in my ambitions, driving me forward as a writer. I would love more people to delve into my stories. I’m sure there’s something for everyone. My ultimate dream is to write full time and support myself and my husband through sales, but at the moment it’s a balancing act.

I use my own nocturnal dreams as a starting point for stories. I recently wrote a love story (my first one as I usually write dark fantasy and horror) that came straight out of a dream. I awoke having experienced this coherent exploration of my feelings towards growing older, and feeling regret about things I miss from my younger years – a youthful body, the excitement of music and life and dancing, the first flush of true love etc. I really badly needed to write this up, and it became Keepers of the Flame. It’s a story I’m proud of, although a huge step away from what I normally write.

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As for planning, well … I am a planner, and all my work is plotted. I find it makes writing easier, although there is room for manoeuvre within the story if things strike me of course. Sometimes characters – and events – can take me completely by surprise. I love it when that happens.

Yes, that’s brilliant, isn’t it? What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

At the time of writing, the highlight is probably the publication of my debut novel Crone (2017). Sometimes I flip through my own copy and I think, ‘Did I really write that?’ Hahaha! It’s won a few awards that I’m proud of. A Chill with a Book Readers’ Award, and an Indie B.R.A.G Medallion.

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But by the time this piece goes out, it will definitely be The Municipality of Lost Souls. The characters and the setting have me totally hooked and I can’t wait to unleash it. It’s a Victorian Gothic ghost story set where I live on the East Devon (UK) coast – think Jamaica Inn meets The Walking Dead but with ghosts rather than zombies. It’s special and due out in Spring 2019.

Jamaica Inn meets The Walking Dead? Now I’m scared! Congrats on the new publications too. What are you most busy with at the moment?

I am hugely busy! I’ve just launched a new series called The Wonky Inn Books. The first novel, The Wonkiest Witch launched on Halloween, along with the Christmas special, The Witch Who Killed Christmas. These are designed to be lighter than my normal fare – they are clean and cozy witch mysteries.

I’m having such fun putting this series together! Book 2, The Ghosts of Wonky Inn and Book 3, Weird Wedding at Wonky Inn are both written and will be out before the end of the year, with two more to follow in 2019.

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I’m currently writing Book 4 and plotting Book 5. At any one time I seem to have a book being edited, one being formatted, one plotting, one being written and one in marketing. There’s nowhere near enough hours in the day!

That sounds intriguing. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Bum on seat. End of.

Oh yes!And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

My inspiration is drawn from the landscape, and I am so lucky to live where I do, where the forest meets the sea. My favourite colour is green.

 

Jeannie’s Links:

Amazon author page: http://author.to/JeannieWycherley

Website: https://www.jeanniewycherley.co.uk/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeanniewycherley/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Thecushionlady

 

Last Word of the Week: Felicity Banks

This week we are being totally charmed by the gorgeous Felicity Banks, the Australian author who channels the Antipodean Queen (how cool is that?) among other things. Felicity is also published by the impressive Odyssey Books.

Last Word of the Week: Welcome, Felicity. Can you tell us when  you wrote your first story?

Felicity: I can remember attempting my first novel when I was seven or so, during an idle afternoon at my grandparents’ house. It was about a family of cats, and the big drama was that Pamela (the mother) had gained weight. What unimaginable horror!

Then the amazing twist was that she wasn’t overweight after all. She was having kittens. There is no greater possible end to a story than brand new kittens.

LWOTW: A happy outcome indeed. What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

It seems I was born to plan out my stories before I write them, given that I was outlining novels at age seven. Sometimes I write out pages and pages of character notes, maps, and so on. Most of the time I have about an A4 handwritten page of notes when I start writing a novel and if I’m having trouble with a scene I might write out another page of notes just for that scene. Sometimes things change dramatically partway through the story, and I’m fine with that. Once I had a weird dream and then woke up and started writing a novel that afternoon.

Imagining things is easy; real life is hard.

LWOTW: We’re with you there. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

It took me a long, long time to get published—fifteen years after finishing my first novel. At around the same time as my first novel was published, I discovered the world of interactive fiction (like “Choose Your Own Adventure” novels, but usually digital), and nowadays my writing is actually in demand. That is absolutely amazing, and I love it.

I really enjoy going to conferences and fairs, especially meeting people who’ve read my books and come back for more.

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LWOTW: That must be very affirming. What are you most busy with at the moment?

Trying to actually do the writing I’m meant to be doing! Which is precisely why I’m here, doing other things.

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LWOTW: Well, we’re glad you took the time out to talk with us. If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Don’t! The average full-time writer in Australia earns only $12,000 per year.

But if you’re the type of person who thrives on being told not to do something, then the long years of rejection will be perfect for you. Or you can just write for fun (and if you get paid, great). That’s what I do.

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And the Last Word of The Week: What’s your favourite colour?

Green.

Thanks for speaking with us!

You can find out more about Felicity’s steampunk fantasy books here.

Felicity’s interactive writing can be found under the name Felicity Banks at the site here – but beware, it’s addictive!

Felicity’s latest book is a middle grade novel called The Monster Apprentice and features monsters AND pirates. You can find Felicity’s various pirate tales (some for children, some not) here.

Something to Say: Deborah Sheldon

Today we’re speaking with the Melbourne writer Deborah Sheldon.

Some of Deborah’s latest releases, through several publishing houses, include the noir-horror novel Contrition, the dark literary collection 300 Degree Days and Other Stories, the bio-horror novella Thylacines, the dark fantasy and horror collection Perfect Little Stitches and Other Stories (winner of the Australian Shadows Award “Best Collected Work 2017”) and the monster-horror novel Devil Dragon. Deborah’s short fiction has appeared in many well-respected magazines such as Quadrant, Island, Aurealis, SQ Mag, and Midnight Echo. Her work has been shortlisted for numerous Aurealis Awards and Australian Shadows Awards, long-listed for a Bram Stoker Award, and included in “best of” anthologies. Other credits include TV scripts, feature articles, non-fiction books, stage plays, and award-winning medical writing.

Deborah Sheldon

Something to Say: Welcome, Deb! That’s quite a list of achievements. What project are you talking about today?

Deborah: Award-winning press, IFWG Publishing Australia, is releasing my noir-horror novel, Contrition, today – September 3rd. The back-cover blurb reads:

In her late teens, Meredith Berg-Olsen had all the makings of a runway model. Now in her late forties, after everything she had been through – including horrors that John could only guess at – she looked bloodless instead of pale, skeletal instead of slender, more dead than alive…

John Penrose has two secrets. One is the flatmate he keeps hidden from the world: his high-school sweetheart, Meredith. His other secret is the reason he feels compelled to look after her.

Contrition is a horror story with noir undertones and an atmosphere of mounting dread.

STS: Is there one aspect of Contrition that you relate to the most – a favourite character, scene, effect? Can you tell us more about that?

My novel has two timelines: the present day and the 1980s. For the latter, I drew upon my own memories of high school for inspiration. If some of my old chums were to read Contrition, the basis of a few events might seem vaguely familiar. Since I hadn’t thought about my teenage years in a long, long time, it was interesting to sift through the memories, both good and bad. I think doing so gave the novel’s earlier timeline its rawness and pathos.

STS: What do you think drives you to pursue your creativity?

My brain is hard-wired to write. I started writing when I was a kid, and I’ve been a professional for 32 years. I’ll write until my dying day. There are two of me: the subjective self who lives this life; and the “observer” who squirrels away occurrences, feelings and thoughts to use in fiction. Every experience is potential fodder. I often reassure myself while going through a rough time, “Deb, elements of this will make good stories.” And it helps!

STS: That’s an interesting way to approach hard times. I like it! Now, many writers have described their processes using analogies – the famous Hemingway one, for example, in which he says that writing is simply a matter of sitting in front of the typewriter and staring at a blank page until you start to sweat blood. Others speak of stitching scenes together, following characters on a journey, immersing themselves in a storyline. What can you say about your process?

I see each writing project – whether it be a short story, novella or novel – as a kind of jigsaw puzzle. I know what “picture” I’m trying to create. I just need to find some way to put all the pieces in the correct order. I’m technique-driven. To use another analogy, I build a story like an engineer builds a bridge.

STS: Jigsaw-like, that’s excellent. Finally, what five words would you use to describe yourself as a writer?

Technical, productive, committed, pedantic, curious.

STS: Wonderful! Thank you so much for talking to us today, and all the best for Contrition!

 

Pictures

Author photo

Contrition cover

Links

Website: https://deborahsheldon.wordpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3312459.Deborah_Sheldon

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Deborah-Sheldon-936388749723500/

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B0035MWQ98/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Last Word of the Week: Kathryn Gossow

This week, I’m chatting with the intriguing Kathryn Gossow, whose YA novel Cassandra (published by the magical Odyssey Books) explores questions of future, knowledge, love, and fanily duties.

Last Word of the Week: Hi Kathryn! Tell us, when did you write your first story?

Kathryn: The first story I remember writing in primary school was about the moon and a little girl falling in love. When the moon had to return to the sky, it slipped out of the girl’s grasp and you can still see her hand print on the moon. I remember writing the line ‘forgotten like the man who invented matches’ which impressed my teacher. In grade 7, I wrote the end of year play. It was about a girl trapped on an alien planet at Christmas time. The aliens feel sorry for her and organise Christmas for her including an upside down tree and an electric dustpan for a gift.

LWOTW: What do you think of dreams, imagination, and planning?

Inspiration rests in our dreams and imagination, but have you ever had someone try and tell you about their weird dream? Dreams don’t confirm to storytelling conventions. On the other hand, have you ever read a washing machine manual? Too much planning and the heart that comes from the inspiration – the dream or imagination – loses its emotional impact. There needs to be a balance – like eating both your vegetables and your cake.

LWOTW: First time I’ve though of writing as a balance between vegetables and cake! Nice. What’s the highlight of your writing career so far?

This year, by far, it was having my book Cassandra short listed in the best fantasy novel category of the Aurealis Awards.

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LWOTW: Fantastic achievement, Kathryn. Congrats! What are you busy with at the moment?

So crazy, crazy busy. I am working on my new book about a librarian who can heal people with books. I am editing my almost completed collection of short stories – The Dark Poet. I am also on the marketing train with my first book Cassandra. Then there is blogging and sending stories to magazines. I also have to dust my house, prune my stone fruit trees, buy a new thingamabob for my broken swivel mirror…do you really want the whole list?

LWOTW: I reckon that’s enough to be getting on with 🙂 If you could say one thing to aspiring writers, what would it be?

Put your bum in the chair and write. It won’t write itself.

 

You’re right there – and no one else will write it for you either. Thank you so much for your insights, Kathryn, and all the best with the writing. And the thingamabob of course.

Kathryn’s home page is at: https://kathryngossow.net/