Hi Anne, glad to have you on my blog. Please tell us a bit about your latest book.
My latest is an ebook published by Endeavour Press: A Tale of Two Sisters which is a long short story and two other short stories about issues within families. The two sisters in question are very different, and the story is told from the younger sister’s viewpoint. She has never been invited to her older sister’s home in spite of huge hints and eventually visits unannounced – a major turning point in their relationship.
The second story, Mirror Image, explores the reactions of two half-sisters – one of whom has never known of the other’s existence – when they meet at their father’s funeral and Fourth Time Lucky is about a mother who has longed for daughters only to have four sons, the youngest of whom stammers and is made fun of by his siblings until he gets a main part in the school nativity play…
I’ve had numerous short stories published in UK magazines but there are fewer outlets now. My previous collection is Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected, also an ebook published by Endeavour Press. All of these stories have a twist and I love endings which take the reader by surprise.
What genres do you like to write in?
Apart from short stories which I love writing, I have also published seven non-fiction books ranging from Women in Sport, for school children, to Applying to University The Essential Guide and latterly two Parenting Without Tears Guides: Living With Teenagers and Loving Discipline. These last two are ebooks linked to Parenting Without Tears, (www.parentingwithouttears.com) a website I founded seven years ago and there will be more to come in the series.
My work in progress is a crime novel that I wrote some time ago and am now revisiting. It has gone through three drafts and now I’m editing. It would be nice to think my background in editing fiction is helping me here, especially as I am reading the novel afresh. Even better I have the first three chapters on the next one written as well with the same protagonist so I can really get to grips with her character and motivation.
What kind of books do you like to read? Which authors influenced you?
I have always read voraciously, influenced by my mother who often “lost” herself in a book. We both loved Andrew Marvell’s poetry and Shakespeare and I vividly recall her reading Alice in Wonderland to me as a child. At school I had a wonderful English teacher who allowed me to exchange books more frequently as I read so fast and I went on to read for a degree in English and French. Whenever I go to France I love to browse the bookshops and I have stumbled upon some fabulous contemporary authors like Fred Vargas.
Maupassant and Roald Dahl’s short stories have influenced me greatly. Currently I have been introduced to a whole raft of new-to-me writers on Twitter and have a huge “books to read” list which I am making my way through.
What keeps you up at night?
As a chronic insomniac I am awake several times every night. In some ways this is an advantage as I remember my dreams and they influence me and my writing. If I’m having a problem starting an article or story and go to bed thinking about it, I invariably wake up with the first sentence or paragraph in my head. That said, it would be wonderful to go to bed at night and not wake up until the morning.
Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out?
With the advent of ebooks and self-publishing, it’s a very exciting time for writers and it’s tempting to “go it alone”. However, as a reviewer, I have seen some appalling results in self-publishing. A professional editor should be your best friend, someone who brings out the best in your work and minimizes mistakes. Even with traditionally published books I have been shocked by inaccuracies, like an eleven-month pregnancy because no one was keeping track of the time in the novel!
And if you want to write you should read. Not just books similar to those you’d like to write or are writing but a range of genres. You can learn so much from other authors. Writing is a craft and you need to hone your talent by writing and rewriting until you think you have the best possible sentence, paragraph, chapter…
When I worked in publishing we used to groan at having to read the slush pile but there was always that hope that you’d find that special manuscript and once in a while you did. Now, of course that’s usually done by an agent, who will also have a major input into your creativity and career. But finding an agent to accept you is almost as hard as writing the book!
Links to books:
A Tale of Two Sisters (UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Tale-Two-Sisters-ebook/dp/B00BFSGFYG/
Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected (UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Cheque-Mate-Other-Tales-Unexpected-ebook/dp/B008G1FI5M/
PWT Living with Teenagers (UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0098WD75G/
PWT Loving Discipline (UK) http://www.amazon.co.uk/Parenting-Without-Tears-Discipline-ebook/dp/B00AZJSHOC/