I’m delighted to be able to chat to well-known author, Jean Fullerton.
I confess to using Jean as an example to students of how a writer can have a busy job, family life and find time to write successful historical novels.
I always try to encourage writers to enter competitions. I understand you won a major novel writing competition. Why did you choose to enter this comp and how did the outcome influence your writing life?
I entered the Harry Bowling Prize in 2006 because some lovely people in the Romantic Novelists’ Association thought the book I was writing at the time, No Cure for Love, would be perfect.
I would have been happy just being short-listed. Winning didn’t only influence my writing life it made it.
Winning the Harry Bowling Prize was the breakthrough I needed. It got me my lovely agent Laura Longrigg and my first two book deal with Orion. I now have six novels published and am just finishing my seventh, which will be out Feb 2015.
I would encourage anyone who is serious about getting published to enter competitions. At the very least, if you’re short-listed or highly-commended, you can add that to you writing credentials and if you win, who knows, it could be your lucky break, too.
New writers seem to feel they have two options. To submit straight to publishers or to try to obtain representation by an agent. What would you advise?
I know how desperate people are to get published but as in any industry there are sharks out there. Anyone can set up as a publisher and I’ve seen authors snatch at the first deal they are offered without really investigating what they are signing away in the contract.
I understand unpublished authors’ frustration but I really do believe that you should think big as far as securing a publisher goes. In today’s world that means getting an agent. Without one you’ll never be able to access the big publishers like Random House, Little Brown and Orion.
Agents are on your side and only make money if you do. They are your insider in the industry and can network for you at events and conferences. They are also the tough guy when it comes to negotiating a contract and if things go wrong. I’ve heard people say agents are a dying breed and authors don’t need them to be a success. You’ll have to judge for yourself what is right for you but I wouldn’t be without my wonderfully supportive agent, Laura.
Your novels are all historicals. Have you ever considered tackling a different genre?
I enjoy political thrillers so I might consider tackling a story of governmental corruption and subsequent cover up like House of Cards. In truth though I feel I’d have to stay faithful to my first love so I can’t really see me ever writing anything other than historical fiction. But to be fair that does give me 3000 years to play with.
Please tell us about your latest book.
We meet up with Millie on 5th July 1948, the day the NHS started. She is now Nurse Millie Smith, having married aspiring MP Jim Smith. The war has ended and the NHS has just come into action, so the nurses are busier than ever as the community realise that they no longer have to pay for the services.
Minor ailments need attention, babies need to be helped into the world and some of the larger-than-life characters need keeping in line so Millie has enough drama to deal with without having to deal with more from home…and Alex Nolan, her ex-fiancé, is back in town.
All Change for Nurse Millie is available on Kindle for £2.62 at:
Thank you, Jean. It’s been a delight to talk to you.