Welcome to WMWP, Sally.
Today I’m talking with author, Sally Quilford about her writing life.
It’s always interesting to know why someone wants to write for a living. What sparked off your urge to write novels?
Having left school with no qualifications, at the age of 30, I decided to return to ‘school’ and started with a GCSE in English Literature. It inspired me to want to write. Before then I had a vague notion of being a writer, but never really put it into practice. I started with some very bad poetry, then some equally bad short stories, but over the years, after lots of practice, I improved enough to begin to sell my stories. I had written a couple of novels, but they are clearly the work of a complete beginner. My first official novel was The Secret of Helena’s Bay and even then it was only 30k words in length. I wrote it for My Weekly Pocket Novels and was both amazed and delighted when it was accepted.
Naturally that inspired me to keep going!
You are a prolific writer so could you share with us your creative process?
Basically it’s switch the computer on, check Facebook and emails, play Candy Crush then suddenly panic when I realise half the morning has gone and I’ve written nothing. That being said, when I’m in the grip of a story, nothing can stop me. I’m something of a binge writer. I can write loads and loads over a short period of time, but then can go weeks without writing anything. I do have to be in the grip of an idea to write, and don’t personally hold with the idea that you must write every morning. I try not to let too long go between writing projects, but if I’ve completed a 50k novel, I don’t beat myself up if I spend a month just chilling (though I do have other writing related duties, such as my work with the Romantic Novelists Association and running my workshops).
Your first published book was a novella, was that a conscious decision or did it come about naturally?
It was a conscious decision. I wanted to try something that bridged the gap between writing short stories and writing a full length novel. 30k seemed achievable. So I did my research and decided to ignore all that and just write the romantic intrigue I wanted to write. It worked and The Secret of Helena’s Bay was accepted by My Weekly Pocket Novels.
Would you recommend joining the Romantic Novelists Association (RNA)?
Yes, absolutely. It’s a lovely organisation, with a very friendly membership, and is great for networking with other romance writers, and editors and agents in the industry. The RNA gives our genre a professional ‘face’ and helps us to compete in a world where romance writing is, sadly, seen as not being quite ‘real’ writing.
Ulverscroft publishes many of your pocket novels. Can you tell us about the process of progressing to large print books.
At one time, one could not sell to Ulverscroft Large Print books unless you’d first sold the novel to another publisher i.e. DC Thomson who publishes My Weekly and People’s Friend Pocket novels. I didn’t have a clue about it, until the smashing Cara Cooper let me in on the secret. It’s great to have another market for our books, and also to get Public Lending Rights on them. What’s more, on a personal note, my dad is partially sighted, so I’m always able to get him a free copy. Now Ulverscroft has changed their rules and if you’ve been published by them before, they will take work that hasn’t been published elsewhere. So it’s a whole new market for us! They’re a nice publisher to work with and produce a very high quality product. They’ve just accepted The Doctor’s Daughter, which is the first in the series of my Peg Bradbourne Mysteries (and is also available on Kindle!)
Thank you for sharing your experiences as a writer.