Welcome to Vivien Brown With Her New Novel, Lily Alone

We welcome back Vivien Brown to talk about her psychological drama, Lily Alone.

Hello Viv, and welcome back to the blog. We’ve known you for years as a short story writer and then a romance novelist. Why the change to psychological drama?                        

I did self-publish a novel called Losing Lucy under the name of Vivien Hampshire some years back, which looked at the trauma and emotional impact on three women when a baby gets kidnapped, so harrowing tales involving young children have been lurking under the surface for a while! Lily Alone does have a couple of romance threads running through it but it’s more than that. Perhaps it’s me getting older, or having children and a grandchild of my own, but I felt it was time to explore the deeper aspects of family relationships and take on more serious issues. Lily Alone has also allowed me to explore a different and more complex structure for a novel, as alternate chapters are told through the eyes and memories of a confused woman in a coma.

Lily Alone covers some traumatic material. Was it difficult to write?

Surprisingly not! I have a grandchild coming up to Lily’s age, and it would be horrible to imagine her having to cope at home by herself, but the novel was always fiction to me. None of it ‘got to me’ or upset me, even though parts of the story brought tears to my editor’s eyes and might just unnerve a few readers. It’s that ‘This could so easily happen to me’ aspect, I think.

What kind of research did Lily Alone entail?

I had to do a lot more research than I would for a romance novel, looking at what a very young child can and might do if left alone for a lengthy period of time, what happens to a head trauma/coma patient in hospital, and how the Social Services system works when a child is found abandoned, but luckily I have friends and family with all the right expertise to guide me.

Viv’s romance novel

Tell us about your writing day. Are you a night owl, a morning lark, or neither?

For years, I had to fit writing around a day job and my family, so I would always head upstairs to write at around 9pm, after the children were asleep, and dinner/chores/my fix of TV soap operas were out of the way. Since giving up my job at the end of 2013, in theory I have all the time in the world, but often still find my natural writing instincts kick in during the evening, although it is really handy to have time in the day to get all the non-creative aspects of the writing life, like emails, social media and admin, sorted. When I am heavily into writing or editing a novel, I will write at any time, putting everything else aside, for hours at a time and often without a break, but that is at peak times, and it’s tiring. It is not the norm.

What do you find is the hardest aspect of being a writer? Or is it all good?

I am not very disciplined. When there is a deadline or I am caught up in a story, I will want to write above all else, but on other days I do sometimes have to force myself. Being at home full-time now does tend to throw distractions in my way, whether it’s a sunny garden, food, something on daytime TV or having my granddaughter over for the day. Mostly, I love being a writer – creating something complete and that I feel proud of from just an initial idea, meeting other writers, seeing my stories and articles in print, and receiving the occasional royalty cheque! I can’t wait to see Lily Alone in paperback later in the year, as my previous novels have only been published as ebooks, and I want a ‘real’ novel to hold.

Viv with her cryptic crossword book

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I have always loved cryptic crosswords. I rarely get through a day without tackling at least one, usually in a newspaper so I can try for a prize. I have had a book published helping others learn how to crack them, and I also compile personalised and themed crosswords on a commission basis which people can then give to their loved ones as unique gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc. I read an awful lot (mainly women’s fiction), go to see boy bands in concert, follow horseracing, and have two adorable cats.

You’ve been in the writing game many years now. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Yes, I have been writing women’s magazine fiction as Vivien Hampshire for twenty years, and professional articles for childcare and nursery magazines for around ten. It took me a long while to move into novels with any success, so I would have to just tell her ‘Don’t give up!’ Keep writing as much and as often as you can, experiment with all types of writing ( I have also had success writing poetry for children, wrote a monthly column for Writers Forum magazine for two years, and I’ve won a few competitions), join writing groups and meet others in the same boat, listen and learn. Perseverance is the one thing writers need above all else. You cannot just rely on luck.

What’s next for Vivien Brown?

Lily Alone is the first in a two-book contract with Harper Impulse, so I will now be talking to my editor about book two, which is more or less written but not yet accepted and a long way from being edited. Although limited time means that I have given up writing my nursery articles for now, I will still be writing short stories for the magazines whenever I can fit them in. It is what I am good at, and I still very much enjoy telling a story in just one or two thousand words, and the satisfying feeling of getting a sale and payment so soon after it is written! Novels, unfortunately, don’t work that way. I have recently been commissioned by two women’s magazines to write stories for their October issues to tie in with the paperback version of Lily Alone coming out, and those will run alongside short interviews, book reviews and giveaways, so my long association with magazine fiction is now paying off when it comes to promoting the novel. I have also tentatively started another romance novel, but I have a feeling it may stray into darker territory as I get further into the story. And, yes, there is a baby involved – again!

Vivien’s Twitter page

 

What sort of mother would leave her daughter alone?

Would you leave a very young child at home on their own – knowing that terrible things can happen in the blink of an eye? Lily, who is not yet three years old, wakes up alone with only her cuddly toy for company. She is hungry, afraid of the dark, can’t use the phone, and has been told never to open the door to strangers…

In the flat downstairs, a lonely and elderly woman keeps herself to herself but wonders at the cries coming from upstairs. Lily’s grandmother frets that she can no longer see her granddaughter since the child’s parents separated. Lily’s father hasn’t seen her for a while. He’s been abroad, absorbed in his new job and his new girlfriend…

A young woman lies in a coma in hospital – no one knows her name or who she is, but in her silent dreams, a little girl is crying for her mummy…

And for Lily, time is running out.

Published by Harper Impulse and available from Amazon

 

Food and Wine, Oh and Writing

Francesca Capaldi Burgess and Elaine Roberts invaded Ramsgate for a writing retreat last week with fellow writers Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman 

Views from balcony

View from the sitting room

 

Our writing retreat had been planned for quite some time: we had picked our house, packed our things and brought plenty of wine.

 

 

2016-05-17 17.17.31 cropped

And it was twice that size to begin with!

It was a week to celebrate. We had just entered an ice cream parlour when Elaine Everest discovered she’d made it to number 16 in The Sunday Times Bestseller List, so we had the biggest ice cream ever seen, followed by champagne, of course.

Views of the harbour

 

 

 

 

Views of the harbour

Views of the harbour

 

Some of us were writing: Francesca wrote the second part of her serial for People’s Friend and Elaine R started her second novel. Elaine E and Natalie were busy doing edits. We each picked a space in the house to work in, though some of us could be found from time to time on the balcony in the sun, and even across the road on the terrace of the snack bar. We worked hard, but we managed to enjoy the glorious weather, the view of the sea, eating and drinking. We spent a hilarious hour one afternoon sitting by the marina, coming up with book titles, eliciting some funny looks from people close by.

 

at Corby's Tearoom with Pat Corby, cousin of writer Deirdre Palmer (and well recommended by her.)

At Corby’s Tearoom with Pat Corby, cousin of writer Deirdre Palmer (and well recommended by her.)

You've got to have fish and chips when you're at the seaside.

You’ve got to have fish and chips when you’re at the seaside.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bohemian Belgian Bar was on our doorstep.

The bohemian Belgian Bar was on our doorstep.

Reliving our childhoods in the arcade below us.

Reliving our childhoods in the arcade below us.

A brick three piece suite spotted in a courtyard.

A brick three piece suite spotted in a courtyard.

 

 

 

 

 

On Thursday, the four of us travelled up to London for the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) summer party, where the contenders for the Joan Hessayon Award gathered and the overall winner was announced. This year it was Clare Harvey, author of the Gunner Girls, and our congratulations go to her. This wonderful event gives you the opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. The established writers are always willing to give advice and share what they have gone through to get where they are. It makes you realise everyone experiences something similar so you’re not on your own. It was a good night, which obviously involved more food and wine.

FCP&EE

Elaine Everest and Francesca.

Natalie Kleinman

Natalie Kleinman

Our own Elaine.

Our own Elaine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was soon time to pack up and return home. It was an enjoyable week, but as someone famous once said, “There’s no place like home”.

Have you ever been on a writing retreat? Does the scenery or area distract you, or are you prolific in your writing? Let us know your views.

@FCapaldiBurgess & RobertsElaine11

You can also read Francesca’s post on the advantages and fun of writing retreats here

Woolworths Lives On: Interview with Author Elaine Everest

Today we welcome back author and former Write Minds contributor, Elaine Everest, whose novel The Woolworths Girls, was published on 5th May

Elaine image blue topThank you for inviting me to your blog!

It’s lovely to have you back! Your novel is set in Erith, which you obviously know well as you grew up there. How did you find out what it looked like during the war years? Had the shops and street plan changed much?

My memories of the Erith from my childhood in the late fifties and sixties are very similar to the Erith of 1938 when The Woolworths Girls starts. Some buildings had been demolished but it was in 1966 that the local council started to knock down all the lovely old buildings in Pier Road and the High Street that formed the major shopping area of the town. Beautiful Victorian town houses that lined the railway line also disappeared as did a church and smaller homes. The street where I lived when first married is one of the only remaining complete streets from ‘the old days’ and is where Sarah and her Nan, Ruby, live.

It amused me at the time to see a sign declaring that the company ‘Sid Bishop’ was demolishing the church although much later we were sad to see the old town vanish and be replaced by a horrid concrete jungle. This has now been replaced and looks no different to shopping malls throughout the country.

We can tell you did a lot of other research for your novel. Were you in danger of getting caught up in it? Do you have any advice for others needing to do research?

I’m always in danger of getting caught up in what to me is local history. But, I went in with a list and tried to find only information that I needed for my story. If I can advise other writers I would stick to your research list. Then I started to browse local news reports and found stories that I knew my girls would have become involved in…
I was also fortunate to make contact with the curator of the Woolworths museum, Mr Paul Seaton, who delved into his archives and found some interesting information about the Erith branch of Woolies that again my girls could be part of. I loved the story of the branch taking part in the local cottage hospital fete and one of my girls was the carnival queen while another moaned about playing a part in the proceedings. I’ll leave you to guess who!

Some of your secondary characters clearly have their own stories to tell. Are there books in the pipeline for any of them?

I loved inventing my secondary characters as much as my main characters. In some ways they are able to be a little more naughty than the main cast. Ruby, Sarah’s nan, along with her friend, Vera from up the road, appear in a short story in the My Weekly magazine. This should be published in the next few weeks. It was fun to write about their antics early in 1938 before Sarah moved to Erith and The Woolworths Girls began. Freda pops up in my next novel, The Butlins Girls (Pan Macmillan ,2017) and she does mention her friends Sarah and Maisie. As this novel is set in 1946 we get to hear more about my girls from Woolies.

I would love to write another novel about Sarah, Maisie and Freda and how they lived through the rest of the war years. I’m sure I could get them into all kinds of trouble and add some romance at the same time.

Which of the characters in The Woolworths Girls was your favourite, and why?

I’ve been asked this question before and each time I’ve chosen a different character. The problem is I like so many of them. This time I will say Betty Billington who was the staff manager who hired Sarah and her chums. As the war progressed she takes over as temporary manager and her life becomes entwined with Sarah’s – in fact Betty is another Woolworths girl. Being older her life suffered during the Great War and I would really like to go back and investigate her life more. Hmm I seem to be thinking of even more books to write!

Were any of the characters based on real people?

Not really but… I have a cousin who confessed to me that he had always wanted to play a baddie. This surprised me as he is such an upright citizen. So, I gave him a small part in the story and changed his name slightly. I wonder he will recognize himself?

Also, Charlie, who was Betty’s lost love is based on my great uncle Charles who died at Ypres on 17th August 1917. Although he came from a large family and died at the age of 32 he had no children or spouse. In mentioning him in The Woolworths Girls I feel I’ve kept his memory alive.

Have you always wanted to write sagas?

Part of me always wanted to be a saga writer as I really like the genre. However, like many writers I have a few novels tucked away that will probably never see the light of day. Mine are a romcom that did place me as a finalist in The Harry Bowling prize and also crime novels set in my favourite dog showing world. However, sagas won and I’m more than delighted to be able to write them.

We know a lot of hard work goes into writing a novel. How do you organise yourself to achieve it?

Plan, Plan, Plan! I like to have timelines in place. For The Woolworths Girls this was not only my fictional timeline but also local history and world events. I also had a timeline of Woolworths events and how they progressed through the world while it was at war. During my research I got to know my main characters and fleshed them out. Story outline was turned into a basic chapter breakdown – then I started to write.

Thank you, Elaine. We’ve both read The Woolworths Girls and thoroughly enjoyed it. The very best of luck with it.

Woolies GirlsIt’s 1938 and as the threat of war hangs over the country, Sarah Caselton is preparing for her new job at Woolworths. Before long, she forms a tight bond with two of her colleagues: the glamorous Maisie and shy Freda. The trio couldn’t be more different, but they immediately form a close-knit friendship, sharing their hopes and dreams for the future.

Sarah soon falls into the rhythm of her new position, enjoying the social events hosted by Woolies and her blossoming romance with young assistant manager, Alan. But with the threat of war clouding the horizon, the young men and women of Woolworths realize that there are bigger battles ahead. It’s a dangerous time for the nation, and an even more perilous time to fall in love…

Elaine’s book, published by Pan Macmillan, is available on Amazon

About Elaine

Elaine Everest was born and brought up in North West Kent, where The Woolworths Girls is set, and was once a Woolworths girl herself.

Elaine has written widely for women’s magazines, with both short stories and features. When she isn’t writing, Elaine runs The Write Place creative writing school in Dartford, Kent, and the blog for the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

Elaine lives with her husband, Michael, and their Polish Lowland Sheepdog, Henry, in Swanley, Kent.

 Links:

Pan Macmillan page

Facebook Author page

 Twitter: @ElaineEverest

In Praise of the Beta Male.

Francesca confesses her preference for fictional Beta males over the Alpha variety.

A couple of years ago, during a one-to-one at the Romantic Novelists’ Association conference, an editor wrote on my synopsis, Perhaps more interesting if Nate were more successful? Nate, in my novel Ten Years Later, is a Beta male, and I make no apology for it. He’s an accountant in a successful practice but he’s not big time and has no hugely famous clients. He earns enough to be nicely comfortable, have good holidays and not worry too much. He is intelligent, sensitive, doesn’t feel threatened by smart women and is happy to be a hands-on dad. And that’s how I like him.

Are you more into the King of the Jungle type?..

Are you into the King of the Jungle type?..

Alpha males don’t interest me nearly as much as Beta males, who often have less obvious good qualities. Alpha characteristics include being ultra successful, getting the girls, having oodles of self esteem (some might say arrogance) and are often physically fit. They’re protective of women, but often chauvinistic. They’re inclined to have little emotional intelligence and don’t expect to do housework or childcare. This is, of course, a gross generalisation! In real life I guess you’d call people like Brad Pitt, David Beckham, Tom Jones, Daniel Craig, Donald Trump, David Cameron, John F Kennedy, Mike Tyson and John Terry Alpha males, even though they’re all very different.

...or does the cute, thoughtful Beta male float your boat?

…or does the cute, thoughtful Beta male float your boat?

Beta males are often seen as less ambitious, not as tough, and physically weaker. They have less confidence (so maybe more humility?) Women don’t flock round them. But they’re often less chauvinistic, don’t have the same issues with women in positions of importance, will look after the kids and don’t mind mucking in. They’re often more intellectual. They can be more sensitive and emotionally aware.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not knocking Alpha heroes in novels. Plenty of readers love Alpha male protagonists, and there are writers more than happy to invent them: all power to their elbow. But I also think there are as many readers who prefer a Beta male, someone more realistic who they can relate to.  Not someone who is rich, impossibly handsome, too powerful and muscle bound, but someone they could come across in the street, is attractive enough as well as thoughtful and generous without wads of cash . He can still be successful in his own way.

My attraction to Beta males goes back to before there were any such labels. As a teenager, geeky boys were more likely to appeal to me. The obviously handsome tended to leave me cold. One boy I liked had a face full of very dark freckles, wasn’t tall and was very skinny. However, he had the most amazing dark eyes which made up for all. My friends and I used to refer to him as ‘Owl’. Sadly, I didn’t know him well enough to be a real judge of his personality, though he did nothing to persuade me he was anything but a half-decent guy.

Handsome devil!

Handsome devil!

I was also quite enamoured of two ginger haired young men, though red-headed heroes never seem to make any kind of appearance in fiction. In fact, an established writer once told me that publishers aren’t fond of them, or Titian heroines, come to that (though I’m not convinced about the latter). How utterly scandalous. In response, I made the male and female protagonists in my next novel auburn! Time will tell if a publisher approves. The ‘hero’ in my current Work in Progress is a moody Welsh blacksmith with a troubled past. 

Mmm. Moody Welsh blacksmith. Excuse me while I carry on with the WIP…

Do you prefer Alpha or Beta males?

@FCapaldiBurgess

There’s an interesting article on Alpha and Beta males you can read here

Images provided by http://all-free-download.com/

Why I Love Exotic Locations

Guest author Karen Aldous tells us what inspires her to use the locations she picks for her novels.

Karen at the RNA summer party as a Joan Hessayon award contender

Karen at the RNA summer party as a Joan Hessayon award contender

Reading is all about escaping. Whether to another era, planet, somebody else’s world or to another place other than our own four walls or routine, books have that amazing capacity to off-load us of our worries and enrich us with all sorts of possibilities we know we could physically never engage in. This is the reason why I adore being immersed, especially in a book which allows me to soak up warm, exotic locations where I can feel the heat of the sun on my skin whilst being drenched in its beautiful descriptions and of course, it’s gripping story.

Villefranche on the French Riviera

Villefranche on the French Riviera

I’ve wanted to write my own novels for eons and it wasn’t until I read the captivating story of The Island by Victoria Hislop, which was set close to and on the tiny Greek leper island of Spinalonga, that it actually dawned on me; this is it! This is what I want to write. My characters want to be drawn to and immersed in a place that has inspired them. They want to find out its secrets and live within its communities. I think I must have subconsciously known it all along because my first attempts at novel writing were set in exotic locations, at least, for me. My first was set in London but my character ran a PR company which took her to Sri-Lanka, where trouble brewed and she had to return. This was before the conflict spread with the Tamils. Then, I began a novel about a Russian girl whose quest was to escape communism and flee to London for her freedom. Yes pre-Gorbachev’s ‘glasnost’ and ‘perestroika’. How the world has changed since then and, of course, how easily we can now jump on a plane to such exciting destinations.

Cannes Harbour 2

Cannes Harbour

It was my first visit to Provence which triggered my exciting journey to publication with The Vineyard. With its stunning landscape and villages, it reignited my passion to write; well, apart from not having the kids in tow. As hubs and I explored this charming paradise, I was totally besotted and Lizzie and Cal just took over in my head. The area was ripe for Cal’s French vineyard but, Lizzie was single and too young to be living in a sleepy village. Although we stayed in the beautiful city of Aix-en-Provence, it was Cannes she needed to live. The town is both glamorous and vibrant for a young heart and the needs of a young mum. On our next visit, we chose an apartment in the centre of a thriving community in Cannes, close to a bustling market where Lizzie could be based. This was ideal for her beauty business and child amenities and, only a short walk to the railway station where she could easily access numerous resorts along the French Riviera and even to Italy.

vineyard 2Naturally, with readers expressing to know more about Lizzie and Cal’s story, the vineyards of Provence and Cannes return in my third novel, The Riviera, which is a stand-alone novel but continues with Lizzie and Cal’s journey a few months later. It also features Nantucket, an island close to Martha’s Vineyard in the US because Kelly, Cal’s ex, is a native Brit and found New York too intimidating, so craved to live somewhere with an English village flavour to raise her and Cal’s teenage son Jack, and her other two children. I only got to visit virtually but it’s an area I feel, like Kelly, a connection with and that’s what excites me, along with the connection between the characters and the themes that run through a story which creates conflict and drama.

Chateau picAnother example is the setting for The Chateau. The stunning mountain scenery surrounding Lake Geneva in Switzerland often beckoned me as I drove past or went through Montreux by train en-route to my favourite ski resort. So it was no surprise that when the character Agnes-Francesca, came to me in a dream, I immediately knew where she was; just beyond Montreux, nestled on the lakeside is the intriguing Chateau de Chillon. After some research on the chateau’s history, her story soon fell into place, with Gina and Ollie key players in helping her.

I’m a great believer in following one’s passion therefore, the more I enjoy and am interested in what I am writing, the easier I find the desire and determination and thus, the stamina to finish a project. I am currently working on my fourth novel and planning my fifth. I would love to divulge the beautiful locations to you here but, I also like to surprise.

Thank you for taking time out from your commitments to talk to us Karen. The very best of luck with your new book.


The Riviera book

The journey is only as good as its end…

It’s been a hard journey, but Lizzie Lambert’s life is a Provençal dream come true. Her business is wildly successful, and with her little boy and the love of her life, Cal, she is making a beautiful home on the vineyard for their blended family.

But when Cal goes to America to support his son through a teenage crisis, it becomes clear the kid’s not the only one with some growing up to do: Cal’s glamorous ex-wife wants to get her claws in him again. As Cal spends longer and longer away, Lizzie wonders, was it all too good to be true?

The Riviera will be published by Carina on July 10th and will be available on Amazon and all leading e-book portals.

Links

Karen’s books on Amazon

Karen’s website

@KarenAldous_

 

Come Dine With Us

Elaine and Francesca consider their dream guest list for the ultimate dinner party.

Elaine: When Francesca and I were discussing which four guests we would each invite to a dinner party, the names were endless.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAThe first thought that entered my head was that I’d be quite happy to sit opposite David Beckham all night. Then there’s the very talented graffiti artist, Banksy, but he would never come because of his anonymity. So I made a list. Once I had done that, I realized many of them were women fighting for what they want in a male dominated environment. Emily Pankhurst, Margaret Thatcher and Tina Turner to name just a few, but that probably says more about me than anything else.

My first guest will not surprise anybody that has read this blog before or knows anything about me, John Lennon. I grew up with the Beatles and it has to be said he was my favourite. I believe his talent for writing was ahead of its time and it shocked me when his life was cut short.

The second guest would by Dame Judy Dench, although it was tough deciding between her
and Helen Mirren. Both of these ladies have grown older gracefully; they have embraced their age and beauty, which must be tough when their careers are in a pressurized environment to have plastic surgery. I have great admiration for them both.

I recently saw Lionel Ritchie in concert and for that reason he will be my third guest. He IMG_1998surprised me by being very entertaining and it wasn’t just about his songs, he made the audience laugh.

My fourth will be the comedy actress, Victoria Wood. This lady has been making me laugh for years, and I can tell you that is not an easy task.

Please note there isn’t a writer amongst my guests. That’s not intentional, it was just a very tough choice and as a writer myself, I know they would rather be writing than sitting having dinner with fellow guests. 

 @RobertsElaine11

Francesca: Oh dear, only four people?

Okay. I started off writing this thinking who on earth would I invite? Then, as I got warmed up the list got longer and longer and…

The kids would want  an invite to this dinner party (though won't thank me for this 10-year-old photo!).

The kids would want an invite to this dinner party (though won’t thank me for this 10-year-old photo!).

How about some eye candy, I thought, Aiden Turner, Ioan Gruffudd and Elijah Wood? I’m sure they’d all be interesting too. (I’ve actually met one of them, but that’s a story for another time.) Or I wouldn’t mind some clever/comedic banter with Jo Brand, Victoria Coren, Paul Merton, Ian Hislop and Dara O Briain.

Or Dara could bring Brian Cox and it could be an evening of intellectual discussion. Along with them I could have Lucy Worsley, Neil Oliver and Michael Wood, my favourite TV historians. I could add David Attenborough and Ray Mears for the natural touch. But with some of those in attendance I’d have to invite my children or they’d never forgive me. 

Table for five, madam?

Table for five, madam?

I wouldn’t mind a frank one-to-one with Richard III. What happened to those princes, Dick? Perhaps invite Henry VII (who I suspect was the culprit anyway), and the aforementioned historians, get a good discussion going. Or a punch up! Mother Teresa might be useful to dispense calm and words of wisdom.

Oh, so many interesting people, so little time! Ok, final decision on the four. Victoria Coren, Lucy Worsley, Dara O Briain and Ray Mears. Absolutely. Probably. Maybe. Then again, with the kitchen table added to the one in the dining room, I could actually fit ten to twelve people in…

 @FCapaldiBurgess

 So tell us, who would you invite and why?

A Virtual Welcome To Wendy Clarke

Francesca and Elaine are proud to welcome Wendy Clarke to their blog. Wendy decided to make changes to her life three years ago and hasn’t looked back.

Wendy Clarke

Wendy, with over a hundred short stories published you are certainly a prolific short story writer, where do you find your ideas from? 

The word ‘prolificIMG_1083’ still sounds strange to me, as it seems like only yesterday I was dropping my first story in the post box and keeping my fingers crossed that the editors of the magazine might like it. In answer to the question ‘where do I get my ideas?’ there are many ways. The first is remembering small incidents in my life that might work as nuggets to write a story around – for example my story Out of the Dark in this month’s People’s Friend Special is written around my fear of the dark. I would say my next method is to listen carefully to others, especially my friends. One morning a good friend told me that her daughter sent texts to her signed by her new little grandson… what a gem of a story! That one ended up in Woman’s Weekly. Other than that, I read newspapers, keep my eyes and ears open and never, ever go out without a notebook!

How many short stories do you write a week and is there a pattern to how you write them?

Oh, yes. I am very strict with myself. I write one story a week unless I am on holiday (and even then I am scouting for ideas). As to when I write them, it depends on what I have on my calendar that week. I am not a slave to my writing; I write around other things that I do. It is nice to have a story written at the beginning of the week, though, so that I can move on to other writing tasks such as my blog, marketing my story collection and of course writing my novel!

What made you decide to publish Room in Your Heart?book cover-1

I wrote Room in Your Heart because I was frustrated that once my stories had been published in the magazines they would never be seen or read again. Also, a lot of people I know (like my family) aren’t readers of the magazines that contain fiction and I wanted to be able to show them what and how I write. As a lot (though by no means all) of my stories are romances, I decided to make Room in Your Heart a romance collection. Don’t be fooled by the title, there are a range of stories in the collection – all previously published in The People’s Friend – but they are by no means slushy.

Will you publish another book of short stories and how do you decide what to include?

The Last Rose - kindleFunny you should say that! My second collection, The Last Rose. is being published on Monday – it would be lovely to see everyone at the launch party on my blog Wendy’s Writing Now. I decided to put together the second collection after receiving fabulous reviews for Room in Your Heart and requests for another. The theme of The Last Rose is ‘family and friendship’. It will be published for kindle and in paperback and is available now to pre-order – perfect if you’re looking for a Mother’s Day gift. This time I have chosen stories that have been previously published in a variety of national women’s magazines and I am very excited about it!

I know this year you joined the Romantic Novelist Association New Writers Scheme (RNA NWS) so does that mean you are taking the giant leap into writing a novel?

Gulp… yes it is! I never seem to be satisfied with doing just one thing. Although I love writing short stories, I have also written articles and serials and a novel seems the next logical step. I had been thinking about the possibility of writing a novel for a while but it was only when a particular story of mine was published a year ago that I thought, now that could be taken a lot further. I joined the RNA NWS to give me the push I needed to make a start. I know I won’t have it finished by the time I have to submit for a critique in August, but I hope that I will have something decent to show. It’s certainly a learning curve.

Thank you very much for having me on your lovely blog and for being such a great host.

Blog http://wendyswritingnow.blogspot.co.uk/

Link to Amazon: Room in Your Heart http://www.amazon.co.uk/Room-Your-Heart-collection-romantic-ebook/dp/B00OW466WG

Link to Amazon: The Last Rose http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Rose-Stories-family-friendship-ebook/dp/B00U1WBAC4/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1425064370&sr=1-1

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