"A word after a word after a word is power" - Margaret Atwood


A blog for readers and writers

A blog about the stories we tell each other and how we tell them...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

An Interview with The Literary Project

Gemma Noon writes a blog with a difference. The Literary Project is a collection of interviews with writers, authors and publishing industry insiders. Interviewees include Bernard Cornwall, Cally Taylor and agent Carole Blake. And me....
Here's a taster and if you click on the title of this post you can read the interview in full and wander around the site. A blog definitely worth following.
What type of writer are you (ie, do you write full time or around a job, do you set wordcounts per day, do you plan in advance or fly by the seat of your pants?)

I’m dreadful. I know I should do so many words a day – that’s what I tell my students because I think it’s good advice but I rarely keep to it myself...

However, I am dedicated when fired with an idea. Then I will get up at 5 am (or stay up till 5 am!) to write, write, write. And I can put in that kind of effort day after week after month.

In terms of your writing career, what is your ultimate goal?

1) Getting on a train one morning and seeing the cover of my latest novel in the hands of dozens of commuters.

2) Libraries forced to use reverse alphabetical indexing because of the demand for Whelan novels…

3) Hollywood. Someone else can write the screenplay and let me carry on writing novels and – touch wood - being published (with less lesson plans and fewer 5am starts). And I’ll have another new kitchen.

If I’m only allowed one…to write more and to be read. And that’s what every writer wants I guess.

Do you have an agent? If so, how did you get one?

I got an agent because I went to a party. This is absolutely essential. There is a writing community out there and emerging writers should become part of it. I’m rubbish at networking, but the friend who held the party is dazzling. When I arrived she shoved me at this man and ordered everyone else to leave the room (he was chatting to someone at the time). The conversation only got interesting when I stopped mumbling about what I was writing and started talking about what I was reading. We had similar tastes so he invited me to submit because maybe, just maybe he would like what I wrote.

I will always be grateful for my agent’s faith, patience and ability to sense when I am losing confidence. That’s when he tells me how brilliant I am. Someone has to do it!

You also work as a creative writing tutor. There is a lot of debate as to whether writing is a natural ability or a skill that you can learn. What’s your opinion on this? Do you think anyone has the potential to be a successful author?

No one thinks it odd that an artist should want to go to Art School. Or questions why a musician thinks lessons would be a good idea…There is a craft to writing that can be taught and natural talent can be nurtured and supported. I don’t believe in the tough love method of teaching. That doesn’t mean I pat everyone on the head and murmur very good, but I do believe in the importance of encouragement.

Not everyone can be a successful writer but nearly everyone can get real pleasure from writing with imagination. In much the same way I love drawing but I will never have an exhibition in Bond Street. I would just like to be good enough to go on a learn-how-to-paint holiday without embarrassment…

And finally, can you sum up a key piece of advice for aspiring writers in one sentence?
Write a lot and read a lot and don’t be defeated when you get it wrong: writing is an art not a science, so accept you’ll never stand back and say hmmm, no one could express that better.

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