It’s time for the first interview for The 2K International Writer’s Blog Tour. I will be posting them all on this blog, but you can also see the original posts on Kate Evans‘ and Kate M. Colby‘s blogs. So, here is the first interview.
I am a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry, currently living in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. My book, Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment, was published by Sense Publishers in 2013. I have an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and teach on the Degree in Creative Writing at the University of Hull, Scarborough campus. I have created two art installations using words and images for the local festival Coastival, one inspired by the work of Edith Sitwell. The Art of the Imperfect, the first in my crime series set in Scarborough, was indie published in December 2014. My crime fiction is inspired by Ruth Rendell, Minette Walters and Ann Cleeves, though one reviewer thinks I write like Hilary Mantel. I am trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. I love walking by the sea and afternoon tea.
What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?
Initially I struggled at school with reading and writing. I had to have extra classes, working my way through the Ladybird readers, right up to number 12 (when most people stopped at 5 or 6 and went onto real books). However, by my early teens, I’d obviously found my stride; we read Alan Paton’s Cry the Beloved Country in class and our homework was to write something inspired by it. I wrote a short story imaging what would happen if two of the main characters who were children in the book met up as adults in an airport lounge in London. I remember the teacher praising it and thinking, oh well, maybe this is something I can do. It was also my initiation into the writer’s question: what if?
What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?
I love the freedom, as a writer I can go anywhere, be anyone, explore, explore. I get completely lost in my writing at times, and even when I’m not writing, there is a parallel universe in my head which I can dip into and enjoy. My least favourite part is probably the struggle to find an audience. Despite there being so many more ways to reach readers, it’s still difficult for an unknown to get heard.
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?
I do believe in writer’s block, I wrote a book about it! I also have times when I have to face my own demons which want to stop me from writing. These are mainly to do with the fear of putting myself out there, or being seen, and the shame this induces, shame which comes from way, way back in my childhood. Would it be ungracious to say my best tip would be to read my book? I think, knowing oneself, knowing one’s creative process, reading, having a writing routine and getting support from other writers are the main things which help.
What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?
I am writing a series of crime novels based in Scarborough which explore themes of mental health/illness and marginalisation. I indie published my first, The Art of the Imperfect, in December 2014. Number two, The Art of Survival, has been through several drafts and had feedback, so is waiting for the final craft/edit. Intended publication date will be Autumn 2015. Number three, The Art of Breathing, is moving towards a first draft, and I would hope to publish in 2016. I also have two more in my head. The biggest challenge will be/is finding an audience and keeping motivated if I don’t have the sales I would like.
What supports you in your writing?
Other writers, both here in the UK who I can meet face-to-face, and those who I have got to know on-line. They are good for advice, motivation and encouragement. I choose very carefully who I ask for feedback from, I think there needs to be an understanding of what I am trying to achieve and also an honesty without brutality. I tend to ask for feedback from writers who I can help in one way or another, it’s a lot to ask someone to close read over 60,000 words for nothing.
What are you currently reading?
I decided to read what is reckoned to be one of the first crime novels published in the UK, Wilkie Collins’s ‘Moonstone’. I am rather regretting it as it is long, slow and verbose. However, I do want to know what happens, so am doing a bit of skimming to get to the end.
Where can our readers find you and your books online?
The Art of the Imperfect is available in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon.co.uk http://goo.gl/5r9WBv and Amazon.com http://goo.gl/GsQ6a8