Firstly, I’d like to thank Nikki for allowing me to share my writing journey with you. I write short stories and novels. My current 4 books in the Spy Girl series are published by Usborne. I have had 11 books published in total, though many more lie gathering dust somewhere. One of my short stories was recently broadcast on Radio 4.
Q. Thanks for that Carol. Can you tell us a bit more about your writing? What’s your journey been like? Any successes or rejections you want to share with us? Are you agented?
A. I never consciously decided to become a writer; it’s always been something I did. Like breathing. I am lucky enough to have an agent: Caroline Walsh at David Higham although sadly, being agented is no guarantee of publication in these straightened times!
My first novel, Ring of Silver, was published in 1992 by a small and very friendly Christian publisher, who went out of business shortly after they published my fourth novel, There’s more to Life than Pizza – I don’t think I can be held culpable for their demise!
I moved to OUP, and had a further 3 novels published, subsequently to Usborne. And then, just as my books were beginning to take off, the recession happened! Usborne cancelled the 5th Spy Girl, and the next 4 books were not taken by anyone – despite my agent assuring me they were perfectly good stories. It seemed that publishers were no longer interested in ‘middle-list’ writers.
I now know that this has happened to many writers even higher up the food-chain, but at the time, it was devastating to be rejected over and over again. And I had an agent!! In April of this year, my agent decided there was no point even trying mainstream publishers at the moment. A week of utter despair and darkness led to my decision to ‘go it alone’.
And now, here I am. I’ve just published my first ebook, Jigsaw Pieces on Amazon Kindle. I’ve started a blog, built up my Facebook page, and joined Twitter – all at the age of 62! I’ve met some lovely writers on the internet, who have all encouraged and helped me on my way – Nikki you are definitely one of them, so thank you!
I remember being up for the Angus Book Award with one of my OUP novels. While waiting for the judges to decide on the winner, I got chatting to a very famous children’s author (no names). He took one look at my book and told me dismissively I was “lucky to be published”. Harsh and unkind yes, but true.
I am lucky to be published. Lucky that people are prepared to spend money on my books and take time to read them. Lucky to be part of a warm, embracing writing community that has welcomed me and accepted me in a very short period of time.
Q. Wow, that’s a bit of a writing roller coaster – well done for not giving up (and thanks for the compliment, you can send me the fiver through the post later)! I love the cover of Jigsaw Pieces. So, any writing tips you want to share with us?
1) I’d just like to encourage anyone reading this who is going through a similar experience to mine to keep going. There IS light at the end of the tunnel.
2) Never give up.
3) Never stop believing in your talent and ability.
Q. And what about your work? Do you write full time or do you have a day job?
A. I do not write full-time, as I can’t afford to. I’ve been a librarian, run my own children’s clothes business, been a dinner lady, a teaching assistant, my husband’s secretary. At the age of 46, I retrained as an English teacher when I realised my daughter was going to have to pay university fees and we couldn’t fund her. Now, I tutor GCSE and A level students to keep the wolf from the door.
Q. A woman of many skills and talents. Finally what’s your favourite wine?
A. It has to be Prosecco. Nicely chilled. And I’d like to drink it at a café table in Florence, sitting in the Italian sunshine with my lovely husband Martyn, and my beautiful daughter Hannah.
That sound lovely. Thanks Carol for popping in and I wish you all the best with your writing endeavours.
You can buy Carol’s new release, Jigsaw Pieces on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Jigsaw-Pieces-ebook/dp/B008SB9TB4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1346198754&sr=8-1
As always, hope you’ve enjoyed this post and please leave a comment if you have a minute. Look out for another exciting guest post next week with Choc Lit debut author Liz Harris.
For now Happy Writing, Nikki.