This week I am pleased to welcome Henriette Gyland, another lovely author from the successful, award-winning indie publisher Choc Lit. I’ve met Henri a few times at RNA events as she was on the New Writers’s Scheme before getting her publishing contract (happily that qualifies her for full membership)!
Henriette grew up in Northern Denmark but now lives in London. She wrote her first book (all 12 pages of it!) aged ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express.
After graduating from university she had various jobs, first with the Danish civil service, then later in England for a travel agent, a consultancy company, in banking, hospital administration, and for a county court before setting herself up as a freelance translator and linguist.
Her first novel Up Close won the New Talent Award from the Festival of Romance and a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize (under a different title), and is published by the independent publisher Choc Lit this month.
Q. Fantastic to have you here Henri, especially in the same month as your debut Up Close is released. So, let’s get started with the obvious – tell us about your writing.
A. I write what is usually categorized as romantic suspense novels, or romantic thrillers as they’re occasionally referred to, and they’re about 100,000 to 110,000 words long. Basically this is a hybrid between crime and romance – a mystery needs to be solved, the main characters are thrown together (sometimes reluctantly) under the circumstances, find themselves increasingly attracted to each other, and increasingly in danger. I also like to explore dark themes in my work – e.g. in Up Close the heroine suffers from an inexplicable fear of water, and the hero has his own set of difficult issues to deal with.
Q. Sounds very intriguing. Can I ask what your most memorable writing success has been to date?
A. Winning the Festival of Romance New Talent Award in 2011. I was totally gob-smacked, mainly because my novel is as much crime as it is romance, and also because I’d only entered the competition on a whim, not expecting to get anywhere with it.
Q. And your most memorable rejection?
A. Waiting for nearly a year to hear from a publisher who had requested the novel in full (and who shall remain nameless…) only to discover that A thought B had already told me “no.” I was quite upset at having wasted so much time.
Q. How frustrating! I’ve experienced the same myself. Are you able to describe your writing journey to date in circa 50 words?
A. From concept to finished story it has been a steep learning curve – and I’m still learning – but the most valuable lesson I’ve taken away is to be true to myself and my voice, regardless of the market and what other people think I should or should not be doing.
Q. I think you’re right; you need to write about something that you love, not necessarily what the market dictates. There’s a danger that if you write a certain type of book with similar themes to one that has already been phenomenally successful then many more similar books may have already flooded the market by the time you’re finished. Markets can get saturated so quickly, especially with the rise of self-publishing and the speed with which books can be published. On the other hand, if you happen to have something ready to go that you’ve loved writing and are wanting to do more of, then definitely send it off straight away if there’s an appetite for it…
Oops sorry Henri – your interview (climbs down off soapbox). So, what are your top three tips for writers?
1. Set yourself realistic targets and finish what you start. That’s exactly what you’ll have to do once you have a contract, so you might as well practice now.
2. Do as Stephen King says and write your first draft “with the door closed,” i.e. don’t show it to anyone until you have the story down (except maybe a writing buddy), as this could interfere with your thought processes.
3. Don’t try to be something you’re not. If you write, say, light-hearted chick-lit, don’t impose a literary style on it. It won’t work. Instead always be proud of what you do, whatever your genre or niche.
Q. Great tips, thank you. Now, what about your work. Do you write full-time?
A. When I’m not writing, I work as a freelance translator and a language examiner. I’m quite happy with this combination because as a freelancer I can fit my writing in around it. This means that when I have translation work, I tend to write in the morning and translate in the afternoon, obviously depending on how tight my deadline is.
Q. Is there anything about your day job you hate?
A. The sporadic nature of freelance work means that if I haven’t had any translation work in a while, I’ll have to take whatever is offered to me (to earn some money). This can be most frustrating if I’m in my stride with the novel. But, really, I’m not complaining.
Q. Good for you. Finally, tell us what your favourite wine is.
A. Is there a label called “Plentiful”? Hmm, thought not… Okay, it’ll have to be Klein Constantia from South Africa, the crispest, most refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc I’ve ever tasted. I had trouble stopping myself from guzzling the whole bottle in one go!
Wow, I may join you at the bar next time…
Thanks for stopping in and all the best with Up Close.
If you want to find out more about Henriette you can go to her website at www.henriettegyland.wordpress.com connect with her via Twitter @henrigyland and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/henriette.gyland Her books can be purchased from Amazon, as an ebook on Kindle and Kobo and online at http://www.bookdepository.co.uk/Up-Close-Henriette-Gyland/9781906931780 and http://www.lovereading.co.uk/book/8150/Up-Close-by-Henriette-Gyland.html, as well as WH Smith and most good bookshops.
Well, that’s all folks! Next week I am hoping to have a guest on the blog that brings something a little bit different to the mix. For now, hope the Christmas shopping is going well. I’m off to go and write a few thousand more words…
Happy writing, Nikki x