Authors and Writing Groups
Sunday, 16 November 2014
A while back, aspiring writer and blogger Rebeccah Giltrow asked me to do an e-interview for her blog and I thought it might be good to update and reproduce this on my site.
How long have you been writing, Jane?
I've been writing LETTERS since I first started writing – probably when I was four or five. My first publication was a scientific paper on dung-eating cave-dwelling creatures, in 1975, and my first book was launched in 1990. This was Lemurs of the Lost World.
What first got you interested in writing?
Wanting to share my enthusiasms.
Do you attend a writing group?
Yes this has been hugely valuable. I've attended Cambridge Writers since 1999, and the excellent Walden Writers co-operative since 2008 or so.
Why do you attend a writing group?
For intelligent feedback and support. And the routine of attending helps with the discipline of writing. They often show me that pieces I believe are rivetingly interesting or hilariously funny just aren’t.
What's the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
See above. And... Responses from a non-specialist / generalist audience.
What are your genres?
Travel narratives; travel health guides; I have also – this year – published a novel for adults mostly set in Nepal. This is not at all racy - maybe I should call it a novel for grown-ups. Since 50 Shades, one has to be careful as 'adult' writing now seems to imply smut, which isn't my current style. At present I am working on two eco-adventures for 8 – 12 year olds; there are also non-smutty but contain plenty of references to poo.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
Yes lots, especially fantasy. I sometimes wonder whether I have an imagination.
You mentioned earlier that your first book was published in 1990; have you had anything else published?
Six books, five of which have come out in two or more editions. I have also written more than 150 features for Wanderlust magazine plus lots more in various newspapers and publications.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
Yes, of course. Yes, who hasn't?
Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
Yes; I love physical books but e-publishing is good for backlists. I often take my kindle on train trips.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Everywhere – especially exotic places.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
From meeting people, and eaves-dropping.
Do you have a writing routine?
No routine – I don't have that luxury. I grab moments when I can.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
The latter, although I wouldn't describe it as 'hoping for the best'. With my novel Snowfed Waters I had a beginning and an end but I was surprised at the adventures my heroine got up to in the middle of the book.
Do you have an editing process?
I edit multiple times. I get it into shape then put it aside and return to edit it again, again. I read out loud. I get as many others to read my work as I can. A profession editor can always improve on anything.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
It is an escape. It has put me in touch with some excellent people, kindred spirits. It is hard work.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
Quite. It depends what it is that I’ve written.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
No but I often do author talks / readings / lectures, etc.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
Show don't tell.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Find critics and listen carefully to them.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I work full time, cycle, row, help manage a home, etc. I love getting outside to listen to birds and appreciate the natural world.
What types of things do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
I am a very slow careful reader but I have, sadly, very little time to read. I like well-written novels. I admire brevity (as you'll see from my answers) and succinct writing. And no, not at all.
Thanks to Rebeccah Giltrow for the questions and stimulus to put this together
Posted: 16/11/2014 16:16:54
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