Friday, 31 October 2008

Gill James

Gill is the one in red, waving her arms around.

What inspired you to write “Mantek’s Journey”?

I always try and write a story for Christmas time. I usually post this for free but with a Creative Commons copyright notice. It all came about because I received some very nice handmade cards form people who are artistically talented. Now, I’m more into writing. It seemed a bit pretentious, though, to send everybody a copy of my stories. But I did post them on my Author’s Den site and invited friends to read them. I decided to invite other people to do the same and “Making Changes” came about. I particularly like to unpick Bible stories and work out what it must have been like for the people living at the time. But not all of my Christmas stories are to do with the Christian celebration. Take a look at them on my Auhtor's Den site.

What other material do you normally write?

I write mainly for 9-11 year olds and for Young Adults, both fiction and non-fiction. I’m also experimenting with a bit of life writing. I love blogging. I hate writing marketing copy – I don’t have the patience. As I’m a university lecturer I also have to write academic articles. They’re quite difficult but not unpleasant. My real passion, I guess, is my Young Adult fiction.

What made you become a writer?

I always loved writing and I always had this vision of me being a writer. At one time I wanted to be the next Enid Blyton. Later, it was J K Rowling. It took me a long time to realize I could pursue that dream.
I used to be a teacher of foreign languages, mainly in comprehensive schools and took that as far as I could, having some success as Head of Department at a difficult school and getting better exam results and happier staff. Then I asked myself “What next?” A period at home with an ear problem gave me some time to get on with my writing. I loved it! So, that became the next thing to do.

Which writers do you admire?

Brooke Biaz, Maeve Binchy, Philip Pullman, Judy Waite, Tabitha Suzama, Aidan Chambers, Kate Atkinson, Charles Dickens, Emile Zola, Heinrich Böll, Beverly Birch, Jane Austen, Stephen King – oh and so many others. Anyone who can fascinate me and entertain me, or thrill me with their wonderful writing. Some of my students are great as are many of my unpublished friends. And of course, the other authors in “Making Changes” are absolutely fabulous. If anyone writes well enough that I stop editing their work, and get absorbed in what I’m reading, they’re winners with me.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

I try to write for at least two hours a day and I like to write at least 2,000 words or edit between 6, 000 and 10,000. And I’m always very happy if I have a deadline looming and have to write more. I do notice, though, that I really slow down after the first 2,000 words so the extra hours are often less productive. This morning, for example, I completed well over 2,000 words in one and a half hours then hardly anything in the last half hour.
For years, I’d do my writing first and then everything else started at about 10.30. Now, though, I’m full-time at the university and also have to commute and get on the car park by 8.30 or I don’t get a slot. Some of my university work is writing, anyway. Now, I do my writing at the end of the working day and funnily often have more than two hours available. Plus there is one research day a week and I like to get about six hours’ writing done on that day. However, often things encroach on research days and I’ve actually only managed two this semester.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

Well, I’ve got a cosy study at home and I quite like my office at work. I do like to write straight on to the computer, but on the other hand I like the feel of holding a pen in my hand and touching the paper with my words. Trouble is, I can rarely read what I've written afterwards.
I can actually write anywhere, but keep myself away from windows with views – especially ones of busy streets – much too distracting.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Oscar Peebles

What inspired you to write Toast & Jam?

The advertisement Bridge House ran in Writers’ Forum magazine. All that was needed was a Christmas/Children’s flavour added to some thoughts that were going around in my head at the time, mixed with my usual metaphysical current, and Toast & Jam was born for a Christmas Pud of a story.

What other material do you normally write?

Inspirational stuff; Essays and comments, if something stirs me enough; and a record of personal events. I should love to be part of some kind of global expedition, as the writer of its story. I should like to write it in situ, perhaps sending back in installments for publication: perhaps posting a blog for interested parties back home. The world is not a secret any more: I should like to help it get to know itself better.

What made you become a writer?

I love writing. I have always written. At primary school my stories were read out in assembly, and I got through to Grammar School on the back of my writing. Jack London’s White Fang inspired me to want to have a go myself, but only lately have I succumbed to the being published bug in any serious way. So, now, I’m into editing…a process I find I like just as much as writing. I get a buzz out of whittling. And I am trying now to hone my writing into something more fulfilling, more proficient, more interesting and exciting than just banging out words onto paper. I love the art of writing, of fashioning a sentence, of playing with words.

Which writers do you admire?

Ah, now you’re asking! Writers who take me on down a fast and interesting path. Those who tell a good story…I want to be entertained. I cut my reading teeth on Denis Wheatley, then devoured Alistair MacLean, Hammond Innes, Desmond Bagley, Arthur Hailey, Dick Francis, T.H. White, Roald Dahl, Bryce Courtney, John Grisham, Michael Crichton, Martina Cole, Nicci French, Colleen McCulloch, Susan Howatch, Michelle Magorian to name but an incredible few. James, Rendell, Cornwall, Wesley, Forsyth, Hodgson Burnett. So many, many others. Names well-known, and others: unsung literary heroes, but thumping good reads. Bring ‘em on! I love them all. I could read for the Olympics. I love the story.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

It begins when the inspiration strikes, then swallows me up until it’s finished. I write from the hip, on the spur of the moment: while the energy is still alive and unique. That way it remains fresh (even if in need of editing), because you’ve captured the moment. And each story comes with its own pseudonym: I love that. Everything is written longhand, and then it is all typed up. Then it is left for a week or two to simmer. Then brought back for de-fragmenting.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

Yes…in my head! Then curled up in a chair, and transferred as fast as my fingers will allow into empty hard-back books…I just love the blank, lined page! I’m a sucker for pads and pens! I can’t walk past a stationery shop without stopping to ogle! I have to stop myself from buying. I find the inspiration flows far better through pen and paper, and I enjoy the hands-on process. Lucky me; I love writing!

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Linda Lewis

What inspired you to write the stories you have contributed to "Making Changes?

The blue List

I like to try and have at least one Christmas or New Year story published every year. The idea behind the Blue List came to me when I was thinking about resolutions and how often we break them. It’s written from the male point of view because those often sell more easily.

It’s a Wonderful Life
Again I was trying to come up with a story for the Christmas season. I was thinking ahead to the seasonal films like Wizard of Oz, Scrooge, and so on, when I thought of one of my favourite films – It’s a Wonderful Life. The story is a simply my modern take on the film, but with a bit of a twist.

First Impressions
I particularly enjoy writing stories from more than one point of view so that the reader gets to see what’s going on inside two (or more) different characters’ heads. Again, the inspiration was seasonal. It concerns a woman’s fears and worries when she’s faced with meeting her prospective in laws for the first time, the twist being that we also get to know what her future mother in law is thinking too.

Please don’t call me Herbie.

I find that films and television programmes often give me ideas for stories. This one was inspired by The Love Bug ( a.k.a. Herbie), a film which I’d seen as a child. I started to wonder how an ordinary car could affect its owner’s life, and came up with Gertie. She’s an old VW Beetle, like the famous Herbie, but she can’t fly or do anything amazing like that. The story is written from the car’s point of view.

Which writers do you admire?

That’s easy. My favourite right now, and has been ever since I discovered him five years ago, is Terry Pratchett. I read everything he writes, including his children’s books. I especially love the Discworld novels. His characters are so real, they really live on the page. I’m a big fan of Death and his logical, take on life (and death). He’s an amazing comic creation, but then you could say that about all Terry Pratchett’s characters. Regarding other authors, it’s hard to choose as my taste is very eclectic. If it’s well written, I’ll read it , from crime to fantasy, from romance to non fiction. Of the books that have impressed me most recently, The Curious incident of the Dog in the Night Time, and The Time Traveler’s Wife spring to mind. Both were quite brilliant, and I wish I’d written them. I also like Clare Calman who deserves to be much more successful.

What other material do your normally write?

I like to try a bit of everything. Mostly I write short stories for women’s magazines because it pays well and because I enjoy the challenge of having to think up new ideas. I write as many stories as I can, and aim to sell one or two every week writing under my own name or using the pen name, Catherine Howard.
I also write non fiction. I started out by writing about tropical fish for magazines both in the UK and USA.
These days my articles are mostly writing related. I write the I’m Puzzled column in The New Writer where I try to answer readers’ queries.
I also write a column for Writers Forum which is called Short Story Success. The aim is to motivate other writers by letting them know that being a writer isn’t all plain sailing – I’m successful because of the amount of time and effort I put in.
As I enjoy new challenges, I’ve just started a course on Writing for Children. I’m finding it very useful and great fun. I’m also working on two novels – one of which is aimed at teenagers.

What made you become a writer?
I’m not one of those writers who’s been writing all their life. I loved English at school but the thought of writing for a living didn’t even occur to me. Let’s just say my parents weren’t the encouraging type.
When I reached my thirties, I got married for the third time (long story) and began to think about missed opportunities. My husband was possibly the first person in my life, apart from teachers, who encouraged me. Thanks to him I started an OU degree which led to a BSc, and also a writing course. The course led me to write an article about my favourite tropical fish. The tutor suggested I send it off. I did, it was accepted and soon I was writing between two and five articles a month for various ‘fishy’ publications, including Aquarium Fish in the USA.
That was in the early 1990s. In 1997 my husband died at the tender age of 46. My world fell apart. I lost all my confidence. Going out to work became increasingly difficult and I began to concentrate more on writing. I let my fish tanks run down, and turned to fiction. I suppose you could say that I became a full time writer by default – I couldn’t stand to do anything else.

Tell us about your writing routine.
If I had a routine, I’d be laughing all the way to the bank. It’s something I’m working really hard on, but still find difficult. It’s so easy to be distracted by other things. I suffer from having far too many ideas and can never make up my mind what to do next, so I spend far too much time deciding what to do. My best time for writing is the morning. I write at least five days a week, sometimes seven. For me it’s a full time job. It has to be, because if I don’t write, I don’t earn any money.

Do you have a favourite place for writing? In short, no. I find I can write anywhere so my favourite place changes according to the circumstances. At home, I usually write sitting at a table in the dining room but I’ve written stories in the garden, on holiday and in an auction house. What I do like is some kind of background noise. I don’t like silence.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Sarah Harris

What inspired you to write A Present for St Nicolas?

St Nicolas is like Father Christmas here in Belgium - he comes down the chimney on the 6th December bringing presents and you write him a letter and leave it in your shoe the night before. My husband is Flemish and we've three daughters so we have always celebrated St Nicolas. I think children and adults all want to believe in the magic of these moments and I hope this story reflects something of that.

What other material do you normally write?

I have written a number of children's books, some of which have been translated into Dutch and French. You can find out more about my series of sheep stories on Last year the National Theatre of Scotland made a stage production of one of the books. I recently started writing articles for magazines and newspapers and am working on an adult novel.

What made you become a writer?

I've always loved books and have written poems and stories ever since I can remember. In between I've done a lot of different jobs but it's something I've always come back to. After my mum died I wanted to concentrate more on writing and have since set up my own business together with my husband, producing our own books and educational material and running writing workshops in schools and adult educational centres. People have such interesting stories inside them and they can be very inspirational. I love finding stories that really speak to you.

Which writers do you admire?

John Berger, Carol Ann Duffy, Rose Tremain, Helen Dunmore, William Trevor, Penelope Lively, Maggie Gee, Sebastian Faulks, Helen Simpson, Jackie Kay and many others. I also love discovering new contemporary authors.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

Ideally I write in the mornings and do everything else in the afternoon but it doesn't always work like that! There's usually a lot of administrative work connected to the business, washing to be taken out of the machine, dogs to be taken for a walk etc. If I'm doing workshops then I'm out a lot but if I've got a deadline I write all day if I can.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

I write mostly at my desk straight onto the computer, looking out over beautiful trees. I'm really lucky to live opposite a park so I can watch the birds and the leaves falling from the trees and daydream!

Thursday, 23 October 2008

A.J. Humphrey

What inspired you to write "I Borrowed a Poltergeist"?

The story materialised during a short break in London with my wife a few years ago. We were staying in a fantastically Gothic hotel just off Russell Square, that was in the middle of renovations, and the whole place was crying out to have a story set there. I also have to confess that my wife has been known to help herself to an entire shelf full of hotel toiletries, on the grounds that when we pay for the room we pay for the toiletries, so it wasn't too great a leap of logic to go from there to an irate poltergeist who wanted them back!

What other material do your normally write?

I'm better known as a poet, really. I've had 20+ poems published in small presses (including Aesthetica, Envoi, First Time, Monkey Kettle and Pulsar) and anthologies (including two Ragged Raven Press anthologies, alongside some well respected names in the poetic world) and I've won several prizes in national and international competitions (including four First Prizes). Almost anything can provide inspiration; many of my recent poems have come from nature (birds, wild plants, the weather) or from reminiscences of childhood and my student days, but I try to avoid being simply a nature-and-nostalgia poet; it's important for me that my poems tell a good story, and have some resonance with the human world beyond the subject of the poem. I've had short stories published in Dark Tales, Delivered and Scribble, and on the Writers' News website. I write my short stories as A.J. Humphrey, rather than Andy Humphrey, because there was an established short story writer called Andy Humphrey already having some publishing success when I first started sending out my work, and he and I have a gentleman's agreement to use different names so as not to confuse readers!

You can read some samples of my writing at

What made you become a writer?

I've written stuff ever since I could. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just happened - and still happens. I've always been drawn to telling stories. I think of writing as an urge, rather than a career choice. In my working life I'm a research scientist, so my writing has to fit around a pretty demanding day job.

Which writers do you admire?

I'm a sucker for the classic fairy stories. Fantastical stories are great because the story can be an extended metaphor, a safe space in which the darker and more difficult bits of life can be explored, challenged, and maybe worked to a resolution. Some of my favourite writers today - people like Jeanette Winterson, Joanne Harris, and Carol Ann Duffy - are brilliant at re-telling these classic stories in a modern way. There are a lot of so-called "children's writers" who are equally gifted, but whose work is under-rated because they were writing for under-18s, and I'd love to see the likes of Diana Wynne Jones, John Gordon, Alan Garner and Peter Dickinson given the same respect as today's literary authors. I also adore the great Victorian gothic writers - the Brontes, Wilkie Collins, Robert Louis Stevenson - for the depth and excitement of their storytelling. But my literary hero is JRR Tolkien. His mythology is infused with so many layers of metaphor, parable and social comment that I never, ever tire of reading it.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

My writing has to fit around a day job with long working hours and a hellish commute, so I have to snatch fragments of writing time whenever I can. Most of my poetry gets developed on trains! I'm often scribbling in my notebook, tinkering with a sentence here and an image there, because that's all I have time for in one sitting. But lots and lots of little sessions like this eventually add up to a finished poem or story. I try and get up early at weekends to grab a bit of more sustained writing time, which I use for typing up and re-drafting work, and for getting submissions together. My wife's a late sleeper at the weekends and we don't have children yet, so I can usually grab a couple of uninterrupted hours most weekends. But the idea of having a daily block of writing time seems like a far-away luxury just now!

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

No. I have to make do with with any opportunity that presents itself. On trains, buses, in the odd lunch hour at my desk at work, standing at bus stops. Even in the lab I sometimes have to stop what I'm doing and grab a Post-It note to write down a fragment of a poem before I forget it!

Rosemary Bach-Holzer

What was my inspiration to write Sally and the Sign People?

The lousy deal seagulls receive in Cornwall. They are treated as pests and I think that’s wrong. So, I wrote what is (hopefully) an entertaining and funny story aimed at all ages. I’d got divorced and sold my home on the Atlantic and was attempting to relocate to France and failing miserably. Meanwhile I was trying to get Sally Seagull going when I noticed a dog hoovering up the bread I’d thrown out for the birds - so you could say Sally and the Sign People is based on a true story. Sure, it has messages within but I don’t want to overanalyse it. It’s not Michel de Montaigne.

What other material do I normally write?

Varied. I’ve recently started work on a crime/mystery novel that I didn’t envisage in a million years. Generally I stick to humorous real-life articles. I’ve also had success with articles about my cats (they make great copy). I’m putting finishing touches to a self-help book and a natural and cruelty-free beauty book that gives out tips and how you should change your loo brush more often and I’ve recently finished a story about a spider who goes up in space. I’ve also written a hen-lit contemporary humour that’s on the hunt for an agent.

What made me become a writer?

Good question. One I often ask myself. I can’t help it. It’s something I have to do like an itch that has to be scratched. I write for myself but if someone else connects to it then that’s great. I also think this particular itch has been with me since before birth like I didn’t have a choice or say in the matter. My grandfather was a German comedy playwright and although he died way back in 1929 (my father had me in his fifties) his plays are still being shown today.

Which writers do I admire?

Anne Fine, James Herriot, David Renwick (One Foot in the Grave), John Esmonde and Bob Larbey (The Good Life), Jimmy Perry and David Croft (Dad’s Army), Dennis Bardens, Peter Moss, Mark Gold, Jack Higgins, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen and Arnold & Bach.

Tell you about my writing routine?

I don’t have one. I can write up to 14 hours a day and then not write for six months and on some days I tend to favour hours better suited to a vampire, I seem to come alive after dark. I don’t want to dwell on this because as soon as I mention I have ME/CFS people tend to zone in on that and forget about everything else. I only mention it now because that’s the leading factor as to why I don’t have a set routine, as such. Simply, I do things differently because I have to. My health dictates and I listen.

Do I have a favourite place for writing?

No. Right now I’m happy scribbling from my bed (in a room that is overflowing with packing cases) surrounded by books, my stereo, writing magazines and scrap paper and pens and my laptop for when inspiration and energy come together. In Cornwall I had the best office with the best view and wrote some all right stuff there, however, I’m not one of those who subscribe to the opinion you must have flowers on your desk along with your favourite treats and endless cups of whatever at hand. Going by that premise, writers, the PM, plumbers or teachers can only work productively after consuming a chocolate bar and sniffing an aesthetically pleasing fresh bunch of sweet peas?

Surf on over and visit me at:

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Debz Hobbs-Wyatt

What inspired you to write "Jigsaw"?
I had just completed the first draft of my third novel, 'The Reluctant Clairvoyant', when the idea for 'Jigsaw' came to me. It was actually one of those when you sit down and type a first line. Since it is in the first person and from the point of view of a child it is not my usual type of writing, but it was as if the child's voice spoke through me and before I knew it, I had a short story on paper!

What other material do your normally write?
I have written a fair number of short stories but I mainly concentrate on my novel writing these days. My first novel may never see the light of day, my second novel Colourblind is with agents and the feedback has been encouraging. The third is a work in progress. I guess you could call it paranormal psychological fiction for adults, although I like to think it has a heart and my stories will change the way you think!

What made you become a writer?
I have been writing since I was a child. I think when you're young you're more in touch with your spirit and choices that you made for yourself in this lifetime (or I would like to think that's true.) I was obsessed with books as I grew up and wrote my first novel when I was nine! Okay so it was a Famous Five rip-off but come on, I was young! So even back then I was waiting for the postman to bring me a letter to say they'd publish it. They didn't of course but they encouraged me! Science got in the way for a number of years and the creative stuff took a back seat but it was always there. I was always going places and saying- hey one day I'll put this in a novel. It was like that for The Reluctant Clairvoyant inspired by a trip to Alcatraz 8 years ago when I discovered that civilian families lived there. Five years ago I started to write compulsively and now it is my obsession! Since I lost my partner, Lee three years ago, at the tender age of 32, writing became my therapy. It still is. Now I want to give everything else up to write. Work gets in the way! But it pays the bills! Still, I won't give up! I consider that I am now serving my apprenticeship and have recently started my MA in Creative Writing to that end. Dreams come true if you believe!

Which writers do you admire?
Stephen KingJodi PicoultLionel ShiverDean Koontz Loads!

Tell us something about your writing routine.
I get up at 5 am, read for an hour (as you can't be a good writer of you don't read as much as you can, by a range of authors!) Then I write for an hour. I work full time and try to write when no one can see my computer screen! I imagine its like sitting in front of a piano and not being allowed to use certain keys! So frustrating when all you want to do is write! I hate work!!!! In the evening I write for three hours. At weekends I try to have a day off although I am usually at a critique group talking about writing! The other day I try to clock up 6 - 8 hours.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?
I can write anywhere but I tend to sit on my bed with my laptop with the window in front of me so I can see the mountains of Snowdonia and the birds on the feeders! My two little cats (my saviours!) are usually at my side diving on my toes if they move and trying to plonk themselves onto the keyboard as only cats can!!! But they are the best company!

Jenny Robertson

What inspired you to write "The Tricks of Firelight"?
The first draft of Tricks of Firelight grew out of my feeling for the importance of Advent and my wish to re-tell the Christmas Eve story for adults. I used the Polish setting because I love Polish Christmas Eve. I have lived and worked in Poland and have made this country my life-long study.

What material do your normally write?
I write poetry and prose. I have pubished three collections of my own poetry and around thirty books for adults and children as well as contributing to anthologies, magazine, radio and television. I'm now turning back to children's fiction with Polish themes.

What made you become a writer?
My mother who read to me - but she read to my twin too and she became a nurse. I have been writing stories and novels since my earliest years. Poetry came rather later. Housebound with my first baby I began to send my work out to publishers and my writing life developed from that.Which writers do you admire? George Mackay Brown; Keats; Shakespeare, of course, Chaucer; Dostojevsky, Tolstoy: all well-crafted work.I read voraciously in Polish and English.

Tell us something about your writing routine.
It gets interrupted by family agendas, visitors, travel, peoples' needs and sunshine! Most days I try to write from around 9.30 am with breaks for meals. When a novel is going well I work at it all the time, but research comes into the pattern. I used to find lots of thinking happened in the bath - but I have showers nowadays so my thinking happens on the bus or in the swimming pool.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?
When I started off I wrote by hand and typed those endless carbon copies, full of mistakes. I kept my files in wicker basket I bought in Glastonbury, but they got too heavy and the bottom fell out. To my immense surprise I found that I enjoyed writing straight into a computer. I think it's because you can see your work appearing on the screen. Nowadays I mostly use a lap top. I sit at an old writing desk that belonged to my grandmother,the sort with a fold down lid. The drawers are full of notebooks. I look at the blank wall ahead ofme,with a picture of two seal cubs my daughter drew long ago and a quote from Joseph Conrad stuck up next to them. There are pictures on every other wall, books and photographs around me and I can lean back in my chair and over my right shoulder I see a garden and trees.

Rebecca Holmes

What inspired you to write ‘Winter Blooms’?

I love hyacinths in winter. They brighten the house during the darkest days, especially after the Christmas decorations have come down, which is when I most need cheering up. I’m also fascinated by the way everyone has hidden depths, no matter how ordinary they appear. Somehow the two themes came together, and ‘Winter Blooms’ was born.

What other material do you normally write?

I mostly write stories for women’s magazines, where I’m published fairly regularly, but also enjoy delving into the ‘darker side’. My ambition is to be a published novelist, and I’ve been writing a contemporary saga set in the Lake District, which I try to work on when I get the chance between other projects.

What made you become a writer?

I never ‘became’ a writer – it’s always been there, along with reading, though pushed aside when other aspects of life have had to come first. Joining a writing group provided motivation and encouragement, and still does. I get very irritable if I haven’t had my writing ‘fix’.

Which writers do you admire?

Thomas Hardy, the Brontes, Jane Austen, Graham Greene, Anne Tyler, Anita Shreve, Neil Gaiman, Sarah Hall, John Steinbeck… The list goes on, and is quite a mixture.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

I don’t have a routine as such, but fit it in when I can. I try to write most days, even if it means holding a sandwich in one hand and a pen in the other. When I do get in a full day’s writing I’m afraid I drink far too much coffee.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?
My main base is the spare bedroom, which needs a really good sort-out, and I keep promising myself I’ll organise it into a proper writing room. I write drafts in longhand then put them on the computer, so I can write pretty well anywhere if necessary. For instance, I’ve sold stories whose first drafts were written on the shores of Coniston Water.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Rosemary Gemmell (

What inspired you to write ‘Midge and the Pony?

I like to start with a character. When I saw a cute photograph of a boy with a pony, the idea of Midge, a boy who prefers horses to football gradually took shape. To make it more contemporary, he is almost bullied at school because of his size and he has no father.

What other material do you normally write?

I’ve had many adult short stories and articles published and sometimes write poetry. I also write children’s fiction, from picture book age to about twelve. Now I’m concentrating on novel length both for children and adults. Two children’s books and an adult novel are with publishers at the moment, in the hope of some positive interest!

What made you become a writer?

I’ve read anything and everything since I was old enough to understand words and adored being transported into make-believe worlds. I also loved the rhythm and rhyme of poetry and started writing it when going through a romantic teenager phase. It was only after many years of work, marriage and motherhood I realised I could actually be a writer and get published. Joining my local writing group was the turning point.

Which writers do you admire?

The classics like Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Dickens, Virginia Wolf and EM Forster. Classic crime writers like Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, PD James and Ellis Peters. The romantic suspense of Mary Stewart, Victoria Holt, Phyllis Whitney, and the regency of Georgette Heyer. Contemporary writers such as Janice Galloway, Tracy Chevalier, Sarah Waters and Ann Donovan. Children’s writers JK Rowling, Philip Pullman, Catherine MacPhail and Theresa Breslin.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

Not as organised as I would like! Mondays and Tuesday morning are for creative writing if possible, then two or three other afternoons for rewriting, research or planning what to do next.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

I like my study area in our extension, with computer, desk and rows of books, when typing up my work, but much of my best creative writing is done in longhand in my favourite Costa with a cappuccino!

Joyce Hicks

What inspired you to write 'The Keeper's Keeper'? Joyc'es story is ideally read on 13 December
My story is called 'The Keeper's Keeper'. What inspired me was an article in Writing Magazine. It was basically talking about the avoidance of stereotypes. One example given was that of guardian angels who, the article suggested, might be far more interesting if they weren't young and beautiful and 'celestial'. How about if they appeared to be old, down-and-out, alcoholic, etc.etc. And so Rita was born. I did a little research on park keepers, and the main theme of my story (rundown park, threat of closure, and its rescue by a determined keeper, lottery money and volunteers) actually happened in the UK a few years ago.
What other material do your normally write?
These days I write only short stories. I started my writing career with novels, and wrote four, all of which came winging back to me. It was the start of my writing career, I was still learning, and they simply weren't good enough. I've also written articles, for a small press, local magazine, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The magazine eventually closed, and I didn't pursue article writing.
What made you become a writer?
I don't think I actually 'became' a writer overnight, as it were. I've always loved writing (and reading). I was always good at English grammar at school, and loved essays and compositions which never seemed to require any great effort for me to write, so I was lucky in that respect. From there I think my need to write evolved into letter writing for many years, especially when I lived in Australia for a very long time. Long letters home to friends and family were my lifeline. And when I say long letters, we're talking about between 2,000 - 4,000 words per (typed) letter!
Which writers do you admire?
Almost too many to count. All the classics, e.g. Austen, the Brontes, Dickens, Conan Doyle, Oscar Wilde, Wilkie Collins, Jerome K .Jerome, F. Scot Fitzgerald, Henry James. And then there's Agatha Christie, Daphne du Maurier, Frederick Forsyth, Harlan Coben, Robert Harris, Ian Fleming. And those are just the ones I can remember!
Tell us something about your writing routine.
Basically, I don't have much of a writing routine at all. But as soon as I get an idea for a story, then I give it full attention, and everything else goes by the board. I'm also constantly thinking in terms of plots and characters and situations, and I think subconsciously I'm always tuned in to possible ideas for stories. You sort of develop an antennae that's 'on' all the time, whether you're aware of it or not. So in a sense you're writing all the time, even if it's solely in your head.
Do you have a favourite place for writing?
I write in our spare room, which was once our daughter's room, although she's long since vacated it and now lives in France. But this is where the computer is now, plus shelves groaning with books, and the whole room is set up as an office, with folders and files and shoe boxes full of bits and pieces of paper, notes, etc. I try to keep some semblance of order and sometimes manage it. Other times it looks like an explosion in a paper factory!

Michael O' Connor

Michael's story is ideally read on 14th of December.

What inspired you to write SLIGHT EXPECTATIONS?

I live quite close to St James' Church in Cooling, Kent, which is where Charles Dickens set the opening of his novel "Great Expectations". I went there one day to see it for myself, and standing there alone in the churchyard, with a slight breeze rustling the grass and crows cawing overhead, it seemed to me that if I closed my eyes for a moment, the ghost of Dickens might appear. That was the basis for my story.

What other material do you normally write?

Much of my work in the past has been what is termed 'genre fiction' i.e. fantasy, horror and science fiction. However, I am moving away from that now into more mainstream work, although I suspect I shall never be able to forgo of an element of fantasy in any story I write.

What made you become a writer?

I cannot remember a time when I wanted to be anything else.

Which writers do you admire?

Unsurprisingly, Dickens and many of his nineteenth century contemporaries are particular favourites of mine. More contemporary authors I admire include Michael Moorcock, Peter Ackroyd, Jasper Fforde and Anthony Burgess.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

I don't really have a writing routine. I do it as and when the inspiration happens to coincide with the free time. I do a lot of reviewing, editing and proofreading for other people, which generally has deadlines, so my own work tends to be squeezed in around that.

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

I have a spare room in my home which I grandiloquently call a 'study' (so much more literary than 'home office'!) and I do all my writing there

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Yvonne Eve Walus

Yvonne Eve Walus wrote her first poem when she was 4 and her first short story when she was 9. She made up fictional situations in in her head and played them out as far back as she can remember. Her first publishing success (a short story in a local magazine) came when she was 22. Yvonne has lived on three continents and her work reflects the wealth of her cultural background. Her crime fiction is published in USA and in Britain, and it includes “Murder @ Work” which is set in the tumultuous and exotic South Africa. Please visit Yvonne on or South Africa in her “Murder @ Work” and discover what life is like when you are prohibited by the law to own a house or have medical insurance. Yvonne’s books are available on Amazon and Fictionwise.

An Interview wiht Yvonne:

What inspired you to write "Murder in the Air" (part of the Making Changes anthology)?

I like reading and writing murder mysteries in the "cosy" Agatha-Christie-style sub-genre. I also like setting my stories in South Africa, where I lived for beautiful and sunny 16 years. The idea for "Murder in the Air" (and what follows is NOT a spoiler) came to me in an aeroplane one night, when it occurred to me how vulnerable the sleeping passengers are....

What other material do your normally write?

Check out "Murder @ Work" (Echelon Press, 2004) and "Murder @ Play" (Echelon Press, upcoming in 2008) - they are both murder mystery cosies set in South Africa.

What made you become a writer?

I wish I knew, so that I could put a curse on whatever it was, because sometimes I would like my leisure time back! Of course, other times I cannot imagine being anything else. I guess I simply like writing. The other day, I told a fellow novelist that if I didn't get paid for writing, I would do it for free... heck, I'd even PAY for the privilege! Which writers do you admire?
Minette Walters, for all the important controversial issues she writes about within the pages of her murder mysteries.
Terry Pratchett, for his quirky mind.
Jocelyn Jackson, for the beauty of her words.

Tell us something about your writing routine.

11pm till 2am. I'm not kidding! With two small children and a day job....

Do you have a favourite place for writing?

Straight onto the computer - I don't have time to write long-hand. I have a lovely office and when I look up from the keyboard I see green New Zealand ferns and the grey-blue sea.