I have decided to share interviews with a variety of authors and aspiring authors here on the Imagine! Create! Write! blog, because I have so many friends who are writers. Linda is a friend of mine through Facebook, and, like me, she writes children's stories, so I am very happy to be sharing her interview here as one of my first author interviews.
Born in London (UK), and an avid reader at an early age. I loved the adventure stories of Enid Blyton, CS Lewis and fairy tales. Even as an adult now I will choose a fantasy or adventure novel over a romance!
I am the author of four books about Retishella Mermaid and her adventures. You can read the opening chapters on my webpage
Retishella and the Dolphins
Retishella and the Pocket Shell
Seeley and the Grantuff
Retishella and Pirate Cool
I am currently working on the fifth story Retishella and the Junkball
. I have two audio stories on the Shortbread Stories
. One of my stories "Holiday Butterflies"
was recently chosen as the Friday story and received some touching and encouraging reviews.
I am a member of the Writers In Somerset group, and we have published an anthology of short stories about the West Somerset Railway.
In my day job as a primary school teacher I organise and judge regular short story competitions. I am almost ashamed to say I also ‘test out’ my latest stories on my present long-suffering class of 7 and 8 year olds, although they have not complained yet!
What types of writing do you do? What varieties of genres do you write in?
My short stories are very varied. Some, like Holiday Butterflies are based on my own experiences, others, like Pearls of Wisdom
and The Inspector
are inspired by fairy tales.
My Retishella stories are unabashed adventure stories, where I can let my imagination run riot, inventing new places, objects and characters. I love writing these stories, as there is no limit to my creativity in Retishella land.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? What was it about writing that drew you to it?
I have always dabbled in writing. When I was younger and living in Sweden, I helped pay the bills by writing for a local newspaper. Later on when I was back in the UK, I worked writing copy for advertisers in a local newspaper.
Where do you get your ideas for your writing?
The main inspiration for my first book Retishella and the Dolphins came from a walk along the beach close to where I live. The water there is an uninviting murky brown and as I walked along I saw a fisherman pull a fish from this muddy soup. As he was only a couple of metres off shore it struck me that we could neither of us see the marine life in the water, but it was obviously there nonetheless. I wondered what else could live there – mermaids maybe? Retishella and her world were born.
What is one of your favorite hobbies?
I love reading. One of my ideas of heaven is to sit under the parasol at the bottom of my garden, on a hot sunny day, with a cold drink and a good book. If the book is good enough and I can’t put it down, a whole day can go past!
What are your current writing projects?
I am currently working on the fifth book in the Retishella series, Retishella and the Junkball. As with the other books it begins with an unusual situation that develops into a fight against evil. As always, things are not quite as they seem.
I am also working on a rewriting of the Cinderella story from the fairy godmother’s point of view. I have some notions about how all the characters in that story may be connected.
Do you ever experience writer’s block? How do you get through it?
In me writer’s block manifests itself as procrastination and displacement activity. I find no end of other things to do, and running a home with three teenage children as well as working as a teacher gives me a rich source of other things to do!
I know that if I force myself to sit at the computer and make a start, something will happen. It may not be what I want, but a story of some description will start to form.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Checking up on facts and researching things. No matter how much I check up on, for example, the life cycle of a particular marine creature I am never completely convinced that I have enough facts. I’m always worried that I’ve missed something important.
What do you love most about writing?
It is one of the most complete forms of escapism I have ever experienced. Even when a story is stuck and you go for a walk to try and work it out, you are in another place. It sometimes scares you, but mostly pleasantly surprises you with its twists and turns.
Every time I have carefully plotted a story, I find the story taking on a life of its own. I know that is a writer’s cliché, but it is a useful way to describe what happens when you start to write. I have a particular ending in mind for Retishella and the Junkball but I can’t say for certain that it will end that way until I get there!
Is there anything that you have learned about yourself through writing/pursuing your career as a writer?
Writing itself can be therapeutic, helping you get your thoughts into some semblance of order or firing your imagination . But publishing your writing can make you feel very vulnerable. You know some people will love your stories, and others won’t. When people are not constructive in their criticisms it is easy to take it personally. It’s taken me a while to develop a thick skin against such criticisms.
If you could become one of your characters for a day, would you? (and who/why?)
I would love to be Mersia, the wise mermaid in her purple bower, polishing her crystals , helping others with her charms and spells.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Since publishing Retishella and the Dolphins back in 2006 I have met a lot of people who begin a conversation with me along the lines of ‘I’ve started writing a book…’ and then give you loads of reasons why they can’t finish it. My main advice for writers is to go for it!
Also, get your writing finished and then spend a great deal of time editing, getting friends to read and iron out any problems with plot or spelling etc.