Publisher Interview with Pure Slush

Our first Publisher Interview comes from Australia’s Pure Slush:

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Pure Slush was established in December 2010, and publishes fiction and non-fiction online and in print. Though it is based in Australia, Pure Slush accepts work Worldwide. This interview was answered by Founding Editor, Matt Potter.

We have been fortunate enough to both meet and work with Matt and find his no-nonsense attitude to publishing refreshing. We learned a lot. Here is what he said:

 

How did you get into publishing as a career?

 

Well, define career! It is something I have always wanted to do. Writing became editing online became editing in print and thus, publishing. But I have worked on the fringes of publishing for a long time, years in fact, usually through my day job in promotions / community services.

 

What qualities do you think make you a good publisher?

 

Attention to detail and knowing how to bring out the best in writers.

Most of the books I have published through Pure Slush have been my ideas. Pure Slush’s latest book The Merrill Diaries (July 2013) by Susan Tepper, was my idea. Susan talked about sending me an MS, and I said well, actually, what I really want to read is The Merrill Diaries. (Susan had already written about the character Merrill in two stories in gorge: Pure Slush Vol. 4.) So it was calculated: I thought Susan would like the idea, and it was something I would want to read.

With Wild, Gill Hoffs was talking about publishing her own book, and I said, let’s do it together. We like working together and it’ll be better with both of us involved, and Pure Slush can release it and we should call it Wild. With Glass Animals, I said to Stephen V. Ramey, if ever you want to publish a collection … and with Dusty-Anne Rhodes, I said, you’ve sent me so much non-fiction, we should just do a collection together and call it Hard.

Flatter a writer enough (in the right way) and they will do (almost) anything! Ha! But it helps to play to their strengths and help them work around their weaknesses. And suggest titles for their work that are relevant and they will like!

 

In terms of your job, what aspect do you like least?

 

Reading boring stories and having to offer some response … though that is easy compared to stories that are not well-written or need a lot of work but the idea behind the story is good or interesting. Then I want to work on the stories.

In particular, I have most difficulty working with writers who are married to every word (a lot of younger women writers are like that – “Okay, take out all the adverbs while I bleed to death at my writing desk!”) and writers who think they are Ernest Hemingway (i.e. a lot of older male writers) and have a macho need to prove themselves. I work to make stories better – that’s the biggest part of what I do – and if you can’t see that, well then, sayonara.

I also loathe working with writers who are disorganised and promise the moon and don’t deliver. I’m a social worker too, so I’m used to hearing peoples’ stories and seeing through the bullshit.

These writers truly drive me nuts.

 

What has been the highlight?

 

Working with writers from all over the world, meeting some of them in person, and putting good work out there that readers enjoy and get something from.

 

Why do you think authors should submit work to your magazine/imprint?

 

Because they want to. Because Pure Slush does good stuff. Because Pure Slush is zesty and heartfelt and fun and interesting, and because I’m interested in getting the best from people and doing good work.

 

What are you looking for in terms of submissions?

 

Fun. Intelligence. Heart. Communication.

And I am not looking for hip, cool, jargon, latest trends.

 

Which qualities do you look for in an author?

 

Heart, intelligence, humour, reliability, flexibility, and talent.

What are your most common reasons for rejecting a piece of work?

Too hip for its own good. Too many adverbs. Bad use of verbs. Inaccurate, long-winded actions. Poor timing and pacing. Missing words. Misspellings. Poorly-thought out character reasonings and reactions. Entire use of indirect / reported speech. Too many characters. Chronological actions written out of order.

 

How do you think publishing will progress in the years to come?

 

Despite my diatribe, I am no expert on publishing.

 

What are the key points to consider before submitting work to you?

 

Is it formatted well, and does the story start in the first sentence?

 

For our members, what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

 

For being a member of your group? Ha! Well, persistence and on open ear.

 

If you could give them any advice, what would it be?

 

If I tell you there’s an issue with something, I’m not telling you because I love to type.

 

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?

 

I’m not sure.

 

Are there any questions we didn’t ask in this interview that you would’ve liked to answer?

 

No.

If you would like to know more about Pure Slush or to read their submission guidelines then these are the links you need:

 

Pure Slush homepage – http://pureslush.webs.com/

Pure Slush Store – http://pureslush.webs.com/store.htm

Pure Slush Themes and Submissions – http://pureslush.webs.com/themessubmissions.htm

 

We would like to thank Matt for this interview and wish him all the best with his future endeavours.

Also, we would like to wish our members luck in any submissions they decide to offer them.

Hopefully, it’s the start of a great relationship.

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Interview with Theresa Breslin

Recently we asked our members who they would like to be interview on this blog. The list was long, however, we shall endeavour to get through it. The first interviewee is, Theresa Breslin:

Theresa Breslin SBT

Theresa is a popular multi-award winning author, critically-acclaimed for over 30 books covering a variety of themes with appeal to all ages. Renowned for her masterful storytelling, her work is read extensively in schools, translated into many languages and has appeared on television, radio & stage.

Theresa also won the Carnegie Medal, the UK’s most prestigious award for Children’s Literature, for Whispers in the Graveyard her compelling story of a dyslexic boy. The Medici Seal features the life of Leonardo da Vinci and Divided City, about friendship across the divide of football rivalry, was short-listed for ten book awards, winning two outright, and the musical theatre adaptation plays to full houses.  Spy for the Queen of Scots is her latest book. Here’s Theresa’s interview:

What makes you want to write?

I do not truly know. There’s a great sense of freedom in writing fiction. Also, when the book begins to ‘sing’ there’s no feeling quite like it…. “You can see for a hundred miles”. There’s a wonderful sense of achievement when the book is finished (coupled with wracking self-doubt, until the editor gets in touch)

How did you start?

I joined a local writers’ group and won first prize for a short story. Then I sent in an entry for what was then known as the Fidler prize for an original MS by a new writer for a children’s book ( Floris Books organise this competition now ) – and I won! The book was published. BBC bought film rights and I was on my way.

In terms of your career, what aspect do you like least?

It’s a solitary profession and as I do most of my writing in the winter then I miss the light and human contact. The writing itself can be grindingly slow, you can lose heart when the story just isn’t moving or you spend a whole day writing and the next day when you read the previous day’s work you know it’s not very good – not even good enough to edit sometimes… the dialogue is clunky, the scene static, there’s no insight into existing characters, some new character has turned up spouting puerile remarks – obviously you thought he/she would be a brilliantly witty addition to the story, but they are so not,. not, not. Then you’ve to unpick it until there’s a sorry mess of tangled words lying in your lap which mysteriously transfers itself to the back of your neck and you walk around with the weight of it crippling every thought and idea inside your brain for days. You get the picture. We’ve all been there.

What has been the highlight?

Lots and lots of highlights. There’s been some big blazing ‘whoopee’ moments l like winning the Carnegie Medal for Whispers in the Graveyard the book about the dyslexic boy. Divided City has been short-listed for 10 book awards winning 2 outright and is now produced as musical theatre and plays to packed houses. But day by day the rest of it is the amazing reader contact, People saying that my stories changed their lives or those of their children in a positive way.

When do you find is the best time to write?

Early morning, sometimes very early morning. When the publishers wanted to bring publication The Medici Seal, my book that features Leonardo da Vinci, forward I began work every day at 5.00a.m.

Where do you write?

I used to write at the kitchen table but as the family left home I bagged a vacant space – ‘The Writing Room’ – but we do have slightly decrepit summerhouse in the garden and I go out there a lot even in bad weather.

What goals do you set yourself?

To write creatively for a minimum of three hours per day unless I have other engagements.

Who proofreads your work (professional/ family/friend)?

Yes, Yes, Yes. plus young people of all sizes.

What do you think about getting an agent?

I think it’s a very personal choice technology is moving so fast at the moment that noone knows what the situation will be like in the next few years.

Which publisher are you with and why?

I’ve been translated into over 20 languages so I’m with quite a lot of publishers. In the UK I’m with Random House, Bloomsbury, Floris Books, Barrington Stoke, plus various others.

For our members, what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

Tenacity. Hang on in there, with the story – get to know your story as you write and the path becomes clearer. And also hang on in there in the quest to find the right publisher for your work.

If you could give them any advice, what would it be?

If you think you’ve got good idea for a story then most likely it is a good idea for a story, so don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but…. DO listen to the views of others – you don’t have to take their advice but listening can sometime help you firm up what is or is not important about your work.

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?

I think the best thing is to be supportive but also TRUTHFUL about each others work. This is exceptionally hard to do for obvious reasons – nobody wants to crush another person’s feelings. Good advice in a workshop is that no adverse criticism to be made unless accompanied by a thorough explanation and / or positive suggestion. Helping each other is a more a case of opening up avenues and exploring options rather than saying you don’t like something or it just isn’t working.

Are there any questions we didn’t ask in this interview that you would’ve liked to answer?

Yes. I’d like to talk about libraries and readership – linked and separately. Libraries and librarians, both public and in schools are crucial in creating readers. They fulfil the absolutely essential function of ‘Leading to Reading’ It’s an act of cultural vandalism and short-sighted in role and professionalism. Readership is very important and should be nurtured actively by writers.

Anything to add/ or explain further?

No

If you would like to know more about Theresa, then you can either, follow her on twitter:

 Twitter: @theresabreslin1

On Facebook,

http://www.facebook.com/Theresabreslinauthor

Or via her website:

http://www.theresabreslin.co.uk/

 

Buy her work on Amazon here:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Theresa-Breslin/e/B001JP8CYQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1372619485&sr=1-2-ent

We would like to thank Theresa for this interview and wish her all the best in her endeavours.

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Interview with Kirsty Logan

Our new interview is with the lovely, Kirsty Logan:

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Kirsty Logan is a fiction writer, literary editor, columnist and book reviewer. Her short fiction and poetry has been published in around 80 anthologies and magazines, recorded for podcasts, broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and exhibited in galleries.

Kirsty regularly performs at events and festivals around the world; recent performances include London, Copenhagen, and Brussels. As a Hawthornden Fellow, she recently spent a month on a writing retreat in a 17th century castle, working on her novel The Gracekeeper about a circus boat in a flooded world.

As well as writing fiction, Kirsty also co-edits flash fiction magazine Fractured West, writes articles for IdeasTap, works as the literary editor for The List, and writes a regular column on the X-Files for The Female Gaze.

Her debut, The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales, will be published in November 2013.

We first met Kirsty at Weegie Wed, where she gave a very down to earth description of her career. We think her humble nature is something we could all learn from. Here is her interview:

What makes you want to write?
Writing is an attempt to show others the world as it looks to us. I walk down the street and imagine that the clouds are the steam from tug-boats, that the bus driver has horns under his hat, that the rumbles under the pavement are dragons shifting under the city. Saying that sounds a little unhinged, but if you put it into a story then it makes an entire world that someone else can inhabit with you.

How did you start?

There was no clear starting point, really: I’ve always written stories, ever since I learned to hold a pen. I wrote stories and poetry at school, then I did an English Lit undergrad, then a Creative Writing postgrad, then slowly but surely I started to build up my publications and performances.
The only answer I can give is that I started the same way all writers start: with a love of books and stories.
In terms of your career, what aspect do you like least?
The paperwork. Contracts, proofs, calendars, meetings, emails. Good lord, the emails. Sometimes I have dreams about an empty inbox, but I never seem to get there.
What has been the highlight?
It’s impossible to pick just one! The Bridport Prize ceremony with Zoe Heller and PJ Harvey, being interviewed on Culzean Beach for Woman’s Hour, being flown to Copenhagen to do a reading, writing an article for the Boston Globe, winning the Scott Prize and knowing my first book was coming out soon: all of that was wonderful, and I had to pinch myself to believe it was real.
But if I’m honest, it’s not the big, shiny events that really matter; it’s the routine moments that lead to true happiness. Every single day that I can get up and write stories is a highlight.
When do you find is the best time to write?

 

8am, just after my girlfriend Annie leaves for work. I dump the breakfast dishes in the sink, sit at my desk, and get utterly lost in my made-up world. That way, I can get a full hour of novel-writing in before I have to start on all my other freelance jobs at 9am. If I leave it any later to get started, then the chores and paperwork and distractions start to nag at me. I try to start the day by focusing on what matters: writing.

Where do you write?
In my front room, at my desk. I have a lovely old escritoire – the type with a flip-down ledge that locks with a brass key, and lots of little shelves and drawers inside. To motivate me I have a figure of Scully from the X-Files, and on the wall above it I have a framed handkerchief that says BRAVERY. It’s silly, but all writers need little totems.
What goals do you set yourself?
Stay hungry. Stay curious. Work hard and be nice.

 

Who proofreads your work (professional/ family/friend)?

 

I am in a ridiculously excellent critique group with two other young female writers, Helen Sedgwick and Katy McAulay. They are novelists and short story writers, and they both won Scottish Book Trust New Writers Awards last year. I trust their feedback completely and I wouldn’t send anything out into the world without them reading it first.

 

What do you think about getting an agent?

 

Getting an agent is like dating: instead of traipsing around after your object of desire getting increasingly more desperate, it’s better to be the most interesting and attractive person in the room so that they approach you. That analogy got a bit muddled, but hopefully it makes sense! Write well, work hard, build up your profile, and let them come to you.

 

Which publisher are you with and why?

 

My first collection, The Rental Heart & Other Fairytales, is about to be published by Salt. They make beautiful books, they’re entirely independent, and they treat their writers well.

For our members, what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

Good manners. Be polite and interested in people and they will want to help you; be rude and dismissive and no-one will go out of their way for you. The literature world is a small one, and news spreads fast – make sure you’re good news and not bad.
If you could give them any advice, what would it be?
 

Read. Write. Find someone whose opinion you trust – writing is a lonely life, and it’s vital to have support. Get yourself out there, both online on social networks and in person at readings and events. Always be professional. Be persistent but never pushy or ungrateful. Read more. Write even more.

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?
I would like to see everyone writing and succeeding!
Thanks to Kirsty for this interview. We wish her every success in the future.

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Interview with Denise Mina

Our next interview is with, Denise Mina:

Denise Mina

Denise Mina has written eleven novels, 5 graphic novels and three plays. She has won several prizes, and been short-listed for so many more, she is met famous for her exceptional ‘oh well, never mind’ face.

We first met Denise through Weegie Wednesday and were quickly charmed by her sharp wit and sensible advice. We wanted to share her point of view with our members. Here’s the interview:

What makes you want to write?

It’s a compulsion. I could say politics or the need to make but, really, its about the transcendental joy of fitting two words together perfectly.

How did you start?

With reading. Reading Zola or Balzac at 18 and thinking what a wonderful thing to be able to touch someone with a phrase, over a hundred years later. How extraordinary a connection it is between reader and writer.

In terms of your career, what aspect do you like least?

This. Being asked to do slightly baffling things that chew up time, falling behind, feeling guilty, missing deadlines, letting people down because of the avalanche of admin, which was never my strong suite anyway.

Example: I get an email saying.

My wife has cancer and we are raising money. Please find a dog, put a hat on the dog, think of a name, take a photo, send the photo to this address. Now fill out the form. Question 1 on the form: what is your name?

What has been the highlight?

Among them: A woman who read Garnethill while on a locked ward and got out and went travelling. everywhere she went she left a copy of Garnethill. A lot of people who couldn’t wait for a reading because they had to get back on the minibus for psychiatric hospital but we all got to say hello and shake hands. Just meeting readers in unexpected places and feeling that real connection, as if we could have been great friends in other circumstances, if we lived nearer each other.

When do you find is the best time to write?

Early in the morning, when there’s no admin or phone calls

Where do you write?

Where ever I am. I write on a lap top and can work on planes, buses, in an office ( i have a lovely office with a fire and comfy chair), I can even work in the kitchen when my family are there.

What goals do you set yourself?

Try to do four pages a day

Who proofreads your work (professional/ family/friend)?

No one. I’m too easily swayed so I just write it, finish and send it to the editor.

What do you think about getting an agent?

I’m paid 20x as much as I would ever have thought to ask for. 10% of that is no loss to me. They’re great and they know the business, know who is publishing what, which editors like which sorts of books. I think they’re essential.

Which publisher are you with and why?

Orion. Best crime list in Britain

For our members, what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

The capacity to finish. Don’t compare your first draft with other peoples’ fifth book which has been proof read and edited and re written a hundred times.

If you could give them any advice, what would it be?

Write. This is the mistake many people make. Being a writer means writing, not going for coffee, or hanging about doing research or asking people how they write or performing or practicing acceptance speeches. Write. Write until you’re good at it. 1% talent 99% graft. Lots of people have 1%. Very few can work hard because it’s a thankless three year exploration of your own limitations.

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?

Don’t know.

Are there any questions we didn’t ask in this interview that you would’ve liked to answer?

No

If you would like to find out more about Denise then you can, via her website:

http://www.denisemina.co.uk

We would like to thank Denise for this interview and wish her all the best in her endeavours.

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 Interview with Michael Malone

Our next interview is with, Michael Malone:

Michael-01

Michael Malone was born and brought up in the heart of Burns’ country, just a stone’s throw from the great man’s cottage in Ayr. Well, a stone thrown by a catapult, maybe.

He is a former president of Ayr Writers’ Club, a well known face at the S.A.W. conference weekend where he spent 6 years as Public Relations Officer and is currently a committee member of the Society of Authors in Scotland.

A former winner of the Dorothy Dunbar Poetry prize, he has published over 150 poems in literary magazines throughout the UK, including New Writing Scotland, Poetry Scotland and Markings. Along with Sheila Templeton, Rowena M Love he is part of Dakar Press Poets: a highly successful group of poets who have performed their work at over 60 festivals and poetry events throughout Scotland.

His début crime novel, the best-selling Blood Tears won the Pitlochry Prize (judge: Alex Gray) in 2003 and was published by Five Leaves Publishing in June 2012. Claim to fame? Spending a couple of days in July ’12 at the top of Amazon best-seller list among the 50 Shades books. The second in the series, A Taste for Malice will be available from June 2013.

His work as a life coach led to his most recent release, in October 2012- an inspirational non-fiction work about successful Scots – Carnegie’s Call (Argyll Publishing).

He is a regular reviewer for the hugely popular crime fiction website www.crimesquad.com and he is in demand as a lecturer and workshop leader to creative writing groups throughout the country.

Proving that he is fully immersed in the world of books, he is the Regional Account Manager (Scotland & North England) for Faber Factory Plus: promoting the literary output of 20 publishers to wholesalers and bookshops the length and breadth of the country.

We met Michael recently, answering questions at Weegie Wednesday. He made us laugh and smile due to his positive but realistic views on the writing career and we couldn’t wait to share his experience with  our members. Here’s his interview:

What makes you want to write?

You know, I’ve been doing it for so many years I’ve forgotten. Something you do over and over again, becomes a habit, doesn’t it? And like any habits, it is difficult to shift once it gets hold of you.

How did you start?

Reading was my gateway drug, if you like. I think like most writers, I found writing through reading and I remember as a child holding a book and thinking that I would like to produce one of my own when I was a grown-up. Sadly, it took me a long time to grow up and I was in my thirties before I buckled down. And you can blame a boring job. A colleague and I used to swap book recommendations and one day, during a boring meeting at work, we both came out the writing closet, if you like, and admitted to a long-held desire to write a novel.

So we decided to write one together. The arrangement was that he would write the first chapter and I would write the next and so on. We did this for four chapters each when he approached me to say that he would prefer to do this on his own and I could have my four chapters back. I was quite happy with this and went on to complete a novel. He, strangely, never wrote another word.

And the dam opened. And the words flowed.

In terms of your career, what aspect do you like least?

Speak to any writer and they’ll tell they would prefer to have more sales. That, and for me, not having more time to write.

What has been the highlight?

It would have to be the day when you hold a new minted book in your hand, with your name on the cover. A close second would be hearing appreciation from readers.

When do you find is the best time to write?

I’ve rarely had the luxury of free time to write, so when I am in the throes of a book I have got used to writing just whenever I have a spare slice of time. So, any time I have to write is the best time to write.

Where do you write?

I have a converted loft that I converted into an office. Which I rarely use. I tend to work at my dining table. A friend also offers some space at her cottage in Aberdeenshire and when I have a (rare) spare weekend I go up there and get stuck in.

What goals do you set yourself?

You know I used to lecture other writers about this very thing and have gotten totally out of the habit. Goals I used to set myself would be along the lines of word count per week. Or a number of poems being sent out to magazines/competitions per week.

The word count per week thing is something I need to get back to. A novel is such an exercise in dedication that it needs to be broken down into manageable chunks.

Who proofreads your work (professional/ family/friend)?

My publishers. But I do have a couple of “first readers” that I show the book to before I send it off to the publishers. I find it very difficult to be objective about my own work and think everything I write, when I first write it, is crap. Having said that, my first readers don’t smother me in praise, but they look out for the moments when I’ve been too easy on myself – you know those moments when you don’t own up to the flaws and think “och, that’ll do”? And it’s only when I have some distance and when I look at the piece through their eyes that I can see where it has its merits.

What do you think about getting an agent?

It can be a big help, but it can be done without them. This time next year I will have four books in print with three different publishers and all of this achieved without an agent. However, the right agent could get you a bigger deal, a bigger advance, foreign rights and might be in a better position to get you film and TV rights.

Which publisher are you with and why?

Five Leaves Publishing for the crime novels, Argyll Publishing for the Scottish success stories book and Saraband for a work of “faction” – a novel based on a true story of an innocent young man given 25 years hard labour in Devil’s Island – that comes out next year.

Why? Because they said yes, basically.

For our members, what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

Persistence. There’s no question that persistence – or as Disraeli put it, “a constancy of purpose” can make the difference between having a “what if” career or achieving your writing goals. A published writer is simply an amateur who kept going.

If you could give them any advice, what would it be?

Persist.
And learn your trade.
And learn how to accept feedback.
And put in the work.

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?

Sorry, don’t know how to answer this. I don’t know too much about you guys. But if you don’t already, set up plenty of learning activities for your members. Workshops run by good facilitators who know what they are talking about, giving pointers on various aspects of writing. Join the Scottish Association of Writers as a group. The annual conference is a great chance to network with other writers, have your work commented on my pros and immerse yourself in the world of writing for a weekend.

Are there any questions we didn’t ask in this interview that you would’ve liked to answer?

No.

Anything to add/ or explain further?

No.

If you would like to know more about Michael, you can check out his blog here:
http://mickmal1.blogspot.com

We would like to thank Michael for this interview and wish him all the best in his endeavours.

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Interview with Raymond Soltysek

Our next interview is with, Raymond Soltysek.

 Raymond Soltysek pic

Raymond Soltysek, is a Saltire-nominated prose writer and a BAFTA-winning screenwriter. In addition, he’s a Robert Louis Stevenson award and Scottish Arts Council bursary winner.

Raymond lectures in teacher education at Strathclyde Uni and his materials and courses support creative writing in schools nationally.

We first met Raymond around four years ago and can tell you first hand that his feedback and experience is priceless. So much so, we just had to share them with you. Here’s his interview:

What makes you want to write?

Ego. Pure and simple. Other people say “It’s just something I have to do” or “It’s a calling” or “I want to entertain others”. Some might even be a bit more honest and say they want to make money out of it. But for many of them – and for me – I think, honestly, it’s about the ego boost we get from acceptance. I want to see my writing in print, see my name underneath a title, have people say “Oh, I read…”. Even if they hate it, so what? That sounds flippant, and it is, but it’s also true: I think a little bit of posterity is what we’re all really looking for in a life of writing.

How did you start?

Well, I started at school – before school if you count the Gerry Anderson puppet stories I wrote when I was four – as most others did, but switched off during my twenties as I got caught up in a career and relationship. In my early thirties, things changed in all sorts of ways, and I found returning to writing seemed to offer me some means of catharsis. It’s a cliché, but I started writing then as a way of working out problems I had. Luckily, after about two stories, I realised that was just stupid navel-gazing, and I began extending myself into alleyways that were much more interesting and productive.

In terms of your career, what aspect do you like least?

I don’t really have a writing career as such: I’ve always worked in education and that pays the bills. I suppose, though, I kind of find it difficult the way that writing depends so much on networking. You need to be known to get noticed, you need to do the rounds of the readings and the conferences and the writers’ groups before you can even get on the slush pile. And, always having been a bit of a lone wolf, I probably find that quite difficult.

I have been concerned for a long time about the dominance of university creative writing courses: I think that’s the way many writers get started nowadays. I have no problem with that if they are good writers – and the majority are – but I’m also concerned that if there’s one avenue into writing that dominates, it will have an exclusionary effect, and we’ll end up with a whole load of people who write in a similar fashion and have similar beliefs about it. I don’t like the idea that I have to do a university course to progress my career, but I’m beginning to see that may have to.

What has been the highlight?

Undoubtedly, the film of my first screenplay, an adaptation of my short story “The Practicality of Magnolia”, doing so well. The whole process of working with a brilliant film crew and a wonderful cast – including Sheila Hancock – and a night at the Scottish BAFTAS where I had a nomination in the screenplay category and the film won in the Best TV Drama category and the Music category (which, of course, I can take no credit for) was a tremendous experience. I loved it. I was recently asked at a schools’ writing conference in Aberdeen what I was most proud of and why: I told them that any piece that gets you free drink and the opportunity to hob nob with the likes of Brian Cox (the actor, not the floppy haired physicist) and lets you roll home drunk calling yourself a BAFTA winner is definitely something to be proud of.

When do you find is the best time to write?

When I am miles away from home, the internet and the TV, preferably in a foreign country where I don’t speak the language. I’m not an effective planner of my time, and am far, far too easily distracted.

Where do you write?

See above. Bulgaria and France work for me…

What goals do you set yourself?

Working with a writers’ group is always helpful, because you want to get something in for the next meeting to see what people think about it and try to impress them. I do really well by setting myself rigorous targets when I’m on sabbatical: thirty thousand words in a month isn’t a problem if I’m in the zone. However, those zones only ever happen once every three years or so!

Who proofreads your work (professional/ family/friend)?

Writers’ groups. Always the best.

What do you think about getting an agent?

If you can, do. However, they should have a real commitment to you and your work, not just have you languishing on the books just in case you make them some money in the future off of your own hard work promoting yourself. The one who comes to you is always the best…

Which publisher are you with and why?

I was with 11:9, the imprint of Neil Wilson Publishing that brought out a range of new literature in the early noughties. They were very good with us, paying reasonable advances and promoting us well. However the project couldn’t sustain itself and the imprint went belly up.

For our members, what do you think is the most important quality to possess?

The ability to distance yourself from your writing. It is not the end of the world if someone thinks what you write isn’t very good. It’s not personal if someone says they don’t like your story or poem. It’s not a rejection of your whole existence if someone isn’t convinced by something your write that is highly personal. Use those reactions to make your work better. And perhaps don’t write so personally next time.

If you could give them any advice, what would it be?

Read, read, read your work aloud. The only way to know if it’s beautiful is to hear if it’s beautiful. And if it’s not, work on it some more because you shouldn’t settle for anything less than beautiful. Lots of people think get to their final full stop and think their work is done: there’s so much of my work I wish I could revise but can’t because it’s out in the public domain. Never, ever think a piece is finished: it only leaves home.

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?

Try to get people involved. Encourage reports of book launches, reviews. Have reading events. Simply get out there and build connections to as wide a range of people as possible without sacrificing the basic premise that writing should be hard work if you want it to be good. Encourage real criticism of the potentially painful but always constructive kind.

Are there any questions we didn’t ask in this interview that you would’ve liked to answer?

No!

If you would like to know more about Raymond or keep up with his work. You can find him here:

http://www.soltysek.com/

We would like to thank Raymond for this interview and wish him all the best for the future.

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Interview with Elizabeth Reeder

Our next interview comes from the lovely, Elizabeth Reeder.

Elizabeth Reeder author of Ramshackle

Elizabeth (E.K.) Reeder, is originally from Chicago.  After travelling and teaching in various different places and communities, she has settled here in Scotland. Elizabeth teaches and is the co-director of, the Creative Writing Programme at the University of Glasgow.

You may wonder, with such a busy job, when Elizabeth finds the time to write but somehow she manages to have a long list of projects. They include: Fiction, lyrical essays, cross-over pieces and radio. Her favourite part of writing for radio is the abridgements.

Elizabeth has also had two novels published in the same year.

Ramshackle, was published by Freight Books and it was short-listed for the Saltire First Book of the Year Award 2012. It has also just been long-listed for the Author’s Club Best First Book Award.

Her other novel, Fremont was published by Kohl Publishing. It was their debut novel and it has received excellent reviews.

We are sure that Elizabeth’s experience will be an asset to each and every one of her students and hopefully for you too. Here’s her interview:

What makes you want to write?

Those fantastic moments where the writing is everything and the world falls away and it’s the language and the characters and I’m not sure how to describe it, the writing and that world is simply everything in these moments. It’s like any great passion, when it’s at its best, time is suspended and that activity, that thing, takes over everything.

How did you start?

Slowly. As a reader, definitely, loving books, being transported by them and the possibilities they opened up. I idolized writers, the act of writing. Didn’t think I had the skills. I dabbled in bad poetry (as many of us do), and then got better, added fiction and it gained momentum. My first story, Crosswords, was short-listed for the Macallan / Scotland on Sunday Short Story Prize. I do wish I’d liked whisky back then!

In terms of your career, what aspect do you like least?

Not having enough time. I love teaching as it reminds me, daily, of why I write. However, teaching requires a lot of reading of students’ work (and acting as mentor and editor) and, increasingly, administration and, in particular, when in the middle of a first draft of novel, I am not having enough head-space to inhabit these worlds I’m writing. Shorter pieces are okay, but for novels, I need more solitude and more time not engaging with other writers’ work. I plan my holiday time very very carefully.

What has been the highlight?

Well, daily, it’s the writing and the feeling I when I lose track of time and place and am simply in the world of the writing. And then, publication, each and every time. A great reading/event can’t be beaten and, although I get nervous, I love to perform and be on stage. But basically those moments when you’re yourself and your writing is out there making its mark (however small) and you can be proud of what you’ve done.

When do you find is the best time to write?

Morning. Definitely. And then snatches of writing that happen almost unexpectedly and these can happen any time I sit down and actually write.

Where do you write?

Loads of places. At my kitchen table, in a cafe with a strong long black.

What goals do you set yourself?

Small and large. I don’t do daily word counts, I more often do time goals, this many hours, this many days this week etc. I mark them in my diary. The bigger goals are for the novels, and having a sense of where I want them to be placed, the reception I’m aiming for, and what the next big project will be.

Who proofreads your work (professional/ family / friend)?

I really do the first drafts myself. Then it’s my partner, who is an excellent reader, but not professional and doesn’t like metaphors that much (read my writing and you’ll see why this adds humour to the feedback). I also have a small workshop of peers who are brilliant writers and reader, but mostly with  them I value the food and the chat. And then, clearly, before publication, your publisher and editors.

What do you think about getting an agent?

Have a sense of your career and figure out what you need. Agents think bigger and can really navigate the press. They can also, get you bigger deals, and are more apt at getting overseas deals – all of which is great. This also means the usually have a more commercial eye.

Which publishers are you with and why?

My novels were published by Freight Books and Kohl Publishing – who are both brilliant, new, indie presses and have produced my novels beautifully and supported them and me in the world with verve, attention and care. I highly recommend both.

For our members, What do you think is the most important quality to possess?

Commitment to your writing (persistence, dedication and humour about failures)

If you could give them any advice, what would it be?

Become a fantastic reader, of others and of your own work. Be generous with your praise to yourself and others; and equally with your own work. Be rigorous and dedicated to ensure that your writing is working on all levels: with language, story, character, structure and drive and all other elements of craft. Laugh at errors (and then fix them!) and have a humour, both in your writing and out there in that tough, moody, subjective world. Be yourself, practice public speaking, and find a way to become good at networking (as yourself).

Regarding the group, what would you like to see us do in the future?

More of the same!

Are there any questions we didn’t ask in this interview that you would’ve liked to answer?

This has been a great questionnaire.

 Anything to add or etc…

I look forward to seeing the books of your members on the shelves (virtual or concrete!)

If you would like to hear more from Elizabeth herself, then you can follow her on twitter:

@EKReeder

Or via her website:

ekreeder.com

We would like to thank Elizabeth for this great interview and wish her all the best in the future.

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