Further to my interview with Jacci Gooding last week which focused on her adventures in self publishing, this post now looks at Jacci’s writing life.
She also reveals what she looks for in a good story as she prepares to launch her own short story collection, A Collection of Unsettling Short Stories. The anthology will be available as an ebook, as a paperback and in audio formats.
I know you’ve recently carried out readings of your work at a Gloucestershire festival. Were you nervous?
No, not at all, probably because I’m a hopeless show-off. And also because everyone there was so welcoming, helpful and supportive. And I’m glad to say it went well.
It is true that the days of a writer always staying behind their desk are long gone. Good news for the more extroverted amongst us I suspect!
Who are your favourite writers and why?
I agree totally on Agatha Christie. I love her Murder on the Orient Express. Put in link to Poirot episode.
What is your favourite form of writing?
I don’t have an out and out favourite, as I tend to dip into all sorts, but I do like historical non-fiction, historical fiction, modern thrillers
What aspect of writing do you like most?
Finishing that final edit. If, in fact, you ever do…
Equally what do you dislike most?
Running out of ideas.
What is the one thing about the publishing world you would change if you could?
Now there’s a question! I suppose having a million more agents and agent assistants to read your work and get back to you within a month. But hey, I’m impatient! – epublishing was clearly made for people like me!
In my case, I’d choose better access for newcomers and Jacci’s suggestion of a million more agents would help!
In the 400th anniversary year of Shakespeare’s death, and especially since you are a Warwickshire lass!, name your favourite play by the Bard!
Actually, I’m a Hampshire Lass, having been born in Portsmouth! I was heavily influenced by a 1970’s film production of Macbeth – anything with a witch in it has got to be good!
Which writing festivals/workshops have you found the most helpful and why?
Hawksbury Upton, created and run by writer Debbie Young, fantasy writer and self-publisher Ben Galley, and many years ago, The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival. It was there that I realised I really could have a crack at this writing malarky.
What, for you, defines a good read?
Wishing a) that the story wouldn’t end, and b) wondering what happened next for those characters when it does.
For me it’s where I’ve got to find out what happened next. Genre doesn’t matter but if a story has got me to the point I’m putting off doing jobs so I can finish reading, then that definitely is a good read!
What is your biggest writing problem?
Not using enough, or good, English. I feel my lexicon is pretty limited and I try to expand upon it whenever I’m aware I’m sounding stupid. Which can be quite a lot.
A lot of authors hate editing. I enjoy it (as I know whatever I’ve written will inevitably improve as a result!). Do you see editing as a necessary evil or something you enjoy?
I love editing – it gives me such a laugh! I wonder what state I was in when I wrote whatever it is I’m editing. I think you certainly have to have a sense of humour and not be precious about your work.
Make it the best you can, but don’t believe that everyone will agree with you. I also review books for Troubador – and any one else who asks me – it’s a wonderful way of understanding the importance of editing your own work and then getting someone else to do it properly! Don’t be shy about asking other writers to beta-read for you. Their help is priceless.
What writing achievement are you most proud of and why?
A soppy poem I wrote years ago and which was recently published in an anthology – it got a lot of favourable comments.
Of course the massive change in writing over the last decade has been the advance of technology, which has made print on demand (a) possible and (b) affordable. The other big impact has been on how authors market themselves and their work and it is crucial these days to have at least some sort of online presence, whether it be a website or a blog (and usually both). Equally though you can and do get to meet more writers and writing groups/advice online, all of which can be invaluable.
Thank you, Jacci, once again for your time with this interview. When we met at Winchester Writers’ Festival, neither of us had any idea this interview would happen. And I guess that is the other crucial thing for writers now – be open to the possibilities out there.
Read interviews with Chandler’s Ford writer Allison Symes: Part 1 and Part 2.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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