Many thanks to Francesca Tyer for her fabulous author and book photo pics. Other images created in Book Brush using Pixabay images. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes.
It is great to welcome back Francesca Tyer for Part 2 of her interview. Francesca is part of the Authors Reach stable and is the author of The Firestone, The Seastone, and, shortly to be launched, The Earthstone.
There is so much hard work behind writing any book, yet alone a series, and given most authors spend so much of their time at their desks, it is great to get away from that for a while to have an enjoyable discussion about writing and to spread the news about our latest works.
So welcome back to Chandler’s Ford Today, Francesca. Now to pick up from where we left off last week.
1. I see from your website you will be offering workshops. When will details be available on your website? Can you also share something about what you love about workshops? I relish getting to meet other writers and sharing something of the joy of writing with them (and it is even better when I can spread the word about flash fiction!).
I’ve been running creative writing workshops in schools since 2018. What started out as author visits then became part of my career. In February this year, I launched the Untold Stories Academy which offers creative writing workshops and editorial/mentoring support to writers of all ages and abilities.
Having worked as a freelance editor, tutor and workshop facilitator for several years, the academy felt like the natural next step in my mission to help others start and develop their writing careers. I will be launching the first workshops on the academy website towards the end of the summer.
What I love most about running workshops is being able to help others. Teaching children and adults how to unlock their imaginations and learn to love the writing process is incredibly rewarding.
2. How did you get involved with Authors Reach?
I had already submitted The Firestone to several publishers without any success. Shortly after graduating, I was invited back to my secondary school to deliver a publishing careers talk alongside Richard Hardie whom I had never met. After the session, I asked if he would be willing to read my book. He agreed and a few months later I received a publishing contract. I joined the company in November 2019 as an author and then, a little over a year ago, I also became a co-director.
3. What made you decide to write in the first place? Was writing always something you wanted to do?
I always struggle to answer these questions and yet they’re the most common ones I’m asked! Writing was a part of me from the beginning. From the days when I didn’t know how to write and would fill notebooks with nonsensical scribbles to penning my first poems and stories and then, aged eight, writing my first ‘book’ (a 20 page story with strong similarities to The Famous Five). This was when I decided I wanted to be an author.
Becoming an author was the ultimate dream. I began writing whenever I had the chance. I still have piles of notebooks and folders full of poems, stories, plays, drawings and all manner of novel plans. My parents encouraged a love for reading and that certainly played a part but the drive to write comes from somewhere inside. I always think of a quote from Maya Angelou when the writing urge strikes, a quote which also inspired my Academy name: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
4. What is your favourite kind of book launch?
An in person event – whether that’s in a bookshop or another venue. While online platforms provide access to larger audiences, meeting people in person tends to build better connections.
5. Million dollar question: do you like marketing? I know plenty of authors who do and others who definitely don’t. Which side of the divide do you fall here and why? Can you share three top tips for marketing?
I’m one of those authors who definitely doesn’t like marketing. I enjoy attending signing events and running workshops – in-person marketing if you will – but I find online marketing far too chaotic. The online world is vast and it’s easy to get caught up and lost in it. Social media has it’s place and I do use it for promoting my work and meeting readers and writers. If I could avoid it and replace it with in-person marketing only however, I would.
6. Who are the biggest influences on your writing and why?
Apart from the fantasy authors I revered as a child and the authors I now admire as an adult, I couldn’t say. My passion for writing doesn’t come from an external influence but from somewhere inside me that I can never quite describe. The stories I tell want to be written; I can’t stop them. They keep me awake at night and distract me all day! So I return to those authors I admire. Those who can conjure captivating tales or wield wonderful words are perhaps my greatest inspirations.
7 . What are your thoughts on outlining? I do outline even for my 100 word flash tales though the outline is often a line or two so I know in what direction I’m heading. For a novel, do you outline each chapter or the book as a whole and then decide on the chapter splits later on?
I tend to create a rough outline before I start writing. After the first draft, and every following draft, I write another plan. These become more and more detailed until I have an intensive chapter by chapter breakdown. For my third book, this ‘masterplan’ was ten A4 pages of tightly typed text. I think for a series, detailed planning helps with continuity. I don’t think I’ll need to do the same for the standalone I’m writing. In fact, I’ve written the first third without a plan at all and I’m enjoying the process of letting the story write itself.
8. What do you think are the three biggest challenges to someone wanting to write a novel?
Getting started. Maintaining motivation. Finishing.
As an editor as well as an author, I see two sides of the writing process. I understand what it’s like to start and finish a novel and I help my clients to do the same. Some struggle to get started and may write a few pages before abandoning them. Some write a first draft but then don’t have the energy to continue. Others finish their manuscripts but don’t know how to polish them up or take them to the next level.
For me, the greatest challenge as a first time author was getting to the end. I knew what I wanted to write so starting was the easy part. I love every second of the writing process so staying motivated was also straightforward. Finishing the first draft of The Firestone without stopping to critique my work was the hardest part.
9. Can you share three tips on networking?
Do it – networking is key to building a greater audience and meeting like minded individuals.
Prepare – don’t turn up to a networking event unprepared. Take business cards and prepare short book pitches so that when people ask about you and your work, you have something to say.
Listen – people appreciate it when you listen to them. Take note of any advice others offer and connect with people you feel could help you and vice versa.
10. What do you think you’ve learned so far on your writing journey?
I’ve learnt how to write, edit, pitch and promote a novel. I’ve also learnt to understand my writing style and writing processes. I’ve taught myself to ignore that old imposter writer’s block and the little voice that tries to seed self-doubt (most of the time at least). Writing is a journey and one that should be enjoyed.
Many thanks for a fabulous two part interview, Francesca. I love author interviews – giving them and hosting them. Why? Because I always find I learn something useful and no two writer journeys are the same. I find that endlessly fascinating and you never know when something you learn in an interview will come in useful for you. That has happened often for me. After all I read about flash fiction on the CafeLit site. Look where that has led me!
All the very best for your future writing, Francesca. The writing life does demand a certain amount of stamina to cope with rejections, set backs etc, but it is rewarding too. There is the joy of creativity for one thing. There is the joy of publication should that happen. There is the joy of making writer friends. And there are more stories out there – tales we have written. I like that aspect a lot!
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