Thursday, 4 February 2010

This Girl Is Doing It For Herself


One of the downfalls of being an aspiring author and blogger is that you constantly read interviews with other writers, but no one ever, ever, ever asks you to do one! And we at Strictly are just as guilty of this. Regardless of talent or experience, we have only ever invited published writers to answer our Quickfire Questions. I don’t know why – gifted yet unpublished authors have provided us with great guest blog posts.

So, you know what? Today I am going to interview myself. It’s very exciting for me, and I am going to relish it as it may be the one and only time I get asked! Yes, it’s rather self-indulgent, but I reckon I deserve it after all these years of sweat and tears.

So please, published, but especially unpublished writers out there – if you comment on this post, do choose one question and answer it for yourself; I would love to see some other responses.


Three famous authors, dead or alive, you would invite to dinner.
Enid Blyton, Stephanie Meyer, Sophie Kinsella

Email or phone?
Email – far less nerve-wracking.

Top three dream agents?
Anyone who likes my work will do – that’s how it seems sometimes. But, on a good day, when I’m feeling choosy? Ooh, difficult – so many lovely (in my experience), highly qualified agents out there. If pushed, Darley Anderson, Broo Doherty or the Ampersand Agency.

And publisher?
The Little Black Dress imprint. They sum up what my writing is about – fun, entertaining (I hope) and my novels always come in at under 80,000 words.

Favourite desktop snack?
Chocolate, of course! Although in a moment of madness, I recently agreed, with my family, to give it up (watch this space). So, instead, a glass of Soave and huge bowl of cheesy nibbles.

Favourite writing outfit?
Anything with an elasticated waist. I know, sexy NOT – but see previous response.

In the face of rejection…
Never give up. Get mad. Get high on caffeine. Get drunk. Just don’t stop writing, rewriting and submitting. Imagine yourself like an onion and each rejection letter is another layer of peel. By the time you're in double numbers, it takes a lot more to get through to, and wound, the core. And I should know, i've just had a full rejected. I'm still standing. Here's to the next one...

My biggest technical tip would be…
Don’t be afraid. With my first novels I followed all sort of rules I thought were necessary to produce quality work. It was that bad at one point, I hardly dare write 'I’d' instead of 'I had'. Loosen up. Follow your gut. And then get some of it professionally edited to see what really matters and what doesn’t.

Hacker or Adder?
Hacker. To my disgust I always lose several thousand words on the edit.

If my favourite hobby wasn’t writing it would be…
Swimming. Although since my despairing hairdresser has forced me to don a cap in the pool, I might give it up. Yes, I’m still just about young enough for vanity to override good sense.

Epitaph?
She was what she was.

33 comments:

Roderic Vincent said...

She was what she was: an inspiration.

Samantha Tonge said...

Aw, thanks for brightening up my day, Rod.

CarolineG said...

Loved that.

Think we should all get this bit:
Never give up. Get mad. Get high on caffeine. Get drunk. Just don’t stop writing, rewriting and submitting.

...tattooed somewhere.

I continue to be envious of hackers though. Where do you find all those WORDS?

Diney said...

Thanks - I'm going through the loss of self esteem due to rejections at the moment and it is difficult to re-focus....you've given me a little positive thinking x

Ellen B said...

Great post, Samantha, thanks :)

As an unpublished writer, I'm going to answer the first question. The three famous writers I'd invite to dinner are Dorothy Parker, Helene Hanff and J. D. Salinger. Although Salinger wouldn't come, so it would end up being a martini-and-wisecrack fest.

Samantha Tonge said...

But Caroline, i think that about Adders - i would love to flesh my scripts out further, once the first draft is finished.

Chin up, Diney - you're a 'proper' writer, if you're collecting rejections. Just remember that one of the few differences between published and unpublished writers is that published writers never give up.

Sounds like fun, Ellen!

Old Kitty said...

Hi

Email or phone?

Email - one can always edit and never be tongue tied!

:-)

Lovely interview.

Take care

x

CarolineG said...

I think adders and choppers always view each other through narrowed eyes of mild envy!

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks, Old Kitty. Good point - i sometimes wish i could edit my telephone conversations afterwards!

You are probably right, Caroline. I guess i'd love to be an adder as my novels always come in right at the lower end of what is acceptable for Women's Fiction.

The Virtual Victorian said...

Really enjoyed that, Sam - ditto Rod's words. You are!

And I'm with you on the swimming - it ruined my hair, so I gave up!

James Bennett said...

In the face of rejection…

If you haven't been rejected, you're not a real writer. The wounds of a 'no' should become the scars of experience. Often a set back is a blessing in disguise, because if you're learning from it, then you're actually always moving forward.

JB

Gillian McDade said...

This made me laugh Sam!

Favourite writing outfit?
This sounds really abnormal, but sometimes I need to get dressed fashionably and put on make-up before I start!!

Helen Black said...

As always, Sam, you nail it.

I was reading an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert yesterday and she said she started writing and subbing at quite a young age, never expecting but always hoping. She had a lot of rejections.
But it never once occurred to her to give up.
HBx

Anna May said...

NEVER give up. I got my first agent/book deal last year at 50 and my mantra after every knock-back was 'I will NOT be denied'.

Good Luck - I loved your interview and like lemon biscuits and tea as my writing snack btw.

Anna May Mangan

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks, everyone!

Glad i'm not the only one worried about her hair over fitness, Sarah, even if the odd one is grey:)

Yeah, i agree, JB - although i think it takes a bit of time, at the beginning, to realize this. I was gutted by the rejection of my first ever novel whereas now i realize it's simply part of the process of improving and maybe one day getting that deal.

That sounds a bit kinky, Gillian! I might try it!

I have considered giving up, Helen, but never seriously and never for long. I just don't think it's possible - even though i flounce around sometimes saying 'never again' after this book:)

Samantha Tonge said...

That's an inspirational comment, Anna, thank you. Lemon biscuits sound nice.

Rachel said...

I'm a hacker. I hacked 10,000 words off my second draft... :/

Samantha Tonge said...

10,000, Rachel! That sure is a lot of editing.

Have to say i love editing and tightening sentences. Might explain why i'm a hacker.

Rachel said...

Clearly I have way too much to say!!!

I think sometimes a first draft is partly you creating your "world". Half of that the reader doesn't need to know.

Samantha Tonge said...

Hmm, i absolutely agree. The annoying thing is, editing never seems to have an end point. I can sub a manuscript i think is well polished and edited, and months later look at it again and groan at what i think should now be taken out. Fresh eyes can be very frustrating.

Phillipa said...

Sam. You can come over to my blog and be interviewed any time!

pinkgecko said...

Favourite desktop snack? Twiglets.

Fab blog post. And I have to agree with your choices for dinner party guests.

Samantha Tonge said...

Phillipa! That would be very exciting!

Thanks, Pinkgecko! Not so sure about the Twiglets, though!

Susie Nott-Bower said...

Sam, may this interview be the first of very many.
Susiex

Eni said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Gina said...

Technical advice? Write what you CAN. We've all read a book and thought 'For heaven's sake, I could have written that.' - so, do it. Put aside that world-changing literary tome you've been battling with and try something fresh and fun.
My epitaph? 'And now for some me time'.

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks, Susie.

Great advice, Gina - and i like your epitaph!

Emma Darwin said...

Great post, Sam. And you're right - we all need to let ourselves walk out into a bit of a spotlight sometimes...

Blossom said...

Great post, Samantha.

I was intrigued by your choice of agents – why those three particularly?

I'm a hacker too. Three quarters of the way through my wip I'd reached the heady heights of 143,000 words. I slashed to 111,000 and really didn't notice the murdered verbiage – I think another poster got it right when she said that in the first draft we're creating a world for ourselves.

After finishing the book the word count had reached 138,000. Today, it's at 123,000 but I haven't finished editing the last few chapters. It's a good thing I really love editing and shaping!

Good luck, Sam.

Samantha Tonge said...

Thanks, Emma and Blossom.

Blossom, i would love to be rep'd by Darley Anderson because, in my opinion, they are at the forefronnt of representing commercial Women's Fiction. The same could be said of Broo Doherty, plus i have exchanged a few emails with her and she is a lovely, generous person. And the Ampersand Agency are a lovely, family-run agency.

Good lord, 143,000 words!!

Blossom said...

Thanks for that Sam.

I agree with you re Darley Anderson – I had a good response at the Winchester Writers' Conference with one of their agents, Ella Andrews, but sadly she has left them now and disappeared.

I would also add Jane Judd to my list. She read an entire ms of mine a long time ago, decided agin it but asked me to send her anything else I wrote. I then didn't write for years but met her at Winchester and again she liked what she saw.

Looking at her client list, I shall certainly add Broo Doherty to my list as well.

Samantha Tonge said...

I've a feeling i might have had a rejection from Jane Judd on my latest, Blossom - *off to plough through my rejection list*:):)

Lydia said...

Good on you! Having your own interview, is, I'm sure good practise for when you sell your next m/s. Never, ever, ever, ever do the g. u. thing! Here's to all of us keeping on keeping on! x
www.lydiajones.co.uk/blog