This time last year I was looking to start something new. I’d just sent off an entry to the Greenbean Novel Fair and I was in the form for writing. Or talking about writing. Or just, learning.
Whenever I see an author interview I am always drawn to it. I like to know how people do things. Like physically how. What is their routine? Was is always like that? Why?
It may be the journalism training. It may be the pure nosiness and curiosity on my part. Or it may be the truth – that I want to do know how others do it so that I can be just like them.
And so How I Write was born and I undertook an author interview series, inviting up and coming, just published or long established writers to talk about how they go about their craft.
The series is now just shy of a year old. 40 writers have told me about how they write. And this week, as I scanned the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards shortlist I realised just how many writers I have gotten to know in that time.
In this post I look back on the How I Write interviews with those who have been shortlisted, to give a reminder of the writers behind the books, the work behind the pages, the spark that set them off in the first place.
As the series is now a year old and I will be spending time on my own writing as well as my expanding family, How I Write interviews will be less sporadic in the coming months – but they will still be popping up now and then. It’s funny that in the past year, as I have worked on the series and sought out writers who interested me, I have manged to complete my own novel. I have been more than inspired. I have learned from the best.
In no particular order here are highlights of some of the interviews featured with the Irish Book Awards authors in How I Write or on LadyNicci blog over the past year. Congratulations to all those shortlisted and best of luck on the night itself.
Shortlisted Best Newcomer Category for Red Dirt, Published by Head of Zeus
“I hadn’t intended to start looking for an agent until I felt the book was nearly done. In the meantime though, I was scouted by Sinead Gleeson for Mulcahy Associates. On meeting with Sallyanne Sweeney in London, I had a good feeling that we’d be compatible, that she felt passionate about the premise of the novel and that she liked my writing style. I admired her intelligence, work ethic and determination and signed with her. So I was very lucky in getting an agent.”
Read the full interview with EM Reapy here.
Shortlisted Children’s Book of the Year, Senior for The Book of Shadows, Published by Mercier Press
“Once I decided to concentrate on writing books, once I realised this was what I really wanted to do and it mattered to me, I knew that I would keep going until I got published. I changed my entire lifestyle for writing and I believed I could get there – it was just a matter of time. Rejection is tough, but it is part of the process. And if you give up, you have zero chance of succeeding. I was prepared to keep going for as long as needed.”
Read the full interview with ER Murray here.
Shortlisted Best Newcomer Category for The Things I Should Have Told You published by Harper Collins
“My manuscript was sticking out from under the bed,” she told us. “Just lying there. And my daughter was starfished in the cot. I looked at my daughter and I thought, you can achieve anything you want in the world, I want you to reach all your goals and your dreams and then I thought – what about my dreams? What sort of example am I setting? So I went into my husband and I told him I needed to speak with him and I sat him down and I told him I was going to publish my book.”
This quote above is taken from the post I wrote on attending Carmel’s pre-launch event in Dublin for book bloggers
Shortlisted Popuar Fiction Book of the Year for The Girl at the Savoy published by Harper Collins
“I’m inspired by the past. I’m naturally drawn to people and events from history – it all fascinates me. My first two novels were set in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras (one inspired by Titanic and the other by the flower sellers of Covent Garden). The Girl From The Savoy took me into the years of the Great War and the 1920s, which were both new periods for me to research. I love that process of discovery. Often it’s an image from the era, or a person or event I read about that first ignites the creative spark, then I let my imagination take over to tell my fictional interpretation of that event or person or era.”
Read the full interview with Hazel Gaynor here.
Catherine Ryan Howard
Shortlisted Crime Fiction Book of the Year for Distress Signals published by Corvus Books
“Well, it was 12.59pm on Monday March 23rd 2015 (yes, I do know to the minute) and I was getting ready to leave for college – I’d a Romanticism lecture at two. The phone rang and I saw the UK country code, so I figured it was my agent, Jane… BUT my novel had only gone out on submission the previous Thursday and she’d told me it could be months before we heard anything, so I thought she was just calling about something else. When I picked up, she said, “We have an offer.” It was a pre-empt which meant we only had until close of business that day to decide whether or not to take it. It’s funny, because in all the years I imagined the moment, I always burst into tears with the relief. But when it actually happened, I was as cool as a cucumber.”
Read the full interview with Catherine Ryan Howard here.
Voting is now open in the awards. The public voting is worth 50% so you can make a difference and see your favourite book take home a prize on the night. Cast your vote here.
It’s a great series, Nicci. Long may it continue.
Thanks a mil! Glad you enjoy it Derbhile. I have to pull back in the coming months due to my own writing and family commitments, but won’t be letting it go entirely! A year is good going though so far!
I also enjoy the series enormously. I too am fascinated by the methods used by different writers. I was curious to know if you entered the Novel fair this year? I entered for the first time and the 300 word synopsis was nearly the death of me! How you find time for all of this, plus raising a family is beyond me! I enjoy your blog and will keep reading.
Thank you so much for your comment! Delighted to hear you enjoy the series – I won’t be retiring it, but do have to pull back as was finding I wasn’t getting the time to do it and I need to make time for my own writing going forward – it’s important 🙂 No, I didn’t enter this year – I do actually have the novel ready, but because I was recently signed by literary agent – we will be going on submission soon ourselves. I’m not sure if agented writers enter – would need to find out about that. Synopses! Gah – the most difficult thing in the world – I really struggled with mine. Very hard to put across the minutiae of a novel in a few words! How is your own writing going? It can be hard at times to handle things but so rewarding. I have a musician husband who gigs a lot – so that gives me a lot of spare time!
How exciting to have spoken to the short listers! A glimpse into the future, if you like.
Here’s hoping! Think it shows how open the Irish writing community is too – everyone has been lovely and very willing to share their stories and what they’ve learned along the way.
That’s great re your agent. That is a much more definite route to go down! I am just over half way through my novel, so I have a lot of work to do between now and end of January which is my own self imposed deadline! I entered the competition to force me to deadlines which is what I need! I wish you all the best with your novel and I look forward to reading it.
Well the novel fair inspired me to write my proper novel and I did the first draft it three months – ok it nearly broke me, but I got it done! Sometimes things just have to fall into place. Are you a member of our aspiring authors Facebook group – I can’t remember – if not can send on the link – might be of interest – we try to support each other 🙂
Hi, I would love the link to your Facebook group. If I was able to join that would be fantastic! Thanks a million! J.
I’ve truly enjoyed this blog. I’ve always been interested by how writer’s approach their craft and how they deal with writer’s block. Thank you for sharing these great interviews.
Wonderful collection of interviews. Some great reads made awards this year. I really enjoyed distress signals so I think ill read that review first!
It was super – I was gripped!
Aw my comment didn’t post. I’ll try and remember all I said, and hopefully you don’t get two comments!
I love author interviews because I love to get to know the person behind the work and see what their inspiration was for the story. I recently read The Things I Should Have Told You and really enjoyed it (though I’ve yet to get my review up!). Great idea to feature the awards shortlist! I really enjoy doing interviews on my blog, but find they don’t always get a lot of attention. Here are mine if you would like to check them out – https://confessionsofabookgeek.com/category/author-spotlight/ I was especially chuffed with interviewing Diane Chamberlain! R xx
Great interviews. Love all these authors.
Thanks Sharon – me too!
It’s really interesting to find out the difference in authors!
Yes all different backgrounds and thought processes 🙂
So interesting – I also like to know the ‘how’ of things and what makes people tick, especially authors I like. I’ve long thought I would like to write a novel but not sure I have the discipline!
Sounds like one day soon somebody will be interviewing you and asking how you did it! Wishing you well with your writing and with the family expansion.x
It’s so interesting to get to know different writers methods etc…. it must be great getting to do this! Books are amazing and when you think someone thought it all up if it’s fiction, they must have an amazing mind.
Jordanne || Thelifeofaglasgowgirl.co.uk
Love, love, love books.. and I am loving this! Booking marking you so I can dip in and out at my leisure. Thank you so much!
What an amazing series! I’ve not heard of it before but I’m off to read now. I love finding out about how people write and these writers all sound incredibly inspiring. x
What a great idea! I particularly love your quote from Carmel Harrington. It’s so true isn’t it? We want to our children to feel they can aspire to be anything and yet the best way we can help them achieve this is by setting the example. Good luck with your book;)