Hello Eleanor, can you please introduce yourself?
Hello I’m Eleanor Stoneham and I live in South East England, UK.
How long have you been writing?
From as soon as I could write my sister and I used to produce little magazines, with stories, puzzles etc to give to friends and family. In my work I had to write loads of reports for clients and to record my research projects. Now I’m retired I can write what I want again – it’s much more fun!
What first got you interested in writing?
Surrounded by books all my life, I guess it was inevitable I’d want to write them myself some day.
I was the same. I think I've got more books in my house than anything else! Do you attend a writing group?
Yes; the local group of the Association of Christian Writers. We have fun and fellowship, and critique each others’ work. It’s useful and takes me away from the laptop for an evening!
What genre(s) do you write? What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
Non-Fiction – in the spirituality, religion and mind/body/spirit genres. The idea for both books came to me in a flash and I knew I had to go away and write them.
Are there any genres that you don’t enjoy writing? Why?
I don’t think I could write a novel – probably because of my scientific and accountancy training to report on facts! But you never know!
What types of things do you write?
Non-fiction as I’ve said, but I have dabbled in poetry strictly for myself – none of this has yet seen the light of day. Perhaps I’ll experiment putting some of it on my blog. And I write articles that promote my work or about issues of the day that I feel strongly about.
Have you ever had anything published?
My first two books have been published. I learnt lots about publishing and writing by going to writers’ conferences, where I was told that any decent book will find a publisher eventually and the average number of rejections to get there is 12. My first book was accepted on the 13th attempt! Getting a publisher for book number 2 was much easier.
Why Religions Work: God’s Place in the World Today (2012) Circle Books http://www.amazon.com/Why-Religions-Work-Place-World/dp/1780994966/And Healing This Wounded Earth: With Compassion, Spirit and the Power of Hope (2011) O Books http://www.amazon.com/Healing-This-Wounded-Earth-Compassion/dp/1846944457/And quite a few articles have been published over the last few years in various types of magazine, always for free!
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?
I did consider self-publishing but in the end found a publisher and think that the marketing support is much stronger from a publishing house. It's hard going it alone, I think.
Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
I love e-books and have a Kindle but I also love real books – the feel, the smell…and Kindle cannot yet replace the beauty of well produced books with colourful illustrations.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
The inspiration comes when I’m least expecting it – from what I am reading at the time – from life experiences – from discussions.
Do you have a writing routine?
I was advised early on to make sure I write daily – it’s good practice! I’m probably most creative early morning and late evening. When I have a writing project in full swing I have to go away to concentrate for 2 – 3 weeks in total immersion. There are so many distractions at home.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I start with the definite idea and have learnt from my first book to plan what I am going to say very carefully before I begin writing in earnest. My second book was much easier to write for that reason alone.
Do you have an editing process? Do you have someone else read over your work? Do you read your work aloud to yourself in front of the mirror?
I self edit – and perfect everything as far as I possibly can before it is sent anywhere. That can mean rewriting a chapter several times before I’m entirely happy with it. Actually you can never be entirely happy with it – there’s always room for improvement but you have to know when to stop!!I send sample chapters to interested contacts who may then write an endorsement for me and their comments can be very helpful.Good grief no!!
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
The most? The writing process and the satisfaction of seeing it in print. The least? All the PR work, although even that can be fun. Giving talks to groups can be scary but also very satisfying. Someone told me that successful authors spend more time on PR than on the writing. I can believe it.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
No. Except as a child yes I guess I did, and won. I have a beautiful big leather bound dictionary as a prize that I use to this day. As a child I thought it was a very boring prize but now I treasure it.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
Very. My books and articles, however lightly written, have a serious message that I want the world to read.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to writing?
Write every day and keep editing.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Don’t give up the day job. Very few writers make a serious living out of it.
Oh but wouldn't that be lovely?! Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I walk, cycle, and love my garden and my allotment where I grow all my own vegetables. I’ve done a couple of long distance charity cycle rides but the training doesn’t get any easier!! I read avidly.
And I’m very busy as an altar girl and verger in my local Anglican church.
What types of things do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
Mainly non-fiction around my research for my books. But I do take light reading on holiday, for train and plane journeys, and enjoy a good whodunit.
Do you have a website/blog/twitter/facebook dedicated to your writing?
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m trying to write a book about the idea of depression as a spiritual journey, with a biographical approach. It’s actually a thinly disguised autobiography and I’m not sure if I can pull it off yet.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
I put excerpts on my website and blogs.
Thank you very much Eleanor.