Hello Gaynor, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Gaynor Cobb and I am based in Kent ( New Romney).
How long have you been writing for?
I have been writing for around for over 20 years.
What first got you interested in writing?
I started writing as part of my work as a teacher, writing material for use in the classroom and plays for a drama group I ran at the school where I worked in Tunbridge Wells. Part of my job was to write a whole school play for Christmas. This was usually written in August.
Do you attend a writing group?
I have attended a local writer's group and found it very enjoyable. I am not involved at the moment, but I am secretary of the local History Group in New Romney. I did find that when I went to the writing group, I spent a lot of time on stories for the group rather than on my own work. I also teach English and find that marking and planning etc takes up a lot of time.
What genres do you write?
I have written creative teaching resources for RE/ Literacy/ Citizenship and also a children's adventure story which was based around the first Easter. My work contains quite a bit of poetry and I also like to write plays for performance in schools. I am interested in historical and religious fiction in particular.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
I do not enjoy writing anything autobiographical or anecdotal!
What types of things do you write?
I write short stories, poetry, educational resources and plays as well as novels. I have written song lyrics for plays but would love to find someone who could write the music for them. I also write meditations and prayers for church.
Have you ever had anything published?
I have had two teaching books published: Teaching Christian Citizenship ( Kevin Mayhew publisher) and Eyewitness Assemblies ( BRF publisher). I have also had a children's adventure story self published by Authorhouse -The Sign Of the Fish. BRF had planned to publish the story but decided that a religious children's story might not be easy to market. The story is aimed at children 10years and above.
Have you ever contacted agents/publishers? Have you received rejections?
I have not contacted agents although I may do so in future. I did try to get an alternative publisher for “Sign of the Fish” when BRF changed their mind, in fact their commissioning editor was very supportive and suggested a contact but it did not work out.
Would you ever self-publish/e-publish? Are you interested in e-books, or do you prefer the old fashioned, paper made books?
I think self publishing can work ( it certainly has for some people) but it is expensive, especially if the book is marketed successfully. I think you have to know the possibilities and have a clear plan. I am interested in e-books. The Sign of the Fish is available on Kindle, which I was pleased about. This is an aspect of marketing for the future that cannot be ignored and a way of reaching a wider audience. Paper books are still important and it is good to share them with others. My church has a monthly book sale where we raise funds by selling our second hand books. We have an enjoyable Saturday morning and can discuss the books over a coffee!
Who what inspires you?
I am inspired by historical/ spiritual and religious issues in particular.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
My characters names need to fit the period of the story. Their personalities grow as I describe their thoughts and feelings, although I know what they will be doing before I begin to write.
Do you have a writing routine?
I really don't write as often as I should, although I always hope that in the future I will have more time and be more focused. I actually write best when I am on a train. I think this is because I can't wander off and do something else ( like cleaning the house!) I think I would have written a great deal if I could just travel around the country on trains.
Do you start out with an idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I have note books that I can jot ideas down and try to have a plan for the story.
When I wrote Eyewitness Assemblies, I worked from a plan agreed with the editor. We met in London and drew up an outline. It was a really easy book to write because of the plan. Even though I was working full time, I felt that the book wrote itself!
Do you have an editing process?
I always read my work through after it has been printed out because it is very different reading it on the computer. My husband often proof reads for me and it is useful to have another opinion and someone to pick up typing errors.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I really enjoy creating something new. I think that writing is even more enjoyable than reading a book because you are creating the action and people yourself. Characters can seem so real, you almost feel you know them.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
I entered a short story competition at the local writer's group. It was judged by Pamela Oldfield who had written a large number of historical novels. I won the competition and Pamela made some very kind comments about my work.
How important is it for you to share your work?
I enjoy writing but I think every writer wants to share their work. Writing seems unfinished if no-one reads it, a bit like baking a cake which remains uneaten.
And it is virtually impossible to leave a cake uneaten (well it is for me anyway!). What's the best piece of writing advice you've been given?
I think advice about planning has proved invaluable because it makes everything so much easier.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
I think passing on advice can depend on the age of the writer. I teach English and I know that my experience as a writer has helped me enormously with my teaching. I advise young writers to read and re-draft carefully and to tell their story gradually, leading the reader through the action and feelings of the characters.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I am involved with my local church, St. Nicholas in New Romney and in the local History Society. I am a member of the Art Fund because I love visiting art galleries and museums. I am a Liverpool FC supporter and go to matches whenever I can.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
I would love to have written something like The Lord of the Rings Trilogy or Harry Potter because they deal with the struggle between good and evil and the ultimate sacrifice to save others.
What types of things do you like to read?
I have recently read Simon Sebag Montefiore's excellent book on Jerusalem which was very thought provoking and informative. In the past, I have read a lot of excellent literature, including Tolstoy, Sartre, Hemmingway , Henry James and Scott Fitzgerald. I also enjoy detective novels but really don't know if I could write one!
Do you have any favourite quotations?
Deepak Chopra in his book “Life after Death” 2006 quoted form the Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore:“The night kissed the fading day with a whisper“I am death, your mother,From me you will get new birth”
Where can we find you on the internet?
I have a website : www.gaynorcobb.co.uk and a developing Facebook page which is in the early stages!
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I am working on a book of short stories for adults. I started the book as a joint writing project with someone else ( we were to write half the book each)but have ended up working on all of it. It is near completion and I have enjoyed writing it. The stories are fictional but with a historical/spiritual twist.
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
At present, I am writing online teaching resources for Teachit. I have written resources in the past for "Career Paths Online" in Literacy with a Citizenship link. I use resources in my teaching and find it useful to write them as well.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your writing?
This is the beginning of a short story from the collection.
Gasping, Peter’s breathing laboured and he felt his eyes, drugged and heavy, closing against the fading light of the room. They’ve given up on me, he thought and wondered if he’d given up on himself after all. He’d been fighting, determined to survive, every hour a victory: but why? He gasped again, knowing he was losing the battle. Why was life so dear to him when he couldn’t think of anything to live for? His work perhaps? Even that had gone; the pain was too much. It was all too difficult, even breathing, just staying alive was a Herculean task.
So, this was where it ended; this hospital room; little of comfort. There were cards, curled and dusty, no messages of hope. What could they say, now they knew he was dying? Certainly not “ Get Well”. He was glad he couldn’t see their faces now, the forlorn eyes: comfortless. He’d kept his sense of humour; just;. cynical certainly. He would have laughed out loud( if he had been able) had he seen the sombre black figure passing by by the door, pausing, hand hovering over the handle and then turning away with a shake of the head.
No, you’re not going to save my soul. I’m not changing my mind, through some misplaced fear. This is it: the end. Peace at last. But not your peace. My peace; drifting into nothingness. Like putting out the lights and closing the door on life. All over now, no more pain. As you would say, alleluia to that. His chest tightened and the struggle increased with each laboured breath. No more strength to fight, he thought. No-one here. Why wait for them to watch him die.?
© Gaynor Cobb
Thank you very much Gaynor.