I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Gillian Hesketh. Enjoy.
Hello Gillian, can you please introduce yourself?
Hello Rebeccah, I am Gillian Hesketh and I am based in Lancashire, close to the historic market town of Poulton-le-Fylde - and ten minutes from the lively seaside resort, Blackpool.
How long have you been writing?
I feel as though I’ve always been writing - as if I’ve been learning a trade in my spare time - but I’ve been writing more seriously over the past eight years.
What first got you interested in writing?
I’ve always jotted bits and pieces down, snippets of poetry, motivating quotations but I got hooked during my degrees. One of my major studies was on triggering memory to access emotion through past experience. Using the photograph as a starting point, I began writing and haven’t stopped since.
Were you a prolific reader as many writers seem to be?
Right from the start, I found reading unbelievably difficult, often having to read something two or three times - which can become quite exhausting. Over the years, I’ve come to realise I must have some dyslexic traits.
So, has the writing been easier for you?
I love writing and as writer’s know, it’s often a long process. I’ve always had a love of language, the shapes, the effect, even from a very young age.
Do you attend a writing group?
I have enjoyed a variety of writing groups, writerly meetings, literature festivals all of which never cease to inspire me. I am a member of SCBWI - Society of British Children’s Writers & Illustrators - a wonderful organisation and a local Mastermind Writers Group formed by a colleague and friend of mine, Kim Chamberlain.
What genre(s)/types of things do you write?
In my filing cabinet are the makings of three contemporary novels for the female market, a draw full with poetry and a hoard of children’s stories all waiting to burst out one day.
What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
Socially, I am a teller of stories, usually about funny or strange situations I’ve found myself in. I’m also fascinated by body language [93% of language is body language] and the balance of power and control in relationships - so I suppose all these come together in my women’s fiction.
What are you working on at the moment?
My interactive resources is the most enjoyable writing task I have ever undertaken so far - and the reason why my fiction is in the filing cabinet. Designing, writing and developing creative colourful, themed resources to help children, young people and adults identify, express and communicate any difficulties they may be experiencing is a very rewarding task. Bringing broader information to the forefront sooner may enable earlier support to aid positive choices and improve well-being. I have just completed Happy Days range of interactive activities, ‘My Personal Memory Jogger’, Memory Boxes, Sorting Boxes and Memory Prompts for people with dementia, their families, friends and carers - in residential care or at home. More information and shop at: www.happydayspublishing.co.uk
Have you ever had anything published?
Yes, I’ve had poetry and short stories published, really as a showcase. I do have an inexpensive short story on Amazon: ‘Summer Indulgence’-50% of proceeds raised will go to a nominated charity, the rest towards promoting Happy Days Interactive Resources to aid well-being: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Summer-Indulgence-ebook/dp/B005LA1CKG
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
Yes, I have submitted various pieces of writing to agents and publishers. Yes I’ve definitely had rejection slips, some thumbed through scripts which felt promising and positive feedback too - but what I’m writing at the moment is much more fulfilling.
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?
I would definitely consider self-publishing and e-publishing - but self-publishing also involves self-editing and massive marketing strategies. I’m considering e-publication of ‘My Memory Jogger’ and in the process of developing an ipad app for people living with dementia their family, friends and carers.
Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
I love the idea that we can have our cake and eat it - paper-backs and/or digital technology to access all genres through an assortment of media. I am a champion of the paper-back though I have to admit, I love my kindle, mostly because it’s lightweight.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
People, places, situations, contemporary social and emotional issues, colour, metaphor, language change ... My list is endless. I am a prolific note-maker.
What is your writing routine? Do you write daily or just when you feel like it? Is there a certain time of day where you are at your most creative?
I’m not sure I should admit to my current writing routine as it takes up all day and most of the night. Trying to get to bed before midnight is a constant battle. I should take my own advice: take a break, meet friends, chill out ...
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 edit, then my little helper edits. Then I edit again, then my little helper edits again. We aim for perfection, but there’s always a sneaky comma in the wrong place or threee letters where there should only be two.
What is your writing environment like?
So long as I have battery life in my laptop, luckily, I can now write in any place at any time with or without noise, music and interruption.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It’s paramount for me to be able to share my resources to bring about early intervention and early support for children, young people and families. As we’ll be living longer, we’ll need need activity and interaction to help us maintain skills, movement and a sense of purpose, so it’s important for me to share the activities I’ve developed with carers and care coordinators.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to writing?
Focus. Don’t give up.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Network. Immerse yourself in writing groups, courses or literary festivals. Find like-minded people. Set up a writing support group. Entering competitions helps you to edit your work to a format. Arrange to have something published in a local newspaper or magazine to try out your own voice - then nurture it. Focus. Don’t give up.
Would you rather write a masterpiece and only sell a handful of copies, or produce a badly written book and sell millions?
I would of course, like to sell my resources to millions and globally at the highest standard I can achieve. Who wouldn’t? I have many titles to work on and far too much spare energy. So maybe, when I’ve published every interactive resource I can think of, I’ll return to my novels and the children’s stories which happen to include: Ramper Pot Adventures, Scrambled Egg Pet and Stick People Have Feelings Too. [Just in case an agent or publisher happens to be reading this]
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I am lucky as I live close to a riverside path and a few minutes from the beach. I have little time for hobbies at the moment but I always make time to be part of a community choir. The only outdoor activity I am capable of is snow skiing.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
I have random and completely unrelated answers for this: Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding, Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, Noddy, in fact anything Enid Blyton, all of the Roald Dahl collection, Catch 22, Joseph Heller ... another list.
Do you judge books by their covers? How important is cover art to you as a reader and a writer?
I think the cover is one of the most important things to hook your reader. If the cover isn’t right for your particular audience, your potential customer will pass by it.
Would you like to see any of your work on the big screen?
Wow - who wouldn’t? I’ve written a play, ‘There’s No Fat in Champagne’ and would love to see that performed on stage - or maybe on the big screen.
Where can we find you on the internet?
I am Gillian Hesketh. Please contact me for information on resources, products, submissions, visits:
You can find me at and contact details at: website: www.happydayspublishing.co.uk
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
As a break-away from my interactive resources, here’s a fragment from one of my novels, ‘Consequences’~ Prologue: Unruffled by the silhouettes of vacated city life, the woman glanced blankly in both directions and crossed the road. A half open gate lured her into a grassy quadrant, its miniature gardens neatly divided by cobble-stoned paths and surrounded by gold-tipped railings. She felt safe there. An oasis in a concrete desert. The woman perched on the edge of a bench, its wood velvety from the damp night air. `To my darling husband ~ My best friend`, its brass plaque read. Nearby, a tree trunk, horizontal, smoothly planed and polished, glinted in the dim light, reminding her of some giant jewel in a children’s fantasy story. `Cherish Our Brave Daughter, Charlie 1978 ~ 1989` the dedication read. Eleven years old. She considered the garden, her eyes sweeping from one nurtured corner to the next and back again. In a perfect harmony, nature had softened the disciplined lines into a leafy haven, its mystic charm trying with all its might to console the woman. Maybe some people did care. She stifled the thought. Unravelling the photograph and examining the creased up image, a swelling was forming uncomfortably in her throat. The woman’s lips parted as if to speak and slowly closed again and as if responding to the urgency of a mobile phone, she rummaged in her pocket, pulled out a folded handkerchief embroidered with her initial and dabbed repeatedly at her nose. What would her words be?Gillian Hesketh © 2011
Thank you very much Gillian.