Welcome to my interview with writer, Gill Wyatt. Enjoy.
Hi Gill, can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Gill Wyatt, based in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire in the United Kingdom.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing on and off for about 30 years. Only becoming more serious about it in the last 5 or 6 years.
What first got you interested in writing?
It was a form of catharsis, helped me exorcise a few demons, metaphorically speaking. I’ve kept a diary for much longer than that.
Do you attend a writing group?
I attend a writing group called the Cotswold Scribblers, which is affiliated to ACW – the Association of Christian Writers. It meets quarterly. I also attend a Poetry Workshop every month which is run by the Poetry Society of Cheltenham.
What genre(s) do you write?
My books are literary fiction and all have a theme of ‘healing the heart.’
Are there any genres that you don’t enjoy writing?
No, I think I would never say ‘never.’ I think there are certain genres in which I would struggle though; Science Fiction, for example, where I don’t have enough knowledge to know where to begin ... but I enjoy reading it.
What types of things do you write?
I write novels, poetry and have occasionally written short stories. I’m considering writing articles too.
Have you ever had anything published?
I have e-published my first novel, Chasing the Wind. It is available for UK readers at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chasing-Wind-Aurora-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B008QE1GI2/ and for US readers at http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Wind-Aurora-Trilogy-ebook/dp/B008QE1GI2/I have also recently self-published it as a paperback which is also available on Amazon.co.uk at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Chasing-Wind-Gill-Wyatt/dp/0957423705/And for US readers at http://www.amazon.com/Chasing-Wind-Gill-Wyatt/dp/0957423705/
Chasing the Wind is part of the Aurora Trilogy. I have now self-published and e-published it and will soon be e-publishing the second, without trying agents. I love the feel of an old fashioned book in my hands, but I love the convenience of an e-reader. I think there is still room for both
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
Yes. In the early days I sent my first novel to agents, one even expressed some interest but I’ve had many rejections too.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
I like a story to have a plot, but I love building the characters most. I particularly love the work of Jodi Picoult and Joanne Harris. I often get inspiration from sentences or phrases that I hear, and I get inspiration in the quiet of the middle of the night.
How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities?
I work very hard on names. I try to make them mean something, although they don’t always. Chasing the Wind is set in the English folk scene at the end of the sixties and I procrastinated for a long while about using the name Bobby, but eventually I concluded that it fitted the era, even if it wasn’t used much today. I start with a basic idea of the personalities, and they just seem to develop personalities of their own. I know a lot more of the back story and have lists of personality traits, even down to their likes and dislikes. Sometimes I’m surprised by the way a character develops.
Do you have a writing routine?
I try to spend long periods of time writing and I’m particularly inspired at night, which can be a bit frustrating but I just have to go with the flow. I have a pen and paper beside my bed because I so often get ideas in the night. Last night I got the idea of a title and subject matter for a new book. If I hadn’t scribbled it down, I might well have forgotten it.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I know what I want to write about before I start and I have a very rough outline of the very basic story, but I don’t always stick to it.
Do you have an editing process?
I edit many times, concentrating on specific things each time; indentations on one, and maybe inconsistencies or punctuation on another. For Chasing the Wind, I paid an editor, but I’m fortunate that I have a daughter who is exceptionally good at English and her boyfriend is an English graduate and they make fantastic critics. I read the entire novel aloud more than once.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
What I enjoy most is developing the characters. What I enjoy least, is the fact that it isn’t a very sociable occupation. I used to be a nurse and I miss the camaraderie. I have now balanced that with voluntary work which means I get contact with people.
Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers as either an observer or performer?
The only time I’ve attempted performance of my work was in Waterstones, for charity, performing poetry, but I’m considering doing it if they have another open mic session at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. The idea is a bit scary, but there’s no point writing a story that nobody ever hears.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
I’ve entered quite a few poetry competitions in Writing Magazine and have been shortlisted a few times.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
It’s very important. As a Christian, I believe that my writing can be healing. I hope that my books will give a voice to the voiceless in our society, by raising issues that are not always addressed in novels.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to writing?
Don’t be afraid to call yourself a writer. My husband kept saying it. It is unbelievable how many people out there think that I’m doing nothing and therefore feel that I can do anything for anybody in all my ‘spare time’. The first time I wrote, ‘Freelance Writer,’ when asked for my occupation on a form was incredibly liberating.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Never give up on your dream and don’t let anyone put you down.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I love the walking, cycling, running and the Gym. I also enjoy knitting, reading and voluntary work.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
Chocolat - I love that book.
What types of things do you read?
I read almost anything. In fact if someone tells me a book is a bit weird, I’ll read it to find out why. I think the only books I’ve never found interest me at all are Vampire books.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotes?
‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.’ It comes from Ecclesiastes in the Bible, and was adapted for the song, ‘Turn, turn, turn,’ by the Byrds.
Do you have a website/blog/twitter/facebook dedicated to your writing?
I have a website called Heartsease at www.heartsease.org.uk It contains poetry, a bi-weekly blog, and information about my books, with links to Amazon.I also have a blog, linked to the site at http://heartsease.org.uk/blog/#!/blog/And a Heartsease, facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Heartseaseorguk/153823296316?ref=ts&fref=ts
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m editing the second book in the trilogy, A Time to Dance, hopefully it will be ready for e-publishing in a couple of months.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
However hard the process, and however little financial reward I get as a writer, there was nothing like the sense of achievement when I finally held my book in my hand.
Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
This is taken from my first novel, Chasing the Wind.
‘You’re chasing the wind,’ Jodie said. She turned aside, staring out of the window, calmer now. ‘Sometimes you can be incredibly stupid for someone so bright.’Anger rose from deep within Bobby. How could she begin to understand? So many thoughts clamoured for his attention that he couldn’t hear anything, but he’d heard her call him stupid; he’d heard that many times before, but never from Jodie.‘It’s easy for you to judge my life. Listen to them.’ He waved his hand in the direction of the door. ‘It’s every night. That’s my fault,’ he said.She interrupted him, angrier than he’d ever seen her before. ‘How can it possibly be your fault?She looked away from him and he greeted rejection as he always had, defensively. ‘How the hell would you know?’ he shouted. He lit a cigarette and inhaled deeply, desperately trying to calm himself.She turned and looked him angrily in the eye, ‘Granddad loves you and you walked away from him. You’re a fool.’Bobby erupted, his face contorted with rage. ‘It’s so bloody easy from where you stand isn’t it?’He picked up the half full coffee mug and flung it full force at the door. Coffee flew across the room and the mug smashed into pieces. Jodie covered her face with her hand to protect herself before turning her head towards him. He faced the window, ashamed. When he finally looked up she placed a hand on his arm but he pulled away. She stepped back as she called his name, ‘Bobby?’He stared at the door where the coffee still dripped onto the pile of broken crockery. In that moment he loathed himself. He physically shook, terrified of his anger, terrified of himself.
© Gill Wyatt
Thank you very much Gill.