Wednesday 6 March 2013

Writer - Sue Anderson

I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Sue Anderson.  Enjoy.

Sue Anderson

Hello Sue, can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Sue Anderson and I'm based in Monmouth                                                                                                        
How long have you been writing?
About twenty years.
What first got you interested in writing?
Always wanted to write, but never got down to it seriously until we moved to Monmouth.
Do you attend a writing group?
Monmouth Writers.
Why do you attend a writing group?
It’s enjoyable, gives me the stimulus to write, and some feedback on my work.

What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
Friendship and support.
What genre(s) do you write?  What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
Speculative fiction, often for young people.   I’ve always enjoyed reading fantasy and science fiction. I worked with young people for many years and love reading children’s books.
Are there any genres that you don’t enjoy writing?  Why?
Not good at crime writing or thrillers. Tight plots are difficult for me.
What types of things do you write?
Short stories and poetry.  I’ve also written several novels.
Have you ever had anything published? 
I have had quite a few short stories and poems published, mostly in competition anthologies.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?  Have you received any rejections?
Yes, many times. Lots of rejections, some acceptances.
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?  
Definitely, in both media.  I’ve had a short anthology printed locally and I’m currently preparing a book for Kindle publishing.

Do you have a writing routine?
I try to write every day, but fail dismally. My most creative time is whenever I have some peace and quiet.

Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
Very often it’s just a vague idea or a first paragraph. The story tends to tell me, rather than the other way round.
Do you have an editing process? 
I always re-read my work, usually after I’ve finished writing, and then again after a break. I often read it aloud, to get a better feel for it. I do get feedback from fellow writers, but also send things to editors as competition entries or submissions, hoping if not for success, at least some helpful comments.

Who/what influences your writing?  Where do you get your inspiration from?
Other people’s writing. The world around me. Memories.  Anything really.
How do you come up with your characters’ names and personalities?
Don’t really know. They develop as I write.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
Never give up.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Read a lot. Write as much as possible. Try to develop a clear view of your own work and don’t be afraid to make changes.

How important is it for you to share your writing?
I started out by writing for myself, but then I found it seemed pointless unless somebody was reading it.

Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers?
Quite a few times. Monmouth writers do them occasionally and I’m in a poetry cooperative that organises them.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions?  Have you ever won?
I’ve been placed in quite a few competitions and won some of them.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I love it when a story (or sometimes a poem) takes over and carries you away. Or when a piece that wasn’t right suddenly starts to work because of a change I’ve made.
I hate it when something I thought was good turns out to go nowhere, or when there’s something wrong at the end of a long piece that requires me to go back to the beginning and re-edit. My least favourite bit is probably sending the stuff out and trying to get editors to notice me.

Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
Reading, watching films. Making altered books.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
Good question. Not sure. ‘Lord of the Rings’, maybe. Or ‘Kit’s Wilderness,’ by David Almond.
What types of things do you read?  Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
Fantasy, etc., and children’s stories. Also poetry. Anything that takes me to another place or into another person’s head.
Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotes?
‘We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams’ Arthur O’Shaughnessy (I think)
‘I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.’ Kurt Vonnegut.
Would you be able to provide a short  piece of your work?  
She closed her eyes and the sounds died away. They were sharp and sparkling, essence of early sunshine. She opened her eyes and the song returned, drenching her brain. Morning.
‘Noises from the world around came in - harsh lights which flashed in her head, sharp metal blades which pierced her mind. Then something which was a rattle of crockery but looked like a lot of green glass pebbles arrived from further down the corridor. The tea trolley.
Loran heard the soft hum of electricity in the wall behind her. She saw a pink halo of perfume round the flowers on the locker. She could feel the stiff, scratchy sheets on her legs, but her fingertips sensed the softer fabric of the bed-curtains.
The nurse had told her she could get up today. Her leg was mending nicely and the bandage round her head had come off yesterday.  ‘You can take a shower if you like Loran.’ That should be interesting. The whole hospital tasted of metal and the meals had a worrying habit of singing to her: probably microwaved. She was trying to ignore it, but it had affected her appetite. Everybody put it down to delayed shock.
She’d just decided to get up when the doctor came. His smile tasted of hot sugar. ‘Good morning Laura, and how are we this morning?’ Luckily, he didn’t wait for an answer. How do you talk to a stick of candyfloss? And besides, her name was the wrong colour.
© Sue Anderson 
This is taken from the beginning of  ‘Rainbow Music,’ a novel  for 8-12 year-olds which I wrote some years ago. It never got published, but it did win a bursary from the Arts Council of Wales. I live in hope! 
Thank you very much Sue.

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