You may have noticed that there’s a giveaway going on this month – how exciting! And I’m super excited too because not only do I get to give away a great book bundle to one lucky winner, I have also been able to chat with a couple of the authors and find out how the ‘pros’ do it.
I had a great conversation with Kerry and it was amazing to learn about her novel The Black Country. Who knew an MA in Creative Writing could be so productive?!
Q1. How long have you been writing? And what was the first thing you can remember writing?
I can remember writing – actually picking up a pen and ‘writing’ what I called ‘details’ (squiggles, that is to say) pre-school. I used to fill notebooks with these ‘details’ because I loved the feel of the pen on the page. I remember being desperate to learn to actually handwrite, but as for my first proper story, it was when I was seven years of age. It was a short story called ‘The Dark Night’ based on a car ride home I’d had with my dad.
Q2. Did you always want to be a writer?
I did. However, I was told by a careers officer at school that I’d taken ‘all the wrong subjects’ to be a writer…not that I hold a grudge or anything, but it did delay the process a little!
Q3. How did you feel when you were writing the black country?
I wrote ‘The Black Country’ as part of my MA in Creative Writing at MMU. It was excellent, because I was working to a tight deadline, and getting feedback as I went from my student friends. Since it is a novel set in my home town, I remember writing it as a time when I was completely absorbed in the place and plot.
Q4. Where did you get the idea for this book?
Well, I think it was a story that evolved outwards from a short story I’d written about a confession a man was making. I’m not much of a planner, and tend to let writing evolve as it goes, so I knew the very basic outline and knew it would radiate from the short story I’d written, but that was about it. I was lucky as I was writing it as part of my MA in Creative writing, so was privileged to be able to workshop parts of it with my co-students and lecturer. As for difficulties, well, no, not really. I had a deadline imposed by the university, which was a real help, and I think I felt justified in locking myself away and writing because it was part of my MA. The main pleasure for me was experimenting with the narrative voice, and allowing the narrative to become darker than I’d first imagined it would!
Q5. how long did it take to write?
Q6. Do you have a special place where you got to write?
I have several places. I’m lucky that I have a granny flat attached to my home (which has no internet connection – so I go there when I want absolutely no interruptions!) and I have an attic room in the house (where I’m more accessible!) I also don’t mind writing in the local coffee shops (great place to eavesdrop on snippets of conversation!)
Q7. Do you write at a specific time of the day or night?
No, not particularly. I like writing at night. I am a bit of a night owl. I’m absolutely not an early morning writer!
Q8. Can you tell me a little about your publishing journey and how you came to be with Salt?
I was lucky, through studying my MA, to meet Nicholas Royle, who is an editor for them. He had read my original manuscript (which I had entitled ‘Viewfinder’) and had liked it. Through him, I submitted it to Salt, and, fortunately, they liked it enough to publish it. When I see that written down, it doesn’t look very interesting, but I think that is the way of publishing – that nothing happens for ages, then something fortuitous happens and the ball starts rolling.
The trick, I think, is to keep the momentum going. What has happened for me is different to what happens for others. I was fortunate, as a result of Salt publishing it, to have an excellent review of The Black Country from The Independent on Sunday, and this has created great interest from all over the place! So, if we’re talking about a ‘journey’ I think it’s definitely one with stops at ‘tenacity’, ‘good luck’, ‘patience’, ‘coincidence’ and, of course ‘decent writing’.
Q9. When you began writing, did you ever think you’d get to where you are now?
I’ve written since I was a child, but always let practicalities get in the way of focusing on writing as a career. I didn’t imagine The Black Country would be published, to be honest – I mean I hoped something would happen with it, but I didn’t bank on it – and thought I’d probably just continue writing in the way I always had. I do take a very pragmatic view, though, and (actually I was talking at the Manchester Writing School writing event last week and said this there) I look at writing as a job of work now, whereas before, it was an interest I had. (This is why I reply to emails so quickly!) I do feel like I’m still learning a lot about the publishing industry, and that makes it very exciting
Wow Kerry, thanks so much for sharing. It’s so inspiring to hear how you’ve gone from writing to publishing. I’ve completed my Degree in Creative Writing and am hoping in some future years to do an MA to strengthen my skills, but in the meantime I’m still writing away!
If you’re interested in purchasing Kelly’s book, then you can do so by clicking here.
If you haven’t entered my giveaway yet, then head on over there now and get your entry in before the 23rd December. The winner will be emailed on the 24th and will get four amazing books, courtesy of Salt.
P.S. Don’t go anywhere, I have another interview lined up for one of our other giveaway authors – but who will it be? See you soon…