Tell us something unexpected about yourself!
I don’t consider myself a writer
How did you get into writing?
I had a story to tell on a topic that has rarely been written about and I realised I could contribute something original and authentic to the writing world. Having only done a small amount of experimenting with writing in the past, I had no idea how to start or whether or not I could actually do it. My short novel took seventeen drafts! So many re-writes, as I learned from my mistakes, and embellishments, moved around, taken out. But eventually it came together. After many submissions, it was accepted by an independent publisher, looking to branch into the novella / short novel category. It was a fantastic feeling, to get that acceptance from the literary world. They published The I.T. Girl in ebook format. It was a great experience, but six months in, we realised we had very different ideas on marketing – I just didn’t see a story about a woman holding her own in the IT world, essentially a story about being the odd-one-out, as a romance – so we decided to go our separate ways. I self-published using its working title, Orla’s Code, and it was eventually nominated for an award – another great feeling.
Where did you get the inspiration for your current book?
Beverly is a story about a woman with a stutter who shuts herself away from the world. When the people she relies on let her down, she has to face her worst fears, and it’s really a story about self-acceptance as much as it is about the nature of friendship. I have a stutter, and so wanted to show what it’s like inside that world. Again, having a story to tell about a topic which isn’t often written about gave me the writing bug.
How long did it take you to write this book?
About two years of weekend writing. But this time it only took me four drafts. Having written Orla’s Code, I planned a lot better, with a sense of knowing where I was going.
Have you got any writing rituals?
I don’t. I find once I start writing, I can’t stop. But I don’t write regularly. When in the editing phase, I used to print out a chapter a week and edit it with a pencil on the way to work. Writers with a full-time job really learn to improvise.
How important is marketing and social media for you?
The most important thing for me is the quality of the book – both inside and out. I want to contribute something worth the reader’s time and money, and I want it to be as polished as a professionally published book. Once you have that product, it would be a shame to leave it sitting on an Amazon shelf. So promoting it to give it the best chance of reaching its audience is really important.
What advice would you have for other writers?
Join a writing group. Get involved in the online community. There’s so much support and advice out there. Set yourself goals. Be as open-minded as possible when receiving feedback.
What are you reading now?
Do Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien
What’s your next step?
In terms of writing, I am promoting Beverly and I am always writing poetry. I would love to publish a book of poems some day. As for another novel, we’ll have to see what life brings.
What are your top 3 books of all time?
What a difficult question. I recently loved The Bees by laline paull. I’ve read The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood twice – give me a decade or so, I’ll read it again. I loved A Star Called Henry by Roddy Doyle. It’s one of those books where the characters stay with you.
Do you read your book reviews?
Of course. And I really appreciate them.
Follow Fiona on Twitter: @fionapearse
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