Today we welcome UK author and RNA member Gwen Kirkwood into the Minxy Spotlight.
Tell our readers a little bit about yourself.
I have always loved reading and with a vivid imagination writing seemed a natural progression, although I did not write for publication until my children were at secondary school in the 1980’s. I entered a competition in Woman’s Weekly. I didn’t win but I received welcome encouragement from their fiction editor. My books all have a Scottish farming background because I have been connected with farming all my life. I had a six year gap from writing when my husband died suddenly. I am supposedly retired now that my son runs the farm and my daughter runs her own farm ice cream parlour. You can read more details on my website at www.gwenkirkwood.co.uk
What number book is this? First? 100th? 200th? (Nora only!)
My twenty second novel will be published in May 2013.
Everyone who writes knows it's not easy - what methods do you use to keep at it on days when it would be so much easier to go shoe shopping?
I try to stop writing at a point when it will be easier to carry on the story. Sometimes this may be only a few words jotted down to jog my memory and keep the thread going for the next chapter or passage. If this does not work or if I have had a break for a few days I go back and read the last couple of chapters or so and then I am usually eager to keep on writing.
What is your top promo tip for other authors?
I am not good at marketing or promoting my own books. I am trying to accept invitations to other blogs, like this today. I keep appointments to talk to groups, even though they may not have much interest in writing. Usually some of them are keen readers. I have had a website for some time and more recently a blog of my own. I have also formatted ten of my early books and uploaded them to Amazon and Smashwords but I should try harder with promotion.
How does writing fit into your day? Or does your day fit in around your writing?
When I first began writing family and farm life was hectic and had to come first so writing was fitted in when I could snatch time and peace. That did not stop my brain working on the plot or characters though. When ironing, or other tasks I dislike, my mind created the bad characters and I always had a notebook and pencil handy. Often passages would come to me when I lay in bed ready to sleep. These days I am supposed to be retired and I have more time but not as much energy as I would like so I write in the mornings, and perhaps read through or add extras in the late afternoon.
Do you write every day?
I try to write a little everyday even if it is only a couple of paragraphs, or even a sentence, but there is usually at least one day in the week when life intervenes. I would not want it to be any other way because we all need friends and family and other interests or both life and writing could become dull.
Is there a book you haven't written yet that you're dying to? What genre?
I would quite like to write a book for children 6 to 9 year olds. I did try once before I began writing for adults. It had animals which talked and at the time Walker Books considered that old fashioned. As with everything fashions change. Consider all the popular talking animal programs on television now.
Keeping fit: Do you have an exercise regime to counterbalance all those hours sitting at a computer?
I don’t have a fitness programme but I am careful not to sit too long at a stretch as I have two chipped vertebrae and once suffered badly from RSI. I moved my office upstairs so I have to run up and down. I enjoy gardening and that helps keep me fit in summer (see my blog www.gwenkirkwood.blogspot.com)
I used to walk a lot and ought to do more. On the principle that every little helps I park the car in one place and walk to all the shops, rather than moving it from one end of town to the other (ours is a small town!). My grandchildren live near and also keep me active.
In what way is being a published writer different to how you thought it would be?
It has taken me a long time to feel that I am a writer and I really believed that all I had to do was let my imagination run riot and write. In reality there are so many restrictions or demands. Some publishers will only take certain genres, or they may have set lengths, or other demands and deadlines. Most writers need an agent but that means less direct communication with the publisher. I do understand that publishing is a commercial business and I believe it is more difficult than it used to be, but it is also worse from a writer’s point of view when there are fewer publishers. On the other hand times are changing yet again with digital books and self- publishing. Whatever route we take we are expected to market our products. I had not bargained for that when I began writing and it is the aspect I dislike most.
Could you be friends with any of your heroines?
Yes, at least I should hope so since I created them. One of my favourites is Sarah in the Fairlyden series. We see her through all the stages of life from a child in book1 to a grandparent in book 4. Although she is not the main heroine in all of them we see her as a young woman falling in love in book 2, and later dealing with the frustrations of an absent, unsettled husband and the temptations which follow. She is kind and wise, but with human frailties and she has great strength of character.
Rosemary Palmer-Farr loves farming and animals and has spent much of her childhood at Bengairney Farm with her dearest friends, the Carafords. Now, as a young woman, she wants to prove herself a good business woman by running the gardens of her father's dwindling estate. Her mother, Catherine, is not impressed and wants her to make a good marriage. She looks down on the Carafords because they are only tenant farmers.
When childhood friendship deepens into love Catherine takes action and extracts a promise from Sam Caraford, calculated to keep them apart, even if it costs their happiness. She throws Rosemary into the company of eligible young gentlemen but Rosemary despises their attitudes and yearns for Sam's love.
Another Home-Another Love by Gwen Kirkwood is published in hard back by Robert Hale Ltd (ISBN 978-0-7090-9630-6). It is available from Amazon, libraries and local book shops price £19.99. It will be available as an E-reader by the end of November 2012