My Life as a writer
When did you first realise you wanted to write for a living?
I first realised I wanted to write for a living when I was bullied out of yet another job for reasons I couldn’t fathom. I couldn’t fathom them because I was yet undiagnosed as autistic. And I was reprimanded for the wealth of writing I was emailing home to myself – they did not believe anyone could write the volumes I could during breaks. That’s when I knew, no matter what I did, I was always going to be writing between times and I was an idiot if I didn’t hone that into a skill I could earn from.
Which writer, past or present, do you most admire?
I admire many of the usual suspects: Angela Carter, Neil Gaiman, Alan Moore, Lovecraft, Poppy Z. Brite, Terry Pratchett, but I most admire Jim Butcher. Never has a series gripped me so firmly, and taken my imagination so widely, than Butcher’s The Dresden Files. To be capable of weaving a narrative across 20+ novels is something I can only aspire to.
What was your first published (or performed) credit as a writer?
My first published work was a poem I submitted as a teenager under a pseudonym about self harm titled Pain. It was published in a coffee book I sadly did not purchase, so sure was I that I could be published again! I have since had a 60-minute pilot episode of my series, The Anatomy of Witchcraft, tableread by the Witsherface Group.
Which piece of writing work are you most proud of?
I am most proud of a YA novel I wrote and continue to edit and try to publish today. This was the first piece of writing I dedicated myself to, and the piece I think of most when attending workshops and seminars for achieving the goals expressed in those places. It is called Life’s a Bitch… And Then You Become a Vampire, as homage to the niche fanfiction and fiction-posting sites I frequented as a teen.
Who or what inspires you to write?
I am always inspired to write during or after I’ve watched a new TV series, a new film, a new play, or read a new book. I mean ‘new’ as in ‘new to me’, and either want to take the general story in a different direction, hear a phrase I think can make an exciting narrative, or I spot a side-character whose world fascinates me so much I build one a lot like it to start a new story out of.
How do you switch off when you’re not writing?
I switch off from writing by playing the piano. I’m a 30-year old amateur after leaving lessons at 10, but when I rediscovered sheet music, and songs I liked that had sheet music, I was re-inspired to keep trying. So I keep trying.
Which one piece of advice would you give to aspiring writers?
The best piece of advice I could give to any writer is start with a job; a boring, 9-5 that keeps you secure and also gives you the space to read and write and watch and attend seminars. There are only competitions to be applied for and though chances are slim, there is still the chance for it to be your opportunity; you just have to be able to join in. And it’s harder to do when you haven’t got the time, or a variety of work to choose from. It’s harder too to make contacts and build a network if you can’t afford the tickets or get the shift off to make them.
Why are you a member of WGGB?
I am a member of the WGGB because they give support in a way other organisations do not. I’ve been to uni to learn and build a network, I’ve joined societies and writers’ groups. But none of them are ready and willing to provide support with a competition or an application like the WGGB, which is the lifeblood of any writer: support.
Aside from being a compulsive writer, I hated high-school, I struggled through college, I took what feels like hundreds of jobs, got bullied out of most, or couldn’t cope with the rest, I went back to uni, stayed all the way to a PhD and I’m still struggling to find out how to get anything I’ve written out of my laptop and officially into paper.