A while back, I posted a Call to Writers, asking my fellow author bloggers to allow me to interview them for guest-spots on my blog. (If you are interested in participating, please contact me.) I asked everyone thirty-five questions — some were basic, and others were multi-part inquiries — and I asked them to answer only what they wanted to or what was applicable. My friend and fellow-blogger, Esther Newton, had some very interesting responses which I’m sure will captivate you, as well. After you read her interview, please be sure to hop on over to her blog and follow her for a regular dose of her humor and wit. And now, heeere’s Esther…
1. Please tell us your name (or pen name) and a little bit about yourself:
My name is Esther Newton. I’ve always kept my real name. I think it’s because I struggled to get that first piece of writing published and so when I finally did, I wanted everyone to know!!
I’ve now been working as a freelance writer for fifteen years, regularly writing articles and short stories for magazines and newspapers such as Freelance Market News, Writers’ Forum, The New Writer, The Guardian, Best of British, The Cat, Woman’s Weekly, The People’s Friend and My Weekly to name a few.
Winner of Writing Magazine, Writers’ News and several other writing competitions and awards, I have also had the privilege of judging writing competitions.
As well as working as a freelance writer, I have branched out into the exciting world of copywriting, providing copy for sales letters, brochures, leaflets, slogans and e-mails.
I love writing but equally, I enjoy helping others, which I achieve in my role as tutor for The Writers Bureau.
2. Please provide the link to your blog (and website, Facebook fan page, Twitter, etc.):
Facebook: Esther Newton Author Page
3. How many books have you written?
Seven books to date.
4. Has any of your work been published yet? If so, please share the link(s) to purchase it:
My book of short stories was published as an e-book earlier this year and the paperback version came out on 15th November: http://www.amazon.com/Siege-Other-Award-Winning-Stories-ebook/dp/B00LCCG9S2
5. If you have been published, did you self-publish or use traditional publishing? Why? If you have not been published yet, what are your plans for the future?
I used a publishing company who specialise in helping authors self-publish. Short story collections don’t tend to sell well so I didn’t even try the traditional route. But a ‘proper’ publisher has shown interest in my children’s series so fingers crossed!
6. How old were you when you started writing? When did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’ve always loved writing ever since I can remember, but I didn’t have much time for it when I started working on an accelerated management training programme at a bank. When I had a bad accident and couldn’t continue my job at the bank, I took up writing with a passion.
7. What would you say motivates you to keep writing?
I have no choice – it’s just part of me.
8. Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you currently reading (or what is the last book you read)?
I love J.K. Rowling’s crime series featuring the loveable private detective, Cormoran Strike.
I’ve just finished reading Gillian Flynn’s Dark Places. It kept me hooked right to the end. Hugely atmospheric and deeply dark. Loved it.
Before that I read the YA novel, The Maze Runner by James Dashner. Very gripping and as always, better than the movie.
9. What is your preferred reading method? (i.e., Kindle, Nook, paperback, hardback, etc.) Why?
Paperback – there’s nothing like the feel of a paperback in your hands or breathing in that fresh, new book smell.
10. Do you write in first or third person, past or present tense, and why?
I prefer a first person viewpoint as it gives you the opportunity of really putting yourself into that person’s shoes and bringing the character to life. I tend to use the past tense more than the present, but the present can work particularly well in giving a story a sense of immediacy.
11. Do you “always read” or do you take breaks between reading books?
I’m always reading something.
12. How many books would you say you read in a year? How many at any one time?
I always only have one book on the go and I won’t start another until that one’s read. I probably read about 40 books a year.
ABOUT YOUR CURRENT BOOK::
13. What is the title of your current work in progress of the most recent manuscript you’ve completed?
Sophie and the Secret Quest Series.
14. What is your novel’s genre? Would you say there is a sub-genre? What makes yours different than other books in the same genre?
The series of six books is for children. The books are different from other books in their genre as they put right a myth that all dragons are fearsome, fire breathing fiends!
15. What inspired the current or most recent story you’ve completed?
Listening to my daughter playing with her toys and how, to her, they are real. I put myself in her shoes and asked the question, ‘what if?’
16. What is your target audience’s age, gender, etc.?
The books are for girls aged 5-7.
17. Do you want to tell us a little bit about your story?
Sophie Berry’s long, boring summer holiday suddenly becomes one of excitement and adventure when she finds a tiny statue of a dragon at the bottom of her garden.
What appears to be a statue turns out to be a real-life dragon from another world. Lilly, the dragon, has come to the human world because her world, Mandoreum, is in danger. Gnarla, Queen of the witches, has tricked everyone and cast an evil spell ridding Mandoreum and its people of their magic and beauty.
Fairy Godmother Grace manages to produce a counter-spell involving the finding and solving of six clues in order to restore Mandoreum and to banish Gnarla forever. The solving of the six clues will also restore Lilly, who is no longer her magnificent self; her scales keep falling off, she has no teeth, her wings are broken, her long tail is now a silly stump of a tail, cotton-wool balls have taken the place of claws and Lilly can no longer breathe fire.
So begins the first of six books in the ‘Sophie’s Secret Quest’ series, telling the story of Sophie and Lilly’s discovery and decoding of the six clues. With the solving of each one, a little part of Mandoreum, its people and Lilly is restored.
ABOUT HOW YOU WRITE::
18. How often do you write?
19. Approximately how many words do you write at each sitting?
I don’t have a specific word limit in mind – I tend to have slots of time, in between marking assignments in my role as a writing tutor, so I’ll try and write as many words as I can in each slot I have.
20. Do you do your own editing or send it to someone else?
I do my own editing. I always set it aside for a few days and then read my work aloud. I find this a brilliant way for highlighting any errors.
21. What is your method of writing? (i.e., Do you write the entire manuscript, then go back and make changes? Do you plan chapters as you go along or write the story then go back and add chapters? Do you re-read as you go along or after you are done with the first draft?)
I tend to write a chapter at a time and then go back over it until I’m happy with that chapter before moving on to the next one. Once the book is complete, I’ll then see how it fits together as a whole and if I need to make any more alterations.
22. Do you have a muse? If so, please elaborate. If not, what inspires you?
I don’t have a muse. Other people’s writing inspires me – famous authors and my students and their creativity inspires me.
23. How long does it take you to write a full manuscript?
I wrote the six books in the children’s series in a matter of months. The editing took the same amount of time.
24. Do you give yourself a word limit for each day or a time limit to finish your novel? If so, please elaborate.
I tend to have a general time limit in mind, but life often gets in the way so I’m often reassessing.
25. How do you come up with your character names and geographic location / business names?
I tend not to think about it too much and to let my mind work at it. Often a name pops into my head when I least expect it – when I’m driving, dusting, walking etc.
26. How long (or how detailed) are the notes you take before you start writing?
I’m a jotter, so I write lots of snippets of information that trigger the idea when I look over my notes.
27. Do you have any “must haves” to help you write? (i.e., a full cup of coffee, a view of the ocean, etc.)
I’d love a view of the ocean, while listening to the waves rolling into shore…but the reality is a little different! I can usually be found in my lounge, a laptop on my lap, which has to fight for position with one or more of my cats!
28. Do you only write during a certain time of day or in a certain location? If so, do you make yourself stop after a certain time?
I write whenever I can squeeze it in – be it early in the morning or late at night. I find it difficult to stop and have to drag myself away.
29. Does your real life ever neglected because of your writing? If so, how do you feel about that?
I try not to let it, but as every writer knows, it’s not easy!
30. What is the quirkiest thing you do or have ever done when writing?
I once wrote a short story in the back of a car in a dingy car park where I could hardly see what I was writing. The story went on to win first prize in a competition!
ABOUT YOUR WORK::
31. If you have written more than one novel, which is your favorite and why?
I loved writing the whole children’s series. I was Sophie as I read the book and it allowed me to look through a child’s eyes again and to enter a magical world.
32. If you could be one of your own characters for a day, who would it be and why?
I’d love to be Lilly the dragon – when she can fly!
33. What is the oddest thing you have ever researched for one of your books?
Colouring books and the average amount of dragons in them!
Thank you, Esther, for allowing me to interview you. I hope everyone else has enjoyed learning about you and your work as much as I have.