Friday, July 15, 2011

Interview with Sylvia Broady

Sylvia Broady says she has lived in the Beverley area of Yorkshire for the past 20 years, although she hails originally from Hull. She has family in Australia, and travelling is often on her agenda, which, together with her grandchildren, help to keep her young at heart. So tell us Sylvia, how did you get started?
I love writing. I joined a creative writing class and had short stories and a three-part serial broadcast on Radio Humberside, and short stories in anthologies and magazines. I attempted to write for M&B and at that time I didn’t realise the importance of a hand written rejection letter. Next were the near misses with family sagas. Then life got in the way: a demanding full-time job, children, pets, husband, and my parents. When I resurfaced again, I wrote and had published two novellas for D C Thomson’s My Weekly Story Collection. Then from my bottom drawer I resurrected one of my old sagas. After many drafts and rewrites it was accepted for publication. It all sounds very neat, but believe me it wasn’t. I have a fridge magnet on the side of my hard drive which reads: The road to success is always under construction. Along the way, I have had invaluable support from the RNA, from been short-listed for The Romance Prize 2006 and sponsored, by an anonymous member, to attend the 2006 Conference. Both these lovely events gave my self-confidence a much needed lift, coming at a very low and sad time in my life.

To plot or not to plot? How much of a planner are you?
I have to know the theme/s of my WIP before I start writing. I don’t know why, but writing my current novel I am already planning my next novel. So I usually start off with some notes, often just jottings on scraps of paper and in no particular order. I may just have the bare skeleton of a plot, with research, to begin. Then as I write, I make more detailed notes on what is happening in each chapter. I find this useful when revising and it helps to keep me focused.

Where is your favourite place to work?
When the family was at home, I wrote to the blare of the TV and just lost myself in my writing. My son was the first to leave home and I turned his room into a study, but I hated the silence, so back to the blare of the TV. Moving house, I now have a downstairs study and I am surrounded by books. I love it. I am a sky person and I often glance up from my computer to watch the clouds drift by and the changing moods, or if I crane my neck above my monitor, I can see my garden.

Which authors have most influenced your work?
The Bronte Sisters. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall in their life time. Howard Spring, the first book of his I read was “I Met a Lady”. I loved his detailed style of writing. But I also enjoy modern authors, many RNA authors. I belong to a reading circle and we read and discuss a book each month. So my reading and authors are quite diverse. Last month’s author was Jodi Piccoult and next month Kate Mosse. From most, I collect a sprinkling of knowledge, I hope.

How do you promote your books?
This I find is the most difficult part of the writing ethos. I just want to write. But in today’s publishing world, promoting ones writing is most important. For my first hard back book, I organised a book signing at my local WH Smith and contacted my publisher for promotion cards/leaflets. Then, with my daughter’s help, sent out invitations to everyone who I thought would be remotely interested in buying my book. The response was great, more than I dared hope for. At the eleventh hour, I rang the local newspaper. They sent a photography who had hot-footed it from a cold football pitch. Later I rang the press reporter and she interviewed me. The coverage was good, because people, who I hadn’t thought of approaching, had seen my photo and article and wanted to buy my book. I am on facebook and I have a blogsite, both of which, I know, need more attention.
(Picture from Beverley Guardian.)

Do you have interests other than writing?
I enjoy aqua-aerobics, pottering in my garden, reading, and I also listen to audio tapes. When not writing, I am a social person. I belong to various groups, go to the theatre, and enjoy classical music, pop concerts with my daughter, swimming with grandchildren. I travel often to see family in Australia. I am a volunteer member of Beverley Minster Welcome Team where I am privileged to meet some very interesting people from all walks of life and from many countries.

What advice would you give to a new writer?
If you love writing, you will succeed. So always remember that especially when the going gets tough. Joining the RNA gives invaluable support; the meetings and conferences are the chance to come together with other writers and also the opportunity to network, to meet agents and publishers. Local RNA Chapters are incredibly supportive. I belong to the Northern Chapter, a fantastic group of writers, which I believe was the first chapter north of London.

How do you set about your research?
I have shelves of books that I can refer to, and there is the internet. However, if possible, I like to interview people because it touches on the more personal aspect of research, and can add more depth to a character or scene. I am fortunate to be in easy distance of two excellent History/Treasure centres and I often spend whole days researching. This can be “dangerous” so I have to limit myself. I also have an interest in family history and local history. If I can, I walk the area which I am writing about and soak in the atmosphere, even though I am writing of a time long gone. This is where my imagination comes in. I see pictures in my mind of whole scenes. I wish I had a photographic mind set to record my imagines on to my computer.

Tell us about your latest book, and how you got the idea for it?
The idea evolved over a period of time. I have always been fascinated by twins. I am a Gemini so that might account for it. The Yearning Heart is set in 1940s/50s; it is the story of a young girl raped by her brother-in-law, and gives birth to twins. The sin is hers, so she is told. The twins are so cruelly wrenched from her, by her mother, and separated. Her road ahead is pitted and twisted. Finally, after years of yearning and determination, she is reunited with her twins. But not in the way she could have ever imagined.

Can you tell us something of your work in progress?
The idea for this novel came from an unpublished short story I wrote years ago, and a bombing incident in WW2, which my late husband told me about. He was an eye witness. Plus, in the course of researching my family history I discovered German ancestors. Put the three together and hopefully I have an explosion of minds and conflict, enough to sustain a full length novel? Already, the main characters are developing their own lives, though I am not too sure of the ending of the novel yet. That is one of the joys of creating, leaping into the unknown and surprising yourself, and readers.

You can catch up with Sylvia on FaceBook and her blogsite is:

Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at:


Lindsay Townsend said...

Fascinating interview, Sylvia! I wish you much success with THE YEARNING HEART and also with your latest WIP

Unknown said...

Great interview, Sylvia! I'm a sky person too and spend far too long watching clouds. I can't say I know a lot about aqua-aerobics though. :)