Welcome to Lynne Shelby, another of the talented contenders for this year's Joan Hessayon Award and graduate of the RNA New Writers' Scheme. Thank you for answering our questions, Lynne.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing fiction. As a child, I wrote short stories, and as a teenager, I began to write longer pieces. I first submitted a manuscript, an adventure story, to a publisher when I was fourteen – they didn’t publish it, but an editor sent me a very kind letter advising me to keep on with my writing, as they thought I had talent. I continued writing in various genres over the years, but my stories always had a romance between the hero and heroine. About six years ago, I realized that what I really wanted to write was romantic fiction. ‘French Kissing,’ which is a contemporary romance, is my first published piece. I’m so glad I followed that editor’s long ago advice.
How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member of the NWS for three years, joining in 2013, and submitting a manuscript each year. I submitted the manuscript of ‘French Kissing’ once, and the manuscript of another contemporary romance twice. The other story, I completely re-wrote after receiving its first reader’s report, so that it had a different structure and fewer characters.
What came first, agent or publisher?
It was the publisher. ‘French Kissing’ is published by Accent Press. I don’t have an agent.
How did you find your publisher?
Not long after ‘French Kissing’ had been through the NWS, I spotted that Accent Press and Woman magazine were running a writing competition for unpublished authors of women’s contemporary fiction, with a prize of a publishing contract with Accent Press. My reader’s report had been very encouraging, so I sent off ‘French Kissing’ as my entry – and told myself not to think about it. A few months later, I received a call from Accent Press to tell me that I’d won the competition – and my novel was going to be published. I’ll never forget that amazing moment.
Do you have a contract for one book or more?
For ‘French Kissing’ I had a contract for the one book. I’m delighted to have just recently signed a contract for three more books, a series of contemporary romances.
When was your book published?
‘French Kissing’ was published on 20th August 2015. To celebrate, I went with a group of family and friends to Paris, where the book is partly set. At midnight, as the 19th became the 20th of August, we were standing in one of the locations from the book, in sight of the Eiffel Tower, which was wonderful.
Tell us something about your book
Anna, and her French penfriend, Alexandre, have been exchanging letters for fifteen years, but met only once as children. When Paris-based Alex, now a photographer, comes to work in London, Anna fails to recognise him. The geeky boy she remembers has become an extremely attractive man. Anna’s female friends are soon swooning over Alex’s Gallic charm, and .Anna’s boyfriend Nick is increasingly jealous of their friendship. Then Alex has to return to Paris to oversee the hanging of his photographs in an exhibition, and invites Anna to accompany him so that he can show her the city he adores …
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the second book in the series I’m writing, which is set in the world of showbusiness, West End theatre, and film. I’m very much enjoying writing about an actress heroine.
What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Keep writing – every day if you can – and never give up your dream.
Thank you, Lynne, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.
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