Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Interview with Lesley Cookman

Lesley says she started writing almost as soon as she could read, and filled many Woolworth’s exercise books with pony stories until she was old enough to go out with boys. Since she’s been grown up, following a varied career as a model, actress, air stewardess and disc jockey, she’s written short fiction and features for a variety of magazines, achieved an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Wales, taught writing for both Kent Adult Education and the WEA and edited the first Sexy Shorts collection of short stories from Accent Press in aid of the Breast Cancer Campaign. Sounds like you’re a born writer Leslie, so tell us how you sold your first book, and if you had any rejections before getting that exciting call?

My first book was commissioned by How To Books to write a book called Writing a Pantomime, as I was at that time writing lots of these, which were published by a company called Jasper Publishing. Still are. The rights to this How To Book reverted to me and Accent have now published three editions in their Writing series. The first in my Libby Serjeant series was requested and bought when it was only three chapters long.

Where is your favourite place to work?
My incredibly untidy junk room/office in an ugly extension on the side of the house. It has no view, and I face a brick wall anyway! I have enough distractions without looking out the window, at which I am very good!

To plot or not to plot? Are you a planner or do you just dive in? I have the vague idea and then plunge. I frequently don’t know who the murderer is, or the murderee.

Which authors have most influenced your work? And which do you choose to read for pleasure?
I read so many different genres it would be unfair to pick one out, or indeed to name any authors, but my childhood favourites, Pamela Brown, Dodie Smith, Elizabeth Goudge and Monica Edwards, were perhaps were the first to make me pick up a pen.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you?
Keeping going!

How do you develop your characters?
They pop into my head fully formed.

How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing? 
I read a lot and occasionally appear in theatrical productions and go to my chikdren’s gigs whenever possible.

What advice would you give a new writer?
Read, read, read and then read a bit more.

What draws you to your particular genre? Are you a specialist or do you have another identity?
I’ve always read my genre from the age of nine, but I have recently sold two old books which will come out as ebooks under the pen name Rosina Lesley

In what way has the RNA helped you or your career?
I’ve met some of my best friends here.

Are you into social networking, and in what way do you feel it helps your career?
I’ve been given gigs, sold books and gained fans. I wish I could do more, but I was brought up not to be pushy!

Tell us about your latest book, and how you got the idea for it.
My latest book is the eighth in the Libby Sarjeant series, Murder to Music, and I’m currently writing the ninth, Murder at the Manor, which will be published in November, and Murder by Magic, the tenth, is in the embryo stage and is due out next May.

Can you tell us something of your work in progress?
I’ve just read the e-proofs of Running Away, and I’m waiting for those of A Will To Love which will be the second Rosina Lesley book.

For more information on Lesley’s books visit her website:

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


Unknown said...

Great interview, Lesley, and I love the covers Accent Press give your books.

What a pity so many of us were brought up not to be pushy. Every time I mention my book I expect to get my ears boxed. :)

Cara Cooper said...

Loved the interview and that's a really nice photo to go with it.

Lesley Cookman said...

Thanks, guys. That was my lovely launch at the LBF.

Rebecca Leith said...

Lovely interview - and photos of you are always gorgeous, you're so glam.

montyandrosie said...

Great post. Great pic. Great books!!! Always fab to see you, Lesley!