Friday, October 21, 2011

Interview with Dee Williams

It is a delight to introduce Dee Williams as she is a great friend of mine. She was born and bred in Rotherhithe, south-east London, where her father worked as a stevedore in Surrey Docks. Having left school at 14 to become a hairdresser’s apprentice, she claims her father accused her of not being able to spell. But here she is, a bestselling writer. So tell us Dee, how you sold your first book, and if you had any rejections before getting that exciting call?

I have been very lucky. I have never had any rejections. I sent my very first M/S to Headline and after a couple of rejigs it was accepted.

Where is your favourite place to work?
My study, it overlooks my lovely garden. When we first moved here after returning from Spain we had an extension added so it was purpose built.

What is the hardest part of the writing process for you? 
The middle. I'm full of enthusiasm at the beginning as I know where the story’s going and how I want it to end, but sometimes I feel the middle lacks a bit of get up and go, so I throw another problem at my heroine or bring in another character. This must all tie up with the story and all be resolved properly by the end.

How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing?
Reading and gardening. Gardening is great for just going over your story in your mind. It is also helps to keep you fit and get a bit of exercise and it’s cheaper than going to the gym.

What advice would you give a new writer? 
Stick at it. Never leave your work at the end of a chapter. It’s best to leave it when something interesting is about to happen and you can’t wait to get back to it.

What do you think an editor is looking for in a good novel?
A different, thought provoking well-written story. What draws you to your particular genre? Headline only like me to write about the years between 1900 and 1960. This is a wonderful era for writers as there were two World Wars and a depression, so there’s a wealth of stories to draw on. As I lived through part of World War Two, I can use some of my own experiences like in my latest book LIGHTS OUT TILL DAWN, which is about children being evacuated from London. I too was evacuated, although I wasn't as old as Hazel.

Is there a particular period of history that you enjoy writing about?
I love writing about the 1920’s for its fashion and hardship.

Do you enjoy research, and how do you set about it?
I enjoy research very much. I phone people who might help. Go to the library. I’ve been to Tower Hamlet’s and Southwark research library to go through old local newspapers. Be wary of the Internet which can be really great and helpful, but it can be misleading sometimes.

Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, how do you cope with it?
Not really. Perhaps when I’m trying to find an historical fact and rather than hold me up for too long I put a row of XXXs and move on. 

Tell us about your latest book, and how you got the idea for it.
LIGHTS OUT TILL DAWN comes out in paperback in October. It’s about a brother and sister who get evacuated and the things that happen to them. It’s something I know about first hand. Can you tell us something of your work in progress? I’ve gone back to 1924. The fashions and lifestyle of some of the young things of the day were very interesting, and then the depression came which is rather topical at the moment.

You can find out more about Dee Williams by visiting 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:


Deborah Carr (Debs) said...

I love Dee's books and thoroughly enjoyed her talk at the RNA Conference in Greenwich.

Thanks for the interesting interview.

Liz Fielding said...

Lovely to hear all about you Dee, and how you work.

carol rivers said...

Great interview Dee. I love all your books, my fav being Maggie's market.
Carol Rivers

Anna Jacobs said...

It's always interesting to hear how other novelists approach their work. Thanks for the 'chat', Dee.