Friday, May 25, 2012

Interview with June Davies

It is a pleasure to welcome June Davies to the blog. June tells me she was born in an old house overlooking the sea on the Lancashire coast, and her love of the sea has continued through life. 

I’ve always been within walking distance of the seashore and it finds its way into many of my stories. Sometimes, as in THE DOG STAR, the sea is a powerful force driving for the inhabitants of 19th Century Monks Quay, while in other tales like THE FAMILY BY THE SHORE – which was the first of my backlist to go up on Kindle - it has a gentler presence, yet still influences the characters and their lives.

Would you say you always wanted to be a writer, or did it happen by chance?

I’ve always loved reading and books, and longed to be a writer! I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t scribbling away at some story or other, however the first one I actually recall writing was about a dog called Patch, and I would’ve been about five or six. While still at school, I secretly started submitting stories to magazines – and the avalanche of rejection slips began in earnest! During my later teens, I submitted a story that although not suitable, the editor saw some promise in my writing, encouraged me to send in more stories and set me on my way.

Hard work is essential, but sheer good fortune plays a huge part too. In those early days I mostly wrote stories for children, and had great fun painting and drawing illustrations to accompany them. I’d compile puzzles, quizzes and crosswords for younger readers, too. There were some mysteries, Roaring Twenties’ American gangster yarns and lots of westerns – published under a suitably rugged pen-name! -- articles about Lancashire and Yorkshire history, a little poetry and lots of short stories. I still find short stories terribly difficult to do, longer tales seem much easier to write and I think I’m better at them.

You’ve also had great success with Pocket Novels, tell us about the particular genre you favour. 

My earliest People’s Friend Pocket Novels were contemporary family sagas, and while I continue to write these, I do seem to favour historical romantic suspense. In common with the contemporary tales, however, these too are firmly rooted within families of characters, with other stuff going on alongside a developing romance in times long past.

History has intrigued me since schooldays, and when as an exceedingly mature student I unexpectedly had the opportunity to go to university and read History, it was like being given a passport to travel through time! I enjoyed every moment, not least the research and piecing together fragments of evidence to gain insight into past lives and events. There’s a real magic to it! Who walked or lived in this place? What stories could this candlestick or coin tell? Whether reading or writing, I love slipping back through the centuries and being part of it all for a while! Writers are always asked where they find their ideas.

Would you like to share with us what inspired you to write your latest piece, which I believe is a serial for The People’s Friend? Not as easy to write as they appear. 

SECRETS FROM THE PAST is a contemporary story about the Caldecotts and their old family home, Thurlestone Keep, in the Dales. The sparks behind the tale were a wild, windswept part of Yorkshire, a medieval house and an Ancient Egyptian artefact discovered in the 1920s.

Do you have an itch to write something entirely different?

Perhaps not entirely different, but certainly there are genres I’d very much enjoy revisiting, and one or two others I’ve so far only touched upon that it would be sheer joy to delve into and explore in a rather different way. I’d like to write another traditional Western. More children’s stories for readers 8ish and younger, and read-aloud stories for little ones. As for something different – Timeslip! The House on the Strand by Daphne du Maurier was my first taste of the genre, Alison Uttley’s A Traveller in Time is wonderful, and the novels of Susanna Kearsley . . . Wow, imagine being able to weave tales like those!

How did you first hear about the RNA, and has it benefitted your career? 

From the 1976 Radio 4 series The Small Intricate Life of Gerald C. Potter, written by Basil Boothroyd and staring Ian Carmichael and Charlotte Mitchell. Gerald is a mystery writer rattling away at his typewriter and struggling to get words onto paper, while his wife Diana ‘. . . belongs to the Romantic Novelist’s Association and writes hugely successful novels under the name of Magnolia Badminton.’ I didn’t imagine I’d be eligible for membership, so it wasn’t until donkeys’ years later when my editor set me straight that I lost no time filling out the forms and applying for full membership of the RNA!

Writing is a solitary occupation and from the outset, the RNA has been an invaluable source of companionship, support, advice, information – and fun! June Francis, then organiser of the North West Chapter, went out of her way to make me feel welcome. We arranged a meeting to discuss my current work and ambitions, and June took time and care to listen and help me benefit from her wealth of experience in writing and publishing.

Where’s the craziest place you ever sat down to write?
I haven’t been there yet! However, next week I’m setting off on my very first trip to Camp NaNoWriMo. ) I imagine the cabin to be somewhere like Jellystone Park. (Barney Bear and the original Yogi Bear and Boo Boo cartoons were great favourites as a child). I picture it being in the heart of the woods, surrounded by pines, overlooking a shimmering lake, blissfully quiet with the only sounds the song of birds, chirrup of crickets, a cooling breeze whispering through trees . . . and the scratch-scratch of my pen scribbling down 50,000 words. I can’t wait to get there. Hope I see a bear!

Thank you for sparing the time to talk to us today June, showing us a different aspect to the writing business. We wish you continuing success in the years to come. 
Best wishes, Freda 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me:

No comments: