Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Gabrielle Mullarkey: Short, Medium, Long

Thank you for agreeing to be interviewed for the blog.

Can you tell us how you first decided to be a writer?
Like many of us, I read and wrote copiously as a child – everything from rambling sagas to poetry, to keeping a diary while on holiday. I was always scribbling. I remember swinging off the monkey bars in the playground at primary school and telling my best friend, ‘I’m going to be a writer!’ Later I felt I’d made myself a hostage to fortune because, even then, I had a vague idea it was both a precarious and difficult path to follow.

After I did an English degree, I went through a phase of never wanting to write another word again! (thank you, F R Leavis!). Plus, having bills to pay, I trained as a PA. But gradually the ‘decision’ to write crept up on me again. I started staying late at work to write short stories, as I didn’t have a computer at home, sending them to magazines and gaining enough success to inspire me to continue. I was living in Holland by then so I also began to research and write articles on my life abroad, selling them to expat magazines and supplements. Still unsure I was a bona fide ‘creative’ writer, I returned to the UK to train as a journalist and started working on women’s magazines. The two kinds of writing continued to exist side by side and even complement each other. 

You are well known as a short story writer. Why did you decide to start with short fiction rather than dive straight into novel writing?
Having stopped writing for a while after my degree, I wanted to feel my way back into written expression. I also think that my journalistic training gave me a natural bent towards telling a story in a succinct form. Over time, and as I wrote some ‘long’ short stories, I became more comfortable with experimentation and expansion. A lot of writing (as I understand it from my interest in its therapeutic benefits) is about giving yourself permission to push beyond boundaries, however subconsciously self-imposed.

At what point in your writing life was your first novel published?
I had sold several hundred short stories and a similar number of articles, when I began to consider challenging myself with a longer form. I finished Hush Hush with no clear idea of what to do with it – part of my writing process was probably cathartic – but found a publisher quite quickly. Luckily I’ve always been a realist, so I didn’t assume I’d ‘cracked’ it and could now look forward to fame, fortune and M&M riders all the way – but having the novel published gave me the confidence to continue with the form. 

What gave you the inspiration for the novel?
Facing personal upheaval in my life, I began to pour onto the page how a fictional character might cope with a big challenge: in Angela’s case, being widowed and needing to reboot her life, all the while unaware of secret undercurrents affecting events – hence the book title, Hush Hush. Writing her story was liberating because Angela wasn’t bound by the restrictions of my own circumstances; she could develop in any way I allowed her to. At the same time, the richness of her life and its growing possibilities opened my eyes to a way of thinking differently about my own life.  

You’ve worked as a journalist. Would you advise anyone wishing to write for a living to encompass various forms of publishing when considering a career as a writer?
Definitely. You learn so much. For example, part of my journalistic training was in sub-editing, which has been invaluable in prepping and researching my creative writing. Also, through learning to shape a human interest story with a ‘hook’ to draw a reader into a feature, I saw the overlap with fictional writing. Now, with social media, blogging is a good way to hone your writing skills – we’ve all read about bloggers who end up with publishing deals.

Tell us about your latest work?
The short stories continue apace – I love writing them. I’m also working on a new novel. As with my previous two, it will be a contemporary story with plot twists and secrets aplenty. This one will have a darker psychological edge, and opens with an intriguing mystery. As with my previous two novels, I write from both male and female points of view, and there’s a healthy scattering of dry wit.
I’m also very keen on continuing to workshop on creative writing for personal development, and having fun while doing it!  

About Gabrielle
Gabrielle is a novelist, short story writer and freelance journalist, with a keen interest in the mental health benefits of creative writing. Her contemporary romance Hush Hush, originally published in 1999, has been reissued as an e-book by Corazon Books, with A Tale of Two Sisters, originally published in 2001, to be reissued later in 2015. She loves cats, chocolate, Star Trek and Manchester Utd.

Twitter: @authorgabrielle

What a varied and interesting career you have had, Gabrielle. Thank you for sharing with us.

The RNA Blog is brought to you by
Elaine Everest and Natalie Kleinman.

If you would like to appear on the Blog please contact us at elaineeverest@aol.com


Joan Fleming said...

Congratulations on your graduation from the NWS Gabrielle! You've certainly had a varied writing career up to this point - so interesting. Looking forward to meeting you at the party.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joan
thanks for your kind words, although I must admit, I'm not in the NWS (and wouldn't like to steal their thunder!).
Have a brilliant time at the party!

Joan Fleming said...

Gabrielle, I must admit you didn't seem to fit the picture I had of the JHA contender, but I'm prepared for some surprises! Yours is a fascinating writing journey - I'm glad it's featured on the blog.

Anonymous said...

I love the fact that we are so all so diverse X

Elaine Everest said...

Thank you for answering our questions, Gabrielle. x

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the opportunity, Elaine (if that doesn't sound too Apprentice-like!)
Gabrielle x