Thursday, April 21, 2016

Joan Hessayon Award contender 2016: Deirdre Palmer

Welcome to Deirdre Palmer, 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, Deirdre.

How long have you been writing? Is this your first published piece?
I’ve always written in one form or another but only began seriously around six years ago when I wrote my first novel, a rom-com called ‘Falling to Earth’. It received a positive critique from the NWS but didn’t find a publisher so I self-published it on Amazon and it sold really well. ‘Remarkable Things’ is my first traditionally published work.

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
I was a member for about six years but didn’t always manage a whole book every year because I was then working full-time and only wrote for a couple of hours each week. Some years I submitted partials, which I found a useful thing to do as it gave me direction in finishing the book.

What came first, agent or publisher?
I don’t have an agent. Originally I submitted ‘Remarkable Things’ to a few agents and got some ‘near misses’ in the process. When the book found a publisher – Crooked Cat – I was very happy to go with them.

How did you find your publisher?
I had heard of Crooked Cat through other writers and via the internet, and thought they’d be a good fit for me. At the time I was ready to submit they were closed to submissions so I kept them on my list and submitted as soon as they opened.  Meanwhile, I’d been submitting elsewhere – a lot of times! – and eventually found myself with two offers, one from Crooked Cat and the other from The Wild Rose Press. Crooked Cat just beat Wild Rose in getting the contract out and I’m glad it worked out that way.

Do you have a contract for one book or more?
I had a single contract for ‘Remarkable Things’ and then Crooked Cat accepted my next book, ‘Dirty Weekend’, set in the 1960s, few months later, and published it in August 2015.

When was your book published?
‘Remarkable Things’ was published in May 2015.

Tell us something about your book
The main theme of the book is motherhood and family relationships. It’s also a later-life romance. My main character, fifty-year-old widower Gus Albourne, is drawn into a search for the truth about his family background when he inherits a cottage and discovers mementoes supposedly left for him by his birth mother. When he meets divorcee Millie Hope, who is searching for her missing daughter, the two are instantly attracted to one another. They become close friends, but love is firmly off the agenda while they are embroiled in their respective searches.

What are you currently working on?
I’ve just finished writing ‘Never Coming Back’ which is a romance with themes of bereavement and entrapment. It will be ready for submission soon. I’ve also started on the sequel to ‘Dirty Weekend’, which is great fun to write as I know the characters so well.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
It’s a cliché, I know, but not giving up is the key. Make multiple submissions – nobody minds that now, or if they do, they shouldn’t. But don’t be in a rush to submit. If you can bear to put the book aside for a month or two, you’ll come back to it with fresh eyes and see all kinds of ways to make it even better.


Thank you, Deidre, we hope you have a fabulous evening at the RNA Summer Party and good luck with your writing career.

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R J Gould said...

Hi Deirdre. Thanks for an interesting read. Good luck (I suppose!!!) from a fellow nominee. I look forward to seeing you on the night. Best wishes, R J Gould (=Richard)

Unknown said...

Hi Deirdre,
Enjoyed reading your blog post.

congratulations and good luck. I remember when I was a contender. It was amazing. Have a great time.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Richard. Good luck to you too!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Cathy, I'll enjoy the party I'm sure. X