Welcome to Karen King who is chatting with Sally Quilford about her writing life.
Welcome, Sally, I understand you have a new book just out with Crooked Cat Publishing. Can
you tell us something about it?
The Secret of Lakeham Abbey is my first ‘straight’ crime novel. Though as with all my books there is an element of romance at its core, not least in the heart of Percy Sullivan, the 13 year old sleuth who wants to be heroic and save Anne Pargeter from execution. The novel is told in epistolary form; that is letters and journals as told by different characters.
You publish traditionally and self-publish. Can you tell us something about being a hybrid author?
I like the freedom that self-publishing gives me, so that I don’t always have to stick to the guidelines set by a publisher. It means I can find a home for books that would be otherwise hard to place. I can also self-publish previously published novels, so that readers online have access to works that might have only been available in print for a short time.
But, I also love being published traditionally, as it’s a terrific validation of my writing skills to have a professional editor decide that what I’ve written is good enough for their range of books. Plus, it pays the bills a bit better than self-publishing!
How much planning do you do before you start to write?
Very little, apart from spending several days thinking about my new idea. I may write a very brief summary of no more than 500 words, but other than that I just sit down and write. I figure I can iron out any problems with plot and research once I have the story on the page.
Do you work in long-hand first or write straight onto the computer?
Straight to the computer for me. In fact, I’ve almost forgotten how to write in longhand, I do so little of it now. Like all writers I always have a notebook to hand for ideas, but they’re literally just quick notes to get the story committed somewhere before I forget it.
How important do you think it is to have an agent?
I think it depends what you want to do with your writing career. If you want to be published by a major publishing house (and let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to be?) then an agent is essential for getting your work to the right people. However, for the sort of writing I do – My Weekly Pocket Novels and my self-published work – I don’t need an agent. I’ve heard the same said by Mills & Boon authors, who don’t need an agent to be published by M&B, and some say they prefer not to have one.
I would love an agent, as a way of moving my career onto the next level, but at the moment I don’t have anything to send to one and I can’t promise them fresh air!
Facebook or Twitter? Which is your preferred promotion tool?
Facebook all the way. There’s more scope for sharing blurb and pictures. And more scope for interacting with readers on a meaningful level. That said, the RNA’s own #TuesNews hashtag on Twitter is proving to be a fantastic promotional tool for so many members, including myself.
How do you relax when not writing?
I watch TV boxed sets on Netflix or DVD. I read. I spend time with my family. I go to RNA events whenever I can. But mostly I just think about what I’m going to write when I get back to it (not that I always do, you understand. My head is full of unused ideas!)
What’s next for author, Sally Quilford?
I would love to write another Percy Sullivan novel, as he’s proved to be very popular with readers and with me! I also have an idea for a saga, and an idea for a Christmas novel for My Weekly. But at the time of writing I’m supporting my husband through a serious illness so writing is taking a bit of a back seat. The wonderful thing is that I know it will be there waiting for me when I return to it.
When Percy Sullivan’s family take over Lakeham Abbey for the summer, it was a chance to get away from battered post-war London and be cossetted by the capable and pretty housekeeper, Anne Pargeter.
They soon learn that the Abbey conceals a dark secret; one that someone was willing to kill to hide. When Anne is convicted of murder and sentenced to execution, Percy is determined to do all he can to save his friend from the gallows. He encourages everyone to tell their side of the story. This leads to some startling revelations, including a shocking secret that Percy’s mother tried to hide from him.
Will it be enough to save Anne’s life?
Sally Quilford is the author of nearly 20 DC Thomson pocket novels, and several other novels published by Ulverscroft. Her stories and articles have been published in magazines in Britain and abroad. Until recently, Sally served on the committee of the Romantic Novelists Association and organized their bi-annual parties.
Thank you for taking part, Sally, and good luck with your book.
This interview was by Karen King on behalf of the RNA Blogging Team
If you would like to be interviewed by the team please contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org