Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Joan Hessayon Contenders 2017: Terri Fleming

Today we welcome another of our contenders for the Joan Hessayon award.

Welcome to the RNA blog, Terri, and many congratulations on being one of the contenders for this year’s award.

How long have you been writing - Is this your first published piece?
I have been writing since I could first string a few wobbly words together in pencil. The delight in
creating something new remains exactly the same to this day. In the intervening years I have taken a few career paths, written articles, short stories and a film script. Working as a professional copywriter in my 20’s, I began to think I wouldn’t fulfil my dream of writing a novel because of the strong editing discipline one develops. Happily that was wrong and I am now talking to you about my debut novel, Perception

How many years were you a member of the NWS and did you submit a manuscript each year?
My writing friends insisted I join the NWS and how right they were. Perception went through in my first year and there was extra reassurance in knowing that a detached professional had read the ms. My second novel was too early in the draft process to submit in my second year, but by then I had an agent and Perception was in submission.

What came first, agent or publisher?
Securing an agent happened over a whirlwind six days. I had just sent off my first few submissions and had a couple of rejections. I attended a Writers Workshop day – a Christmas gift from my husband, who now considers his brownie points to be zillions. I met the fantastic book doctor, Andrew Wille, and his reaction had me walking on air. He recommended three agents and by the following Friday I agreed to sign with Jo Unwin of JULA. When I look at her client list I feel humbled.

How did you find your publisher?
Jo submitted and things took a while to happen before we signed a one-book deal with Orion. As a debut, it’s great to be in the safe hands of a big publisher.

When is your book published?
Perception will be published on 13th July, 2017 to coincide with the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s death.

Tell us something about your book
Perception takes place a few years after Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice and tells the story of Mary and Kitty Bennet, who remained at Longbourn after their sisters married. Mrs Bennet, still dreaming of marrying off all her daughters, spies her chance when a wealthy batchelor returns to Meryton. Mary has neither attraction nor inclination, but circumstance often places her in his company. Kitty has matured but is tempted to follow old habits. A desire to escape matters of the heart lead both girls to the sanctuary of their older sisters. Can Mary and Kitty overcome low prospects and false perceptions?

What are you currently working on?
I’m editing a linked novel using some of the new characters I created for Perception. They all make me smile in the same way the Bennets did. Next, I may go contemporary.

What piece of advice would you give current members of the NWS?
Remember reactions are subjective from any reader. Read your report again after a couple of days and make notes. Ask yourself some tough questions, fix issues as you see them, but trust your instincts. Never, ever give up!


Twitter: @TerriFlemingpen

Thank you, Terri. Congratulations again on graduating the New Writers’ Scheme and being one of our 2017 contenders.

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