Jenny Oliver tells us how to make a pie

Questions for Authors:

 

  1. Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?

I wanted to write a series of books set in one place with characters who we would see again, and catch up with, as the series progressed. I love the river – I grew up living by the Thames and also rowed for a number of years. Through rowing I travelled to lots of places across Europe and the UK and have seen a lot of towns but all of them only from a boat! Writing about a little town on the water really appealed to me and cherries are by far my favourite fruit Cherry Pie Island was born.

  1. How long do you think about a topic before deciding to write about it? Do you have a set of notes or a note book where you write down topics that appeal before making a decision as to which topic this time?

Im thinking about what to write all the time and often start to think about the next book when Im halfway through the current one Im writing. I carry a notebook with me and have numerous dotted about the flat that are half scribbled in. If I get stuck I look back over them and theres usually an idea that sparks my imagination.

  1. How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book?

Once Id decided on Cherry Pie Island it was all quite quick. Getting the initial idea however was much slower. It took a lot of time and back and forth and dead ends to get to my answer for question 1!

  1. What resources do you use? In general and for the last book that you wrote?

I use my family A LOT! If Im stuck Ill go round to my mum and dads on the pretence of bringing their grandson to see them and then quiz them for ideas about how to get out of a plot hole. Ill talk to my husband whos a kids book author so comes up with some bizarre solution like: just make him have a really big nose! I read a lot of blogs, cookbooks, listen to podcasts, I go to places that are similar to what Im writing about or might spark my imagination, I use quite a lot of my own memories and steal some snippets from my friends lives. Ive also spent a lot of money in our local Caffe Nero.

  1. How helpful do you find authority figures such as the police when you say you want to write about them? Is there a good way to approach them in your experience?

Ive never had to approach the police, but if I need some detail verifying I will usually work out who I know who might be able to help me or who knows someone who knows someone! Or I use Google.

  1. How many times have you been rejected before your first novel was accepted or before this book was accepted?

It was only when I wrote The Parisian Christmas Bake Off that I felt I had a commercial, appealing story with a beginning, middle and end and I think that was why it was accepted. What I had written in the past lacked all direction! Hahaha, it was just rambling. It felt right because I wrote most of it in a week on the beach in a cheap, crappy notebook that I had to buy really quickly (rather than pick the one with the nicest, flashest cover etc!) because the story was there in my head – and I knew where the plot was going.

  1. Did you need to self-publish on e-books before a publisher took you up?

No I didnt.

  1. Would you recommend self-publishing and building an audience before approaching a publisher? If so, what benefits do you see that it might have for the aspiring novelist?

I think that any opportunity to get reader feedback and to build a readership is worth taking, so would definitely encourage self-publishing. I also think the value of a good editor, copyeditor and designer is huge and its worth investigating these independent services before you put your work out there so that you can make sure its at its very best.

  1. Does writing provide sufficient income to live on? And how long did it take before this happened?

I suppose it all depends on how much you need to live on 😉 I certainly havent given up my day job.

  1. What is the best piece of advice you were given that you could pass on to aspiring writers?

Treat it as a job. Look at what you like to read and the commercial market, set a deadline and enjoy revisions – they always make the book better!

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