29th June 2014
My next interviewee is Julie Shackman, who has kindly agreed to answer 20 Stevie questions. Julie has recently had the good fortune to have been given a publishing contract by Not So Noble Books for her debut novel 'Rock My World', a rom-com with a ghostly twist:
1. Did you start off as a child writing poetry and short stories and the like, or did you only begin writing novels as an adult?
I was an avid creative writer when I was younger. I used to love writing short stories and poetry.
2. Roughly how many rejections did you suffer and how long did it take to find a publishing deal?
Oh My Word! I have lost count of the amount of rejections I received. It does get annoying but you just have to persevere. With Rock My World, it took several months from writing it to receiving that lovely e-mail from my publishers (Not So Noble Books) to say they were offering me a publishing contract.
3. Do you think it is important to secure a literary agent first, or is it better to contact small publishers yourself to try and negotiate your first contract?
I think it is getting harder and harder to secure a literary agent or publisher. I think you just have to do what feels right for you and at the end of the day, it's all about getting your foot in the door.
4. What type of story do you think literary agents are looking for? Is there one type of story that always ‘fits their list’?
Oh that is a tough one! I think as long as you love your novel and have had fun writing it, you can't go wrong. I think it comes through if you have enthusiasm for your work and that helps to capture the reader as well.
5. As a trained journalist living in Scotland, would you ever have liked to live in London and work on Fleet Street?
No, not really. I always wanted to be an author, deep down.
6. If you ever moved away from Scotland, where else would you want to live?
I do love Italy - the food, the culture, the people and the scenery.
7. Tell us about ‘Rock My World’, your first romantic comedy.
Ruby Cameron, an ambitious
reporter for her local paper, lives with a man whose idea of living dangerously
is to leave the heating on when he goes to the shops. But her squeaky-clean
boyfriend betrays her and she moves out to a new life. Her new house is haunted
by the ghost of a cheeky rock star who becomes her best friend ... Will she
fall for her hunky new boss? Ruby's life will never be the same again....
8. Is any part of ‘Rock My World’ autobiographical?
I think there are elements of me in Ruby but at the end of the day, she is very much her own woman!
9. How did you go about marketing ‘Rock My World’ in the national media? Does this sort of coverage come at a price, or did you know the right people to contact through your work as a journalist?
As soon as I joined Twitter, I was amazed by how creative, supportive and kind the reading, writing and blogging community is. I got lots of help and encouragement from them and just kept approaching people.
10. Where do you seek inspiration from to write verses for greetings cards?
I always carry a notebook with me and if I see or hear something that is a bit different, I'll jot it down. Poetry is a good source of inspiration as well.
11. When you choose a greetings card to buy, do you go by the picture on the front or by the words inside?
It depends. Sometimes the companies I write for, send me the graphics and other times, they will give me a lead on what they are looking for.
12. If you receive a birthday card that just has the printed words ‘Happy birthday’ inside, do you feel disappointed?
Yes, sometimes! I am a bit partial to some lovely verse and I think it gives extra meaning to the card.
13. Do you prefer to live in a city, or in the countryside?
We are lucky in that where we live, we have the best of both worlds here.
14. Who is your favourite author?
I have a few but ones that stand out, are Sophie Kinsella, Jenny Colgan and Wendy Holden.
15. What is your favourite type of music?
I love rock - my favourite artists are Fleetwood Mac; Bon Jovi; Lissie; Kate Bush and Thea Gilmore.
16. Do you market your books on Twitter? Do you think Twitter is ideal for authors as a marketing tool?
Yes, I do. I think Twitter is great for writers, as there are so many of us out there and the support they provide, is amazing. You learn a lot.
17. Is there a new book in the pipeline?
Yes - I've just finished writing Book 2 and am polishing that at the moment (a rom-com) and I have started researching and outlining characters for Book 3 - also a rom-com but with a well-known historical figure...
18. What’s number one on your bucket list?
You know this might sound mad but I don't have one! I just try to get as much out of each day as I can.
19. Which daily newspaper do you like to read?
I read "The Daily Mail" and then sit and often rant about what's in it!
20. If you had to sell all your possessions but could keep one thing, what would it be?
I would have to keep a notebook - I'd be lost otherwise.
Thank you Julie for agreeing to be interviewed. A lady after my own heart who enjoys the countryside, and loves rock and Bon Jovi!