Nothing gives me more of a thrill when I meet up with old friends who ask - "Nice to see you, Pam, what are you up to since you retired?" I smile and say, "Actually I'm a writer now." It gives me such pleasure to say it, and to know that it's true. I'm a writer- there I've said it again. After leaving behind my career as an Interior Designer and a brief spell taking breakdown calls for the company with the very, very nice man and his yellow van, I decided to take early retirement and concentrate on writing.
I wasn't sure how to go about "it" but I had this idea and a bunch of musically inclined characters living in my head who wouldn't go away, so I decided to get it all down on paper before I became to senile to remember. I bought a reporter's notepad and a couple of pens; took myself to sit on the beach in Brighton and that's how The Raiders rock group and the beginning chapters of my first novel Three Steps to Heaven were born. Obviously now, when I look back, it was pretty dire but back then I had no concept of how a book should be written. I had ideas galore, but didn't have a clue about the craft, how to structure, dialogue, settings, POV and all those things that go into the mix to come out the other end as a novel of acceptable standards that people might just want to read.
My idea for Three Steps to Heaven came from my time during the sixties when I worked in the record department of a local store. I used to hang around with musicians who frequented the place. When you spend a lot of time with guys like that you get involved in their lives and loves, watch them playing in clubs and be there when they need a shoulder to cry on. Little did I know that one day, remembering the stuff that went on, I'd use a lot of those scenarios and immortalise them in words. Three Steps to Heaven was never meant to be anything other than a one-off novel. But I couldn't let go of my characters and before I knew it I'd produced a trilogy. The sequel 'Til I Kissed You and the third and final novel Always On My Mind. Even now I'm finding it hard to let the characters go.
When I began writing I tended to switch heads as I didn't understand POV. Then it eventually clicked and I decided I liked a multiple VP story told in the style of a saga. This being the case, I find it easier to write in third person. I once tried to write a short story in first person but wasn't comfortable with it, so re-wrote it in third and sold that particular story. I have conversations going on in my head all the time, characters arguing with each other. I find I go over scenes when I'm driving. So if you see a woman, sitting at traffic lights, and she looks like she's talking to herself, it's probably me, but I'm not mad, honestly!
I always choose settings I'm familiar with as this makes it easier to bring them to life. I centre my stories around the fictional town of Pickford in Cheshire, which is actually Stockport and the surrounding areas.
Before publishing any of my work I joined online critiquing group, YouWriteOn where I received many helpful reviews from members who went out of their way to encourage me and teach me the way to go. I also struck up a friendship with AJ Hudspith, (Johnny Vee) who became my editor. Johnny's help has been invaluable. He also introduced me to JD Smith, contactable for further info at firstname.lastname@example.org who designed the fabulous covers for my trilogy.
The main "character" throughout my trilogy is actually a band called The Raiders, so it's a collective. The two band leaders are Eddie Mellor - the drummer, and Roy Cantello - lead guitarist and singer. They are a mixture of just about every man I ever met, including my musician partner! I had great fun creating these two and the antics they get up to.
My favourite author is Lesly Pearse and it was reading her novels, particularly Georgia that made me decide I'd like to try and create warm tales of people and their lives, really make them come alive instead of storing them in my head all the time. I also enjoy work by Erica James and Joanna Trollope.
Having completed and published my trilogy I thought I'd try something different for my next project and create a novel based on my own life experiences, rather than everyone else's. I'm only up to chapter five at the moment, but I'm enjoying writing it, finding it a very cathartic experience and look forward to publishing "Fast Movin' Train later this year.
The one thing I've never done, which may seem an odd thing for a writer, is send my stories out to agents. As soon as I discovered it was possible to go down the self-publishing route for very little cost, that's exactly what I did. I'm so happy that I chose that way. No rejection letters cluttering up the desk for me. Just a simple belief that I can do this on my own, well with help for the editing from Johnny of course. I'm afraid I'm too impatient to wait years. With the advent of Kindle it's made all the difference in the world. My books are selling well and collecting five star reviews that I'm really proud of. I've had several short stories published in the last twelve months. Two in charity anthologies and two that I actually got paid for in a Canadian e-zine called Pages of Stories. Maybe in time that's the route I'll go down, but while I've still got ideas for novels, I'll keep plodding in that direction.