Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author Sieglinde Young. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Sieglinde. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Sieglinde: My husband and I live in Cocoa, Florida. I’ve corresponded with family and friends most of my life. It all started when I moved to Canada and later to Miami, Florida. I had such wonderful tales to tell because everything was new and different from my first fourteen years in Germany. Later my husband and I lived for many years in Africa and Southeast Asia – more wonderful and strange experiences that needed to be told. I finally started writing my biography. As I was typing I suddenly thought of fictionalizing some of my experiences. That was in 1995, I haven’t stopped since.
Morgen: Writing has that effect. What a wonderful name, Cocoa. And such a great life you’ve had, with as you say so much to tell. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Sieglinde: Six of my novels are mainstream women’s fiction. One is an historical love story and one a psychological thriller. I’ve recently finished a fantasy / paranormal.
Morgen: Like me, you write a bit of (almost) everything. What have you had published to-date?
Morgen: With your self-published novels, what lead to you going your own way?
Sieglinde: I sent out numerous queries to agents. “Not for us” was the most common reply. So I decided to self-publish. The process is made easy these days. I use Create Space to produce the book and its cover. Now at least I can hold my labour of love in my hands.
Morgen: That’s what happened to me, although I’ve only gone the digital route so far. Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Sieglinde: They are available at Amazon Kindle. The conversion process is almost automatic through Create Space. I do not read e-books because I love to hold a book in my hands.
Morgen: Most people do love to handle books, although many think it’s great having the choice, as do I, but I do think (hope) that ‘real’ books are here to stay. Bookshelves would look pretty silly without them, wouldn’t they? Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Sieglinde: I love the child character in “Inge’s War” and can visualize the story as a great movie. My fantasy novel would be a perfect vehicle for Meryl Streep as the leading lady. I have no thoughts of who would fill the male role.
Morgen: Meryl Streep is a superb actress, although I’ve not seen her as The Iron Lady (Margaret Thatcher) yet… I lived through the real thing. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Sieglinde: My husband and I created the covers and selected the titles. Both are very important, they have to tantalize, pique the reader’s interest enough to read the blurb on the back cover and like what they read.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Sieglinde: I’m working on a suspense / thriller.
Morgen: Ooh great. I love those. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Sieglinde: I write for four hours every afternoon seven days a week. I seldom have writer’s block.
Morgen: Me neither. I’m very fortunate, but then I have more ideas than I can cope with so I switch to another project if I ever slow on the current one. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Sieglinde: I get an idea and run with it. Most of my ideas are taken from minor incidents I have experienced, which I fictionalize and aggrandize. Sometimes my characters take on a life of their own and get me into trouble or take me into a new direction.
Morgen: <laughs> I love it when they do that. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Sieglinde: My writing is now more fully formed than when I started seventeen years ago. I first get my story down then edit, edit, edit. I belong to a weekly writer’s critique group. We read four or five pages of what we are presently working on. Then the group comments. I take their suggestions very seriously and incorporate those applicable to my work.
Morgen: Up until mid-January I ran / belonged to four writing groups (I’ve just relinquished a weekly one to free up some time) but they are great because we’ll always be too close to our own writing. Do you have to do much research?
Sieglinde: Yes, I’ve done considerable research on each of my novels. I love the process because I learn a lot from it. Also I pride myself on correctness of everything I write about.
Morgen: That’s really important because there will always be an ‘expert’ out there willing to point out inaccuracies. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Sieglinde: I love first person point of view although it is limiting. In my opinion it makes the novel so much more personal. Four of my novels are written in first person, three in third person. I’ve never attempted to write in second person.
Sieglinde: No poetry. I contribute short non-fiction stories to http://Oleafrica.com.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Morgen: Excellent. Having written on/off for eight years, I’m hoping to do something with everything, including the earlier pieces. Everything’s about practice. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Sieglinde: Yes, I’ve had a few. I shrugged them off and kept writing.
Morgen: The best thing to do. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Sieglinde: I’m currently looking for an agent for my fantasy, unfortunately they are harder to snare than a mongoose. Apparently they are vital since most publishers won’t accept unagented material.
Morgen: Bigger publishers certainly. Smaller publishers actually prefer to deal with the authors directly. We have The Writer’s & Artist’s Yearbook and Writers’ Handbook in the UK, the equivalent I believe in the US is the Writer’s Market. Then there are sites like Preditors & Editors (http://pred-ed.com) which lists good and bad ones (and much more)! How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Sieglinde: I established my brand: spytales.com. I market through Facebook, Linked-in, my website, word of mouth. I have provided gratis copies of my novels to local library branches.
Morgen: Apparently, authors earn more per copy lent from a library than through traditional means. Plus your community gets to know you. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Sieglinde: Least favourite is rejection. Surprise is rejection.
Morgen: 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Sieglinde: Write a page a day and in one year you’ll have a book.
Morgen: Indeed. 300 words a day is a 100,000-word novel in a year. It surprised me when I worked it out. Everyone can do 300 words a day (pot / kettle / black). Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Sieglinde: “In all things it is better to hope than to despair.” Goethe.
Morgen: It certainly is. Everything works itself out eventually. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Sieglinde: I am an avid gardener and play piano for relaxation and enjoyment.
Morgen: I used to play the piano (or more accurately, the beginnings of a few pieces) and have a keyboard in the loft which I plan to play again (learn to play better) when I have some time. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Sieglinde: It looks bleak. In this electronic age everyone can be an author.
Morgen: Which can be a good and bad thing – lots of competition, lots of poor writing but I do think reviews will weed out the dross and I set up five online writing groups and a feedback section on my blog to help authors gain free feedback. They’re ticking over nicely (although I do plan to build them up more… er, yes, when I have time). Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Thank you, Sieglinde.
Sieglinde P. Young was born in Hannover, Germany. She and her family emigrated to Canada and later to Miami, Florida. After she raised three daughters, wanderlust struck and the next twenty years took her and her husband to live and work in West Africa, South East Asia and for six years in Egypt.
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