Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with romance novelist and poet Lin Treadgold. 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, Lin. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Lin: My name is Lin Treadgold. I am not only a writer but also a nature lover. Born in Saltburn by the Sea, East Cleveland, UK. I was a business entrepreneur and owner of a large driving school until 2001. I began writing poetry, but due to working, unfortunately became a procrastinator as far as writing was concerned. After travelling the world and seeing life as it really is, I began to realise I had the ability to put my personal experiences into fiction. I had too many stories left untold and when my husband announced that his job would take him to The Netherlands, I gave up teaching after 25 years, as a trainer of driving instructors, to be a writer.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Lin: This is my first novel, but I do have work in progress and aim to be a prolific writer. I don’t necessarily want to be pigeon holed as a romance writer, as is my first book, but if romance writing will turn out to be my preference in the future, then so be it. I enjoy writing sagas with lots of life’s problems to keep the reader reading. This is what I do best and should an idea turn into crime fiction, then perhaps I can try my hand there too. I mean, most books have some kind of romantic element, so whatever comes my way I am happy to write it.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Lin: I was published in various magazines connected with driving and tourism. Goodbye, Henrietta Street is a book with a difference. Based on the Cornish Isles of Scilly and in North Yorkshire, the book is a holiday read for those who like to sit and relax with story in their hand. I don’t write under a pseudonym, I think that would be a waste of my family name which is a memorable one for a novelist and reader.
Morgen: I’d say it’s easily Googlable which is the important thing for any author. Have you self-published?
Lin: No, I’m not keen on self publishing. I prefer to work with several people who know what they are doing. I enjoy working with an editor and being part of a team. I did my best to find a publisher who understood my needs. Safkhet Publishing is doing a great job and after only 20 submissions, it didn’t take me very long to find the right publisher. Within three weeks I had three publishers offering me a contract, but because the others didn’t seem to fit my personal criteria, Safkhet came up with the right offer, so I took it.
Morgen: Safkhet have been very supportive of my blogs. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Lin: Yes my book is available as an e-Book as well as a printed version. My publisher does everything for me, all I have to do is double-check my words, and away we go! I have a Kindle so my preferences are mixed. I would say I still prefer a paperback version; I am one of those who like the feel of a book in the hand.
Morgen: Most people do. I’m a reader who doesn’t like damaging a book’s spines so love that it doesn’t happen with eBooks. 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?
Lin: I think Sven Jorgensen in Goodbye, Henrietta Street is my favourite character. Kind, loving, generous, understanding and most of all his good looks make you want to reach out and touch him. In real life I actually ‘met’ Sven yesterday on the ferry upon my return to The Netherlands! Two guys from Norway and Sweden, one of them could easily have been Sven. It was all a bit unnerving as I made conversation with them. My other character Pippa Lambton has had a tough life and again I keep ‘seeing’ her on my travels in girls that could easily be Pippa. I am not sure which actors I might choose to play their parts; I think I would rather leave that one to the casting director.
Morgen: Which authors did you read when you were younger and did they shape you as a writer?
Lin: I’m afraid I was never a reader except Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five books. I started writing after being inspired by Mary Wesley The Chamomile Lawn. I thought if she could write and sell three million copies of her books in the last twenty or so years of her life, there was hope for me too. Danielle Steele was my next guru and then I moved on to Annie Murray who seemed to write the books I wanted to write as well. I read all the usual writers, Stephen King, Dan Brown, Stieg Larsson, but it was Annie Murray’s books that made me want to write. I then moved on to various authors who write romance, Jean Fullerton, Sue Moorcroft, Liz Harris, Nora Fountain and Jessica Blair and learned a lot through reading. I wrote to Annie Murray and now she is a friend and supporter of my first novel, I have to say her words, both personal and in her novels, have taken me a long way to success.
Morgen: Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Lin: I chose the title of my book having changed it three times. I was walking down Henrietta Street in Whitby, Yorkshire one day when the title stared me in the face. This street is at the bottom of the 199 steps leading to Whitby Abbey.
The cover of my book was a team effort with my publisher. We bounced pictures back and forth, I had photos, she had photos, and between us we designed it together, which was marvellous because I don’t think she knew a lot about The Isles of Scilly and I have been there many times and knew what I wanted for my book. She knew what would attract the reader to a book cover and between us we found the right balance.
Morgen: I went to Whitby Abbey on a school trip and loved the place. From memory it was mid-winter and that made it feel even bleaker. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Lin: My next novel is inspired by a true story. I am not sure, as yet, if the story works, but with time and effort and many more drafts, I should complete with a cult romance saga where life on a farm is not all that it seems. I also have novella in progress called ’Locked Together’ where a couple’s life has been ‘engineered’ by someone else who is watching over them.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day, or ever suffer from writer’s block?
Lin: I never get writer’s block; I always have a lot going on my head. I was an only child and had to make up stories and fantasies to amuse myself. I am rarely short of material to write about especially having travelled the world and seen life to the full. I people watch and listen to general conversations to gain ideas. I never quote word for word. I don’t spend time on my novel every day; I wish I could. However, I find once October arrives I can spend hours writing and editing for the next six months, I tend to take time out for promotion during the summer.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Lin: I tend to be an organic writer, plant a seed and off we go, ploughing in and out of the story. I try to write my stories based on the letter ‘W’ following the stalks down and up; the sagas just seem to happen as I go along. You do have to be self-disciplined with the story line, but I find that my training as a driving instructor taught me to be logical and never assume the (driver) reader understands what I mean. So I write in the way in which I was trained, to keep the flow in a logical order and not miss out vital elements. My training helped me a lot to remember things through association with the story as it happens.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Lin: I tend to base my characters around people I have met in the past. Therefore the characters become more real. Where Sven was concerned, he was a figment of my imagination. I started by asking what if the character was Norwegian and a lonely soul looking for a new life? To me that wasn’t realistic enough, it needed something more. What if he met someone in the same situation as himself, would it work or would he have to work harder to get what he wanted? I worked on Sven to make his character shine.
My next book, the characters are taken from real life although their stories are pure fiction, and what if they had turned right instead of left? As a fiction writer you can only be inspired by what you see.
Morgen: Inspiration is certainly all around us. I have far more ideas than I can probably ever write, and I write a short story every day. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Lin: I enjoy editing when I can have time to lock myself away in a room for about four days. I think as time goes on I have developed a more fully formed technique for getting it right, but as each novel is written I hope to cut down on the time spent editing as I will have gained more experience.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Lin: I love research; I enjoy phoning or e-mailing and asking where I can get the right information. The internet is a great place to find photos of potential characters and base a story around the face. You have to do your research. With Goodbye, Henrietta Street, I had to do a lot of research and the further back you go in time the more you have to do.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Lin: My first book is in third person past tense and my second book is first person past tense. I prefer to write in either of these. I don’t like second person, but who knows if I find the right story I might need to write in that point of view. It’s all a case of being flexible.
Morgen: Second person is like Marmite – an acquired taste. Do you write any poetry, non-fiction, or short stories?
Lin: I started with poetry and have written many poems, but never published them. My theme in all my books will be to have a poem on the page before Chapter One. There is a poem ‘Richard’ by Annie Lewis Smith who died in 2011. As a tribute to Anne who also loved The Isles of Scilly I received permission from her daughter Nicky Lewis Smith to publish one of her mother’s poems. I found it fitted in very well with my story. I have another poem in my next novel written by me. So with time I expect that many of my poems will find a place at the front of my books.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Lin: When I first write a book I wonder if it will ever be published and if I will have to put it in the trash. So who knows what the future will bring. There is bound to be a work that will never be published, I shall just have to work on it until it is!
Morgen: The more we write, the more we can see how (and where) earlier works can be ‘fixed’. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Lin: Rejections should be regarded as feedback and nothing more. I never get upset about them, most of the time they are subjective viewpoint. What is right for one publisher isn’t right for another. I do know from helping others to move on in their writing, that you can certainly tell from the first page what kind of writer you are dealing with and can see why publishers reject work. Sometimes the editing can be too time consuming and I can see why some publishers wouldn’t want to spend too much time on the editing process with a writer who has sent work with too many mistakes or their writing technique needs more work. For me I just move on and repair anything that a publisher might have provided for me in the feedback. It’s just another day really. I write because I can and enjoy doing it.
Morgen: Do you enter competitions or are have you won any awards?
Lin: So far I haven’t entered any competitions but I hope to be nominated for the Joan Hessayon Award in 2014 for new writers within the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
Morgen: Do let me know if you are. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Lin: If I could have found an agent I would have accepted, but as it turns out I have been lucky enough to find a publisher who has probably pushed the book through a lot quicker than an agent might have done, so going direct to a publisher has been the right move for me. For those who are less confident, perhaps an agent is the best way. Also an agent will provide you with the best deals for your work. Whilst at the same time I have found a very good publisher, if I had found an agent, there is no telling where I might be right now. I am just thankful that I have reached this far and hope to continue up the ladder of success in the future.
Morgen: Do you do much marketing for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Lin: I think, as an author, with help from my publisher on the marketing, there is a certain amount of work you have to do yourself. This is why I wanted a paperback version so I can go out and meet the people – put a face to the name and help them to remember who wrote the book through book signings in the book shops. I do have a web site. I think it is very important to be seen and not be afraid to get out there and do your own contribution to the marketing. Again, having had the driving school I would not have had the success without marketing the brand. The same applies when you write a book. Don’t be afraid to mention what you do as you go on your way – and don’t forget the business cards!
Morgen: Absolutely. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Lin: I feel all new writers should learn more about what happens after you sign a contract and learn the ropes before you sign. Everything comes at once, new terminology, web pages to be designed, and lists of things the publisher requires and the new world out there can be daunting. For those who have been writing as a hobby, you need to be prepared if you are serious enough to want to submit your work to a publisher. It can be very stressful. Many writers are unaware of techniques used in editing such as track changes. My advice would be to learn as much as you can before you get your contract. Publishers are not there to be your nanny. They are helpful but very busy people and every bit of knowledge you have gained helps the process move along a lot quicker.
Morgen: I’d recommend every author belong to The Society of Authors. They’re very supportive and their magazine, The Author, is great.
Lin: Read and learn from other writers. Go to creative writing classes, meet other authors at conferences and workshops and spend time learning as well as writing. Don’t try and do this alone. You need help and feedback. Find someone who knows about writing skills and ask their advice. Try to stick to one person you can trust. My students in the driving school had been with other instructors and got confused with their driving skills when other instructors had told them to make changes. In the world of writing it is best to stick with someone who will provide you with an honest opinion and show you a way forward. You should start with your creative writing teacher.
Morgen: I’ve just landed a teaching job for my local council and can’t wait to share my knowledge. 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Lin: This is a difficult one for me, but I think I would like to bring my Mum back to life for a day to tell her she was right about my book. I would like to invite my best friend Irmgard Groier from Austria with whom I have been friends for 50 years this year and ask Chris de Burgh to entertain us with his songs. Food? Earl Grey tea on the camomile lawn with champagne and lots of baked cup cakes and delicious sandwiches.
Morgen: I’d do the same with my father. I discovered writing about four years after my father died and he’d always said how proud he was of me. I’d loved to have been able to share the past eight years with him – for him to see the joy writing brings. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Lin: I want to be in a position to provide mentoring for new writers. I do have the skills for mentoring and teaching adults. Mentoring is a means of guiding someone to help them see their work in a different light. This is not teaching or providing exercises to do each week, it’s about showing and facilitating and gaining feedback on your work, allowing the writer to make it his idea with the mentor suggesting ideas and improvements. I have just assisted someone in the USA to improve their first three chapters. She is now in a position to write the rest of the book in the same techniques and writing methods. Once you can get a new writer to a certain level in those chapters, they should be able to write the rest of the book in the same way. The book remains their book and not mine. Sometimes it just needs someone to point out their obvious mistakes. It can be three words that change the story into something more meaningful. I would like to have a few more books under my belt and then do a spot of mentoring for new writers because I was once a new writer and I understand how it feels. Writing is a very lonely occupation and new writers need guidance, someone to be there for them.
Morgen: It’s always easier to edit other writers’ work. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Lin: For the new writer I would certainly recommend www.mywriterscircle.com
- The 38 Most Common Fiction Writing Mistakes by Jack M. Bickham
- Getting Published by Harry Bingham
Morgen: Harry’s great. I interviewed him back in January 2012. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Lin: I think that with all forums you have to take the rough with the smooth. Members can often give the impression they know everything when they don’t. Mywriterscircle.com is a very useful forum, very friendly, and can help motivate you to keep going. Many of the members are experienced writers.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Lin: That’s a huge question at this time. Do we bend to the technology and allow paperback to disappear from the shelves. I think not. There are loads of people still out there who want to buy a paperback version. During my travels the other day the question I asked was – paperback or e-book and the majority replied – paperback!
Morgen: Bookshelves would look odd without books, wouldn’t they. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Lin: The following web sites you can find out more about me:
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Lin: My advice to new writers is to keep going and keep learning. Don’t procrastinate and start writing whilst you are young enough to do it. It doesn’t matter if you want to hobby write, you just have to want to do it, that’s enough.
Morgen: Absolutely. You can’t edit a blank page. Thank you, Lin.
I then invited Lin to include a synopsis of her book ‘Goodbye, Henrietta Street’…
Pippa Lambton’s life has fallen apart and husband Rob is ready to give up their marriage. Three years before, their son Daniel passed away; he was the glue that held them together. Now, Pippa’s left home for the beautiful Isles of Scilly, for a chance to rediscover her life. She meets handsome Norwegian nature warden, Sven Jorgensen, who teaches her about the island wildlife.
Pippa finds herself laughing again. She is aware of Rob’s dilemma over his childhood adoption and their turbulent relationship, but after an awkward kiss with Sven, she is torn about how to proceed. There is much to resolve, and leaving Rob could prove a disaster. Is her affair with Sven a holiday fling? How can she walk away from Rob after losing Daniel? Should she leave her home in Yorkshire for Sven and his island paradise? Find out more in Goodbye, Henrietta Street, released July 1st, 2013.
Lin Treadgold was born in Yorkshire and attended private education. She is a retired qualified driving instructor and owned her own driving school for twenty-five years. After travelling the world and visiting over thirty countries, she retired in 2001 to follow her husband’s work and live in the Netherlands. From her travelling experiences, she took the opportunity to become a writer and nature conservationist. She has always wanted to write a novel; moving to Holland gave her the opportunity to fulfil a dream.
Lin is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors, and organises workshop events for new writers.
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