We are delighted that you could join us to talk about your new release. Could you tell us a little more about it?
Love You From A-Z is about a woman called Jenna, whose life experiences to date have led her to believe that Happy Ever After only really works in books. However, when she comes across a letter in an abandoned storage unit, she feels compelled to write back to its author Henry Somners. Her meeting with Henry changes Jenna’s world irrevocably and she starts to realise that the magic she believed in as a child might not be such a fanciful notion after all.
What was the inspiration behind your book? What prompted you to tell this story?
I was searching around for a new idea for my next NWS submission and got curious about the TV programme my husband was watching, where people bought abandoned storage units at auction. The idea just struck a chord and I knew that was my hook. The other thing I knew I wanted in the story was guinea pigs – people who know me will already be aware that I am obsessed with anything guinea pig related! In the story, Jenna’s sister runs a guinea pig rescue called Little Paws.
When did you realise you wanted to be an author?
I’ve read lots of author interviews with this question and would love to say I started entertaining friends and family with stories of magic trees and unicorns from an early age, but it wouldn’t be true. I have always loved reading books, and had written a column for a disability magazine for some years, but it was as the big 4-0 appeared on the horizon that I felt the urge to actually write a book, even though I had no idea how to go about it and was too scared to tell anyone in case they laughed. I had no English A-Level, or creative writing qualifications, just this bonkers idea that I wanted to be an author.
What was your journey to publication?
As I sailed further away from 40, I realised you actually have to sit down and write the darn book, not daydream about it, so I attempted my first full length novel. I thought it was okay, until someone who actually knew about writing told me it wasn’t. Over the next seven years I wrote a further four books and I definitely learnt everything the hard way. Along the way there have been plenty of highs and lows – too many to fit into this post – but joining the RNA and then in 2020 being awarded the Katie Fforde bursary was what gave me the impetus to keep going. After five books clocked up a total of 221 rejections, it was book six that hit the jackpot, although I was so excited to get such positive feedback on my manuscript after years of marching round the query trenches that I didn’t immediately spot that the letter from my editor actually included a publishing offer!
Which fictional character(s) would like to invite to dinner? What would you like to talk about?
It would be fun to have dinner with Elizabeth Bennet and her sisters. Elizabeth is a great conversationalist and has strong opinions without being offensive. I think she’d be adaptable enough to cope with 21st century life, and she loved follies and anything ridiculous so despite our ongoing news of war and global disasters, I reckon she would still find plenty in our modern world to laugh at. It would be fun to ask what the girls thought of television and social media. Hopefully Elizabeth would enjoy some of our satirical comedy shows on TV, but Kitty and Lydia might be a bit too enthralled with Twitter!
If you could give your younger writing self any advice, what would it be?
This would fill a book on its own – hindsight is a wonderful tool! My top three tips would be:
Read plenty of “how to” books and see how the techniques are applied in the books you enjoy reading.
Learning to write a novel is like learning to play a musical instrument; unless you are a genius, you have to practice and be prepared for lots of critical feedback.
Stop pratting about and join the RNA!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
There’s lots of advice out there from writers far more experienced than I am, but the one thing that has been invaluable to me is the friendship of fellow authors. We all know that you have to keep trying and keep writing, but there have been times when I felt I would never achieve my dream, no matter how many times I tried. The fact that I now have is down to the support of my wonderful writing buddies. Find your writer support group and they will cheer you on, commiserate with you, and celebrate with you when you finally get that offer.
Linda Corbett lives in Surrey with her husband Andrew and three permanently hungry guinea pigs. As well as being an author, Linda is treasurer for Shine Surrey – a volunteer-led charity that supports individuals and families living with spina bifida and hydrocephalus. For many years she also wrote a regular column for Link, a disability magazine, illustrating the humorous aspects of life with a complex disability. When not writing, Linda can be found papercrafting, cross stitching, or cuddling guinea pigs. Love You From A-Z is her first published novel.
About the interviewer.
Catherine Lawless lives in Hertfordshire with her daughter and their three border terriers. She writes novels, journals, songs and children’s books.
Catherine’s career started out as a singer/songwriter in a rock band. She toured extensively throughout Europe and the UK before settling down and following her childhood dream of writing books.