Considering author, Sophie Duffy has been reviewing for me for nearly two years, I thought it was about time I interviewed her on the blog. So rolling my sleeves up and adjusting the spotlight, I interrogated her about her writing skills!
1) With two books firmly under your belt, how does it feel to no longer be considered a debut author?
I feel very lucky as there are a lot of very good unpublished novels out there. Even now I still can’t quite believe I broke through. Winning the Luke Bitmead award was awesome. But I still have all the neuroses of any writer. Will my latest work-in-progress be good enough?
2) Can you give me a one line pitch for both The Generation Game and This Holey Life to give the readers an idea what they are about?
The Generation Game: 40 year old Philippa Smith, newborn baby, childhood in a Torquay sweetshop, a mismatched family, and Brucie on the box.
This Holey Life: A reluctant curate’s wife, an adulterous brother, a heap of trouble, a dose of grief, all piled into a terrace in Penge.
3) Can you tell us anything about the book you have been working on recently?
I am editing a novel after an extensive rewrite. My narrator is a Scottish bloke who is reunited with old student friends and has to face the tragedy that blew them apart.
4) With each book, do you find the writing process gets easier?
It’s always a slog for me, writing a novel. The first draft takes about 18 months and then the rewrites take as long again. I am not a great planner so the novel evolves organically as I get to know my characters. The process doesn’t get easier but I do trust myself a bit more that writing in this unstructured way will work out in the end.
5) Do you try and aim for a daily word target when writing?
I aim for 1000 words when I’m in the groove but I often miss this target as my teenagers and dogs can get in the way somewhat.
6) When is your ideal time to write? Morning, afternoon or evening?
Morning is a good time for me to get down the words. Evening is a good time to do a read through, make notes, and then I have something to start with the following day.
7) Do you edit as you go along or do you wait until the first draft is finished?
I do edit as I go along. And then after the first draft, I do a substantial rewrite as I know what I am dealing with.
8) Are you a planner or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser. I have a character and I put them in a situation with only a rough idea as to what will happen. Then I plunge in. This means I have to cut a lot of rubbish, but it’s exciting and never boring.
9) Which authors inspired you whilst growing up?
Enid Blyton, Agatha Christie, Jilly Cooper, George Eliot, Sue Townsend, Daphne du Maurier, Thomas Hardy
10) If you could have written any other book in the world, what would it be?
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole aged 13 ¾ by Sue Townsend
11) I know that you also mentor writers, so what advice would you give unpublished authors?
Enter competitions. There are a growing number of novel competitions now, including The Yeovil Literary Prize, the Luke Bitmead Bursary and The Exeter Novel Prize which I help to administer as part of Creative Writing Matters.
If you are serious, always be prepared to learn.
Never give up.
Thank you Sophie for surviving the interviewing process. I f you would like to know more about Sophie, then check out her website here. If you are interested in Sophie’s mentoring services, please click here.