When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
By the time I was seven, I was telling my two younger brothers bedtime stories. I soon started writing them down, but it was when I started reading Enid Blyton’s books about the Famous Five and Secret Seven that I knew I wanted to be a writer. More than that, I wanted to be the second Enid Blyton, but that idea was given up later.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Many of my ideas come from personal experience. I’ve had over six hundred short stories published in women’s magazines, and almost every one of them began with something I’d seen, done or heard. Eventually, I wrote a book, Writing From Life, about using personal experience in any form of writing. There’s some personal experience in Gail Lockwood and Her Imaginary Agony Aunt, my first novel.
What is the first book that made you cry?
It must have been Little Women. My heart broke when I read the scene where Beth dies. I remember reading it in bed and my tears falling onto the page and me trying to wipe them off.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
I think the worst trap is vanity publishing. No real publisher asks for money. I knew someone who was caught like this, invited to the publisher’s offices and then told about having to pay a ‘contribution’ towards her book. When she said she couldn’t afford the several thousand pounds asked for, she was shown into another office where she was offered a loan. She declined.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I have used a couple of pseudonyms but not for books. I only used them if I was murdering my in-laws though I wish I’d used one when writing a short story involving my aunt and her stair lift. It was published in her favourite magazine and she recognised herself. I didn’t get a Christmas card that year.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
I would tell myself to have more confidence. I’ve missed a few chances by thinking I wasn’t good enough. There’s a fine balance when it comes to confidence. When the library held an evening for local writers to read out their work, I noticed the over confident ones weren’t as good as they thought they were. Then an elderly lady stood up, her hands shook as she held a copy of her story. Her voice wavered. She read the best work of the night. If there’s been a clap-o-meter she would have easily won, yet she was the least confident of everyone.
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
I’ve subscribed to Writing Magazine since its first issue in 1989. I learned a lot from it. It contains useful articles and author interviews, and also gives information about publishers and competitions. I have now been a tutor for their home study courses for many years, and also write two features for them each month. I also subscribe to Writers’ Forum which is where I read an article about Cahill Davis Publishing.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
One. It was written many years ago for Mills and Boon’s historical series. The publishers were running a competition, asking for the first so many words or chapters. I forget. I sent it off and received a letter telling me I hadn’t won but saying they would like to see the novel when it was completed. I thought they were being nice and never finished it. My heroine, after a bit of bodice-ripping was left sitting on a fallen tombstone. The poor girl must have piles by now.
How many hours a day do you write?
You should ask my husband this one. He doesn’t seem to know the difference between me writing and me faffing about. He often says I’m doing the latter, knowing it makes me work harder. In reality, I try to start writing around 9am and carry on until lunchtime. So, the short answer is four. My husband brings me mugs of tea and places them on my desk without speaking. I often return to my desk for an hour or more in the afternoon to tackle the business side of writing – answering emails, sending out invoices etc.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, though I’m sure it’s real for some writers. If I can’t write, I’ll go and do something mindless, like a bit of housework or gardening. I may need a day or a week doing non-writerly things before returning to work – is that writer’s block? It’s when I’m not concentrating on what to write that new ideas come.
Lynne’s debut novel, Gail Lockwood and her Imaginary Agony Aunt, is out on 19th May 2023 and will be available in ebook and paperback.
In the meantime, you can find out more about Lynne on her website.