My guest today is Wendy Clarke.
1. I know you've only been writing for about three years, Wendy - so I don't suppose you've seen any changes in the womag market or noticed magazines being more open to genres they'd not previously have considered?
Over the last three years, I have seen a definite change in the types of stories The People’s Friend are happy to accept. As one of their regular writers, I know that as long as difficult subjects are handled sensitively, it is now possible to push the boundaries a little. For example, I have written about bereavement, disabilities, a child with Asperger’s syndrome, divorce and post natal depression. I was also told I was the first person to sell them a ghost story. It is definitely a mistake to think that their stories are about teashops and cupcakes!
2. In your article in Writing Magazine you mentioned your 'signature style' could you describe that?
My stories have been described as having emotional depth – I hope this is true.
3. You've become very successful very quickly. Obviously the fact you write really good stories has helped, but I believe teacakes are also important?
Oh yes, the teacakes! I am very lucky to have a writing friend Tracy Fells living near me and once a month we sit in our local tearoom and put the writing world to rights. The support she has given me has been incredibly valuable... and it was over teacakes that I came up with the idea of putting together my first collection of stories, Room in Your Heart, last year.
4. You're very disciplined and write a new story every week. How do you manage that?
I’m lucky in that I have the time to do it. Since being made redundant four years ago (which is when I started writing) my only regular commitment is walking my step-dog... oh, and writing my novel!
4. Is it true that your husband reads all your stories?
Yes, poor thing. He has an engineer’s brain and is able to look for errors without getting caught up in the stories themselves. Having said that, he is very good at recognising if I’ve written a ‘so what’ story (as Gaynor from Woman’s Weekly likes to call them) – if I have, his face says it all. He is incredibly supportive, though, and immensely proud of my writing.
5. I've heard that some writers use real people and situations in stories, especially if something has annoyed them. Do you ever do that?
I very rarely, if ever, base my characters on real people. I do, however, use situations people have told me about in my stories... a lot. One of the stories in The Last Rose, called New Beginnings, came about after a good friend told me that she received texts from her baby grandson (written by her daughter of course). He would sometimes tell her he was having a bad day and I knew at once that it would make a poignant story.
6. You have two lovely collections of short stories available, Room in Your Heart and The LastRose - will there be more?
I have been asked for more, so I hope so... just not for a while!
7. I understand you're working on a novel now, does that mean you'll be giving up the short stories?
I know I should but I just can’t. I love writing short stories – the variety and the way they allow you to visit so many different centuries, characters, settings and situations. The only way I might give them up is if someone offered me a mega book deal... any offers?
8. What has been your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?
A have two perfect moments – when I sold my first story... and then when I sold my hundredth story!
9. Can you pass on a tip for other womag writers?
I’ve said this before and I think it’s become my mantra - just start writing: write the story you would like to read yourself and write it from the heart. If you love it, it’s more likely that the editors will too.