My guess today is Teresa Ashby.
1. When I first started writing short stories, two names appeared in every magazine I looked at - yours and Della Galton's. How long have you been writing womag stories and how did you get started?
I sold my first fiction story in 1984 to Secrets which was published by D C Thomson, but I started writing short stories a year or so before that. I had written a few (awful) novels by then. I used to invest in as many magazines as I could and after reading them, I’d count the words in each story. There weren’t a lot of guidelines back then, so you had to create your own. There were dozens of magazines which was good in a way as you had to learn to write in many different styles to suit each market.
2. Do you remember your first acceptance?
Yes, I do. It was called Happy to Oblige and the story was written about my two year old son trying to put my cat in the tumble dryer – he’d just come in out of the pouring rain. Thankfully I caught him. He was acting with the best of intentions and Leo came to no harm, but it sold my first story. The first thing I did when I got the letter was to phone my mum. Honestly, she was that chuffed, I still smile when I remember that phone call.
3. You've had soooo many since - do you still celebrate after a 'yes' and if so how?
I am always ecstatic when I have an acceptance. Mainly it’s a smile on my face and the push I need to get on and write more.
4. I know your family are important to you - do they still make it into your stories?
They sneak in sometimes without me even realising it. Same with the pets. Mainly I see my characters as people I’ve just met, but they often share some character traits with those I love – and a few people that I don’t (you’ll always need villains).
5. Do you have a strict writing routine, or is it impossible to fit one around the grandchildren and animals?
No I don’t have a routine at all. I write when and where I can.
6. The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?
At the moment it’s peanut butter on toast, but if anyone passing cares to throw me a tasty snack, I won’t say no.
7. You've published several collections of your short stories, could you tell us about the latest one?
Margaret’s Mouse &Other Stories is the latest. (US link) The stories were all published in The People’s Friend and there are twenty in all. It’s a mix of all sorts – but mainly about families with a bit of romance thrown in. (The collection is available at the special price of 99p/99c from today until Tuesday)
8. What has been your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?
I think it must be when I sold my first serial in 1988 to My Weekly, “For The Children’sSake”. I bought my first computer, an Amstrad with what I earned from that. Then I was contacted by publishers in Norway and Italy who wanted to publish it too. It was also published as a pocket novel. Many years later I found out that I could also sell large print rights. That serial opened up a whole new world for me and I should say here that I am forever grateful to D C Thomson for the encouragement they gave me when I started out.
9. Can you pass on a tip for other womag writers?
Read the magazines – the whole magazine that is, even the adverts. Know who you’re writing for and respect them. I think respect for the reader is vital. During a stay in hospital in 1985, the nurseswere only allowed to spend a maximum of two minutes in the room with me and one lovely nurse in particular used to have to keep looking at her watch because we’d end up talking about magazines. She said she loved reading the confession ones during her break. From that moment on, I thought of her when I wrote confession stories and imagined her reading them. I hadn’t thought about it this deeply before, but I definitely have someone in mind as my reader when I write –almost as if I’m chatting to them and telling the story.