Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Interview with womagwriter Kate Willoughby

My guest today is Kate Willoughby.

1. When and why did you start writing, Kate ?

I started seriously writing in 1999. I’ve always wanted to have a book on a shelf somewhere, ever since I was a little girl. I had toyed with the idea of majoring in English in college, but got discouraged in a creative writing class where my attempts to write genre fiction were met with derision.

2. Are you a disciplined writer producing a steady stream of stories, or do you wait until you're in the mood?

I’m not the most disciplined writer in the world. I do write almost everyday on my novels, but the Woman’s World stories come as inspiration strikes.

3. I know you have a particular interest in romance stories for Woman's World. What do you particularly enjoy about their fiction?

I enjoy how quick and simple they are. You can always count on a happy ending. There’s also a feeling that you’re entering a safe world. You’re not going to encounter any gritty issues or violence or abuse or anything that might cause you to feel anxious. In a way, reading these stories is like taking a literary bubble bath—they let you relax, enjoy, and escape reality for a little while.

4. On your blog you analyse the Woman's World fiction and you also offer online workshops for those interested in writing for this market - can I persuade you to share a few observations and tips? 

My best tip for those who want to sell a romance story to Woman’s World is to either subscribe or regularly buy the magazine. This is the best way to absorb the tone, rhythm and content that they gravitate towards. At the very least, read 4-5 of the romances. If the magazine isn’t available where you live (it’s usually on the stands at the grocery checkout,) maybe you have an American friend who could purchase issues for you and send you a photo of the romance story.

5. The right writing snacks are very important - what's your fuel of choice?

Snacking is my downfall. I’m trying very hard to eat four fruits and veggies a day, which for some reason is easier for me to do than “avoid bad snacks.” So, my go-to snacks will be apples, carrots, cucumber, tiny tomatoes with ranch or hummus.

6. You write novels too. Are these in a similar style to your Woman's World stories?

My novels are not similar at all. I write sexy hockey romance—romance in which the heroes are professional hockey players. (Yes, it’s really a thing!) There is graphic sex inside those books and a lot of swearing, because, hey, they’re hockey players. One thing you will find in both my Woman’s World Stories and my novels is humor and (hopefully) well-developed, likable characters.

(On the Surface is the first in Kate's hockey romance series. US readers can get it for 99c at the moment.)

7. What has been your happiest or proudest writing moment so far?

You know, I was pretty proud of that very first sale to Woman’s World. At the time, they paid $1000 for 1100 words. I had heard that the Woman’s World market was very difficult to break into, and I had submitted five stories to them before the third story I sent got accepted. Every sale since then has been cause to celebrate in my house. It’s always a great excuse for me not to have to cook. LOL

8. What is it Americans have against the letter U? Flavor, color, neighbor - it's all so wrong!

Efficiency? Laziness? I don’t know. LOL

9. There don't seem to be many other U.S. women's magazines which publish short stories - is that the case? If so, is short fiction unpopular in the U.S. or is it accessed in other ways?

It saddens me that there isn’t more short fiction published in the United States. I suspect that younger generations of women are more interested in other things. I also think that “being busy” is a badge of honor these days and that if you have time to read, it probably is an indication that you’re “not busy,” which is not something people admire, unfortunately.

10. What advice would you give to someone considering submitting to womags?

Study the market. Give yourself permission and the time to improve. Professional musicians don’t get gigs the first time they pick up an instrument. Persevere. Unlike being busy, getting a rejection from a publisher is a badge of honor—it proves that you had the guts to put your writing out there. It’s always hard to get a rejection, but it does get easier, especially if you remember that the rejection is not a reflection of your writing ability. It is a judgment on that particular piece of writing. Furthermore, it is not saying that piece of writing is bad. It is just not right for that publication/publisher at that time.  


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Great interview! I've enjoyed your analysis of the WW stories, Kate, and wish you much success with your novels.

Kate Willoughby said...

Thank you, Rosemary!

Penny said...

Interesting blog! Thank you. Always good to learn of different writing.

Re: the '-or' or '-our' spelling differences. I believe most of these were originally from Latin, but that the English spelling of (say) 'colour' developed from Norman French, after the Conquest. So... that probably means that the American 'color' is nearer the original... insofar as any spelling was fixed at that time!

Jan Baynham said...

A very interesting interview, Patsy and Kate.mThank you both.

Patsy said...

@ Penny - that's interesting. I hadn't really thought about the reasons for it and just asumed they'd gone for a simplified version.

Janice Sadler said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank Kate for all the work she does on her Woman's World blog. It must take her such a long time but it's much appreciated.

Anne Rainbow said...

Excellent interview!

I agree: getting a rejection from a publisher is a badge of honor — it proves that you had the guts to put your writing out there.

The important thing is to make sure the words shine BEFORE submitting - and that means good editing.