Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Interview with Womag Writer Sheila Crosby

Today's guest is my writing buddy Sheila Crosby.

Sheila, I know that like many womag writers you recently attended one of the Woman’s Weekly writing workshops - which one was that?
I went to the “Plot and Storytelling” workshop in London on June 27th.

What did you hope to gain from attending the workshop?

I've occasionally sold short stories to womags, but I've never sold to WW and I've never sold womag fiction consistently. I hoped the workshop would bring me closer to achieving that.

Can you give us any pointers on plotlines which might be particularly suitable - or otherwise, for Woman’s Weekly?

Stay clear of politics, religion and anything else obviously controversial. Also, you can have serious problems, but nothing unrelentingly bleak. People don't read womag fiction to finish up more depressed than they started.

I certainly hope you thought it was worthwhile, as it’s not exactly local for you, is it?

Definitely worthwhile! Although the cost would have been prohibitive if I'd travelled all the way from a small Canary Island just for the course. I love La Palma, but it's not easy to get to anywhere else. Actually, it was the last day of a holiday in the UK; I went to the course in London on Monday and flew out of Gatwick on Tuesday.

*pretends to look surprised and hopes blog readers won’t realise I’ve visited you over there* Gosh, that must be interesting. Does where you live influence what you write?

Oh yes! One of the womag stories I've sold (to “Yours”) was set on La Palma, and I'm writing a whodunnit set in the astronomical observatory at the top of the island. 

I didn't need to do much research because I worked there as a software engineer for 12 years and a tour guide for 8, and it's much too interesting a setting to waste. I've also self-published a non-fiction guide to the observatory(English version available here)aimed at normal people rather than astrophysicists, which is still doing rather well.

Sheila's also written two story collections - both of which I recommend. 

The Seer's Stone (she says it's a children's book, but it's too much fun to keep it just for them) and The Dodo Dragon and other stories which is sc-fi  (have hankies ready for the first one).
I usually ask interviewees about their writing fuel of choice. It’s trifle, right?

I nibble a lot when I'm writing. I get through far too many crisps and biscuits and my waistline looks that way. *Resists temptation to include that photo of Sheila eating trifle*

Anyway, back on topic - Would you recommend the workshops to other writers?

Definitely, unless they've already sold a bunch of stories to WW.


Rosemary Gemmell said...

Thanks for a very interesting post, ladies. I've never been to any of these workshops but imagine I would benefit from one!

Patsy said...

I enjoyed the one I went to a couple of years ago. One half was with Susan aherne about serial writing - something I've still not succeeded with, but I'm not blaming the workshop fotr that!

Anonymous said...

Great interview, and we wanted the trifle photo, to prove how delish it must have been. Not sure the course would improve my chances but maybe one day I'll get to one. I like the look of the crime on with Simon Brett. Love his books.

Sue Blackburn said...

Very interesting post. Thank you both. I'd love to go on a WW course and really hope I can at some point :-) xx