'Take care with your sentences: good writing is about much more than just a story. And never giv
You do write great fiction and also fabulous non-fiction. But first can you please tell us more about the joy of fiction writing?
I love writing fiction. It’s not work; it’s pure pleasure. I love the business of creating sentences and pushing my character around the various situations I devise for her. For me, writing fiction is like real life, but a little bit brighter, and a little bit sharper.
What is the hardest stage of writing a novel and how do you get over it?
For me, plotting is always the tough bit. Everything else comes quite easily to me now. (That wasn’t always the case, but I’ve written over fifteen books now, and it does get easier.) But plotting? That just remains hard. I make it worse for myself too, because my novels are detective novels, so I always need a mystery element (that looks to the past) as well as a suspense element, that looks to the future. So I always need the reader to be thinking, “Who killed that person? And how is this detective going to get out of the latest Sticky Situation?” Figuring all that out, and keeping the action taut and plausible, pretty much does my head in. In my next life, I’m going to write Mills & Boon.
Let’s talk about the art of compression and Flash Fiction. Do you write/read Flash Fiction stories?
I don’t, no. I’m strictly a full-length man, both in terms of writing and reading. That said, I think the act of compression is really important, especially for newer writers. It teaches the intense importance of caring about every word and every sentence. If you take that discipline to a full-length work, the result will be much stronger than it would be otherwise.
You’re the founder of Jericho Writers, can you please tell us the idea behind it. Why did you start it and what is your ethos?
Well, the ethos part is easy: we are massively writer-centred and always have been. I’m a pro author. So is my colleague Sarah Juckes. Some of my other colleagues write seriously too. And Jericho Writers is really a rebrand and relaunch of my older company, The Writers Workshop. The old WW used to offer great editorial services, great courses and so on. But then we realised that we were also creating this huge array of digital services that we could just make available at low cost to anyone who wanted. So we did. We created a membership service (here:https://jerichowriters.com/about/) that’s pretty much unique in the world. It’s like an all-you-can-eat buffet of courses, masterclasses, feature films, and much more. We’ve had amazing feedback from users so far … and we’ve only just got going.
I’ve read loads of success stories on Jericho Writer’s website! Can anyone or everyone do that, be the next one?
No, I wouldn’t say everyone. But certainly, if you can put a sentence together, and if you’re really serious about working hard, persisting and actually working w
ith the advice you’re given, then I’d say success is within reach. I’ve known loads of clients who, when they first came to us, didn’t look like they were going to get published … only they really stuck at it and ended up with a proper agent and a proper book deal. The single most important virtue for a writer is persistence.
- Can you give some advice to the aspiring writers?
Don’t invest too much in an idea if the idea isn’t strong enough to begin with. Learn what you need to about your chosen publishing route. Take care with your sentences: good writing is about much more than just a story. And never give up. Good luck!