Self Published Sunday: Interview With Lynne North

This week we welcome indy authorLynne North who’s Children’s book, Caution: Witch in Progress’ was published by Ghostly Publishing in 2013 and launched at Earl’s Court Book Fair in London on April 15th.

Lynne Northing author photoLynne North lives in the north west of England and works as a data analyst for one of the local Health Authorities. She has been a prolific reader all her life, and for many years has spent the majority of her free time writing. As well as being educated up to degree level, she has completed courses and received diplomas from ‘The Writing School Ltd’ and ‘The Academy of Children’s Writers’.
Lynne’s aim in life has always been to write, and she has had a sideline of freelance writing for more years than she likes to admit to having lived. This has mainly involved published articles in such magazines as ‘Prediction’. She has also completed two children’s novels, ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ and ‘Zac’s Destiny’.
Lynne is currently working on a very different children’s humorous fantasy, ‘Be Careful What You Wish For’, and a fantasy novel for young adults titled ‘Dimensions’.

What do you do when you are not writing?
Unfortunately I still work full time as a Data Analyst for one of my local Health Authorities. I am also currently spending a lot of time promoting my recently released children’s humorous fantasy. I visited Earl’s Court Book Fair in London this year to promote the official release of my book, ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’. I enjoy holidays, walking in the countryside, console gaming when I have the time, listening to music, and reading, to name but a few of my interests. Somewhere in between all that, I sometimes find time to eat and sleep.

What inspired you to become a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. From first learning how to write I knew I wanted to be creative. During school years I enjoyed my English classes (yes, I was the one), and even liked being set essays to write. In my teens I began writing articles for magazines, and making money from my hobby. Once writing became such an interest, to me it was a natural progression to want to write a book. The thought can seem quite daunting, and I find that I never sit back to wonder how much I will have to write to complete a book or it could seem an arduous task. Writing should be a pleasure. If the author does not enjoy writing it, then the public will certainly not enjoy reading it. Writing a book to me is a series of stages, never looking ahead to the next until I have completed the present one. When I finally look back over how much I have written, it can be quite a pleasant surprise. To answer your question, therefore, my inspiration for writing has been set by a series of moments throughout my life, that all culminated in the wonderful one of seeing my first book in print.
Current work.

What was your inspiration for Caution: Witch in Progress?
I have always loved to read fantasy. It is escapism into worlds we can only imagine, full of colour and fascination. Terry Pratchett introduced me to humorous fantasy, and I have never looked back since. What a writer. I like to think that he has been my inspiration for my humorous writing, and my witches of course! As to witches in general, I feel they have had a hard time of it over the years. There may be some bad ones (though mine are not!) but throughout history alleged witches just seem to have borne the brunt of other people’s misfortunes. If someone’s crops failed, they blamed the little old lady with the hunched back who lived down the road for walking past. If their cattle died, the cross-eyed woman stared at them funny. Tell me, how else could she stare at them? I thought it was time to follow in the footsteps of my hero, Terry, and try to raise an appreciation for witches for a change. Many of the persecuted ones in our dim and distant past were probably little more than healers and herbalists. ‘Caution’ is mainly just a story that was inside me. I love to write humorous fantasy, and even if I’m not trying to be humorous, my writing has a habit of turning that way unless I keep a very tight rein on it. I began the story and it developed quickly. Before long the characters took over, and kept me going until they had reached their last page.

Tell us about your book?
Caution: Witch in Progress is aimed at the eight years of age to young teen market.
Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde-haired, blue-eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage.
Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted…
Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite.
Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds.
Not to mention the demon…

What research did you do for this book?
Most of my writing is straight from my mind, and involves no research whatsoever. That’s the beauty of fantasy. Anything goes! No one can say you are not right about a fantasy you create yourself. Where research is necessary (and of course it sometimes is) then I will spend as long as it takes to get it right. I did research the uses of various herbs and plants when writing about Gertie, for reasons that will be revealed in the book!

Are any elements of your book based on real life experiences/people?
I doubt if there are any writers out there who do not rely on at least some of their life’s experiences in their writing. Characters with Lancashire accents have a habit of creeping into my novels, especially when writing humour. I believe I have that off to a fine art…Then of course there’s the animated umbrella in ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ inspired by a true incident that happened to my Mother with her wooden-headed umbrella, but that’s another story…

What are you currently working on?
I have just completed the first draft of another children’s humorous fantasy titled ‘Be Careful What You Wish For.’ Here is a brief synopsis:
‘Finn is a bored young leprechaun. He wants something exciting to happen, but never having been blessed by the Good Luck Fairy, he soon gets far more than he bargained for. This is no fairy tale…’
I am also working on a YA fantasy titled ‘Dimensions’
‘When Leah first sees the old necklace in the window of an antique shop, little does she know what life has in store for her. Increasingly drawn to the pentacle on a silver chain, Leah finally buys it and soon finds herself having strange dreams about Stonehenge. Trying to put the dreams to rest, she visits the ancient site; only to be transported into another dimension.
Leah arrives in a besieged land of wizardry, magic and demon might. The land needs the help of an Outlander, and to Leah’s disbelief and shock, she has been called.’

What is your writing process?
I find that I have to write in long hand scribbles on a pad of A4 lined paper. I throw the ideas down as they come to me without pause to worry about spelling or punctuation. My own version of shorthand (because I never learned the real thing) sometimes even leaves me wondering what on earth I wrote! If inspiration begins to wane, I then move to my computer where I begin to type up what I have written, paying far more attention to the correct format. At this point a lot of what I scribbled might get changed, but at least my ideas flowed without interruptions caused by things that I find easier to edit later. I tend to follow this process all the time. It works for me!

Do you use anything to sustain you during the writing process? Coffee? Chocolate? Music?
Sometimes music, but more times than not I just like to sit comfortably and quietly to let the thoughts flow free. I don’t write for very long periods of time at one go, because if I start to think I’m forcing ideas, it doesn’t work. If the flow stops, I go away, do something else, then head back later.

What prompted you to self publish?
Actually, I was lucky enough not to have to self publish. I was published a few years ago by YouWriteOn, a group I found online who are sponsored by the Art’s Council to help new writer’s. I then recently discovered Ghostly Publishing and approached them with my work. They decided to give me a great chance by taking me on as one of their authors. For that, I will be eternally grateful!

Can you tell us about the challenges in writing and publishing your first novel?
I have never felt challenged by writing, because it is the only thing I have ever really wanted to do. Publishing, yes, that is the major challenge. It is very hard to keep positive about your writing when it is so difficult to get an agent or a publisher to even take a look at your work. My book went through many rejections, and many rewrites. The only thing you can do to give yourself more chances at those elusive publishers is to ensure your work is the best it can be, and written and edited within all the rules and formats expected by the publishing industry. If it is at least set out correctly, then your book has far more chance of being considered. Give it your best, it deserves it, doesn’t it?

Do you ever experience writers block? How do you overcome it?
Luckily, not in any serious way. I try not to put too much pressure on myself. If I knew I had to write x number of words, no matter what, then I could well feel daunted and wonder what comes next. I work in a casual way, writing what comes easily. If my train of thought falters then I go off to do something else to let my mind sort out the next part in the background. Some of my best ideas have sprung to mind in the shower!

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don’t give up. You are very unlikely to have your life’s work snatched up by the first publisher or agent you send it to. Be prepared for the long haul, but believe in yourself, and don’t lose hope. There could be someone out there just waiting for your book to drop on their desk. The hard part is finding them…

Why did you choose to write children’s books?
I write children’s books and YA mainly because these are the genres I feel comfortable writing, and associate most with. I could be said to be in my second (or third) childhood, but personally I don’t think I ever left my first. Life is too short to take it all too seriously…

How did you choose the genre you write in? What inspired you to write it?
I think fantasy chose me, rather than the other way round. Once I discovered ‘The Hobbit’ and ‘Lord of the Rings’ in my teens the stage was set for all my future reading habits. I think that the books we read will determine the genre of book we will choose to write. Fantasy is by far my favourite genre, so carrying that avid interest along into my love of writing and my need to be an author seemed to be the only natural progression.

How did you become interested in Fantasy
As I mentioned above it began with JRR Tolkien. I soon discovered Terry Pratchett, what a master of humorous fantasy. Terry is one of a kind and my favourite author. ‘The Sword of Shannara’ began my love of Terry Brook’s novels, followed by a long line of fantasy authors I love to read such as Terry Goodkind, Piers Anthony and Tad Williams, to name but a few!
Reader

What books have inspired you?
Probably all the books I read inspire me in one way or another. My main inspiration for humour is anything written by Terry Pratchett. The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings also have to have pride of place in this section.

What was your favourite book as a child/teenager?
It’s hard to choose one book, but the first one that comes to mind from childhood is ‘The Secret Island’ by Enid Blyton. The teenage novel must be ‘The Hobbit’.

What are you currently reading?
I enjoy reading children’s books, both to see what is doing well out there and what children like to read, and also for my own pleasure. I love Joseph Delaney’s books, and I am currently reading ‘The Spook’s Nightmare’.

What was the last book you recommended to a friend?
I think that too was Joseph Delaney’s Spook’s series. Children’s books are not necessarily just for children!

What/Who inspired you as a reader?
From a child, Enid Blyton, adventure stories, through science fiction, then in my teens onto fantasy where I have fixated ever since. The writer’s to inspire me have been all the ones mentioned in previous answers.

Just For Fun!

If ‘Caution: Witch in Progress’ was made into a film which actor, past or present, do you envision in the lead role?
Uhm, that’s a hard one. The only young actress who springs to mind for Gertie, because she is the right age, blonde, and a good actress, is Emilia Jones. Wonder if she can do a good northern accent?

If your book had a soundtrack which artists would feature on it?
I would like to give the opportunity to my cousin, Peter Nelson, who features on my book trailer. He is a talented musician with a lovely voice, and if I was doing well enough to need a soundtrack I would like him to participate in the success too.

Paper, Audio or eBook?
All, but as a first choice I would always choose to hold a ‘real’ book in my hands. There is nothing like the look, feel and smell of a new book.

Tea or Coffee?
Tea

Slippers or barefoot?
Barefoot

Shower or Bath?
Shower

Marmite: Love it? Hate it?
Hate it

Email or postcard?
Email

Caution: Witch In Progress cover artCaution: Witch In progress is a children’s humorous fantasy novel aimed at the eight years of age to young teen market.
Gertie Grimthorpe comes from a long line of witches. Unfortunately, she hasn’t really got the hang of it. Being blonde haired, blue eyed and free of warts isn’t much of an advantage.
Try as she might, Gertie’s spells fall flat. She manages to give her bat-headed umbrella the ability to talk, but then wishes she hadn’t when all he does is complain and insult people. Even finding an owl to be her Familiar doesn’t help. Then again, he is extremely shortsighted…
Gertie is sent to The Academy to improve her spell casting skills. She soon has a best friend in the form of Bertha Bobbit, a big girl, with a matching appetite.
Add to that a Moat Monster with a flatulence problem, the weirdest array of witch’s Familiars possible, and a warlock determined to ruin Gertie’s chances of success, and the story unfolds.
Not to mention the demon…

Caution: Witch In Progress is available to buy now in Paperback(click here) and on Kindle (click here).

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