I started writing my first novel, “The Other’s Voice”, in 2015 and published it in 2016. So, I guess that’s when I started writing for a ‘proper’ purpose. However, I have been writing little stories on and off since I first found out how to string a sentence together. I remember writing a short story at primary school – I guess that’s the same as elementary school in the US. The story was about two pet lizards and their adventures. For some reason, I decided to name the lizards Bink and Bonk. It was only as I grew older that I realised how inappropriate the second lizard’s name was… but, looking back, it did explain my teacher’s smile at the time. For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, please feel free to Google “bonk UK slang”.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new writers?
I still think of myself as a new writer, but I have one very valuable – albeit slightly clichéd – piece of advice…. Write. Just do it. I’m sure Nike won’t mind me borrowing their slogan there, but seriously, just do it. Once you’ve got those first few words down and you’ve beaten that blank page or blank screen, then anything is possible.
Are there any writing resources, such as books or websites, you’d like to recommend?
Absolutely! There are two that I would recommend to pretty much anyone. The first is Stephen King’s “On Writing”. It provides a brilliant insight into his personal writing journey and is a great and inspiring read – even if you’re not a horror writer. The second is a website called Duotrope. I only discovered Duotrope fairly recently, but it’s how I ended up finding this fantastic website! Duotrope helps writers to find places to submit their work and tells them what each place is looking for in its submissions. It’s a relatively simple idea, but I think it works fantastically.
If you could go back and find yourself five years ago, what advice would you give yourself?
My Grandad was a big reader and always encouraged me to read. Whenever I used to visit my grandparents on a Sunday for a roast dinner, their house would smell like gravy and Nan would be in the kitchen while Grandad would always be sat in his favourite chair, reading a book. The rest of my immediate family aren’t really big readers (with a couple of exceptions), so without seeing him read like this, I possibly wouldn’t have become such a big reader myself. Anyway, he sadly passed away before I wrote and published my first novel. I ended up dedicating it to him, but I wish that he could have read it. It probably wouldn’t have been his usual cup of tea, being that it wasn’t about World War II, but I think he would have got a kick out of it.
In answer to your question (I knew I’d get back on topic eventually), I’d go back to five-years-ago me and tell myself to write the book there and then, so that Grandad could have a read of it.
What is your favorite type of fiction and who are your favorite authors?
Horror, science fiction and fantasy are my favourite genres, although I do also love a good murder mystery. As you’ve probably already guessed from one of my previous answers, I’m a big Stephen King fan. I love James Herbert, Shaun Hutson and Brian Lumley – all fantastic writers who take on the horror genre in very different ways. I also love George R.R. Martin and Gail Z Martin. A big virtual hat tip also goes to Ben Galley – his work is fantastic. I recently started the “Scarlet Star” series and I’m already hooked on his alternate / fantasy / western world.
How do you measure success when it comes to your writing?
I’ll know I’m successful when I can quit my day job and write full time… Just kidding! Mostly…
In all seriousness, it’s in the little things. A short while ago I was out at a gig with a friend while another friend sent her a collection of WhatsApp messages. I possibly should have been annoyed that my friend’s attention was on her phone, rather than the gig, but I let it slide because the other friend was reading my book and was at a particularly interesting point. Let’s just say that ‘something’ had happened and she was scared to keep reading as it was likely that worse things were to follow. Being able to see people’s reactions to my stories – whether I know them personally or not – is really interesting. It’s even better when they like them and the words are having the desired effect! So, if I’ve been successful in creeping someone out or making them think ‘hey, that’s a bit gross’, then I count that as a win.
What tips do you have for finding time to write?
It’s impossible to find time to write. You have to make time to write.
Do you favor the traditional route or self-publishing?
So far, I’ve self-published two novels, a novella and a short story. I think it’s a great way of getting your work out there, whilst maintaining complete control. With that said, if the right publishing deal came along, I wouldn’t say ‘no’.
What do you think the publishing industry will look like twenty-five years from now?
I have no idea at all. It’s a bit tempting to travel through time and have a look, but I’ve learnt my lesson on that via Megan in “Wasted Time”! (You’ve got to love a bit of self-promotion!)
Are you an outliner or discovery writer? Or somewhere in between?
I’m somewhere in between. I often start with beginning and the end in my head, but everything in between is a complete journey of discovery. Sometimes that journey gets me to the end as planned, but sometimes I find that I’ve ended up somewhere else entirely. Either of these results can make for a fun story.
Have you attended any conferences or writing retreats? What was the experience like and do you have any to recommend?
Nope. I’d like to though!
How do you deal with rejections?
Sulk. Throw a tantrum. Then I just push it one side and get back to writing. If there’s constructive criticism along with the rejection, I’ll take it on board. I won’t always act on it though!
Do you ever get criticism from family or friends who don’t understand your passion?
No, not at all. Everybody’s been really supportive.
Were you taught anything about creative writing in high school or college that just didn’t work for you?
No, not really. I wasn’t a fan of the way literature was taught though. I still have flashbacks where I’m underlining passages in my copy of “Far From The Madding Crowd”.
In your opinion, how important is a writing degree or MFA when it comes to achieving success in writing fiction?
Not at all. If you have a qualification then that’s great, but no-one should feel put off if they don’t have one. I think passion is more important.
Do you participate in any online or in-person critique or writing groups?
No, but I probably should!
What are your writing goals for the next twelve months?
To finish and publish the novel that I’m working on at the moment. It’s taking a bit longer than my previous efforts, but I know I’ll get there eventually. I’m also hoping to write a lot more flash fiction because I love the immediacy of it.
What are your writing goals for the next five years?
To finish the trilogy that I’ve started (two books down, one to go!) and to write some standalone stories. In addition to the actual writing side of things, I’m looking to find creative ways of promoting my work.
What book are you reading right now?
Unlike some of my friends, I can only focus on one book at a time and, at the moment, it’s “Last Days” by Adam Nevill.
Is there anything you’d like to plug? Feel free to share a link.
I do indeed! Please feel free to check out my website at www.louyardley.com or search for me in your favourite (online) book retailer… or both. In fact, do both and I’ll be a very happy bunny!
Thank you so much for this opportunity.