Displaying all 22 episodes
In this podcast, I try to reveal as much about the publishing process as I can to new writers. Holly Tonks has seen it all. She has worked in a literary agency, edited books in large publishing houses and a small indie, and she is now a Lecturer in Publishing at Bath Spa University.
Sheena Wilkinson has been described in the Irish Times as ‘one of our foremost writers for young people’. From her home in Belfast, she talks to me about her writing process, and how the story you end up writing is often not the one you started out with.
I talk to Fraser Grace about making plays, writing poetry, and the website he built in lockdown called The Word Cage, where he shares his own poems and those of his special guests.
In this episode I talk to Sarah Wooley about writing for radio. Sarah’s plays about real characters and moments in history are regulars on Radio 3 and Radio 4 on the BBC. This year she won a BBC Audio Drama award for her adaption of Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates. Her career included a stint as a staff director at the National Theatre and she has worked with Trevor Nunn, Stephen Daldry and Harold Pinter, as well as writing and directing plays of her own.
Ruth Ware is the author of several stand-alone crime novels. Her adult debut, In a Dark Dark Wood, was a Richard and Judy book club choice that went on to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic. She's a #1 New York Times bestseller whose books sell around the world.
(Apologies if you downloaded an earlier version.) Adele Geras has been published since 1976. Like me, she didn’t find it easy to get a publisher at first, but she’s lost count of the number of books she’s written since then. We talk about writing for different age groups, being a planner, and the subjects that inspire us to write.
Emma Darwin is the author of two historical novels and a guide to writing historical fiction. Her latest book, intriguingly, is the story of not being able to write a novel about her famous family. I got to know Emma through her blog, ‘This Itch of Writing’. She investigates the craft of writing in real depth, giving plentiful illustrations of what she means, and I usually end up pointing my students there at some point, so it was great to be able to talk to her in person for this episode.
James took various writing courses while he honed his craft, and I wanted to discuss the value of these with him. Is it worth it? Should one do it? What do you get out of it? All useful things to know. As always, it was good to talk to a fellow writer about the ups and downs of the road to publication. I loved his comment that ‘you can’t fix a blank page’. If you want to be a writer, however hard it is, you first have to write.
The Masterminds were a writing group formed out of a course Sophia ran with Keren David at City Lit in 2016. They have been meeting ever since, occasionally mentored by Sophia, to workshop new work and support each other through the prepublished years. It was a pleasure to get four of them together for this episode, to talk about the group and what it means to them.
Sophia talked to Catherine in Hastings via the Cleanfeed app. The topics ranged from Catherine's time as a screenwriting student at St Martin's art college in London, to her many award-winning YA novels and why she was inspired to write about black people in history, from enslaved people to aristocrats and adventurers. View the show notes here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/catherine-johnson
Jasbinder and Sophia both got their publishing break by winning the Times/Chicken House Children’s Fiction Competition. Jasbinder went on to win the Costa Children’s Book Award with 'Asha and the Spirit Bird'. Sophia talks to her about the experience of writing that book and the slow and tortuous process of getting it good enough to publish. View the show notes here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/jasbinder-bilan
Stephanie tells Sophia what she’s looking for in children’s fiction at the moment, and why the covering letter is so important. If you’ve ever wondered who is reading that submission you slave over, and how to make it stand out, Stephanie has the answers. View the show notes here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/stephanie-thwaites
Keren and Sophia talk about writing fiction for the first time, what you can learn about structure from writing a musical, writing for dyslexic readers with publishers Barrington Stoke, and address the ‘own voices’ debate. View the show notes here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/the-bridget-jones-method-talking-about-writing-ya-fiction-with-keren-david
'The Confessions of Frannie Langton', winner of the 2019 Costa First Novel Award is a dark gothic mysery, set in Georgian London and the plantations of Jamaica. It has a voice that leaps off the page and this is what Sophia wanted to talk to Sara about. They discuss how she undertook her research, the importance of reading Regency novels in your teens, and The Confessions’s tremendous success from the moment it was published. View the show notes here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/writing-the-book-teaches-you-how-to-write-it-talking-about-voice-with-sara-collins
Robert calls his genre ‘attainable fantasy’. He talks about how quickly he writes, how important structure is, how he tries to make each chapter work as standalone excitement, and how the series grew by word of mouth. In fact, he says ‘it almost survived through benign neglect’. His first advance was small for the times, but he has since become a millionaire through writing. His latest Robin Hood series will be out in 2020. View the show notes here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/the-role-of-luck-talking-about-series-with-robert-muchamore
Annie Eaton disputes the label ‘legend’ – but she is one. Annie started her editorial career at Puffin in 1984. Since then she has worked as an editor and senior publisher at Transworld, Random House, PRH and Faber, and worked with authors including Jacqueline Wilson, Philip Pullman, Malorie Blackman, Siobhan Dowd and Helen Cooper. Full show notes available here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/there-are-no-rules
Award-winning author Candy Gourlay talks about finding your place as a writer, her blog 'Notes from the Slushpile', and what it takes to get a manuscript ready to submit. We cover issues such as ‘do authors pay taxes?’, why submitting to lots of agents can be traumatic, and why you mustn’t do it as soon as you’ve finished writing the book. Show notes available here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/put-it-in-a-drawer
Children's editor Karen Ball unwittingly gives Sophia the name for this podcast … and talks about her 25-year career, from launching the multi-million selling 'Beast Quest' series with Working Partners, to setting up her own consultancy with Speckled Pen. Full show notes available here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/start-with-the-beast
Prolific children's author Caroline Lawrence tells Sophia about how John Truby helped her get off to a stellar start with her 'Roman Mysteries' series, and shares some inspiring writing tips from her new book, 'How to Write a Great Story'. Full show notes available here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/nancy-drew-in-ancient-rome
International bestselling author Cliff McNish shares his thoughts about getting to the deep core of characters, and how to avoid cliché by ‘never accepting your first idea’ and ‘staying in the moment’. We discuss the effectiveness of giving your protagonist seemingly insuperable problems, the darkness of picture books, and the need for a ‘desire line’: “Whenever you respond really deeply to a character, you always know what they want.” Full show notes available here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/you-can-t-make-it-dark-enough
Sophia disagrees with Young Adult and thriller writer Caroline Green about the usefulness of plotting formulas, and Caroline shares some great ideas from the creators of South Park, as well as the various ways she has plotted different books. Full show notes available here: https://www.prepublished.net/episodes/and-then-is-not-good
Children's and crime writer Sophia Bennett explains her long journey to publication, and why she wanted to make this podcast. She introduces some of the guests, who'll be talking about their experiences and sharing their favourite tips for making you and your writing stand out.