Paula Brackston is the New York Times bestselling author of ‘The Witch’s Daughter’ and other novels. Paula is keen to encourage other writers to pursue their ambitions and she has kindly agreed to share her experience about her writing career so far.
Your new novel, ‘The Little Shop of Found Things’, is published in the USA and Canada on the 16th October 2018. How would you describe it?
‘The Little Shop of Found Things’ is a time-slip historical novel with a touch of magic. It follows the story of Xanthe and her mother, Flora, who leave London to take on an old antiques shop in Marlborough. Xanthe has the gift of psychometry, which means she senses things about the history of certain objects when she touches them. The discovery of an old blind house in the garden of their new home magnifies this gift, enabling her to travel back through time. This is the first book in a new continuing series.
Tell us about your writing journey. How did you first get published?
I had been writing for nearly nine years when I had my first book published, so I was one of those overnight successes! I spent that time submitting short stories to magazines, entering competitions, sending work to agents and publishers, undertaking an MA in Creative Writing, and generally writing, writing, writing. My first book, ‘The Book of Shadows’, was picked up by the small UK publisher, Snowbooks, who then sold the US rights to St Martin’s Press in New York. My editor there championed my work, buying the rights to all my books, and becoming my main publisher. We have published six books together, and are now embarking on this new series, which I’m really excited about.
I also write comic-crime-historical-fantasies as PJ Brackston. I have an agent for this series and to date the books have been published in Germany, Brazil and America. I’m excited to be able to tell you that they will be available in the UK from June 2019!
In my spare time I write literary fiction. My first novel with Honno Press is coming out in April 2019. I am writing this under the pen name of Mabli Roberts.
Where do you find the inspiration for your stories?
My head is teeming with ideas. I have no idea where they come from, though I do think the Welsh landscape helps.
You have released several different book series. How do you manage writing these at the same time?
I try not to be actually writing more than one book at a time. What tends to happen is at any given moment I am proofreading Book A, editing Book B, writing Book C, and moodling Book D. I will also be promoting a book I wrote nearly two years earlier. These activities are sufficiently different to help me keep track of what I’m doing. If a character from a different series tries to muscle in on the book I’m writing I know it’s time to take a day off!
What is the most important thing you have learned as a writer?
What does your writing day look like?
I try to be in my writer’s shed by nine thirty and stay there until one o’clock. I go back in after lunch and dog walk and then emerge again at about four. It is bliss having a designated writing space; I thoroughly recommend it. We looked at all manner of fancy shepherd’s huts and garden offices costing thousands, filled with squishy sofas and trays of tea and cake. My other half garumphed at this and bought me a £250 shed from Homebase. He insulated it, put in windows, a desk and a heater, and it’s perfect. Very ascetic and conducive to work rather than dozing on cushions.
Who are your favourite writers?
In no particular order: Rose Tremain, Andrew Miller, David Mitchell, Julian Barnes, Evelyn Waugh, PJ Wodehouse, Jane Gardam and Hilary Mantel.
Do you think writing groups and courses are important?
As I used to both attend them and run them I have to say yes! Seriously, I do believe they can be hugely helpful. Writers, new and established, often beaver away in solitude so it’s good to engage in a more sociable style of writing. You learn so much from other people and their own creativity, and it is invaluable to get feedback from fellow writers and course leaders on your work.
What advice can you give to new writers?
You’ve got to love the actual writing process to make it worth doing. Don’t chase the market; it moves too fast. Write what excites you, in the way that you want to write it. Listen to critiques from trusted friends, writers and teachers, take criticism on board, but follow your own path. And keep going!
What is next for Paula Brackston?
I am currently working on Book Two in the Found Things series, which should be out this time next year. I’m also finishing the edits on ‘God’s Children’ which is the literary historical novel coming out in the spring over here. There’s lots to do to launch the Detective Gretel series in the summer too. I’m planning a fun launch, so keep an eye out for that! After Christmas I shall be sketching Book Three of the new series. And of course I have ideas, ideas, ideas…
There are giveaways of signed copies of the new book and other goodies coming up on Paula’s Youtube channel… https://www.youtube.com/c/PaulaBrackstonBooks
You can find Paula on Facebook… https://www.facebook.com/worldofpaulabrackston/
And her website… www.paulabrackston.com
And even Instagram… @paulabrackston