Today, we have the pleasure of meeting U.K. author Debbie Edwards. Debbie will tell us about her whimsical work, her inspiration and a bit about herself.
I hope you enjoy this edition of 20 Questions.
Q1) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I had always wanted to write as I loved stories, but never had the confidence to start. It was very late in life, around 2001 when I seriously thought about it. I had admired writers from afar and never thought I could be part of their world. I actually began writing in January 2003 as part of a new year resolution pact. That year I decided it was something I would just get on and do, so I did.
Q2) How long does it typically take you to write a book?
On average about a year, depending on what else is happening in my life. I like to take my time and produce novels that I can be proud of. Self-editing takes a long time too then it has to go off to an editor to be looked over. It can be a long process, but the quality of my books is very important to me.
Q3) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I prefer to start writing around mid-morning. I’m not a particularly early riser and need a few cups of coffee before I can begin. It’s a time when I feel most awake and able to tackle the writing challenges of the day. I’m quite happy to write early evening too depending on where I am in my story. If I’m at a difficult part, I like to press on to see if I can solve the issue, if not, it waits until the next day – after the coffee though.
Q4) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Ooooh! I don’t think I really have any. All writers read aloud to their dogs and wear silly hats when writing certain characters, don’t they?
Q5) How are your books published? (traditional, indie, etc.)
I am proud to be an Indie. My books are published through my own publishing company, PurpleRay Publishing. I set this up purely to publish my own novels.
Q6) Where do you get your ideas for your books?
Ideas depend on the book I am writing really. As a primary school teacher, I once taught a class of 6-7 year olds. They were at an age when their baby teeth would become wobbly and fall out – often during the school day. They used to love telling me about it although it did drive me a little crazy at first. It got me thinking as to what a tooth fairy might do with the teeth, but as there were a few tooth fairy books out already I didn’t pursue the idea. But I couldn’t leave it alone so decided to put a different spin on it all using teenagers in the main character roles.
For Marvin’s curse I think ideas came from the love/admiration I have for other paranormal/fantasy writers and novels, also from watching so many great spooky films. It wasn’t that I read a book or saw a film and thought I could do better. No, I just wanted to be able to make up my own worlds and creatures.
Q7) If you don’t mind sharing, when did you write your first book?
My first book was Aggie Lichen; Pilp Collector which was written in 2003. It’s still popular now and I sell a lot of books especially when I go into schools to give author talks and workshops.
Q8) What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love travelling and so far have been to 55 different countries! I’m such a travel geek that I have a world map in my study with pins placed in where I’ve been. It’s great to see the sights and experience different cultures. I am not a beach person, so for me it’s being able to do all the touristy things then find my own way round villages, towns and cities. One of the most exciting times was visiting China and using overnight sleeper trains to get to Beijing, Xian and back to Shanghai. I also like to cruise! I get a lot of writing done that way too as they have quiet areas and libraries where I can work. India is next on the long list, but may have to do a few short journeys to complete Europe first.
Q9) What is your favorite book?
Can I have more than one? Lord of the rings and the Hobbit are up there on the list. Brilliantly written and a fantasy world created like nothing else I have read. I am also a great fan of Herbie Brennan, author of the Fairie Wars series. Seriously, if you haven’t read these you should. They are YA fantasy and the writing is amazing. After reading these I contacted Herbie to see if he would read my books and he did! He provided some fabulous quotes for me to use on the covers! I also love the Discworld books by Terry Pratchett. They are hilarious and you really grow to love the characters who pop up at different times in different novels. I’m a great fan of YA writer Cassandra Clare too. I loved her Mortal Instruments series.
Q10) What do your family and friends think of your writing?
Friends and family are very supportive. Many of them have read the books and enjoyed them. My daughters tell their friends about me and put my books on Facebook etc for promotion purposes. In fact, my daughter’s friend created the covers for my Aggie Lichen trilogy. My husband acts as my manager and deals with the stocking/storing of books, the money side and updates my website.
Q11) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Probably the biggest surprise was that I could actually write. I had such terrible doubts and my confidence was so low when I started out. I actually sent some of my work to a literary consultancy just to see what they thought. When they came back saying ‘she can certainly write’ it was a huge relief and I felt more able to continue with my writing knowing that I wasn’t just ‘pretending’. Saying that, I still have moments of doubt. I think many writers do.
Q12) What do you hate most about the writing process?
It has to be editing. I find this so challenging and it’s knowing when to stop. For the first time, I’m using an editing workbook (Darcy Pattison – Novel Metamorphosis) to try and improve the process by using the exercises suggested. I have used a freelance editor for all my books to ensure that I haven’t missed any issues before the books are unleashed on the world
Q13) How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
I have three children’s fantasy novels published for the 8-12 year range although I have sold a lot to teenagers and adults. In fact, my oldest reader for these books is in her sixties! They are stories about a group of stroppy teenage tooth fairies and how they try to say their world.
Here’s the blurb for the first book:
Aggie Lichen faces the same dilemmas as any other thirteen-year-old; what to wear, how to keep out of trouble at school. But while other thirteen year olds are doing their homework or settling down to watch T.V., Aggie flits from house to house in search of prize pilps. That’s where Aggie is a little different. You see, Aggie Lichen is a pilp collector – a tooth fairy!
One nightsgritch – a tooth collecting evening – Aggie is attacked by a bright, mysterious light. Is it just a low flying glow worm or a bad tempered giant bluebottle? Or, as Aggie and her gang suspect, is it something more sinister?
Unknown to them, Aggie and her gang have just thirty days to solve the mystery and save their kind but time is not on their side … neither are the Sprites or the Grublins
I also have a Tween/YA paranormal novel out, Marvin’s Curse. This is probably my favourite to date. It tells the story of a 17-year-old boy who has inherited the gift of speaking to ghosts from his dead dad.
Here’s the blurb for it:
How would you handle the dead?
After losing his dad, 17-year-old Marvin finds he can see and talk to the dead, an inherited ‘gift’. Bonus, you might think, but Marvin hates it. It makes him different and he just wants to be ‘normal’. He meets Stella in the graveyard that backs onto the house he’s just moved into.
‘My name is Stella, Stella McCartney. It says so inside my trousers.’ (!?!)
A mysterious business card reveals that Stella has lost her memories and all signs point to Moghador, a gateway to hell where a pawnbroker holds the answers. Oh, and she’s dead!
Q14) Do you have any suggestions to help us become better writers? If so, what are they?
- Keep at it! No matter what hits you, get up and get started again.
- Get your writing professionally edited. It will cost a bit, but it is so important if you are to be taken seriously as a writer.
- Keep at it!
- Don’t rush to finish your novel. Take your time and let it breathe.
- Keep at it!
- Read all around your genre as if your very life depended on it. What’s in? What’s out? Who is your audience?
- Keep at it!
Q15) Do you get feedback from your readers much? How and what kinds of things do they say?
Mostly I get feedback through reviews left on Amazon and Goodreads. Readers like to comment on how they felt about the books and sometimes I am complimented on my writing ability, which is always nice. All of my books are rated overall around the 4.5 star mark which pleases me greatly.
Q16) What is your preferred reading audience?
Depending on the book:
The Aggie Lichen trilogy are aimed at 8-12 year olds although my oldest reader is actually over 60!
Marvin’s Curse is more for tweens/young adults – 12-15 year olds… and older.
Q17) What do you think makes a good story?
A story that has some base of truth and realism within it – also, it’s important to see how the character/s develops through the story especially with all the obstacles that are thrown in the way.
Q18) As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
When I was younger I really wanted to be a window dresser. I thought about dressing the windows Oxford Street, London. As it happens I went straight from school to a bank and stayed in banking for over 15 years before going to university.
Q19) Where can we find your books?
Q20) Will you give us an excerpt from one of your favorite works?
This is from my new novel, The Iron City, due out Dec 2016.
‘You, Raelyer Gandos, are the… slayer, er, the Dragon Slayer as in you are the chosen one, kinda thing.’
‘Shut the hell up!’ was the best Rae could muster.
‘It’s true, Rae. Can’t you feel it, like, inside?’
‘George, what I feel inside is hunger, that’s all.’
‘Hunger, that’s good, hunger for the fight.’
Rae punched his arm hard. ‘Pack it in George. We have enough to contend with without you trying to screw with my head too.’
George took both of Rae’s hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. “Into every generation a slayer is born: one girl in all the world, a chosen one. She alone will wield the strength and skill to fight the, insert dragons, and the forces of darkness…’
Rae shook her hands away. ‘Don’t go all Buffy the Vampire Slayer on me!’ she said. ‘These are not vampires.’‘But it’s the same principal,’ said George. ‘‘To stop the spread of their evil and the swell of number. She…’’
‘’…is the slayer.’ Look, I’m no Buffy! You’ve got the wrong girl.’
About Debbie Edwards:
Debra J Edwards is a full time writer living in Norfolk, UK. She lives in a wooden shack in a disused chalk quarry with her husband and pyscho staffy, Buster. Debra currently has four books published. A trilogy about stroppy teenage tooth fairies; Aggie Lichen; Pilp Collector,the sequel, Aggie Lichen; Pilp Collector – Arty’s Revenge with Hero Required, the third book in the series. Marvin’s Curse is her fourth novel although the first for YA readers. For this latest book, Marvin’s Curse, she worked under cover as a ghost whisperer in order to bring that something extra to her central character. Debra feels this has paid off well and is now training to be a dragon slayer for her next novel…
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