Monday, July 23, 2012

10 Questions: With Carol Wills

Carol Wills, Author




About Carol:
 
I am married with a grownup family and I live in Chesham with my husband amid the beautiful Chilton Hills in the UK. I guess I've written stories throughout my life, but I've only recently had the nerve to publish some of them so, I hope you like them. The genre I mostly write in is humour, but I do have a couple of powerful women stories on the back burner waiting for inspiration. I also have a blog and website that I try to keep updated. I have tried my hand at short stories, children's stories, flash fiction and poetry. Most of my stories are very short but I would love to write a long historical novel one day. I have a collection of short stories on Amazon called Five Minute Fiction, some children's story about a little bird called Titus who is always getting into trouble when he tries to help his friends. And a fun guide for parents' of stroppy teenagers called Parents' Rules. I also love to read (anything from Dickens to the cornflakes packet) in fact, if I don't have something to read I go into anaphylactic shock. 


#1:  How much did the publishing opportunities offered by Amazon influence your decision to publish your writing?

Can I be honest here? Amazon was free and I was just going to get some Kindle and print copies for the family. However, as I looked at the opportunities on Amazon I got excited and thought, if others can do it why not me. The promotional bug is very powerful.

#2:  You say you've written stories throughout your life. Did you share these stories with family and friends, or were they surprised when you finally made them public?
I think most of the people who know me were surprised when I published. You see from a very young age the stories were verbal or for my eyes only because my spelling was atrocious (I now know I have a mild form of dyslexia) if I wrote a story in school I would have a word in mind but I couldn’t spell it, so I would find a simpler word. I felt this made my stories very boring.
When I had children of my own I would make up verbal stories for them or read them stories from books I loved myself as a child. This went into overdrive with my grandchildren because I had more time to indulge my reading hobby.  
#3:  Tell us about Titus. How did you come up with the idea?
The simple answer is garden birds, isn’t it strange where our ideas come from? I wrote a very short story for my local women’s centre called New Neighbors’ in which a very bombastic fellow objected to this couple viewing a property at the same time as him. There’s a twist at the end of the story (if you want to see the twist you can read it free on Scribd. It’s the first story in my collection of flash fiction on Amazon called Five Minute Fiction.  Later I used the bombastic fellow to create a children’s story for one of my grandchildren, which became A Titus Adventure. Both stories are also in ebook format for those with Knndle. You can find the full story on how Titus was born on my blog.
#4:  If you ever sit down and write that long historical novel someday, what will it be about? Do you already have an idea for it?
At the moment, I haven’t a clue what it will be about, I’ll have to wait for that ‘what if’ moment. I love reading historical novels. My favorite writers in that genre are Jean Auel for her Earths Children series and Cynthia Harrod-Eagles for her Morland Dynasty.
#5:  You have a very touching poem on your blog called "Cranky Old Man". Tell us what you know about it.
Very rarely does something touch me as this poem did, I have wandered about the net since Methuselah was a boy and picked up all sorts of stuff. Quite simply I found it on Facebook and felt it would resonate with like-minded people. I know nothing more about it but, I think it’s something that needs sharing in this world of rushing souls.  
#6:  All those stores you've written throughout your life -- do you have them stored away someplace? Do you plan to publish them?
Sadly, some are lost in the memory of time or were only verbal as I’ve said before. Some I’ve published in a collection and I will do another one day. Right now I’m in the middle of my fourth Titus story which is proving a little difficult at the moment. Writing for children is more complicated than you’d think.
#7:  What advice do you have for the young writer just starting out?
Always keep a notebook handy, I can’t tell you how many ideas have been lost because I didn’t jot them down at the time. I even keep one by my bed these days, some of my best ideas have come just as I’m dropping off to sleep.  As soon as you have an idea or ‘what if’ moment, write it down. It doesn’t matter how silly or off the wall it sounds, you never know it might be the next Harry Potter. And even if it isn’t, no one but you will see it, practice, practice, practice your writing. Oh and read…a lot. Without reading, you will not see how to write a story, study the books you like to read, see how the author shaped them. Ask yourself how you would write that story.  
#8:  Have you ever submitted your work to traditional publishers?
You’re kidding right? Why would I submit to a traditional publisher and get only 15% to 30% royalties when I can do it myself on Amazon and have 70%.  It’s fine for really well known writers who sell millions of books to put up with traditional publishers pittance, but for me it’s not going to happen.
#9:  You wrote a book called "Parents' Rules" for parents with teenagers. I have a daughter about to turn seventeen. What is the most important thing for parents to know about teens?
We need to keep the dialogue open between us. I’ve had five children, so I think I’m somewhat qualified as a parent. Parents should stop and think, remember what it was like to be a teenager, now and then. That book was a tongue-in-cheek bit of fun to get across to the teens that parents worry about their kids.  Friends tell me the book opened up friendly discussion between them and their teenager, so I think the book is doing it’s job.
#10:  Let's do something different. There has to be a question you were hoping I would or wouldn't ask. Ask yourself that question (please let us see the question), then answer it.
Ok here goes.
Question: You often mention Flash Fiction and like to write it, Why?
I think it all started when my children were small and I didn’t have much time to read. A novel was out of the question so I took to reading those five-minute stories often found in women’s magazines. I could read them while the children were having lunch or a nap and my favorites were the ones that had a strong punch line or twist at the end.
As I developed my writing style I realized I was an impatient writer. I wanted to get to the punch line so the short stories must have stuck in my mind. Moreover, I have to say most of my flash stories ideas came from the end rather than the beginning. People tell me writing flash is hard but for me it’s easy. Writing flash is also good exercise for getting rid of the junk padding in our writing. If you think, flash, when editing a novel it helps cut the unnecessary words, leaving a clean, junk free story, to be proud to present to the public. 
 
* * *
 Thanks, Carol, for taking time to answer my questions.
 
If you would like to connect with Carol, or learn more about her writing, visit her blog, Purple-Hat, and be sure to tell her I said hello.

16 comments:

  1. Wow! thanks for the opportunity Carl. It's been great.

    Carol x

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  2. Thank you, Carol. I hope a lot of people visit your blog and buy your books.

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  3. Excellent interview Carol and Carl! I particularly like your indignation, Carol, when answering the Traditional Publishing question! Right with you on that one! You have to ask yourself is that massive reduction in royalty worth it just to say you are traditionally published? Not on your nelly!!

    Well done both of you!

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    1. Thanks, Stu. I liked that answer, too.

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  4. Great interview Carol. Thanks Carl for the opportunity of learning more about one of my favorites!

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  5. What a great interview. She is right. A children's story is difficult. The biggest handicap for me is vocabulary.

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    1. Children are too innocent not to be honest. They will tell you whether or not they like a story.

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  6. Great Interview. Carol is a great lady and a good friend. I thoroughly enjoy here writing and she deserves all the recognition she deserves as a wonderful writer of children's books, Thanks.

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    1. Carol does seem like a great lady. After a few minutes on her blog I knew I wanted to interview her. I'm thrilled she said yes.

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  7. A lovely interview with a lovely lady and good friend to many of us, Carl. It's always interesting to get little bits of information on characters and where they come from.

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    1. Thanks, Alan. This is exactly the reaction I was aiming for when I started this interview series.

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  8. Nice to see a great writer like Carol get the recognition she deserves. You picked a winner Carl!

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  9. Just thought I'd pop by and thank you all for the great comments. I'd also like to thank Carl once again for the interview, it was fun.

    Carol x

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    1. Thanks again, Carol. Your interview has generated a lot of hits for my blog, telling me a lot of people like what you're doing. It still ranks very near the top of what people are reading when they come here. Keep on doing what you do. :)

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