Today my guest on Welsh Wednesdays is Gillian Hamer. First up, please tell us about your connection to Wales.
Hello and thanks for hosting me today! I’m not Welsh but have a life-long affinity with Wales, because of my father and his love of the coast, and spent most holidays and weekends on various caravan sites around N Wales throughout my childhood and teen years. I now have a cottage on the island of Anglesey and after a hectic working week, I really find it my salvation, and one of my favourite places to write. The history and landscape of Anglesey are the best motivation for me, and the lifestyle is perfect for writing. It both unwinds and recharges me, if that makes any sense, and I will always have a base there.
Why did you decide to write in your chosen genre(s)?
In fairness I think the genre probably chose me! I’ve read crime fiction all my life, from the Enid Blyton books I loved as a child, through every Agatha Christie novel in the village library, and onto modern day writers like Ian Rankin. It was written that I would crime! And I’m very proud of my current Gold Detective series. However, location has a big part to play especially in my first three books (The Charter, Closure and Complicit) which I call my spooky thriller trilogy. It was Anglesey and its fantastic history that gave me the content for these novels, different in each, but also in each I wanted to mix a modern thriller with the historical aspects. It sounds odd, I know! But I think it works
Which Welsh person would you like to invite for dinner and what would you serve?
Anthony Hopkins. I’m tempted to say liver with a little alfalfa! But probably something quite simple like pasta as I’d be too nervous of wrecking a complicated dish! But I do love baking, so I’d make sure we had a lot of nice cakes for dessert!
What is the best thing about Wales?
Talking specifically about N Wales and Anglesey, for me it’s a mix of stunning scenery, more varied in my opinion that anywhere else in the UK – from mountains of Snowdonia to rolling golden sands like Llanddwyn. Added to the beauty of the surroundings is the fascinating history and archaeology. I’ve written about the Roman invasion of Anglesey, to shipwrecks around the coast, and I’ve barely scratched the surface in terms of content! Plus I love the language, would love to really get time to study and learn it properly, but it’s so evocative and special it gives me chills. So, sorry, but I couldn’t just name one thing!
What are you working on now?
At the moment I’m working on book three of the Gold Detective series, which carries on where the last novel, False Lights, left off. I have the plot and structure set out, and I’m about 10,000 words into the first draft. I’ve also got sketchy notes for a ghost story I would like to see published in the next twelve months. I dream of the day I can write fulltime but until then it has to stay as my special hobby!
Best: allowing your imagination to run wild, and having the outlet to express your inner talents. Worst: not really writing but I’d say the marketing you need to take on when self-published that gobbles up valuable writing time.
How do you balance marketing one book and writing the next?
Difficult. Try to have certain time slots, or maybe certain days, for doing tasks that take you away from your writing. It’s easier said than done, and I don’t always practise what I preach. But what I have learned about my own writing process from experience, is that sometimes the words don’t come and you sit there staring at a blank screen getting more and more demoralised. That’s the time I walk about from the current book, and go do something more constructive, which maybe social media or marketing. When the words are flowing, don’t stop them, that’s my advice – the rest can be used to fill in anytime.
How have you found the experience of self-publishing? What were your highs and lows?
After spending over four years with agents, waiting for publishers, editors and many invisible people make decisions about my writing, taking back control and self-publishing my novels was the best move I could have made. I was lucky enough to know other writers in the same position as I was in, books with an agent but unable to find publishers, and we got together to form author collective, Triskele Books. This was my high. We have five core writers, plus occasional associates, and have now published over twenty novels. It’s perfect to have the support and skills of other writers to fall back on. We edit and review each other’s work, before handing over to the professional proof-readers for a final polish. We are also lucky enough to have a talented cover designer on board (J.D Smith Designs) so we can produce an end product that would stand side-by-side with any traditionally published book. Lows would maybe be the stigma attached to indie authors and indie books, which we are working hard to erase but publishing is a dinosaur that is struggling to keep up with new techniques and technology.
What is your advice to new writers?
Don’t rush to publish too soon. I think most of us have made that mistake, and when you can paper your home study with rejection slips, and re-read your first draft through gritted teeth, you will realise (too late) the folly of your ways. No one ever takes this advice, but you really need to put the book away, reread it after six months and then edit, edit and edit again until you have taken at least 10% off the word count. And read. Read every genre, read varied writers. Absorb words and style like a sponge and it will improve your own writing.
What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I usually have at least two books on the go at any one time! One audiobook which is currently the fabulous All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. And on Kindle I’m reading Midnight Sky by another Welsh-based author, Jan Ruth. Totally different styles, in totally different genres and period, but both totally absorbing in their own way.
Social media links:
Website : www.gillianhamer.com
Facebook: Gillian E Hamer