My blog is all about writers and their journeys to becoming published authors. Normally I talk about my personal journey, but this week I am excited to introduce you to a different story. The story of a friend and fellow author I met via the internet’s thriving author community.
Wendy Clarke writes a great romance tale. Her first book, Room in Your Heart, is a collection of captivating stories that cannot fail to make you smile. In the interview below, Wendy tells me not only about her author journey but also about her latest projects.
If you have got a question you would like to put to Wendy, feel free to post it. I know that Wendy will be checking in here from time to time to respond.
Ben) So that we can get to know you a bit before we start, I’m going to fire a few quick-fire questions at you. Starting with your favourite author?
Wendy) Ann Weisgarber
Ben) Your favourite film?
Wendy) Life is Beautiful
Ben) Your favourite food
Wendy) Chilli con carne
Ben) Your favourite tipple?
Wendy) Red wine
Ben) You are a romance writer. What’s the most romantic place you have ever visited?
Wendy) Venice… oh, and the little Greek taverna on the island of Samos where my husband proposed to me.
Ben) And what’s your ambition as an author?
Wendy) To see my novel published and on bookshelves.
Ben) Seeing your novel on bookshelves is my ambition too. Is your novel your latest project?
Wendy) I have got a few projects on the go. I have just finished putting together my second collection of short stories called ‘The Last Rose’. The theme is family and friendship and all the stories in it have previously been published in national magazines.
Alongside this, I have been finishing my latest serial for The People’s Friend and have recently started writing my first novel.
Ben) You write lovely, atmospheric short stories. What are your top three tips for people who want to write short stories?
Wendy) 1. If you want to write for a magazine, make sure you read the guidelines carefully. 2. Try to think outside the box a little – editors are inundated with submissions so make yours stand out by being a little different. 3. Check your story has a strong ending. I’d also like to add another one: write from the heart – if you don’t love your story, nobody else will!
Ben) That’s a theme in my advice too. If you aren’t happy with what you are producing, then no one else will be happy when they read it. What, for you, are the essential elements of a great romantic tale?
Wendy) Your reader has to like and sympathise with your main character. Their emotions also need to be believable. Look deep inside yourself for memories of your own of love and loss and use these to make your characters’ emotions come alive. A great romance doesn’t necessarily have to end happily but there should always be hope or a sense of moving on.
Ben) What’s the nicest compliment you have been paid on work you have published?
Wendy) People have said some wonderful things in their reviews for Room in Your Heart but I think the greatest compliment was when my friend told me that my stories made her cry.
Your writing journey
Ben) What made you start writing?
Wendy) I started writing three years ago when the private school I was teaching in closed down and I was made redundant. I felt anchorless and had no idea what I wanted to do.
I was very lucky in that I had recently got married and my husband was very supportive, telling me that I should take my time to think about the future. It was my brother who suggested that I enrol in the online creative writing course he’d just completed – after all, I had been an English teacher. So I did.
Little did I know how much I would enjoy it – so much so, that I did a second course and when it had ended, I felt bereft! My tutor suggested I try writing for magazines and, with nothing to lose, I thought I’d have a go. I was very lucky to have stories accepted quite quickly and now I have sold over a hundred!
Liking a challenge, I then decided to try my hand at writing a serial. This was more difficult as I had to show the editors at The People’s Friend a synopsis first which meant I had to plan the whole thing out – something I’m not very good at! Luckily they liked the idea and I found the longer length fun to write. I have now written a second one for them.
Since then, I have joined the Romantic Novelist Association’s New Writers’ Scheme as I am in the early stages of writing my first romantic novel… so the journey is still continuing.
Ben) Other than the decision to write full-time, what was the most important decision you took in your writing journey?
Wendy) It may well be the decision to write the novel… but whether that decision will turn out good or bad is yet to be seen.
Ben) I’m sure it will be good! Can we get a sneak preview?
Wendy) I don’t want to jinx it by giving it away. Let’s just say, it involves two sisters, a beautiful Greek island and a mystery… oh and of course there’ll be romance in there too!
Connecting with Wendy
The Last Rose is available to buy on Amazon. The stories in this collection explore the intricate family relationships of thirteen ordinary people. In them, we discover the sorrow, love and joy that is shared… but not always spoken.