Tuesday, 5 August 2014

In conversation with Felicity Pulman.

Today we welcome the delightfully talented, Felicity Pulman. I had the pleasure of listening to Felicity speak at the Newcastle Writing Festival and her passion shines through when she talks about her writing and why she loves it.
Felicity has just released her latest novel I, Morgana. A fascinating historical fiction about Morgana Le Fay from Arthurian legend.

Tell us a little about your writing journey.
I grew up in a small town in Africa (a long time ago!) and I loved escaping into the 'otherworld' of fiction. I began writing stories of my own in primary school because I kept running out of books to read. This was just something I did, I never thought of it as a 'real' career until my 40s when I started a Communications degree at UTS followed by an MA in Children's Literature. Since then I've published 18 novels and numerous short stories. My biggest regret is that I didn't take my writing seriously much earlier.

Your writing requires a lot of research. How do you go about it?
Because many of my novels have a historical base, it means that I have now acquired a huge library of research material in various forms. The most enjoyable part of my research is actually going to the sites where my novels are set. I believe it's important to 'walk the walk', with the bonus that there's often a museum nearby, plus brochures or books available and sometimes you can find experts on the subject who are usually only too happy to share their knowledge with you once you say you're writing a book!

What is the hardest aspect of being a writer?
Sometimes the loneliness gets to you, although I'm fortunate to have a husband, children and grandchildren to keep me grounded, plus numerous writing friends who are very generous with their time and who will read and critique my work if necessary, or talk me over the hump, or through the blues. Being a writer is a roller-coaster ride; the highs are brilliant but the lows are sometimes very difficult to deal with.

Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
While I don't write about specific events in my life per se, I often use those emotions in the scenes I write. For example, to describe life at Wilton Abbey in Willows for Weeping, Book 4 of my medieval crime series, The Janna Mysteries, I've drawn on my (awful) experiences while incarcerated for five years in a girls' boarding school. Sister Ursel's breakdown in front of the altar in the same novel is based on a past-life experience of my own.

Tell us about your publications? Do you have a favourite character?
I write about the things that interest me: time travel, Otherworlds - particularly the world of King Arthur, the unknown in our own world, history, mystery and crime. I always love the characters I'm writing about; it's always hard to 'let them go' at the end of a book, especially when you've spent years living in their world, like the Shalott trilogy and The Janna Mysteries. My latest novel is I, Morgana and I've drawn on the research I did for the Shalott trilogy to tell the story of this most reviled, enigmatic and fascinating character from Arthurian legend. She's feisty, passionate, and deeply flawed, and I've come to love her dearly!  

What is the most surprising thing about writing/publishing you have learnt?
How crushing a rejection can be, and how thrilling it is to hold a new book in your hands! Also, how much work and effort goes into producing a book - writing it is only the start before you go on to the editing process, choosing a cover, writing blurbs, etc after which there's the mammoth task of promoting your work, and preparing talks/workshops around it, etc. I've been fortunate to have worked with some wonderful publishing houses over the years.

Top tip/s for writers.
The advice I was once given is the three P's: patience, persistence, professionalism. Learn your craft well; do the best job you can, but be prepared to make changes if asked (but only if you agree, bearing in mind that this is a subjective opinion, albeit from a professional in the publishing world.) If a mss comes back, take any feedback on board but also get it back out there, don't let it linger in a bottom drawer. Becoming published usually takes time, and you should allow for that, but of course there are also numerous outlets for self-publishing now.

Other than writing what else do you love?
Spending time with my family, holidays, surfing, snorkeling, bush-walking, reading, and listening to music.

If you had a premonition you would be stranded on a desert island what 5 books would you take?
TOUGH call! The Bible and the Complete Works of Shakespeare, cos there's so much meat in them still to be discovered. Ditto Lord of the Rings. Comfort reads: The Domesday Book by Connie Willis and A Booke of Days by Stephen Rivelle.

Five words that sum you up.
Too hard! It depends on whether I'm having a good or a bad day, so I'm not going to go there!

How can we learn more?
There's a lot about me, my books, research, tips for writers, contact details, etc on my website and blog:
I'm also on fb, and trying to get my head around other social media!
Purchase Links for Felicity's new novel I, Morgana.
Schooled in magic by Merlin, promised a kingdom, and betrayed by everyone she has ever loved and trusted, Morgana's revenge will destroy Camelot and break her heart – with repercussions for our own time unless she can learn from the past in time to protect our future.
Thanks so much for your time Felicity. I, Morgana is loaded and ready to read on my kindle. Best of luck with it!

No comments:

Post a Comment