By Kirsty Nicole Pole
When I was offered the opportunity
to go to the Books and the City event held by Simon and Schuster UK, I practically
bit their hand off. By the time I had got lost in the car park of Birmingham
NEC and ended up back on the motorway I feared I would never make it but after a helpful hand from the wonder that is Sat Nav, I made it and found myself
in a room heaving with excited ladies all buzzing with the anticipation of
seeing their favourite authors.
Rebecca Chance, Ali Harris, Louise
Fennell, Milly Johnson and Helen Warner aka ‘The Fab Five Fictionistas’ were
glorious. They spoke with such passion about their writing that I felt inspired
within the first 10 minutes. The fab five spoke about the moment when they
first get an idea that won’t leave them alone, Rebecca referred to it as an
‘Oooooooooooh’ moment, when you mention a story idea to a friend and they go
“Ooooooooooh”. She shared with us the idea for a book based on Princess Diana
that made the entire audience go “Oooooooh”, thus proving her point.
When asked about whether they plan
every book before writing, the response was mixed, Ali explained that she had
had to train herself to plan because if she didn’t her books would never get
written, Rebecca shared that she spends a solid week planning so that
everything has a place to be. On the flip side Helen and Milly said that they
don’t plan, instead preferring to get the book down in writing and let it
evolve and progress as they write before going back and editing. I particularly
enjoyed Helen's story of how she wrote her first book on the train whilst
commuting to and from London and as she didn’t plan she would find out what
would happen in it every day which was exciting, not knowing what her
characters would do next until she sat down to write that day.
One thing that all five
fictionistas did agree on was that in order to write and write well you must
know your genre, take time to find out which agents and publishers represent
your favourite authors and before you submit your manuscript (look inside the
front cover of the books that you read for all the details) make sure that you
are submitting to the right agents. Milly’s advice on how to be a great author
was simple “Read a lot” and learn from the writers that you love. Rebecca also
spoke about knowing which genre is selling well commercially.
Taking questions from the audience, the fab five spoke about where they do their research, mainly the internet, and
whether any of the characters in their books are based on themselves. Louise revealed that she enjoys making her characters do things that she would
never do in real life.
Overall the panel all agreed on
the importance of finding the writing style, space and method of planning that
works best for you. There is no right or wrong way to be a fabulous author,
only the way that is perfect for you.
After closing the talk to rapturous
applause a very nervous me stopped by the Books and the City stand for a photograph
with the fictionistas themselves -who were exactly that…fab.u.lous – before
making my way home with a cheeky goodie bag in hand. Thank you Simon and
Schuster and Books and the City for an absolutely fantastic day!