Lin Treadgold is the author of ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’ set in Whitby in Yorkshire and on the Isles of Scilly in Cornwall. Lin has a husband and two grown-up children and has lived in The Netherlands since 2002, having previously travelled the world by sea with the Merchant Navy. Lin is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.
We know that, like us, you were formerly a member of the NWS but we wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you came to join, how long you were a member for, the genre you write in and what inspired you to start writing?
I was inspired to write through early retirement. When I began writing ‘Goodbye Henrietta Street’ the work had a different title and I’d never heard of the RNA or the New Writers’ Scheme. I was a complete newbie to writing although I’d studied a creative writing course in the 1980’s and allowed it to drift for ten years. I began writing again in 2004 and couldn’t stop! Three months, every day, for about four hours a day, I was unable to put it down; something was driving me on or driving me crazy! I wasn’t sure which. I suppose it was all the stress of leaving England to live in Holland and finding a new direction. I gave up my profession as a driver trainer and company proprietor to be with my husband for his job. The Dutch laws wouldn’t allow me to carry on teaching; I would have had to spend a lot of money taking my exams all over again in Holland, which to me, for many reasons, didn’t make sense.
I didn’t set out for my book to be a romance novel, it kind of happened that way, in fact, I didn’t know my genre at that time—I wrote it straight from my head to the computer. I think my training as a driving instructor gave me the skills to write in a logical sequence. Then someone suggested I should join the RNA. I checked the web site and thought it sounded like a good idea. I had a reasonable level of romantic element in the story, some adventure, tragedy, conflict, desire, and resolve, all key elements if you want to engage your readers. It seemed the RNA was able to help me push my dreams to a higher level and allow me to have a rod to measure my abilities as a writer. So I joined, received lots of help from the NWS, and five years later I have a published novel due out on 1st July. An incredible journey I suppose. A success for the RNA as well as for me.
Please can you tell us a bit about your journey so far, including how ‘The Call’ for Goodbye Henrietta Street with Safkhet publishing came about?
Reality is good. If you can be as realistic as possible in your writing then go for it. My recent reviewers tell me they love the realistic dialogue and well researched scenes in Goodbye, Henrietta Street.
I find new writers tend to concentrate on ‘the rules of writing’. My own golden rule in contemporary romance is to keep it natural, tell it how it is. Don’t use words that don’t really fit into the story or try being flowery in your prose only because that’s how novels are supposed to be written. Your own unique voice should be in there. It all helps if you can be a silent character in the book as you write it; stand on the street, watch the cars, see the main character about to step into danger and go— save her! Write the words as it happens. Don’t be pretentious in your writing; enjoy the moment. I think this is the essence of being you and allowing your voice to shine through. You can hide yourself within the storylines, watch and observe your characters’ movements, tell the story, and show the thoughts and feelings, be natural. It’s amazingly satisfying. One last word of advice – place a DO NOT DISTURB notice on the office door! The family will get used to it in time. It allows you to be in that special frame of mind. Get the hankies ready and feel the anger and pain of your characters. If you can taste the salt spray on your lips as you ride the waves on the boat that sails into the sunset, then you hope the readers will feel the same way.
When I completed the book, about six years later, I began to submit my work. The agents were often slow to respond and the publishers as well; it was very frustrating and at this point I felt quite alone. I used the W & A Yearbook to seek out publishers, and the internet to find those who were accepting the latest submissions. I read their guidelines very carefully, providing them with exactly what they asked for. I think, in total, I wrote about twenty five e-mails over about six months and to my surprise in the last month, I was accepted by three publishers, two of which I turned down, not suitable for my needs. Safkhet Publishing wanted to see more. I asked the questions; each answer ticked all the right boxes. The contract seemed normal and uncomplicated and I wanted a paperback version as well as digital; they said they could that for me.
The first rung of the ladder of author success is an important one, but it’s vital that you ask questions. Don’t be afraid to turn down a contract if it doesn’t seem to fit your expectations or you find yourself sucking in your breath with the complicated legal jargon when you read it! Get some help and advice before signing. Be brave.The next part of your journey perhaps involves more ‘out of your comfort zone’ tasks and what you don’t need is a publisher who will put all the work on to you because you signed a contract and didn’t realise what you were getting into. Don’t be afraid to ask all the right questions first! Safkhet do a lot for me and although I arrange my own book signings (which makes sense) they promote behind the scenes, blog tours, advertising, promotional materials etc and daily support as well as the editorial service and proofreading. The whole thing for me is about teamwork. With Safkhet I get all of those things. There will be bumps and scrapes on the way, because it’s all new, but expect it, and now I am at the stage where my book will be out soon and the really satisfying work begins.
What’s next for you, Lin, both with the forthcoming launch of your first novel and future project?
My book launch is on The Isles of Scilly in July with a live party at the local pub on St Mary’s. Bone Idol are singing sea shanties and the event is in collaboration with the local Wildlife Trust. Here is the link to my book tour. http://itslinhere.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/the-most-awesome-live-book-tour-ever/ I spent years dreaming of this day! Time and time again I’ve proven that you can be anything you want to be if you, wish it, dream it, and then do it!
Goodbye, Henrietta Street is a poignant romance set in 1986 with a wildlife theme. I had to do a lot of careful research to ensure that I didn’t offend any local people. There are only two thousand inhabitants on the islands, I felt it was safer to go back in time rather than present my readers with a cliché novel in the present era. So far I have been met with much enthusiasm because the book will make a small contribution toward the islands’ economy. I hope people will want to go there through reading the romantic story of Sven and Pippa and make people more aware of how fragile life can be in such a small community.
My next project is written in the era of 1976. It was inspired by a true story. When Jessica Stamp leaves home for a new job in the south of England, she finds herself residing on a commune where the people are living a lie and the area is hardly the place to find romance. Does the owner of the house really practice witchcraft? Will Jess manage to find love? What is Jonni the herdsman’s secret? I have a working title of The Wiccan of Dalewood, but all that could change by the time the book is complete. I have at least another six months of writing to do; it’s going well so far and most days I manage to complete more edits and improve the story line. I’m a ‘write it now and fix it later’ kind of person.
What are your dreams and aspirations as a writer, in terms of your long-term career?
As long as my health holds up I will keep writing books. I hope, like my favourite author, Annie Murray, that I will keep writing as long as I enjoy doing so. I was inspired by Mary Wesley’s The Chamomile Lawn. She began writing in her early seventies and had seven books published before she died. One of them was made into a TV series. I’m starting ten years earlier than she did, so there’s time for many more books. I have two more in progress at the moment. If you can be one jump ahead it helps.
What has been the single biggest benefit of joining the NWS, do you think?
It’s all about meeting like-minded people, networking, workshops, and going to conferences. The RNA has huge respect from most publishers and agents. I feel that being a member is like wearing your coat and scarf on a freezing cold day, you can’t do without them. They are a cosy organisation and most members are like family. I love the way they provide you with the support needed to understand the business of being an author. What I liked most with the NWS, are the professionally written reports, honest and very clear. Most of my reports over a four-year period were very helpful and positive; I couldn’t have got this far without them. Not all will be favourable, of course, and the last one I had, I didn’t feel that my reader was all that keen on the book. You can’t please everyone. As a new writer you have to realise that not every book will be provided with a wine and roses report. Be prepared to make changes and it doesn’t mean to say your book is to be thrown away. Carry on; in most cases it’s all subjective viewpoint, but take note and fix what you feel could be improved. I did that, listened, re-edited and after a while I realised they were right. I learned a lot from the authors who had a vast wealth of experience.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or any other advice you can offer?
Other than the usual ‘keep writing and don’t give up’ my personal advice would be that once you are ready to submit your work, you should learn as much as you can about the role of publishers and agents. Once you get a ‘’YES’ reply, you must know what will come next and how to deal with it and, of course, learn more about social networking. In today’s world you have to keep up with book promotion. If you attend the York Festival of Writing this September, there are loads of workshops to help you. All these events are so important in case your life changes overnight. Don’t sit at home thinking someone is going to do all this for you – you have to be prepared as a new author, to work hard to keep your book up there with the rest of them. With a small publisher, I like the idea of starting small and working up, because it provides me with the chance to learn at a pace I can handle. I wish all new writers success, keep asking questions, and get help along the way. Don’t hold back. I am very keen to help new writers and through my teaching and mentoring skills, I am always glad to support the newbies. Sometimes they just need some tender loving care, nothing more. As a driver and driving instructor, I was never allowed to forget that I was once a learner!
Thanks again for taking the time to share your story so far with us. The Write Romantics wish you every success for the future and we will be keeping a look out on the best seller lists for you!