The Monday Interview with Henriette Gyland

Henriette Gyland grew up in Denmark but moved to England after she graduated from university, and now lives in West London with her family. She wrote her first book aged ten, a tale of two orphan sisters running away to Egypt, fortunately to be adopted by a perfect family they meet on the Orient Express. When she’s not writing, she works as a translator and linguist. Her first book, “Up Close”, was published by Choc Lit in December 2012, and her latest book “The Elephant Girl”, is out now.


We know that, like us, you were once a member of the NWS but we wondered if you could tell us a bit about how you came to join, how long you have been a member, the genre you write in and what inspired you to start writing?

When my son was about two, I had a few loose story ideas, and joined a writers’ circle. One of the women in my group pointed out that I was technically writing romantic fiction, and when I looked more closely at my work, I could see she was right. So I decided to look into it and bought a How To book by Marina Oliver, a long-standing member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. At the back of the book she mentioned the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, and I joined up.

My genre is romantic suspense, sometimes also called psychological thriller, and I tend to deal with quite dark themes – e.g. in “The Elephant Girl” the heroine suffers from epilepsy – but I do try to give my characters a happy ending. They’ve overcome their difficulties, internal as well as external, so they deserve it!

Please can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication and how ‘The Call’ came about?

My journey is probably the same as anyone else who’s ever been a member of the NWS. Basically it goes along the following lines: write a novel, send it to the NWS, get an honest but fair critique, despair, rewrite, send out to agents/editors, get rejected, despair some more. Then do the whole thing all over again. Yet along the way the NWS reports became tougher and the rejections nicer, which in the midst of my despair told me I was getting closer. This culminated in being awarded the Katie Fforde Bursary in 2008, and winning the New Talent Award from the inaugural Festival of Romance in 2011. I also received a Commended from the Yeovil Literary Prize that same year. Two months later I signed with Choc Lit.

The Elephant Girl

What’s next for you, Henriette?

At the moment I’m experimenting a bit, both with format as well as genre. My sweet romance novella, “Blueprint for Love”, came out as an e-book in June, and my next full length novel will be a swashbuckling historical romance set in the Georgian period. This is my favourite historical period because I just love the dresses!

Have you got any advice for others who might be hoping to emulate your success in securing a publisher or perhaps an agent?

Keep writing, and keep submitting your work. Take on board the professional advice you’re given. You may not always agree with it at the time, but when you look back over it, you’ll often realise that the person critiquing your novel was absolutely right. A bit of distance usually helps. Also, look at your rejections objectively (not easy, I know) and see what you can learn from them. Try to resist self-publication if you can – it’s true that some people have done so successfully, but this is a lot easier once you’ve built up a name for yourself with a traditional publisher. Regard your writing career as progressive.

What are your dreams and aspirations as a writer, in terms of your long-term career?

Easy enough question to answer: to be able to give up the day job and earn a living as a full-time writer!

What was the single biggest benefit of joining the NWS, do you think?

I treasure everything I’ve learned, and strange as it may sound, I’ve learned more about the craft of writing from what I did wrong than what I got right. The very frank, but constructive NWS critiques and the many rejections over the years have, with a bit of distance, taught me something. Every time I jumped up and down in frustration that I wasn’t going to get published, like, today, I learned the most important thing, that as valuable as feedback and suggestions are, if they spark off different ideas and different ways of solving writing issues, you’ve found something unique: your own voice. That’s worth its weight in gold.

Then there’s all the friendships I’ve made, both among published as well as unpublished members of the RNA. Only a fellow writer understands what you’re going through when you’ve received a rejection or a bad review, or what it feels like when your editor is putting you through your paces. They speak the same language as you.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us or any other advice you can offer?

I think it’s important to remember that getting a novel published isn’t the end of the journey, but a continuation of it.

Find out more about Henriette at:

Twitter: @henrigyland


7 thoughts on “The Monday Interview with Henriette Gyland

  1. Henri

    Thanks so much for sharing your story with us and it was lovely to meet you at the RNA conference at the weekend. I think you are so right that a little bit of distance between you and a novel and reflecting on the feedback you have had a little while later can make a huge difference. I have had an Aha moment following my editor’s appointment on Saturday and I really think it might help put me on the right path! Good luck with The Elephant Girl and all of your future projects 🙂

    Jo x

  2. Hi Henri,
    I like what you said about learning about the craft of writing, even when you get it wrong. The NWS is so good for those of us that are unpublished. The fact that we can submit and get the feedback from people that know the writing world, and are published themselves, is a wonderful thing. Their experience is an invaluable asset for us. The people we meet on our journey are so important, as they become our friends. And you know that in the difficult and frustrating times, they will be there to encourage you and be with you all the way.
    Thanks for joining us on the blog today, and I look forward to reading The Elephant Girl. Long may your writing journey continue.
    Lorraine x

  3. Hi Henri,
    Thanks for joining us today and sharing your writing journey with us. The NWS is a real asset to those of us that are not yet published. It is so good to know that people who are already published are willing to help those that want to be. And through our journey we meet some lovely people who become our friends. And these people really help to encourage us when times get a bit tough with our writing. I like what you said about getting things wrong, and that you have learnt from this. That is an encouragement, to know it is all a part of learning to write. Thanks so much for joining us today, and I look forward to reading The Elephant Girl. Long may your writing journey continue.
    Lorraine x

  4. Hi Henri,
    It’s fascinating to hear about your journey to publication and thanks for being so open with us about the despair along the way. I’m sure we can all relate to that part of it! It was interesting to hear you talk about the editing process at the conference. Clearly getting ‘the call’ is only the first part of a long process.
    I’ve read Up Close and enjoyed it. The very best of luck with The Elephant Girl. I shall look forward to reading it.

  5. Great interview, Henri – wishing you all the best with The Elephant Girl, and looking forward to all your future books.

  6. Thank you to Jo, Lorraine, and Alex, as well as to the rest of the Write Romantics, for having me on you blog. It was a real pleasure, and I’m very happy that hearing about my personal experiences about writing and striving towards publication has been useful to you. I’ve only recently graduated from the NWS, so I know where you’re all coming from (!), and I’m happy to help in any way I can.
    Henriette x

  7. Thanks Henri for that insight into your ‘journey’ and for the excellent advice. I like the way you put a positive spin on rejection – so important to be able to do that I think. Good luck with your sales and future projects.
    Deirdre x

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