Today, I’m super excited to welcome Judy Leigh, author of A Grand Old Time to the blog with a Q&A to celebrate the release of A Grand Old Time.
You are in a bookstore and someone has picked up your book – how are you going to persuade them to buy it?
I’d say ‘It will make you smile.’ (I’d think it will probably make you laugh out loud, and maybe cry too.)
Do you have a favourite moment in the book?
When Evie gets up to sing Danny Boy In the pub with Billy the Banjo. And the sad bit later on always makes me well up.
Did you do any research / or did anything influence you?
I research all the time. I travelled Evie’s journey to all the places she visits, talked to lots of people, I ask people to read parts of the book for feedback: I asked friends in Liverpool to read the section set there to check it was authentic to them. And I use the internet all the time. Research is half the fun.
My biggest influence creating Evie as a character was my Mum. I wish she’d been able to do what Evie did, travel, and have fun in later life. She’d have been exactly like Evie, feisty and a little bit too mischievous.
Name the best book you have read recently, your favourite book of all time, and one book that is TBR
I’ve just read Jeanette Winterson’s A Gap in Time. Loved it.
My favourite of all time? Besides Cecelia Woloch’s poetry, it’s probably Toni Morrison’s Beloved. I read it while I was in Israel, under the sheets with a torch, terrified.
My TBR is Sarah Winman’s Tin Man, next on my list. I loved her other novels.
Do you have a question that you have always wanted to be asked? What is it and what would your answer be?
I’ve always wanted to be asked which famous person from a TV programme or film I’d like to be. The answer is Samantha from Bewitched. If I could only wiggle my nose.
Can you give any advice for those wanting to write?
Definitely. Anyone can do it, if they really want to. A bit of talent is a plus, but dedicated people who read a lot and can set aside the time and are really committed can write will get there. I’d advise anyone who wants to write to read Stephen King’s How to Write and to research the industry, genres, agents and the market before they start. An MA or an online writing course or a writer’s weekend like the Winchester Festival where you can meet agents is a good way in. Then try to build a CV, have short stories published, get placed in competitions. Flexibility is important in writing as we have to be prepared to adapt our work to fit the market. The reader’s experience is the most important factor. Also it’s important to enjoy everything you write. Have a blast when you are writing, and the energy and passion will come through to the reader.
Thanks for asking.