A writer like you: Rosie Talbot
Meet Rosie Talbot, an aspiring author from the UK.
She is currently working on a Young Adult ghost story set in York. Her favourite authors include V.E Schwab, Neil Gaiman and Francis Hardginge. When she’s not writing she’s probably reading, eating all the cake or lurking in bookshops to hide from the washing up.
You’ll enjoy learning about her WHY, her craft-sharpening strategies, her writing to-do list, and her perspective of the writing industry.
Let’s dive into the interview, shall we?
Why do you write?
Because it’s a challenge I enjoy, because I have so many stories to tell, because I like to be in control and while writing I call all the shots, because it’s the only thing I can do consistently well that adds value to the lives of others. I write because I want to be more than just myself. When we read a story we’re taken on an amazing journey to new places and put in the minds of people different to ourselves. The process of writing a novel is one that forces you to become more empathic, to seek truth, to learn from others and research new ideas and places you’ve not encountered before. I want to be better, and writing is how I grow.
What have you learned about writing as a business so far?
It’s not for the faint of heart. The reality is, being an author is brutally hard work that devours my time and my soul. It’s also very solitary, I’m probably never going to make any money, it’s hard to get noticed and it’s a very competitive industry. Even signing with an agent is no guarantee my book will ever see the light of day. Those authors that ‘make it’ are the persistent and the very lucky, but whichever way they came to publishing I can guarantee they’ve worked insanely hard to get there.
But, I’ve also learned the publishing industry is made up of a magnificent and magical network of people who love books and will champion an author they connect with. They will support writers however they can and are dedicated to getting new stories out into the world. The business of writing, learning to market books and build a platform is something I enjoy because a lot of it is about building a community of writers and readers, and it’s fantastic.
How do you stay motivated to write?
The love I have for my characters and the story is a huge motivator for me but when the going gets tough sheer determination sees me through. Although I am writing stories I want to read, I’m also very much writing for my readers, not in that I’m pandering to their taste and expectations, but that the idea of them reading and (hopefully) enjoying the novel keeps me focused. It’s my end goal and I make sure I don’t lose sight of it. Ultimately, it comes down to a horrific fear of a steady nine to five job.
Describe your typical writing process or routine.
I know I’m at my most fresh and creative first thing in the morning, so I arm myself with a huge mug of tea and retreat to do battle with whatever is on my to do list that day. The writing to-do list is key. It means I’m able to start each session with a clear goal in mind and I’m a lot more productive. I prefer to research for my novels and edit my manuscripts in the evenings in front of the fire with a glass of wine. But if a deadline is approaching, I’ll work flat out to meet it. I have an understanding husband who brings me food.
What strategies do you use to improve your writing skills?
I read. A lot! Reading as a writer is very different to reading as a reader. It’s a slower more critical process in which I tease a book apart to analyse why a character arc is so fulfilling, why the pacing is working effectively and how the author has crafted prose to integrate world building seamlessly into the narrative (for example). Everything I read has strengths and weaknesses I can learn from to improve my own craft.
I think of writing as a craft like any other, there are tools and techniques to learn and so I practice writing as often as I can. It’s easy to be very precious about the words on the page and stall at getting them down. To counteract this I like to do short writing exercises and story starters. Sometimes I’ll work on something outside of my current manuscript to refresh myself, but often I’ll choose some aspect of my character or world to explore in a different way. Very rarely do I use the resulting prose in the novel itself, but it helps broaden my understanding of my narrative/characters/world and helps me improve my prose style and find my voice.
What types of stories do you like to write?
I like my novels dark and tightly woven. I primarily write Young Adult/Crossover and Adult fantasy/magical realism because I have little interest in living in the real world, thank you very much. But I am fascinated by everything and draw inspiration from all over the place; people I meet, conversations I overhear, places I visit, the art I see and the music I listen to. When I write a story I aim to find a balance between a character and a plot driven narrative and then root it in what I hope is a well crafted world.
What are you currently working on and what makes you excited about it?
My current manuscript is a Young Adult ghost story set in the most haunted city in Europe – York! It’s first and foremost a coming of age adventure mystery, but it’s the characters that have me working as fast as I can on it. I love spending time with them! They’re flawed, and up against it but they’re courageous, and determined and learning all the time. I’m also enjoying the setting. I love anything mysterious and eerie, so a ghost story is just the thing! I hope it’s as fun to read as it has been to write.
Where can we connect with you?
To free the writer today, let’s take Rosie’s advice and create our writing to-do list. I’m sure we’ll experience more focused writing sessions and find better results. Share your writing to-do list in the comments below.