Thursday, 31 August 2017

For IWSG - An Interview with freelance writer Julie Louise Phillips


Welcome Julie, and thank you for agreeing to be interviewed today. I know you have worked hard, like so many authors, to establish yourself as a writer -  having success with your short stories and spending long hours researching in local libraries, obtaining first hand information of historical interest, - and it would be helpful to others just beginning their writing journeys to hear something about how you achieved your success. First of all, I'd like to ask you if you have attended writing courses, writer's retreats, and if you found this helpful?


Julie Louise Phillips
Yes, I did a year’s Creative Writing course with the Open University in 2007/8 and a Writers Bureau course in article writing too. I also went on a writers’ holiday in Fishguard this time last year.  I’ve also been to the National Association of Writing Groups’ writing conference a couple of times and three retreats with my writing group. They were well worth going on because you meet other writers and learn a lot about writing skills.


Do you find social media helpful? Or just time consuming?

It's fits and starts with me regarding social media. Sometimes I use it a lot, and then not so much. It was beginning to impact on my writing time, and I have to write when I can because I work in a local school. So when it is term-time, I only access social media at weekends and I impose a time limit. It's far too easy to be distracted by social media. 


Are you a member of a business group, do you undertake book signings or visit Book Fairs. Are your books in local libraries? Are you to be found at workshops and do you give talks at book festivals or as visiting author in schools? 

No, I'm not a member of a business group, but I do hold book signings and I am available to give writing related workshops. I find most libraries will only have your books on their shelves is you donate a book first, and as I think libraries are to be treasured, I am happy to give them one of my books. I did facilitate an author visit for a friend that was amazing, and I would like to undertake an author visit myself in the future. 

Are you aware of your target audience, and if so, how do you connect with them?

Via my publishers really. I had some feedback from families through them, people whose ancestors featured in my WW1 books and that was nice.

Do you have a publisher, or are you self-published? How did you go about seeing your books in print?

I have a publisher for my non-fiction, although I haven't ruled out self-publishing. I sent a synopsis to the publisher and they accepted it. 


Do you belong, or have you at some time, belonged to a writer's group, and did you find this useful?


Yes, Wrekin Writers based in Telford. They are absolutely responsible for me getting my writing act together and being published. I would recommend that people do join a writing group, but make sure it is right for you. Not all writing groups are a good place for everyone, so shop around. 


    Do you use libraries for your research, online resources or both? 

For my WW1 books I used three libraries and also did some research on-line and in museum archives. I also used an on-line newspaper archive and the archives at Birmingham Library as well as buying related books on Amazon to read and going out and interviewing people. 

At what stage did you begin to think yourself , or call yourself, a writer?

I still don’t!  I still can’t believe I’ve had anything published. To me it’s a passion. I love reading and writing but it isn’t ‘work’ to me, it’s a pleasure.


Do you read ‘how-to’ books and are there any you would recommend for the writer who is just starting on a career?


Yes. I think they are good for new writers as they give you some ideas on how to go about writing. Simon Whaley’s books on writing are great as are Jane Wenham-Jones’s Wanna Be a Writer books. Della Galton has a good book out on writing short stories too.



Could you tell us what you are working on at present, and in what direction you think your writing will take in the future?


I am working on my 5th book for the publisher Pen and Sword. It is a book about suffragettes and women of note in  Birmingham, but I shall still write short stories for women's magazines. I'd like to finish a novel and get that published. 


And finally, could you provide advice for the beginning writers out there? 

I'm not one for making resolutions, as I think they're only good for setting us up to fail. There's so much pressure to do things better or to be a better person that it's no wonder we don't succeed and abandon our intentions a few weeks later.

Writing is also like that. We get all excited about a new idea and are completely absorbed in it for a while, only to fall out of love with it and never finish it.
The key I've found is, before I even write a word, I look back at those projects and ask myself why I abandoned them. The answer is usually that I became bored with it or simply didn't know how to advance with it, so I just gave up. I then make myself look at the abandoned project and try and, if I think I can, I try and finish it. This process then allows me to move on to the next project without the Spectre of past, unfinished writing projects, hanging around my neck.

So, if your writing resolutions have faltered, take a step back, look if there are any previous projects that you didn't finish and are holding you back. Finishing these might be all you need to move forward.
 
Thank you so much, Julie. I'm sure this will encourage many writers not to give up. And I'm sure other readers will join me in wishing you every success in the future. We look forward to reading more and more books from you. 

[ Julie's books can be found on Amazon, and her blog address is 
         http://jlpwritersquest.blogspot.co.uk/ ]