Today I would like to welcome Pauline Saull to the blog. Pauline has chosen to answer almost all of Daisy’s twenty questions.
1 How long have you been writing
I’ve been writing seriously since I first got published 6 years ago. This was at a time when I’d just retired and I worried about having too much time on my hands, but after that first acceptance there was really no stopping me. I churned out short stories for, The People’s Friend… a popular weekly UK magazine which is full of stories. I’m not sure if you get it in America, but I know it’s in a lot of countries. The thing about the editors on that publication is their willingness to tell you why they are rejecting….i.e ‘Character too weak’, ‘Plot too predictable’, ‘Couldn’t feel empathy with heroine/hero’, etc. which gives you the chance to then work on your shortcomings. I think they’re marvellous. I also write 50,000 romantic novellas for them which are published in paperback and go into the main U K supermarkets and news agents.
2 Do you have a favourite book you have written?
My favourite story up to now is, Secrets in Paradise, (Taliesin)….and that’s not just because it is the most recent, but I feel I learnt quite a lot from writing it, and dare I say…I like to feel I’m improving!
3 Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes, I have always aspired to be a writer. Since attending the High School of Art in Manchester (UK) until I was 15, my love of words has never left me. The school encouraged all forms of art, and if like me your penchant was for books, then we were urged to write plays for the school concerts, which was great fun.
4 Are you a plotter or pantser writer?
I’m a pantser!
5 What do you enjoy most about writing?
The fact that I can create whichever character, whatever plot, and choose my scenes. No-one can tell me what to do, but I can have them do what I want!
6 Do you have a favourite affirmation on writing?
A day without writing is like a day without sun.
7 How do you develop your characters?
I close my eyes and fit an image with the name I’ve given them, the rest just seems to follow. By relating…as closely as possible…to people I’ve known or know, who have quirks of character I admire, I can then imagine how they would deal with the situations I put them in.
8 What is the most exciting time for you in your writing, the new beginning or the completed story? The offer of a contract?
The most exciting time for me is that new beginning. As I say, I’m a pantster, so once the name of my heroine and hero are in my head, I begin to build the characters. Usually the plot follows, though sometimes I struggle with making it sound ‘real’, which is when I find myself ‘waffling’, and have to stop and smack my wrist.
9 If you have experienced rejection as a writer, how did you deal with it?
I deal with rejection by papering the laundry wall with the rejection slips. (It’s almost full) It never fazes me, but in fact spurs me on. I become like a terrier with a rat. ‘You will like this!’
10 Do you ever write yourself into your stories?
No, I have never written myself into stories.
11 Have you ever used a ‘real life’ incident in your writing?
I have used what I consider to be quite interesting experiences from the past; countries we’ve lived in and the amazingly diverse people we’ve met in those places.
12 What is your favourite way to find inspiration?
Inspiration almost always comes to me in the night! I wake up, an idea is lodged keeping me awake, and by morning I can’t wait to open the computer.
13 Who are your favourite authors?
My favourite authors; Joyce Carol Oates, Maggie O’Farrell, Ann Fine, Anita Shrieve, Marge Piercy, Stanley Middleton… I could go on….I read a lot.
14 Do you feel you are influenced by any particular authors?
I think without knowing it, you do pick up on a particular writing style, which is helpful when you have such a wide range of favourites.
15 What is the most difficult aspect of writing for you?
Backache from sitting too long. I recently sent in a 50 page part story to Pegasus and had the shock of my life when they said they wanted to read the whole MS. As I’d only written 30000 words, I had to sit for almost 2 weeks solid while I finished it. As a result I’m now laid up with chronic back pain. And Pegasus will probably reject me anyway! Ah well.
16 Coffee or Tea?
Water, the colder the better.
17 Early rising lark or night lover owl? Early riser, outside writer in the cool of the morning.
18What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
I love reading and walking.
19 Do you think you will still be writing in ten years time?
Excerpt from Secrets in Paradise.
The following evening Katie waited for Rick. He arrived in a taxi, the door swung open and he leaned out looking staggeringly handsome as usual.
“Hi, babe. Hungry?” he called, beckoning to her.
Katie swallowed the lump of disappointment. She wished just for once he’d treat her in a more ladylike manner, but on reaching the taxi, and when he kissed her and she caught the gorgeous whiff of his favorite, extremely-expensive-present-from-herself-aftershave, Katie smiled. “Ravenous.”
Rick’s glance flickered over her. Katie pulled her cardigan down a little further.
Inside the restaurant seated at the candlelit table, Rick took off his jacket and draped it over the back of the chair. “Phew, it’s warm, doll.”
Katie agreed, but thought even with a trickle of perspiration running between her shoulder blades, there was no way she’d be taking off her cardigan.
“I think champagne’s called for.” Rick smiled, reaching across to squeeze her hand.
The minute the bottle popped open they drank it rather quickly, and ordered another. When the meal was finished with a generous cognac, by the time the waiter placed the bill on the table, Katie wondered if she’d be able to walk straight.
Turning, fumbling in his jacket pocket, Rick suddenly cursed.
“What?” Katie blinked, tried to focus.
“Hell’s bells, Katie…” He frowned. “I’ve forgotten my damn wallet! Or have I lost it? Oh sweetie, the meal…”
Katie laughed. “It’s not a problem. Stop worrying. I’ll get it.”
“Thanks, you’re a real doll. I just need to pay a visit.” He leaned over to kiss her before heading off to the mens’ room, not noticing he’d knocked his jacket to the floor. As Katie reached down to retrieve it, a small black wallet dropped from an inside pocket. Heart pounding, picking it up, she opened it.
Inside were a collection of credit cards and two folded pieces of newspaper.
Taking them out, she looked at the one taken from a national paper. The clipping showed herself, stupid grin on her face, holding the oversized eight million dollar check. The second was a cutting from the local paper, a piece Katie remembered well—when the SPCA advertised her lottery win and the fact she would be handing over keys to the new premises she’d donated on Tuesday the eighteenth.
The date was underlined in red.
In two seconds flat, Katie was stone-cold sober. Carefully smoothing both articles out, she laid them inside the folder containing the bill, collected her bag and rose to walk out of the place without a backward glance.
I’m retired, living in Australia, which is an entirely different place from where I was brought up in central Manchester. There, all we ever saw was row upon row of terraced houses, cobbled streets (yes!) and smog so thick in winter it resembled pea soup. Life could have been intolerable if it wasn’t for school….the High School of Art, where I developed my love of writing, and was taught that anything is possible if you work hard enough at it.
After emigrating in the early 60’s to South Africa, hubby and me eventually returned to England, brought up two children and ran a number of businesses, enabling us to then buy one in New Zealand where we lived for ten years. Lots of moves, lots of experiences….some good, some bad, but all life enriching, and along the way we met the most incredible people.
We’re now firmly ensconced in this beautiful country.