This is Lesley. Lesley and I were introduced about five years ago by a mutual friend when we were both aspiring writers and now – well the picture says it all – now Lesley IS a published author and I couldn’t be more delighted, or proud because I know what it’s taken to get there. We met for lunch recently and here is a little of her story, so far.
How long have you been writing?
I’ve always been writing about something, but I properly started about thirteen years ago. Biddy started as a short story I began while part of a creative writing class at The Heritage Centre in Bangor, County Down. I always wanted to write a novel but I never had the courage or the confidence until I started that class. It made me realise I could write.
How did you find your Agent?
I signed with The Feldstein Agency in 2007 when I had the first draft of Biddy almost complete. I used the Creative Writer’s Handbook to send my first chapters to several agents. I made the classic mistake of sending the manuscript off before I had it finished so when they asked to read the whole thing I had to finish it over a weekend! But I already knew the ending so it wasn’t so bad, but I wouldn’t recommend this approach!
How soon after did you get an offer of publication?
I got an offer from a publisher in August 2008 – it was amazing I was so happy! But then that fell through one month later. It was awful. I was devastated – I felt like I’d been jilted at the altar. I stopped writing for two years after that. I was dealing with some personal and family issues at the time too and I suppose I lost my voice for a while. I gradually started again and joined the Creative Writers Group at Queens University and began tinkering with the manuscript. I did a major re-write and re-structure of it, but nothing happened. So I put it away and began on book two. Unbeknownst to me my agent began re-submitting again to Publishers. And then came the golden moment when Twenty7books (a Bonnier Zaffre Imprint) picked it up in February 2014.
What is your best advise for aspiring writers?
Read, read, read! When I read a good book it inspires me, it’s also important to know your genre, know your market. And never, ever give up. I know it’s a cliche but it’s true. If I had, I wouldn’t be sitting here today. And I write anywhere, any day, anytime. I don’t have a routine I just write whenever I can.
What’s been the most surprising thing about becoming a published author?
Well, obviously seeing my book on a shelf beside J.K.Rowling is thrilling… but all of it has been wonderful. I thought I knew what it would be like, I’d imagined it so many times, but I didn’t. I still can’t believe people are reading reading MY book. I’m humbled and overwhelmed but the response it’s got on twitter and that actual strangers – not family, not friends – but strangers are reading it and liking it. It feels amazing.
‘The Lonely Life of Biddy Weir’ is available at all good bookshops.
You can find out more about Lesley on her Facebook page LesleyAllenAuthor.
So there you have it, whatever your dreams keep on going – they do come true! I have a couple of short stories of my own I’m looking froward to sharing in the coming weeks. In the meantime enjoy the Christmas madness. Our friend ‘Elfie’ is back for the craic and I’m so looking forward to enjoying our first Christmas in our new home.