New York Times Bestselling Author, Josie Silver, talks about her reasons for becoming a writer, her writing process, and her favourite spots in England. She also shares words of wisdom for aspiring authors!
Lauren – Travel and Write Today: When did you decide that you wanted to be a writer?
Josie Silver: I think I’ve always known. I grew up reading my nan’s Mills & Boon’s, and I still have an ancient ‘So you want to write Romance’ cassette, and tips leaflet I sent away for when I was about thirteen! It’s only ever been romance for me, both to read and to write. I used to joke to my husband that I’d write a book when I had a laptop – and then he bought me a laptop for Christmas so I had no excuse. That was probably about fourteen years ago now, when I was at home on maternity leave with our youngest son. I entered Mills and Boon’s annual writing contest that year and placed second, and that was it, I was away. In the end I didn’t make it as a Mills and Boon writer, but it set me on the path and I’ll always be grateful.
TWT: What is your writing process? Paper and pen or laptop?
JS: I type mostly, either on my laptop or sometimes I use a mechanical keyboard with my iPad. I find the clattery noise helps me feel productive! I sometimes switch to paper and pen if I feel blocked, there’s something cathartic about the physicality of writing that helps my brain unknot plot issues. I’ll try things one way and then another to see which works, often in quite a chatty way on the page, even though it’s only to myself. I might write ‘What if she did this, instead of that…’ and then try it, and then write ‘but hang on, how about if this happened instead?’ and go off in a different direction. It helps that I’m a complete stationery addict, so I’m always glad to feed my notebook habit.
TWT: Music or silence?
JS: I create a Spotify playlist for whichever book I’m writing and listen to it while I work, but sometimes I’m best with no distraction at all. It all depends what kind of scene I’m working on.
TWT: I love this idea! I am going to start creating Spotify playlists based on writing projects I’m working on.
TWT: Do you write in the morning, at night, or whenever you find time?
JS: I’m lucky enough to write full-time, so theoretically the answer should be I write during the day and relax in the evening. However, in reality I write at all times of the day, depending on how close to deadline I am. I’m not great at compartmentalizing my life, I’m always thinking about the book I’m working on, and most evenings I end up with my laptop on my knees writing or researching. It’s a way of life rather than a job.
TWT: What is your drink of choice when writing? Coffee or tea?
JS: Coffee in the morning, tea in the afternoon and wine in the evening!
TWT: This is my exact answer to this question!
TWT: I know you live in England – What are some of your favourite spots to visit?
JS: Cornwall is incredibly beautiful down on the south coast of England, wildly romantic cliffs and rugged blue coves – if you’ve seen Poldark you’ll know exactly what I mean. We holidayed there often as kids so it has a special place in my heart, and go back as often as we’re able with our own family.
Hay-on-Wye is a book lovers paradise, a small market town famed for its winding streets full of second-hand book shops. It’s one of those places to happily lose the day mooching, and of course there are shops selling stationery and pubs with comfy writing spots. I adore it, it’s a creative place full of writers energy.
TWT: You met your husband when you stepped on his foot on his twenty-first birthday – we need more details!
JS: Oh gosh! Well, he came for a job interview at the place I worked at, and it was my job to take him up in the elevator to the correct place. He was twenty-one and all dressed up in his suit and tie, trying to juggle a briefcase and a long umbrella – an empty briefcase and his mother’s umbrella in an attempt to look grown up, as it turned out! We’re both pretty clumsy, and I somehow managed to step on his foot as we were getting out of the elevator. It definitely broke the ice! He got the job, but we didn’t actually date until some years later. We became good friends first, which was kind of lovely.
TWT: What are some of your favourite books?
JS: The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my forever favourites, and anything Marian Keyes writes speaks straight to my heart. I recently read and loved The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E Harrow and fell in love with the lyrical way she expresses herself, it was an absolute joy. I’ve just finished up on Untamed by Glennon Doyle – my goodness, what an astounding book. I adore her pioneering take on the world, I’m going to try to be a bit more Glennon from here on in!
TWT: What is your favourite place to watch the sunrise/sunset?
JS: We visited Formentera a few years ago, it’s the most beautiful tiny jewel in the Mediterranean, and I have a lovely memory of sitting in a beach restaurant, toes in the sand as everyone watched the sun sink into the ocean. It’s tradition there to clap the sun when the last sliver finally disappears for the day, a thank you for another day bathed in warmth and beauty. It’s truly one of my favourite places on earth.
Sunrise? I think at home. We have a small balcony with a semi-urban view towards distant green hills, it’s a pretty way to start the day out there with a coffee.
TWT: That sounds perfect!
TWT: What advice would you give to other aspiring authors?
JS: It really helped me early on to find a like-minded writing community, either on-line or in person. I joined a romance writers forum and made some brilliant friends, it helps so much to have people going through the same experience as you are.
Enter competitions – you never know which doors it might open even if you don’t win.
Twitter and Instagram are a great place to connect with other writers and agents. Follow people in the industry to get a feel for what’s happening in the business, agents will often tweet about the kind of books they’re looking for and editors will offer tips and workshops.
Other than that, just write, write, write. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Lots of people make a start, the people who make it are the ones who have the dogged determination to stick with it. Lastly – be brave enough to submit your work, a rejection won’t kill you. Every writer has a drawer full of them, they’re all just part of your journey towards a yes, and when that happens, it’s magic.
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