on the writing & reading trail

Posts tagged ‘first novel’

Author interview – Sara Delaval

Today’s blog guest is Sara Delaval who recently published her first novel Cicadas in Summer. Congratulations Sara and thank you for visiting today.

Sara's first novel

Sara’s first novel

Where did you grow up Sara – and what brought you to Australia?

I was born and grew up in London, having survived a boarding school designed on Dickensian lines. What I remember most is being cold all the time. Summers were very short and heating everywhere was inadequate and I dreamed of living somewhere warm and sunny. So a girlfriend and I decided to join the ten pound poms and emigrate. After all, we could always come back and settle down later… I didn’t know then that you can never go back.

I’ve told some of that story in a mini-memoir for my family. It was great to have my memory jogged about the ‘old days’.

When did you first start writing?



As a young child I used to scribble stories in an exercise book at school, which I gave to my mother when I returned home on holidays. She would laugh indulgently and read them out loud, and even then, they sounded bad! But it didn’t stop me. My imagination was the happiest place in my life – only when lost in a book, or writing stories was I able to switch off from reality and create a world I’d like to live in. Typewriters helped later, but it was the word processing on computers which made it a whole lot easier, eventually.

What would you say are the main influences on your writing?

As a teenager I loved history and gobbled up historical novels, and books on travel – even cookery books. In fact, I just loved reading and all the books I have read during my life have influenced my writing in different ways. Now I lean more towards mysteries, detective novels and stories with adventure. I’d have to say that “life” in all its forms, has influenced my writing, things I have seen and done, my career, people I have met and of course, my own family.

How much does the story of Cicadas in Summer owe to your own experience?

Everything! Before I retired, my job was helping disadvantaged people and families. I managed a “social housing” service, and met all sorts of clients. It taught me a lot about how some people survive – just! The expression “how the other half live” was coined for these people, many of whom struggled all their lives. It was sometimes frustrating but I met many wonderful people and “Cicadas in Summer”, which isn’t a true story in any way, is based on my experiences. A sort of “What if?”

What is your writing process?

I’m ashamed to say – what process? I am not nearly disciplined enough and I know it. I’d like to be able to say that I shut myself in my office between the hours of X and Y – but I have never been able to do that. “Family” issues intervene, but I am trying…

When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?

Refer above! Also, one of the main delights in my life is cooking, so a lot of time is spent shopping, preparing and cooking food, plus I have a house to look after, family, friends I need to keep in touch with, books to read, etc . etc.

What do you read for pleasure?

I’m one of those people who can read several books at once – depending on my mood. These days I love detective stories, political thrillers, adventure stories by writers like Clive Cussler, Dan Brown and Matthew Reilly, plus the odd romance for a change. I have a study full of books and can never get rid of any – only add to them; and I go to the library regularly to find new writers to read.

Do you have other writing projects in progress?

I thought you’d never ask! Of course I do. I am writing my second novel, as yet untitled, based on a theme of domestic violence (another experience learned in my job). A beautiful model marries a handsome man, but all is not as it seems and he gradually becomes more violent and controlling…

I have said how I love to cook, well I am also planning a “recipe memoir”, bringing together many of the lovely recipes I have kept through my life and sharing them, along with stories of people I have met. This is something I have wanted to do for years and I’m finally getting around to it.

Sara Delaval

Sara Delaval

You can find Sara’s book on Feedaread (http://bit.ly/17eKHL2), Amazon (http://amzn.to/1vNPkrF) and all popular online bookstores. Happy reading.

Thank you Sara for telling us your story. I look forward to reading your next novel, and turning the pages of that personal recipe book.




Author interview – Nene Davies

Nene - author and friend

Nene – author and friend

Nene Davies, a member of the Victoria Point Writers Group in Queensland is enjoying the exhilaration of having her first novel Distance accepted for publication and is here to tell us about the experience.

1.  How did you receive the news that your novel was accepted and what did it feel like?

 I had an e-mail from digital publishers Really Blue Books letting me know that my manuscript had been accepted for publication. I was almost too scared to read the e-mail, so my daughter began to read it aloud, over my shoulder. She got as far as ‘Congratulations…’ when we both jumped up and started dancing round the kitchen, shrieking! I was absolutely bowled over and I’m still in shock I think!

2.  You chose the digital publication route and to submit to a new publisher. What led you to take that path?

 I chose the digital publication route for a number of reasons: I had sent an early draft of my novel to a couple of traditional publishers who open their doors to new authors from time to time, but clearly never got past the slush pile as I didn’t hear from them at all! In the meantime, I was noticing the rise and rise of e-books and the more articles I read about the whole e-book phenomena, the more attractive an option it seemed. The rate at which digital publishing has exploded is astonishing and whilst I would love to see my novel in hard copy too one day, I really feel that publishing electronically is the best way forward for me.

I came across Really Blue Books on social media and had a look at their website. They seemed quite different from other publishers that I’d researched, with their optimistic outlook and fresh approach. I was drawn to the friendly nature of their website and noticed that they are an Australian publisher with an interest in supporting Australian authors. Plus, they are a relatively new publisher, at the forefront of digital publishing. All of these things inspired me to pluck up the courage to approach them with my manuscript.

3.  How long did it take from your first contact with Really Blue Books until you had a decision?

 It took six months from my initial approach, to signing a contract. During that time, the publisher asked me to revise the length of the novel and this work took me about four weeks to complete.

4.  What has happened since acceptance and what is mapped out for the next few months and beyond?

 I received my e-mail of acceptance in the first week of January 2013 so it’s only been a matter of a few weeks. I have been advised that an editor will work with me on the manuscript to get it polished to a publishable standard and that publication itself will be in May of this year.

In the meantime, I am working on the marketing side of things.

Really Blue Books encourages authors to participate as much as they are able, in the promotion of their work so I am gathering ideas and approaching people regarding book launches etc. A local business has kindly offered to host a launch for me and my local council will include Distance in their e-book catalogue. I have been asked if I’d like to participate on an author panel at the library too – and of course, I said yes please!

5.  Tell us in a paragraph what your book Distance is about.

 Ten years ago, I emigrated to Australia with my husband and children and the idea for the novel is loosely based on our own experiences, though it is definitely not a word-for-word account. Distance is the story of an ordinary family from rural Wales, who face an unforeseen crisis, which eventually results in them having the opportunity to realise a long-held dream of emigrating to Australia. The grandmother in the story totally opposes the idea, refuses to join the family and pulls out all the emotional stops to prevent them leaving. Her daughter has to decide whether to go to Australia and risk losing her mother or stay, and risk losing her marriage.

 6.  What part of working on the story did you find most challenging?

 The editing! Since I’m a rambler/waffler/chatty type, I found it very tricky to revise the length of the novel by some 25,000 words. I gave myself a month and was able to complete the work in that time.

Also, as with any submission, waiting for a response from a publisher is like watching a drop of treacle spread over an entire dinner plate! It was agonising, but I do understand that it’s all part of the process.

 7.  When will we be able to buy Distance? And how will we know when it is available?

 Distance is due to be published in May 2013. It will be available on the

Really Blue Books website and through various outlets including Amazon, Google Play, Kobo and Firsty Fish.

 8.  Is there another novel in progress?

 A sequel to Distance is forming in my mind, but I have yet to commit it to paper. I’m looking forward to really getting stuck into the new project once Distance is out in the big wide world!

 9.  Tell us about any other creative projects on the drawing board.

 I love writing short stories and have recently completed a couple for possible inclusion in a forthcoming anthology of Twisted Tales by Victoria Point Writers Group. Last year, Victoria Point Writers wrote and e-published Ten Minute Tales on Smashwords as a free download and we’ve had a terrific response. This has encouraged us to write another one!

Also last year, I had a short story, Day One published digitally and in hard copy, by Writers Abroad as part of the Foreign Encounters anthology. Narrator Australia included my short story, Miss Understood on their website and in hard copy in the Narrator Australia anthology, and my story Santa’s Helper Helps Herself appeared on the ABC Open website.

 You can stay in touch with Nene through Twitter (Nene_Davies), Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nenedavieswrites) and her website/blog (http://www.nenedavies.com)



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