I did it and you can too!

Good Housekeeping (UK) - - Gh Exclusive -

Good House­keep­ing has helped three women get into print so far. Our most re­cent win­ner, Mar­garet Kirk, saw her book Shadow Man, a Val Mc­der­mid-style who­dun­nit set in In­ver­ness, where she lives, pub­lished in Novem­ber 2017. She shares her tips on writ­ing… How does it feel to be a pub­lished au­thor? Very, very strange. I have to get used to it. When I go to writ­ing fes­ti­vals, I see writ­ers and think they are real writ­ers and I am there un­der false pre­tences. I hope that will di­min­ish in time.

How do you write?

Really slowly, so the only way I can get a de­cent word count is to treat it like a job. So I will do so many words be­fore lunch and so many in the af­ter­noon. You have to be dis­ci­plined, and to know how it works for you. I try to do 500 good words in one ses­sion and 500 in the next. It’s not a lot, but I would pre­fer to do that than write more and then tear it up.

Where do you work?

I used to write on a chair in the liv­ing room with the cat on my knee. But now I have a shed at the bot­tom of the gar­den and I trot out there. I also find it easy to write on the train. For trips to Lon­don I get the train, and it’s eight hours of sit­ting down so I can just get on with it.

Do you go to any writ­ing groups?

I’ve joined a cou­ple of online writ­ing groups, which I’ve found very use­ful. You get the chance to give and re­ceive feed­back. And I think it is good if you start read­ing in a dif­fer­ent way – start look­ing at what works and what doesn’t work. It’s as sim­ple as start­ing to fol­low the au­thor Joanne Har­ris on Twit­ter – her posts are amaz­ing.

Shadow Man is a po­lice who­dun­nit. How much re­search do you do?

I don’t have a po­lice back­ground, but I’m lucky be­cause I have friends in the po­lice and I bad­gered the life out of them.

Why did you choose to write a mur­der story?

It is the genre I like most. It is clearly where my heart lies and that’s the main thing. Write what really ex­cites you, what you are drawn to.

And what now?

I’m work­ing on my sec­ond book. I’m a full-time writer now!

Pre­vi­ous win­ner Mar­garet Kirk

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