I did it and you can too!
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