This inspiring interview is with author Diane Jeffrey. She wrote her debut novel Those Who Lie a psychological thriller with many five star reviews. She is currently working on her second psychological thriller that will be published at the beginning of 2018. When she is not writing she is an English teacher as a profession. Besides teaching and writing, she loves spending time with her family in Lyon where she is based.
-Congratulations on your debut novel Those Who Lie published in January 2017. Can you tell us how you started writing the book? And how did you manage to keep going not knowing if it would be published or not?
I wanted to write about harassment over the Internet. A friend of mine sent me an article about a man who had been receiving disturbing messages from his ex-girlfriend. They were all the more troubling as she was dead!!! And that gave me the beginning of my novel. Emily receives messages from her husband, who supposedly died in the car she crashed.
I had a year's study leave, officially to study Spanish. I was paid a percentage of my salary during that year and I handed in my Spanish coursework, but I spent far more time writing my novel. It's something I've always wanted to do. I sent off my first manuscript for a novel entitled 'Stowaway' when I was eight years old! When my son was a baby (14 years ago!), I wrote a Chick Lit novel, which was unanimously rejected by agents. I wrote picture books for my kids when they were younger. And so, knowing I was going to have a lot of free time throughout that year off work, I thought to myself, it's now or never, and gave it a go.
-What does your typical writing day look like and do you use a word count?
I work full time as an English teacher, so I don't really have typical writing days. On a good day (weekend or holiday), I leap out of bed and start typing, fuelled by cups of tea made by my children. I take a quick break for breakfast and then get back to it and shower when I realise it's lunchtime. On a working day, I quite often don't get anything down at all and justify to myself the amount of time I spend on Twitter after work as "promotional." I'm not great at writing in the evenings, and I teach in the mornings but I usually have an hour or two free in the afternoons. I do keep a word count, but it can be very low. It sometimes takes me half an hour to work a paragraph until I'm satisfied with it. So, I aim for at least a page every time I write. And I'm not one of these people who thinks you should write every single day. I sometimes don't write for a few days, but I jot down ideas or stick up post-its with notes on the plot or talk out loud to my main character while I'm walking the dog!
-What are you writing on at the moment?
I'm currently writing my second psychological thriller, which will be published with HQ Digital (HarperCollins) early next year. It's about a woman with a high-flying career who finds herself in an abusive relationship. It's more psychological than physical abuse and, as such, it's more insidious. She's a strong character, but her husband is a very good father and she wants to do the right thing for their baby.
-What is your favorite thing about being an author?
The champagne? You can celebrate at every stage of the writing process! End of first draft, end of 2nd / 3rd etc rewrite, getting the manuscript accepted by a publisher / agent, signing a contract, the cover reveal, Publication Day, the first five star review, etc. No, not really, I'm just kidding.
There are a lot of great things about becoming a published author. As I live in France, my book has provided me with a good excuse for going back "home" on visits to the UK and I've been to London a few times since January to meet up with people or meet up with my editor and agent, etc. And that's another great thing about writing: I've met such wonderful people. Online at first and then in real life for some of the contacts and friends I've made.
-What is the best writing advice you can give to aspiring writers?
Don't give up. You have to keep persevering. It rarely works straight away. I rewrote my book several times in between countless rejections and then I got three requests for the full manuscript at the same time! It took me one year to write the book and another full year to rewrite it and get it polished to a publishable standard.
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