Tuesday, 8 July 2008

An interview with author, Agnes Hall

I’m lucky to have several friends who are published authors. In fact a few of us share the same writing group in Jalón. I caught up with Agnes Hall a few days ago. She’s recently had a new novel released into the market place and is still on a high.
  • I thought it might be good to share our conversation. Agnes, how long have you actually been a writer?
I only began writing after retiring to Spain. I suppose I started writing about 4 years ago. I attempted to write a thriller, with no tuition whatsoever and realised after attending a creative writing class run by a published author, Jill Lanchbery, that I needed some guidance starting at layout before even attempting the content. Jill and I eventually started a Writing Group here in the valley where we live and I have learnt a great deal both from Jill and other members of the group.
  • So is this your first book, or have you published others?
Yes, the first! Apart from the beginning of the thriller.
  • And did you dive straight into a full-length book or did you publish other articles/stories first?
I have had nothing published prior to this. I have attempted short stories and my 'greatest' achievment was to have one short story long-listed in a Fish Publishing Competition. Short stories were a good way to start for me personally and allowed me to build up confidence.
  • That's what I keep telling new writers. I think short stories are a good way to cut your teeth. I wrote for magazines for about fourteen years before turning back to novels. So what prompted you to write this particular story? Does it convey any special 'messages' to the reader?
It's the old chestnut of writing about what you know. The story centres around Liverpool and Ireland. Being the daughter of Irish parents and spending the first twenty years of my life in Liverpool gave me the basis of my story. Relationships, I think are the same whatever the period and my story begins around 1900.
  • And is the story aimed mainly at men or women. What genre would you classify it in?
The story is aimed at both men and women. Male friends who have read it have enjoyed it. As for genre...It is a 'family saga'. My main comment in retrospect is that I think that
I have tried to pack too much into one book. I think that all the characters and relationships could be expanded.....perhaps the next book could do this!
  • I think we all wish we'd done things differently, Agnes. You're not alone, it's the bane of a writers life. We're never satisfied with our work. So, was much research involved, did you have to study anything before you completed the story?
There was a reasonable amount of research required. The story talks about the potato famine in Ireland, the conditions of poverty in which the Irish peasant farmer lived, the
English/Irish problems and also spans two world wars...as I said, perhaps I could expand on all this in another book.
  • Okay, time for a little push for your book. Who is your publisher, is your book available yet, and if so, where?
'The Canvas Bag' is published by Libros International and is currently available on Amazon and associated sites. There are plans afoot for all libros' authors' works to reach the shelves of some of the major U.K. bookstores e.g Waterstones.
  • That'll be brilliant. Would you like to tell everone a little about the writer's circle? How did it evolve, what are the aims?
The writers circle in which I am involved began with Jill Lanchberry and myself getting together to try and get and give feedback from and to other writers. The main aims are to encourage and support and give positive criticism of each others work. Apart from works in progress being discussed, we also have workshops which are often a useful tool to get one's brain thinking in a different way. We meet twice a month and the topics are varied and include not just writing and discussing each others work but everything that goes with writing such as sales and marketing etc. One of the things that we have all found amazing on set projects is that given one topic, the variety of work that arises.
  • That's authors for you - no two minds think alike. Okay Agnes, have you any other books in the pipeline?
I have 2 other books in the pipeline at the moment...apart from what might arise as sequels to 'The Canvas Bag'. The first has a working title of 'A Seafaring Man and A Nice Cup of Tea' the second 'Rasberry Summer, I will not tell you what they are about yet...WATCH THIS SPACE!
  • Wow! Sounds like you've been busy already. I wish I was so far in front. Right then, Agnes, at this point I generally ask guests to give one piece of advice aspiring authors. What would yours be?
Try and be disciplined....I am not and I know that my next two books would be a lot further on if I allocated a specific time each day to work at my writing.
If anyone wants to contact me they can email me on agneshall@terra.es. My website is not fully constructed yet.
  • That's great stuff, Agnes. Thanks for taking the time. I'm sure everyone will have found this inspiring. Good luck with your book sales. Let's talk again soon.

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