The Next Chapter with Julie Shackman
Today we welcome back author Julie Shackman to Whispering Stories Blog to catch up on what she has been doing since our interview with her back in September 2015 on ‘The Writing Life of:Julie Shackman.’ This post contains affiliate links.
Julie Shackman is an author of romantic comedies and lives in Scotland with her Husband and two teenage sons. She trained as a journalist and studied Communication & Media. She also writes verses and captions for greetings card companies.
A Room at the Manor is her first, traditionally published novel. Julie’s two previous releases, Rock My World & Hero or Zero, were published digitally, by Not So Noble Books. Julie admits to a passion for stationery and handbags.
Welcome back to Whispering Stories Blog, lovely to be featuring you again. We last met you back in September 2015 when we spoke to you about your writing life and your latest book at the time ‘Hero or Zero‘’. Since that date I believe you have written and published another book, A Room at the Manor. That was released in the UK by Allen and Unwin UK, in both kindle and paperback, on 1st August.
1) How has life changed since we last met you?
Since we last met Stacey, things have changed for the better! In May 2017, I was offered representation by Australia’s uber literary agent, Selwa Anthony (I still have to pinch myself to make sure I didn’t imagine it!) Then six weeks after Selwa signing me, she secured me a publisher for A Room at the Manor.
That was released in paperback and kindle in Australia and New Zealand last summer by Allen & Unwin, as well as in audio and then she sold the rights to Germany. It was released over there by the fab Forever romance imprint at Ullstein in paperback and kindle earlier this year and the reception I have had from German readers, has been particularly wonderful!
2) Has your writing style changed since we last interviewed you?
I think it has – and hopefully for the better! Selwa has really taught me to sharpen up my style and I think the wonderful expertise I have seen from the editors I am/have worked with, has been an invaluable learning curve for me.
3) Have you allowed yourself to be influenced by your readers’ opinions of your characters?
No, I don’t think so. I just try to write characters who fascinate and interest me and hope that the readers see the same qualities (or failings!) in them that I do.
4) Have you found writing gets easier or harder the more books you write?
I think in some ways, a little easier and in other ways, it’s tougher the more books you write! I think from the easier perspective, I know I can write a book now (well, I’ve actually now written a total of five and am working on number six!) and get to the finish line. I also know that I just have to get the first draft down and the editing and polishing can come later. From the harder side, I think you realise you are only as good as you next book, so the pressure is on to produce something that your readers will fall in love with.
5) Is there a difference in the way you feel about your books the more you publish? As in do you still feel the same level of excitement?
I think I get more excited with each one! I just love writing so much, creating characters and world-building and I just never tire of seeing my books out there. I just can’t imagine doing anything else. I wouldn’t want to!
6) If you could live within the pages of any of the books created by you, which would you choose?
I think so far, it would have to be within the pages of my current release, A Room at the Manor. That has been my first traditionally published novel, so it has a special place in my heart.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – Allen & Unwin
Pages – 304
Release Date – 1st August 2019
ISBN 13 – 978-1760632861
Format – ebook, paperback, audio
When her Maltese love affair turns sour, Lara McDonald returns to her quiet Scottish hometown of Fairview heartbroken, yet determined – instead of looking for another PR position, she decides to follow her dream of baking. She impulsively takes the first job offered and finds herself working for local dragon Kitty Walker in her tea room, True Brew.
Lara’s life is full of surprises, however, not the least being an unlikely friendship forged with one of Kitty’s elderly customers, the former laird Hugo Carmichael. The Carmichael family has lived at the beautiful Glenlovatt Manor for almost three hundred years and, although in need of renovation, Hugo, his son and grandson currently make it their home.
There’s something about Lara that Hugo likes, and when Hugo suddenly passes away, Lara is stunned to discover she is mentioned in his will. But not everyone is happy with the old Laird’s faith in Lara.
7) How long did it take you to write this book?
It took me around 6-8 months to write the first draft of ARATM and then I did a few rounds of edits with my agent, followed by another couple of rounds of edits with my publisher. I try just to get my first draft done and not edit till after that is finished.
8) Can you tell us a little about your new book (not in the synopsis)?
I wanted to create a story where there are layers of secrets and revelations and the characters concerned have to address those challenges. As I said previously, that is one of my favourite things about writing – creating the characters and building a world for them.
9) Can you tell us anything you edited out of your book?
I can’t think of anything I edited out. I just know that going through the editing experience was very valuable for me as a writer.
10) Are you still going through the same publishing methods?
Yes. I’m so lucky to have the agent I have and to have someone who has got my back and who is so assertive; enthusiastic and passionate!
11) Can you remember seeing your book for the first time in the bookstore, supermarket, online?
I can remember holding a copy of it in my hands for the first time and feeling the breath catch in my throat. It was amazing and almost dream-like!
12) What next for you in your writing career?
Well, there will be news on my next novel coming soon, (Book 4 ) which is all written and is just undergoing some final editorial touches. I’ve just finished writing the novel after that one (Book 5) and have started writing the first draft of Book 6. I just would like to keep writing and make readers feel they can escape with my novels.
1) Question from Julie – Does it become easier or harder as time goes by to take criticism on board, particularly if it’s non-constructive?
I think in a way it gets a little easier. You realise you can’t take it to heart – you shouldn’t – and that it is part and parcel of the writing industry. You just have to write what you want to write and hope your readers love what you have written.
2) Question from Steve – Can you write in a noisy environment or do you have to have silence?
I have to have noise – preferably music! I always write in my favourite local tea shop during the week. It has a lovely atmosphere and is a great place to people watch. They also play an eclectic mix of great music in the background.
3) Question from Kerstin – What’s your favourite book?
“Whose Afraid of Mr Wolfe?” by Hazel Osmond. It has everything – humour; sexiness; emotion and just draws you in. I love it!