Welcome to the two hundred and seventy-eighth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with article and short story author and novelist Siggy Buckley. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Siggy. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Siggy: I’m based in Jacksonville, FL. I started out by writing a diary about live encounters I had thru online dating agencies. After meeting my husband the “natural way”, Connor encouraged me to expand it into a book.
Morgen: Write what you know. 🙂 What genre do you generally write?
I also wrote a couple of short stories which I published on www.scrbd.com to let them see the light of the day.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Siggy: Some of the political articles are published under my maiden name. You could call that a pen name. I wrote a novel based on my life called Next Time Lucky: Lessons of a Matchmaker and converted a travel blog into an eBook Intrepid Home Swapping: How to save thousands on your next vacation.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections in between the acceptances?
Siggy: I sent about 100 queries out and got about 70 rejections. Some wanted to read my ms and eventually I found an agent. But the agent didn’t find a publisher for my novel. Every rejection letter is hard to take. One shouldn’t take them personally, but I do. Eventually, I couldn’t take it any more and I self-published. I know an author who wrote 29 novels before finally one was accepted. I couldn’t do that.
Morgen: Wow. That’s a lot. Hopefully he / she can do something with them now. It’s said that horror novelist Dean Koontz had over 500 rejections before his first novel came out. I went to a writers’ conference on Saturday and heard a talk by Barry Cunningham who signed up JK Rowling. He said she’d been rejected by every other publisher in the UK and look at her now. 🙂 That said, I’ve had 28 rejections (not for separate novels I hasten to add) and have gone the eBook route (alongside a freelance editor) because I get more (total) say. 🙂 Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions?
Siggy: Am afraid not. But I only participated in one competition. I avoid spending money on them.
Morgen: Many people don’t enter because they’d rather submit for publication. I dabble in competitions but would now rather aim for publication but one of my Monday writers does nothing but competitions so it’s a personal choice. You mentioned having an agent. Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Siggy: I had this agent in CA for a year. In spite her promises also to sell the film rights, nothing happened. Now it’s up to me alone to get publicity and make it work.
Morgen: Which is why you’re here. 🙂 Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Siggy: Yes, both books are available as eBooks. Love to read them myself since I got my Kindle in November.
Morgen: I only got mine last month and enjoy it when I’m out and about, although I’m not a convert at home because I have so many books here and my shelves would look pretty silly with just a Kindle sitting on them. You said you do all your marketing, what’s your method?
Siggy: I spent most of my trawling social network sites and am just breaking out into the dating scene websites again because that’s where my readers are—not among other writers.
Morgen: That’s interesting. It makes sense to find your target audience. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Siggy: I’d love to see my novel on dating in film. My agent suggested Goldie Hawn. I’d love Meg Ryan for the role of sassy Cherie, the former matchmaker gone internet dating.
Morgen: 🙂 Did you have any say in the title / covers of your book? How important do you think they are?
Siggy: My husband and I had the idea for the cover. A cover artist, Donna Casey, put it together for me.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
Siggy: I’m finishing up I one had a Farm in Ireland, based on my previous life on an organic farm. After that a novel, also playing in Ireland. It deals with the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. This is a real story that happened to my former housekeeper. Incredibly sad, compelling stuff.
My new writers’ blog has been keeping me busy and also working on my PR. You can either write or promote your work unless you do night shifts as well.
Morgen: Almost. 🙂 Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Siggy: I write something every day, even if it’s only a blog post. If I have no inspiration, I spend way too much time with social networking and justify it to myself as a vital necessity. If I totally switch off, an idea jumps into my head and I can continue.
Morgen: I’m the same and very lucky that I have loads of them. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Siggy: The latter.
Morgen: Me too, and most interviewees are like that – perhaps how the brain is wired. Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Siggy: So far most of my characters were taken from real life. Sometimes I had to blend them together to guard their anonymity.
Morgen: Do you write any non-fiction, poetry or short stories?
Siggy: I mentioned the short-stories before. More difficult for me as I never much liked reading them because I had to do that a lot at school in German, French and English classes…ad nauseam. I love writing political articles but now I concentrate on my primary work at hand to finish novel #2 and get #3 going.
Morgen: I’m the opposite. Well, sort of. I used to devour novels in my teens (Stephen King mostly) but the last few years has been mainly short stories. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Siggy: Edit, edit, edit. When I think I’m done, my husband’s starts all over again… 🙂
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Siggy: Since my novels are based on my life, I lived it and I draw from memory. The new one about child abuse is different. The research there is quite extensive. It involves a lot of phone calls to Ireland with my former housekeeper.
Morgen: She’s a very brave woman to let her story out. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc., do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Siggy: Definitely quiet. As a teenager and young adult in school I had the radio going in the background and I thought it didn’t distract me. Now it does.
Morgen: Me too. I can’t have other people’s words going on if I’m trying to think of my own. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Siggy: First person.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Siggy: No, I’m foolhardy enough to publish them somewhere.
Morgen: 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Siggy: Waiting for my husband to edit and check for mistakes. I am an English teacher but still make mistakes. You will have noticed that English is not my mother’s tongue.
Morgen: I hadn’t actually. 🙂 We all make mistakes, mainly because we’re too close to whatever we’re doing, plus we’re human. 🙂 What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Siggy: Write regularly, write about what you know. If you have a vivid imagination – which I don’t have – get creative and enjoy that. I’m jealous of you then!
Morgen: 🙂 If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or invite three people, hiding the takeaway containers)?
Siggy: I’ll have a leisurely meat fondue. No preparation and plenty of time for talking. Who with? Victor Hugo (Les Miserables), Mark Twain and Simone de Beauvoir.
Morgen: Ooh, I love fondue, especially French bread and cheese. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Siggy: Malapropisms; I love Latin quotes like “suum quique”(each to his own) variation delectate; Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
I can resist anything but temptation. Oscar Wilde
Morgen: 🙂 Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Siggy: I’m a member of the National League of American Pen Women, the new writers’ blog: www.Writersgettogether.blogspot.com. A local book club.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Siggy: I love gardening, although it’s mostly too hot here in Florida, I used to knit really colourful sweaters until I had to stop because of my neck problems.
Morgen: Oh dear. I can’t wear mohair as it drives me nuts. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Siggy: Dictionary.com; wordsmith.com;
Morgen: They’re great aren’t they. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Siggy: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn. I find Twitter doesn’t do anything for me. I’m a member of a writers group on FB that is quiet active called Literary Guild.
Morgen: I’m on those three as well and for me they serve very different purposes. That sounds rather clinical and I do enjoy them but it’s all too easy to lose hours on them so I tend to keep Twitter on mentions rather than timeline (because I follow too many people) and Facebook on my homepage when I don’t have time to spare. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Siggy: There will be more and more competitors because it’s so easy to self-publish. Because of that and the freebies that go with it, I’m afraid, income will dwindle even further. You really have to love it and feel compelled about your writing.
Morgen: I do. 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Siggy: I love connecting with other writers thru social networking. That’s why I started the Writers Get Together blog. Also to give them / us / me self-published ones a leg-up.
Morgen: And I’m sure they’re so appreciative – everyone involved with my blog has been. 🙂 Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Siggy: How much time do you spend on interviewing people? Sounds like a day job to me… How long have you been doing it? Why?
Morgen: (a) because I enjoy it. I started the blog on 31st March 2011 and was invited for a blog interview a couple of months later. I’d already been doing audio interviews (as the interviewer) for my podcast and enjoyed them. Having been sent a Q&A for the blog, I realised how much easier that was so started the blog interviews (at two-a-day initially!) then fizzled out the audio interviews by the end of July. It is pretty much a day job as I post one interview every morning and then something else every evening. The bulk of my spare time is spent dealing with emails but I love talking writing and most of the authors are independents, like me, who appreciate any help anyone can give them in their writing and / or promoting their books. I’m still working on the latter for mine. 🙂
Thank you, Siggy. Hope to see you back here sometime.
Siggy Buckley is a 50-ish year-old German, formerly a teacher, small business owner, and now writer who lived in Ireland for 15 years as a result of her then-husband taking his family to an organic farm, there. She has also taught at the University of Limerick. After the break-up of her marriage, she morphed herself into an entrepreneur, first a matchmaker and then wine importer. She married an Irish American in 2005 and dabbles in blogging & writing.
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