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Daily Archives: August 25, 2012

Author Spotlight no.114 – Sophie Duffy

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the one hundred and fourteenth, is of Sophie Duffy.

Sophie Duffy is a novelist and short story writer who lives in the seaside town of Teignmouth in Devon. She grew up there, ran away at eighteen to the wilds of Lancashire (otherwise known as Lancaster University), got an English degree, got married, moved to London, became a teacher, did an MA in Creative Writing, then eventually moved back to Devon – via Worthing – in 2005. Her three kids are now teenagers and think she spends all day on Facebook when she is actually trying to earn a precarious living. Evenings are spent ferrying them up and down the narrow Devon lanes. Her Tibetan Terrier is her constant companion and gets her out to the beach when she is going crazy.

Her novel The Generation Game won the Yeovil Literary Prize in 2006 as a work-in-progress and was published by Legend Press in the summer of 2011 after winning the Luke Bitmead Bursary. This Holey Life was be published on August 1st 2012 (and on Kindle July 1st).

She writes about family, childhood, memory and loss. Her aim is to entertain and move her readers. If they raise a smile or shed a tear, her job is done.

And now from the author herself:

I started writing twelve years ago. We’d recently moved from London to Worthing (an ‘interesting’ five year experiment). The kids were aged 3, 5 and 6 and I was a stay-at-home mum. I decided to do an adult education evening class so I could restart my brain and meet some like-minded people. I went through the prospectus, discarding cake-decorating and plastic bag knitting, and settled on creative writing. By the end of my first lesson I was hooked and by the end of the year I had written a novel. With my tutor’s encouragement I applied for an MA in Creative Writing at Lancaster (distance learning). The course was worthwhile, challenging, and expensive. I paid for the fees by selling Avon, which was an experience in itself. By the end of the two years I had written another novel.

Neither of these novels were publishable but both had to be written: to learn narrative techniques, to read like a writer, to learn to accept and reject criticism, to develop a thick skin and a sensitivity towards your fellow human beings so you can get inside a character’s head, to get out the personal stuff, to write write write.

In 2005 I wrote a short story called Out of the Birdcage which won a local competition. I couldn’t let go of the characters, an awkward girl and her elderly neighbour who has an obsession for Bruce Forsyth. I wrote some more and soon believed I had a novel there. Later that year we moved to Devon to be nearer my family. The novel was put on hold but I came back to it a few months later and then entered the first 10,000 words into the Yeovil Literary Prize which was then in its early days. I was ecstatic when I got the email to say I’d won. This encouraged to me to carry on with the novel – The Generation Game – and to finish it, especially now I had an agent.

The agent was enthusiastic about the manuscript, sent it out to many publishers, most of whom were very flattering but none of whom wanted to buy it. So I started novel number four. Novel number two (my MA novel) was about the relationship between a brother and sister. I still wanted to explore this theme but in a totally different story with totally different characters. I entered the opening chapters of This Holey Life to the Harry Bowling Prize in 2008 and was runner-up. I felt affirmation that I was once again on the right course but my agent had other ideas; he didn’t like this novel.

So…what next?  The choice: start another novel or persevere with finding a publisher for these last two? I decided to go it alone and left my agent. In 2010 I saw an advert for the Luke Bitmead Bursary and entered it. I found out in early 2011, two weeks after major surgery, that I had won. The prize was a generous bursary and a publishing contract with Legend Press. The Generation Game was published in the summer and a year later to the day This Holey Life will be published.

Thank you, Sophie. You can find more about Sophie and her writing via… www.sophieduffy.com, www.sophieduffy.wordpress.com and www.legendpress.co.uk.

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The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with biographer and fiction author Alma Bond – the four hundred and seventy-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
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Posted by on August 25, 2012 in ebooks, interview, novels, short stories, writing

 

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Short Story Saturday Review 012: Heart over Head over Heels by James Eddy

Welcome to the Short Story Saturday review slot and the twelfth review in this series. This week’s review is of ‘Heart over Head over Heels’ by James Eddy.

I’m a big fan of titles and I like this one. It’s simple but effective, as is reflected in the writing’s pace and description.

One of my favourite lines is ‘Whispers, sighs and screams sitting next to pretty sounds ripped from a battered black guitar”. I don’t know if James writes poetry but it’s certainly poetic.

As if often the case with short stories (this comes in at just over 1,500 words) the story covers just a few minutes in real time and we’re right there with her. Most of us have been to a concert and this is accurately depicted, from the ‘shrill cheer’ and surging crowd.

Rebecca is very personable and relatable, and I found Scott trying to hide his East Anglia accent endearing.

As the piece is mainly from Rebecca’s point of view, there isn’t much dialogue but where there is, it’s authentic. It’s all too tempting to accentise (sorry, I can’t help making up words) dialogue but James has resisted here by simply stating that the security guard’s reply came in a ‘distinctive cockney twang and barely a glance in her direction’.

The vulnerability of both leading characters is charming and a story works well where we can feel empathy for our protagonists.

If I was to be critical, this is a review after all, there was a bit too much of Rebecca’s reflective thoughts in comparison to action but each reader is different so that’s just my preference. Also the surnames (Drake, Blake and Cale) were a little too similar, although this is balanced by their first names: Scott, Rebecca and Louis.

Quite a few of the sentences begin ‘She’, ‘There’ or ‘Her’ but I only noticed it because I’m as guilty as anyone as starting with a pronoun so it’s something to watch out for.

The Smashwords synopsis reads:

“How exactly do you get over someone who’s everywhere? That’s what Rebecca Blake has wrestled with for five years. But not this night. This is the night she will see Scott play his songs and this is the night when her hope will be reborn.

The second Short Story in the Diamonds collection, Heart over Head over Heels is a story of love delayed and how if music is the food of love then love may also be the food of music.”

And I say, “play on”. :)

Thank you James for inviting me read and review your story.

Heart over Head over Heels is available free at Smashwords.com.

My review of James’ short story Bewilder (available at: Amazon.co.ukAmazon.comSmashwords.com, Diesel ebooks.com, and Kobo Books.com) is here.

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James Eddy was born in Braintree, Essex in April 1980. After moving first to Colchester, Essex, the family settled in South Norfolk and James was able to enjoy the wide open spaces and quiet of the area which fed his imagination. Following an undistinguished University career, he began writing scripts for films and acting out the cliche of the drunken writer. He diversified by moving into prose and eventually focussed enough to write a collection of Short Stories called ‘Diamonds’ along with several other short stories a novel and novella. He released ‘Bewilder’, the first story from ‘Diamonds’ in April 2012, followed by ‘Heart over Head over Heels’ in May. James’ website is http://youngbloodbooks.webplus.net. Founded in 2012, Youngblood Books is owned and operated by James Eddy. Youngblood Books publishes a diverse range of genres, including Comedy, Drama, Children’s Stories, Romance, Fantasy, Literary Fiction and Comics.

***

If you’d like to submit your story (up to 2,500 words) for review take a look here.

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with biographer and fiction author Alma Bond – the four hundred and seventy-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.

You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.

Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but I have this feature, ‘Short Story Saturdays’, where I review stories of up to 2,500 words. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1,500 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are fortnightly episodes, usually released on Sundays, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

 
 

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