I’m delighted today to welcome back a good friend of this blog Carol Hedges to tell us about her new book Diamonds and Dust. Carol is a very experienced author whose publishing history will be of great interest anyone who is looking to get their own book published, or even to publish it themselves. She is also a very kind and friendly person who is a great supporter of fellow writers – including me. I’m very pleased she’s agreed to come today and talk to us – welcome Carol!
Okay. I was born in 1950 in Welwyn Garden City – not far from where I now live. I studied English & Archaeology at London University, then trained as a Librarian. After having my daughter in 1984, I stopped work and began other work: I ran my own clothes business, making and selling handmade items. I taught patchwork at a local college, I worked as a dinner lady, then as a TA. It was when I retrained as a teacher that I got my first ‘paid’ writing job – I did a series of pieces for the TES on the joys and woes of teacher training. The books followed on …
I know that you are a very experienced author who has had an agent and been published by a traditional publisher, you have also self-published a book and have also had a book published by a small press. Could you tell me a little about each of these experiences and share what you learned from them?
Being traditionally published (in my case by OUP and Usborne) is the goal of so many writers. Looking back, once the gilt had worn off the gingerbread, it was not such a good experience for me. I found the lack of control, and the inability to do what I wanted very limiting. Yes,I got reviewed in magazines and was submitted for awards, but marketing departments are ruthless beasts, driven by sales alone. I was a ”mid-lister”, I didn’t sell enough, so I was dropped. I gather it is even worse now, with even well-known names being shed like autumn leaves.
Self-publishing, a steep learning curve, allowed me and still does, to market my book (Jigsaw Pieces) as I like, when I like. And I don’t have to share the profits with a publisher or an agent!
I have so far really enjoyed working with a small press (Crooked Cat Books). It’s good to have someone else doing the formatting and arranging the printing. I like that I can contact the publisher and establish a rapport, and that I still have a lot of autonomy over the marketing.
I love the Victorian period: it is a bridge to our own century. So many of the things we take for granted such as clean water, sanitation, trains, shopping, date from that time. And I love the writers of the period. To produce a work referencing them and that time has been so much fun!
It is a novel for adults where in the past you have written mostly for children and young people. What made you want to write an adult novel and how was the experience different for you from writing your previous work?
I have always written adult fiction: I write short stories and have had two stories broadcast on the BBC, so the only jump was to produce a longer piece of writing. I had reached a writing crossroads anyway. Usborne had turned down a fifth Spy Girl and my former agent was unable to place the next four teenage novels. Deciding to change genre was the logical decision in the face of the constant door-slamming that was going on at the time.
I know this book has only just come out – but perhaps you could tell me a little about what your plans would be for the future, do you intend to write more fiction for adults?
I am writing the sequel to ‘Diamond & Dust’ – so many people have said they love the characters and want to know what happened to them next. So, a second outing for some of them, and a first for some new ones!
Thank you for coming back to visit my blog Carol – always a pleasure to talk to you!
Chris, the pleasure is entirely mine!
Here’s where you can find out more about Carol and get in touch with her
Carol has a fantastic blog which you can read if you click here
Diamonds & Dust: