Hi All! I’m back, but this time I’m not alone. To prove that Mr Self-doubt can be beaten I have been able to interview author Angela L. Garratt. She is the author of the novel, Innocent Spirits, a poet, and a song writer. Read on to learn more about her writing journey so far, and if she has ever had any battles with Mr Self Doubt.
Nicole J Simms (NJS): You’re a self-published author and poet. Why did you decide on being self-published, and did you have any doubts about taking this route?
Angela L Garratt (ALG): There are many reasons why I decided to self publish, some are personal, but not so personal I can’t speak about them. The main one is, the publishing industry is changing, and a writer no longer has to lose ownership of their copyright. Granted it is hard work to market in this way, but it is worth it when the results are seen. On a personal note; I wanted to self publish because I wanted to prove to myself and my family, that I could do it.
NJS: What genre do you write in and what drew you to that genre?
ALG: Generally I am a horror writer. That is seen more in my short stories and novellas and in some of my poetry than it is in my novel, Innocent Spirits, which is fantasy horror.
Ever since I was a child, I have always had a vivid and sometimes disturbed imagination. I remember the one day when I was still in my first year of High School; I told my mother that I had a really bad dream of the bus crashing under a low bridge and ripping off the roof. I didn’t have that dream but it got me the day off school.
I am, however, a very spiritual person; I have had many an unexplained experience and I use that as a tool to help my imagination flow.
NJS: What motivates you to write fiction and have you ever written anything other than fiction?
ALG: My motivation is people. The general public; people are more inspiring than they know. To me, there is no such thing as the word ‘normal’, I detest that word, because I don’t believe that anybody is normal, we all have different qualities, which are what makes us individuals. It is the job of the writer to see those different qualities, capture them and write them down.
Just as inspiring to me are animals. I have always had a love and fascination for wildlife, just as I have a love and fascination for domestic animals. When I was in my early twenties, I wrote a 162 page fact book on wildlife. I wrote about wildlife when I was a child and right through to my mid twenties, my fascination became something that I could work with and in 2004 when I stood in at Pimlico High School, London and taught A – level students Animal Classification.
NJS: Could you tell us about your latest book?
ALG: Yes, of course.
My latest book is called Innocent Spirits. It is set in two different times, 2011, and 1533. Emily is a witch and hates the fact; her alcoholic mother is in denial about Emily’s gifts. Due to the fact that Emily and her family is always moving around from one place to another and her mother is on about moving again (this is always to do with the fact that Emily’s mother usually drinks the rent money and gets evicted), Emily and her family are now facing another move. However, Emily wants to go to college, this will not happen if she stays with her mother so she moves in with her father and his girlfriend, Anne. At college, Emily meets an array of new friends, most of which are supernatural beings. At first, all seems to be going well, then Emily keeps seeing a girl she recognises, but she knows she does not know her in this life.
At night, Emily dreams of a past life, a life she lived in 1533. Back then, she was also named Emily (when you meet Ervin in the book, you’ll understand why I gave her the same name in both lives, past and present), and she was also a witch. 1533 was a bad year to be a witch; many innocent women and their so-called familiars were being burned at the stake. Emily had a younger, selfish, and spoilt sister, Geraldine and her personality was as fiery as her wild red hair. Geraldine had no powers and she was constantly jealous of her older sister, making her do things that would get her killed if she was caught, but holding her over a barrel and threatening to tell someone about her powers if she didn’t succumb to her every need and want. The Emily of 1533 was in a dangerous situation and she knew it, she knew that if she did not get away, her and her cat, Shadow would die. As a last and desperate resort, Emily puts a curse on Geraldine, a curse that will follow Emily into the next life.
In Emily’s re-incarnated life, Geraldine and the curse does follow her and it is up to Emily and her new friends to eradicate Geraldine, the curse, and save the Innocent Spirits that that have been caught in the cross fire…trouble is, time is running out!
NJS: How do you promote and market your book?
ALG: The internet and social networking sites are fantastic tools. Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are brilliant. I am a member of no end of on line poetry and fiction groups. My short stories, novellas are far too large to be printed in a magazine so I send my poetry off to different magazines. I plug my book in every open mic I go to and I like to go to at least two a week. I have had press releases that have appeared in newspapers, radio, and TV. My partner is a musician and we help to promote each other as far and as wide as possible. As my book is available on the internet so it can be bought in all countries across the world on any online book shop. But there are many people like me that does not relish in buying off the internet, so it is also available to order over the counter in any book shop.
NJS: What are your future writing plans?
ALG: I am coming to the end of the first draft of another short novel called ‘Blood and cinders’. I am not altogether happy with the direction it has taken so when I do the second draft I will be changing it a fair bit. Don’t get me wrong the story does flow and that is what I like about it. Maybe I am being too critical, but as a writer going with gut instinct is not only important, it is crucial.
I am waiting on feedback for a short Novella I wrote called, ‘The Ghost of Henry Schnieber’. As soon as I get that, I will be publishing it to Amazon Kindle. I will be doing the same with my other short Novella’s, The Desk, and Black Shoes. All these stories are Horror and are not suitable for young eyes. They may scare.
I am putting together a collection of audio poetry books. I am hoping they will be available to download and sold as CD by Christmas this year.
NJS: Traditional Publishers have spotted some self-published authors. Would you ever consider the traditional publishing route, if it was offered?
ALG: I think I would be a fool to say no to that. Any writer will tell you that any type of publishing is better than not being published at all. Isn’t it every writers dream to have their name out there and be as big as Steven King or James Herbert?
Imagine being able to write one story after the other, without having to fath about with editing and promoting, wouldn’t it be great to have all of the leg work done for you? I know that when you write a story, before you send it off anywhere it has to be as polished as what you can get it. I have learned a few lessons in self publishing, and apart from Amazon Kindle (believe me, I have my reasons), I don’t really have any more intentions of self publishing again. I will be writing off to agents and one day, my dreams will come true, I know they will because I believe in myself. For what other reasons would I put myself through this other than being completely mad?
NJS: Even though you are self published have you ever experienced rejection or negative feedback about your work? How did you overcome this?
ALG: Yes, I have sent many poems off to different poetical magazines and some have come back either with no or little explanation why they were rejected; some have merely said, ‘sorry, not this time’, or ‘this is not really what we are looking for’. But that is okay, one thing that you always have to remember as a writer is that once your work is written and it is out there for the public to read, it then becomes a product that people either like or dislike. Everyone is entitled to their opinions after all.
If something comes back to me, I have to tell myself that it is not personal, even though it feels like it is, they are not rejecting ME, they are rejecting my work. Now, you can either look at that in a negative way, get depressed about it and never write again (to me that is just daft) or you can look at your work, try to find why they thought it was not good enough and change it. Failing that, there are many magazines that you can send off to, just because one says no, it does not mean that they all will.
But that is one of my philosophies in life anyway, if you don’t like something, or something is not working for you, don’t waste time mulling over it, change it!
NJS: Have you ever been crippled by self doubt? How did you overcome this?
ALG: The simple answer to this is ‘no’. Here is why.
I have been writing since I was a child. When my mum and dad gave me my 50 pence a week pocket money back in the eighties, I didn’t go spending it on sweets and toys, I went to the corner shop and spent my money on writing books, pens, and pencils. My sister and I grew up very close together; she would spend her money on crisps and chocolate…not me. I once remember my mum and dad asking what I wanted for Christmas, at the time I could not be not older than 6 or 7, I know this because my dad left when I was nine and there were a couple of unsettled years before then and this Christmas was a peaceful one. I said ‘I would like a writing book and pens’. That Christmas I got one of those writing desks that you can lift the lid up and put an ink pot in the top corner. We never had an ink pot, blimey, I’m not that old, but we did have coloured pens. I was over the moon with it.
I started writing about animals when I was too young to remember and I learned how to type on my Sinclair spectrum zx128k when I was about eight years old. Technically, it was an early games consol with plastic keys and a tape deck for your games on the side. The games would take forever to load but when they did, the wait was worth it.
Have I ever felt self doubt? Of course I have, I’m only human after all. Have I ever been crippled by it? No! Why? Because writing is not what I do, it’s who I am. It’s been in me all my life. Take writing away from me would be like reaching in and tearing away a piece of my soul.
There is a saying out there and forgive me, I can’t think who said it, but it goes like this: ‘ships are safe in the harbour, but that is not what they were built for.’ The person who said that was a genius and should be commended, because it is true. It is a saying that should always be remembered and one that should never be forgotten, especially in the art of writing.
NJS: What advice would you give to writers starting out, especially those who are considering self publishing?
ALG: Run as fast as you can and don’t look back, ha-ha, only joking.
Don’t give up and never say, never!
Don’t think that you are wrong in what you write, because writing comes from within. Pursue every adventure that your imagination takes you on and enjoy yourself.
Learn as much as you can about writing and when you think you have learned enough, learn more. There is no such thing as enough knowledge when you are writing. Learn from your mistakes and my goodness, do not repeat them. I have made enough and learnt the hard way; I am a better writer for it.
Read, and read wide, books are the best places to learn how to get a feel for the written word; they will teach you what no teacher can. When I say read wide I don’t mean EVERYTHING, but I do mean wide. Read the classics, there is a good reason why they have lasted the test of time. Read newspapers and magazines, inspiration is always in there somewhere. Read memoirs, autobiographies, my goodness, even read leaflets and signs.
Take note of what people are talking about in their daily lives. If you drive, ditch the car and take the bus or the train, there is plenty of gossip going on in public places like these. There is so much advice I could give, blimey I could probably write a book about it.
As for self publishing, if self publishing is really what you want to do, then please, at least take this advice, DO YOUR RESEARCH on the publishing company first, make sure they deliver everything that they say they will. Do not hand over your cash until you have read feedback from other authors that have used the same company. Make sure they are reputable and always read the agreement, especially the fine print before you sign. This may all sound like common sense, but believe me, it is better to do your research and know what you are letting yourself in for than to regret it afterwards.
It is difficult to please everyone, some may say impossible, just remember you should get what you pay for, no more and no less. Self publishing is hard, some may say it is harder to self publish than it is to publish the traditional way, there is more work involved in the promoting and marketing process, you may have to find a separate editor or if you think that you are capable, do it yourself. Be careful, unless you pay them, these self publishing companies won’t edit for you. I am not going to say that you should not self publish and I don’t want to put you off. Go where your heart takes you, but remember to use your head too.
I’d like to thank Angela L Garratt for this insightful interview. For all you fellow self-doubters, like Angela has said, you need to remember writing is not what you do it’s who you are.
To end this post, here is another inspirational quote:
“Believe and act as if it were impossible to fail.” – Charles F. Kettering
My name is Angela Louise Garratt. I was born in West Bromwich, West Midlands, but I spent my childhood in Oldbury and Wednesbury; all three towns are pretty close to one another so there is not much to write home about there.
As an adult I have worked in all sorts of jobs, some really nasty, like the industrial laundrette, it was that nasty I had to have a Hepatitis C vaccination as a precaution, you don’t have to know the kind of things that come into a place like that, it can’t be worse than what your imagination is telling now. I have worked in factories, offices, customer services, and sales knocking on doors, to name but a few. I know it sounds like a lot, but these were not jobs that I really wanted to do, they were there to pay the rent. I am a writer, through and through and the best thing about having many different jobs in the past is that I have lots of experience to draw from. I have lived in London, Nottingham, and Liverpool, all were very different places, and I love each city for their own reasons.
In between writing I care for my mother, she is mentally and physically ill. I also like to do work for charity, the RSPCA is a big one for me, and I give up my Saturday afternoons to help them. Compassion plays a big part in my life. When I get the time, I love gardening. It’s peaceful and the exercise is brilliant. But the one thing I do a lot of is reading, I read everywhere, on the bus, on the train (when I go on one). I have always got a book with me, everywhere I go, I read in doctors, dentist and hospital waiting rooms, at bus stops, in bed, every moment I get to read, I read and I’ll let you into a little secret…I don’t own a T.V. I don’t need to, to catch up on the news I buy a newspaper. My mother has her TV on all the time and if I want to watch a particular documentary that my partner has told me about I watch it as his place or he’ll record it for me. My home is dedicated to my passions, writing, reading, and animals. Don’t worry I don’t scrounge viewing time, I do own a TV licence, I have to, I have a mobile phone and access to the internet.
I enjoy going to see the odd film, going to poetry readings, open mic nights and just spending time with the ones I love. Sometimes I think it is just as well that I don’t own a TV at home. I have never got the time to watch it anyway.
It is mad to say that the only book I have ever published is Innocent Spirits, but that will change, I have many ideas and routes I intend to take to get more work published.
Innocent Spirits can be found on any internet book retailers, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc. It can be ordered over the counter in any book shop and you can order it by phone on 0800 644 6988. Or you could simply go straight to my publisher’s website http://bookstore.xlibris.com/Products/SKU-0302966049/Innocent-Spirits.aspx.
You can find me on Facebook, just search for Angela Garratt, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Even though, I will reply to all messages I get, it may take a little time before I get back to you. If I responded to every message I get straight away, I would never have the time to write.
Don’t you ever wish that when God made the earth, he put just a couple more hours in the day?
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