What is your message and drive behind your writing career.
Really, I just want to write books that offer quality entertainment and escapism. I unapologetically value absorbing story over literary style, and would much rather have readers than prizes. I’m aiming, ultimately, to support myself entirely on the proceeds of my writing. If I can get anybody, particularly a young somebody, addicted to reading, I’ll be very happy.
Your experience in the publishing industry.
It was hard getting the usual rejections, but I’ve been very well treated by my traditional publishers. My views on my book, the covers and even contracts are taken into consideration, and I have a fabulous editor who is very encouraging. Unfortunately, though, my trad publishers can only bring out my books at the rate of one a year, and I write faster than that – which is why I’m moving into indie-publishing.
Your current Nano project?
This year I again tried to finish a manuscript I’d already started – a standalone YA contemporary romance. But between launching Scarred at the same time (with all its promotions, publishing technicalities and blog interviews) and some stuff which life threw at me last month, I only got as far as 28 000 words. Still, that’s added a chunk to my work-in-progress, so I’m not too disappointed.
Writing schedule and positive habits.
I write and I work in my therapy practice on alternate days and in completely different physical and head-spaces. I don’t have the creativity or energy to write after a day in the practice. I am at my most productive in the morning, especially if I can have the house to myself. I like to write in silence, but Nanowrimo has taught me not to be so precious and now I can, if I have to, write with background noise.
best advice you can give new writers that you wish you knew back then.
The road to publication is a marathon, not a sprint. Take your time, make a concerted effort to learn and practice your craft, and move towards publishing when you know what you’re doing. It’s not a bad idea, especially if you plan self-publishing, to have a few books already written when you start pubbing or subbing. Also (and no-one will believe me on this), I know it’s your life’s dream to have a book published and on a book store shelf nearby, but being published changes nothing very much, and is just the beginning of the work, not the culmination of it!
favorite genre to read?
I’ll read anything, including the corn flakes box! Easier to say what I don’t tend to read – science fiction and high fantasy, which I just can’t seem to get into. For the rest, I’ll give it a try. I will say that my reading, like my writing, tends to favour rocking genre stories over slow literary self-indulgence.
where can we connect?
I love to hear from readers – please feel free to reach out via my website or social media, and if you enjoy my book/s, I’d be extraordinarily grateful if you left a review online (Amazon or Goodreads).
If you'd like to receive advance notice of my latest releases, competitions, giveaways and offers for free review copies, as well as a behind-the-scenes peek at my writing and publication process and useful tips for new writers, then you might like to sign up for my newsletter here: http://www.joannemacgregor.com/newsletter/
Please introduce us to who you are in the writing community. Giving us the history of your reading to writing path.
I’ve always been an avid reader and always tinkered around with writing. In fact I was first published in The Star newspaper when I was seven years old! I am both a hybrid and cross-genre writer. My first book, Turtle Walk (2011) and its sequel Rock Steady (2013) were both traditionally published here in South Africa, are set locally and fall into the Young Adult genre. The third in the series, Fault Lines, comes out in April 2016. Protea Boekhuis also published my adult psychological thriller, Dark Whispers in 2014, and its Afrikaans translation, Skadustemme, in 2015. My most recent book is a Young Adult contemporary romance, Scarred, which I indie-published.
Why did you become a writer?
I don’t think I became one, I think I always was one. But I started writing books and submitting them for publication for two main reasons: I wanted to contribute local books for teens (with kickass female protagonists) to the offering of YA books at our book shops, and I wanted to start a parallel career to offset creeping burnout in my day job as a psychologist.
My published books are:
Turtle Walk (Protea, 2011)
Jemima Jones and the Great Bear Adventure (EKhaya, 2012)
Jemima Jones and the Revolving Door of Doom (Indie, 2012)
Rock Steady (Protea, 2013)
Dark Whispers (Protea, 2014)
Skadustemme (Protea, 2015)
Scarred (Indie, 2015)
Fault Lines (Protea, 2016)
When did you start Nano and why do you Nano?
I wrote and won Nano in 2012 and 2014, using it both times to finish manuscripts I had already started. My 2012 manuscript was subsequently published as Rock Steady.
What happens after Nano?
This time around – more writing, until I finish the story! Usually, I leave the manuscript for a few months and then come back with fresh eyes to rewrite and edit, and rewrite and edit some more, before starting the submissions or publication process.
Is there a trick to Nano?
BOCHOK (butt on chair, hands on keyboard)! Also, the regional write-ins are fun, motivating and very productive. I encourage everyone to give it a full go.
favorite genre to write?
I think YA is my favourite – it has a cracking pace, emotional punch and some of the raw honesty and social militance that precedes the lazy cynicism of adulthood. But I don’t want to be locked into one genre for the rest of my writing career. I’m currently contemplating writing a non-fiction book!
what is your message/ what are you saying to the world.
I tend to say different things with my different books. My titles are usually the clue, as they can be interpreted literally in terms of the story, or metaphorically in terms of the book’s themes. At the end of the day, though, it’s what the books say to readers that matter. I strongly believe that readers complete the story in their own hearts and imaginations, and I’m always amazed, when I read reviews or get feedback, how the same book speaks in such different ways to different readers. That pleases me, because I think (I hope!) it means that my books have layers of complexity and meaning.
If not a writer what would you be doing?
I currently work as a writer, a psychologist and a trainer. But I’ve had a dozen jobs – probably more! – over the years and enjoyed aspects of most of them. If I had a magic wand, I’d be a (successful) actress, acting opposite Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) in Supernatural, before spinning off into my own series.
Carlyle Labuschagne is an award winning South African author working her way into the hearts of international readers .