Pagan Writers Community Interview


Interview originally published on 21st December 2012 on the Pagan Writers Community website, the link to which is no longer working. Here's the interview in full:

 

*

 

AM – Hope you are having a fantastic day. I’m pleased to have the chance to sit down and chat with author Marion Grace Woolley. Some of her work includes Splintered Door, Georg[i]e, Angorichina, and Lucid.

You also probably already know Marion as she is one of the voices behind the Pagan Writers Community Facebook page, alongside me and Mark Carter.

Marion, welcome to the blog!


MGW – I like what you’ve done with the place.

 

AM – Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


MGW – I could, but I’d probably start to invent things. For instance, I’d love to tell you about the Koenigsegg in my garage, given to me by Stephen King as a congratulatory present for getting to number one in the paperback charts with an exposé on Lord Lucan’s secret affair with Shergar, proving once and for all that they’re alive and well and living in a villa in the South of France.

But then you’d probably go away and read my official biog and realise that, although I did grow up in the same small village Lord Lucan’s sister lived in, and I have been to France, gone horse riding, watch Top Gear and read Stephen King – not all at the same time – that’s about where the truth of the matter ends.

I don’t even have a garage.

Better to ask about my stories, they’re much more interesting.

 

AM – What was it like living in Africa?


MGW – That’s always a difficult question to answer. Africa is a very big continent, and each country has its own personality. Rwanda, where I spent two years, is a country of extremes. It’s fairly safe to say that I had some of the best and worst experiences of my life there. In 2007, when I arrived, it had been thirteen years since the genocide. Undoubtedly the country’s come a long way since then, but imagine what Central Europe was like a decade after the Second World War. Things like that take a lot of time, and many of the scars are not visible ones.

Having said that, you come away remembering the good times. The project I was involved in as a researcher helped to produce the first dictionary of Rwandan Sign Language. As a direct result, the news in Rwanda now has sign language translation. So, it’s incredible to be able to look back and say ‘I was a part of that.’

 

AM – I’m sure you get this question frequently, but I am going to ask it anyways. Where do you get ideas for your books?


MGW – I’m fairly multi-genre, so my sources are as varied as the material. Lucid is based on a talk I gave to a moot in Cardiff some years back. My interest in shamanism, and entheogens in particular, was sparked by a close friend of mine, Paul Bennett, who runs the Northern Antiquarian Website.

Angorichina was based on a tuberculosis sanatorium in South Australia. It’s a backpackers’ hostel now. I stayed there for a night with a friend back in 2004 when we were travelling down through the Red Centre. The moment we boarded the bus to leave, I knew that I would write about it someday.

Every now and then, as with Georg[i]e, a character will just jump out of the ether and demand to be written about. It’s lovely when that happens, because you know you won’t run out of words until the book is finished.

 

AM – What will we see from you next?


MGW – Green Sunset Books has expressed an interest in my latest novel, Clapping on Planes. It sort of pulls together my time in Development, though it’s very much told through fictional characters. I wouldn’t say that it’s a critique of International Development, that’s a huge umbrella term that means so many things to so many people, but I wanted to express some of that crazy-big-whole in little, thought-provoking chunks. Suffice to say, the chapters are very short, the spectrum very broad.

 

AM – I know you have both published some of your titles and worked with an outside publisher. Can you tell us briefly about how the experiences differed? Do you have a preference?


MGW – My three, hopefully soon to be four, novels are published. Two via Green Sunset Books and Lucid via Netherworld, which is a subsidiary of Belvedere.

Splintered Door was a bit of fun. I was going through chronic writer’s block at the time and writing short stories was a great way of getting myself through that. It resulted in some of my best work, but it was too short to interest a publisher and, if I’m honest, the subject matter was perhaps a bit mad.

I decided to set up my own small press. In order to get a publishing account with Ingram, you need ISBN numbers. In order to purchase those, you need a book, or an eBook. So I published Splintered Door under Vapid Press, my label, which, in turn, is a sideline to a publishing charity I’m in the process of setting up. Nüshu is an attempt to merge two loves: writing and development. We’ve got a temporary WordPress site, thanks to writer Morgen Bailey.

Being your own boss always brings a sense of freedom and creative drive, but there is strength in working in teams. I’ve learned so much from Tina at Green Sunset. I’ve undoubtedly become a better writer for it. It’s all down to the relationship you have with your publisher, and sometimes you have to work at that.

 

AM – You are definitely one of the authors that seem to “get it” when it comes to self-marketing. What is one thing that you would have liked to have known when you first got started in the business?


MGW – I’m fairly glad I didn’t know much. Without putting a dampener on things, I might have been put off. Publishing isn’t quite what I imagined it would be as a kid. Or, if it once was, it no longer is – not unless you win the Faber and Faber golden ticket.

I do sometimes find myself sitting at a keyboard thinking ‘If I didn’t know what the market was looking for, perhaps I’d write a truly incredible story.’ You start writing because you want to write. The more you write, the more you realise, and the more you are forcibly made aware of, what the industry is looking for. In striving to live up to that, you start to forget what it was you enjoyed about writing in the first place.

Rather than being aware of something before I started, can I give back something I learned afterwards?

If not, then I wish I’d known how many rejection slips incredibly famous writers such as J.K. Rowling and Lionel Shriver got before their smash hits were accepted. I spent a lot of time taking rejection personally, when all along it was just an opinion – and opinions, as proven, are often wrong.

Don’t dare give away your self-confidence, it’s your greatest asset.

 

AM – Thanks for spending some time with us today, Marion! Good luck with your current releases and future endeavors.