Author Teresa Hamilton, 53, from East Sussex talks about what prompted her to first start writing, the setbacks that she came across and the tips she has that clinched her first publishing deal…
Book name, publication date, who book is published by.
Choices, January 2012, Mithra Publishing
Is this your first book? If not, how many other books have you published?
First published book although I have written two others and had columns in regional magazines and short stories published. I’ve also won writing competitions.
What is the book about?
Choices is a thought-provoking, heart touching story about the unexpected dilemma facing wife and mother, Lauren Harding. This is a new genre I call ‘hen-lit, – for thinking women all over the world. It is a page-turning drama – filled with family feuds, love, sex and betrayal that challenges the reader with every chapter whilst Lauren makes the choices that will decide her future. My usual style is steeped in observational humour – Choices is my serious side.
When did you start writing/what gave you the idea to write a book?
I’ve written since childhood but I found my writing ‘ voice’ writing my memoir Scream Silently when I was recovering from cancer and on a five year drug trial. I’ve always seen the humour in situations and my memoir reflects the many funny situations I was placed in whilst undergoing my treatment with the NHS. I also wanted to be positive and inspire others that having a diagnosis of the Big C doesn’t automatically mean the end. After that I wrote humorous articles about our relocation from London to the countryside and our renovation project which ended up being columns in magazines. A novel was a natural progression.
I started writing Choices a few years a ago and sent the first three chapters to an agent who asked to see the rest. I was so excited I finished the manuscript in two weeks, getting up early, staying up late and writing every spare minute. I was obsessed with it – much to my family’s bemusement as they were totally neglected until I had finished. The agent then turned it down but asked to see my next novel. So the process started again and, yet again, she turned it down. It felt like I was just being giving carrots to make me write then they were whipped away before I could bite at success. I was so disappointed – but at least I had two completed novels and another half way written! Her interest made me believe in myself and even more determined to find the right publisher. After that I won a writing competiton by a reputable publishing company with my children’s stories – the prize being a publishing deal – which unfortunately never materialised.
On the strength of all that I’ve given up my job as a portrait photographer and now work from home. I juggle my week between writing and running my company, East is East, which sells unique home accessories.
How did you get published? Did you approach a literary agent first or go directly to a publisher?
Finding Mithra Publishing was by chance. I’ve always liked pushing doors to see what ‘s behind them and this time I happened to answer a tweet looking for anyone willing to write book reviews. From there I eventually met up with Kizzi Nkwocha, the publisher at Mithra, who was looking for a novel to launch his idea of a new alternative in the ever evolving world of publishing—advertising sponsorships. I sent him Choices and he loved it.
Was it hard to get published or was it easier than you thought?
It has been the longest, hardest struggle to get published. But I have learned, by keeping in touch with other authors, that it isn’t just me – it’s the same for many. It’s a combination of luck and perseverance. Finding the right desk on the right day just takes some people longer than others.
Where your book is on sale?
It can be downloaded on Amazon UK and Apple’s ibooks.
Any advice for other book writers?
Never EVER give up! You will get many rejections and knock backs but it those that persevere that win through in the end.
Get yourself out there in social media terms – I have had so much encouragement, tips and advice from other authors whom I’ve never met. Most are only too keen to help you along your path.
Sort out your website. It’s not as hard as it seems and there are free sites out there to help you. It gives a show case for your work and shows others you are serious about what you do. I spent two weeks cursing at mine whilst I was building it but sat back with pride afterwards at what I’d never thought I could achieved. www.teresahamilton.co.uk
On the down days – be kind to yourself, wallow in self pity, bang cupboards or simply weep in frustration but only for a short time. These feeling will pass and you must pick yourself up and carry on.
Anything else influential to your book?
My current novel is about the humourous diary of a long haul stewardess and the adventures she gets up to. When I was younger I flew for a major airline and the life of a stewardess can be as glamorous and raunchy as the public believes. Aeroplanes are like time machines when you work on them and you can be transported one day to the beach in Barbados with it’s prospect of sun, sea and sex or you can travel round the top of the world in six days. Extracts of this novel have already won a writing competition and I working on finding an agent/publisher for it. I’ve also had articles in two local papers and on various websites.
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