Rowena is a recently published first time author. Shall we have a chat?
1. Please introduce yourself to those reading this blog post.
Outside of my writing, I am married with a little girl and live in Durham working for the NHS. I was born and raised in Wakefield in the county of Yorkshire, by my parents. I have two lovely my sisters and a wonderful Niece. I am very family orientated and am often travelling to be with them. My hobbies include walking and swimming. I am also quite crafty and enjoy sowing.
2. Has writing always been part of your life and when did you “know” that it was time to start writing your first book?
Writing has always been a part of my life since I was a child. I have always been making up stories mostly for fun. I had the idea for my first book when I was sixteen and completed it while I was still a teenager. It was flawed and still is despite a complete rewrite but I have not given up. I still reread it from time to time to try and make it a book I am proud of. In the meantime, I had another idea for a collection of books based in fantasy land. I began writing the first book in 2019 and now four years later I am a published author.
3. How difficult was it writing your first book?
As I am dyslexic for me the struggle was not to write the very first draft but to try to improve my writing in each edit. I had my mum, who runs an educational publishing company alongside my dad, proofread my book which was a huge help. But editing my drafts was still done for me. It was and is a big challenge for me and I still feel like a have more to learn in that area. However despite this struggle but it was also an incredible feeling to succeed in writing not only one book but a collection. The next three books in the collection are still works in progress but I love knowing I still have more books to come and this is only the beginning of my journey.
4. Have you ever wanted to give up and what stopped you?
Yes. When I first completed the Survivor I apply to over 40 agents and publishers trying to get published by more traditional means. It was a difficult year for me. The constant rejections letter were very demoralizing. The companies were encouraging and polite but at a certain point, I had to say enough and stop sending out my manuscript or risking losing faith in what I had written. We have to be our own biggest supporters and at times that can be difficult so I chose to try self-publishing rather than giving up entirely. I know independent authors who have had good success through self-publishing and my research into the process made me feel hopeful about being an author again so I moved forward.
5. Who is the most supportive of you and your dream to be a writer?
I would honestly say, my parents. I have already mentioned that my mum is also my editor. I have literally lost count of the number of times my mum has read and checked my books for me. She does this all in her free time and is always positive and supportive. I could not have been published without her. My dad has always been there for me too. Ever since I decided I want to be published someday he and I have sort of running joke that when I am a successful author, I will buy him a fancy sports car. While it is not a promise he would ever hold me to, he occasionally sends me photos of the latest models that he is into as his way of showing me he believes in me and my dream.
6. Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I suppose I would ask them to remember that I am just starting out. I am a first-time dyslexic author who is still learning very much as I go. I don’t mind feedback or even people spotting mistakes, all I ask is that be polite and understanding. If given a chance I will fix any mistakes and improve as I go because one thing, I can promise my readers is that there are more books to come.
7. What is the best advice given to you (book or otherwise), and by whom?
Shortly before I was published my dad sent me a tweet of an author he follows. The tweet outlined that becoming self-published is not a consolation prize for failing to become published by more traditional means. It is an equally hard challenge just with different hurdles to face. I found this advice very informative and honest while still being encouraging and it helped to see that I was on the right path.
8. What is your target audience and what aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
To be honest, marketing is not my strongest suit which is a confession that terrifies me since I am the only one marketing my book. However, as I said previously I do really believe in my book and my writing so am working hard to improve this. In my opinion, my target audience age is 16-25 and my book probably appeals more to women than men but I don’t like categories. I feel that reading is incredibly subjective and labelling a book as anyone one thing can put is an appeal in an unhelpful box. Ultimately reading is as much of a creative expression as writing and we should all remain open to reading anything that grabs us. We might be surprised in finding something new and amazing we never thought we would like.
9. Did the cover evolve the same way, or did you work with someone to make it come together for you?
I worked with a great independent artist to create both the cover art and the illustrations inside the book. The cover art was very much a collaboration of both of us but while I completely credit my illustrator for her amazing talent. The insistence on adding artwork to the book was all mine. I strongly believe art and fantasy go hand in hand and it was a big part of my dream of being published.
10. What are you working on now? Can we get a peek, an excerpt?
I am currently working on the next books in the Kingdoms of Parvery collection. I am focusing on editing the second book with the view to releasing that as soon as I can. I can’t say too much about it now but I have included a short draft blurb so readers can see what is next to come. I am also working on editing the third book and writing further books for the collection.
11. Any last words before we wrap things up?
I have always found the community of writers and readers an incredibly supportive and friendly group of people. At its heart, I believe the community is about enjoyment, exploration and supporting the creative expressive arts. This doesn’t mean we can’t choose to give feedback but only in a way that lifts us and helps others to improve. I personally have only had positive interactions since publishing and I am sure it will continue.
Book one blurb
A village with seemingly no enemies is reduced to a ghost town with no warning after all the inhabitants are killed bar one. Myrbeth the daughter of a murdered family seeks answers whilst she contemplates her future as the adopted daughter of King Trevard. She knows there can be no hope of future with Prince Frederick the king’s son but she cannot help loving him. The king himself has never been satisfied with answers on the attack and must now strike out on his own in search of a culprit. However, with the return of the Black Knights he might discover more than he had wished to. As events unfold Mercy a member of the Black Knights present at that long ago massacre, ponders on but one thought as he weighs up whether he truly belongs with them.
“What difference could one survivor make”
Parvery is a land divided into nine kingdoms each with its own royal family, culture and industry that defines it. Whether their wealth is in fishing, mining, trees or silks the people of each prize their local resources. The land is a peaceful place of trade and mutual respect between the kingdoms as they are all governed by the doctrine of kings. This doctrine decides the territories of each kingdom, the laws of the land and the understanding between each kingdom to live in peace with one another. All the kingdoms are tied together by the process of matching where royal princes and princes from different kingdoms intermarry. While this process is governed by choice all royals have a duty to make a noble match.
For over 600 hundred years this land and these traditions have been undisturbed until tragedy strikes. A group of mercenaries visit Parvery a massacre an entire village for an unknown purpose. The shock waves of this unprecedented event are felt for years to come. One survivor; a young girl is left alive and taken to Hollthen castle where the King and Queen adopt her. This girl is neither commoner nor a princess is where the story begins as she struggles to find her place and happiness. The first book in the collection also explains the start of the king’s quest to discover why that awful attack took place in Parvery.
Book two blurb
Time has moved on and Parvery is struggling. Mysterious deaths, thefts and bandits’ attacks are all happening in the shadows making king Trevard deeply interested in finding the traitor in their midst.
This second instalment of Kingdoms of Parvery begins with Edmund’s very first royal visit to Pidar. As we learn more about this new and different kingdom will Edmund learn to love the beautiful Princess Theolotta or is their secret betrothal not destined to thrive? Edmund splits his time between the two kingdoms as he grows up but he begins to feel divided. Frederick and Myrbeth worry about the king as they build their growing family.
Mercy now stands as the leader of The Black Thirteen. Unrulily men bound by a common and difficult goal. They will not waste their time in Parvery but how are they to discover the benefactor’s identity? New and exciting characters await you as you continue on the journey exploring these nine kingdoms.
For as long as I can remember I’ve always been making up stories in my head. As a small child, I made up tales for my barbies and beanie babies. It was only later that I began writing them down and even then, just for fun. Despite my dyslexia and difficulties translating the ideas in my head to the page, I continue to explore my passion for writing. I wrote my first full novel by the age of eighteen and knew that I wanted to take things to the next step. So, I chose to study creative writing at university to hone my craft. I graduated from Bolton University in 2014 with a 2:1 grade excited about the tools and techniques I had learned. After university, I began to apply these to my writing over the following years and now, I feel ready to be published. I am independently putting my writing on the open market, and I do hope you will be supportive.