Hello Sandra, can you please introduce yourself.
My name is Sandra Smith though I also enjoy a pseudonym or two: Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle; Villette de Lingua; and Alex Smythe-Smith. I live in Buckinghamshire.
Very pleased to meet you, your ladyship. How long have you been writing?
Seriously, for about 5 years.
What first got you interested in writing?
I’ve always had a strong creative side and gradually I felt the need to write humorous stuff.
Do you attend a writing group?
I joined Chiltern Writers in 1994 when I first moved to this area.
Why do you attend a writing group?
You can feel quite isolated as a writer so I think it’s important to network and have the chance to share ideas, tips, even failures, with other like minded people.
Exactly. It's nice to know there are other people going through what you're going through. What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
The support of fellow writers. People who understand the process.
What genre(s) do you write?
First person humorous pieces are my first love. I think it’s an antidote to all the depressing stuff that goes on in the world, my way of escapism. But I have also had lots of features and interviews published covering all kinds of topics.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
Not so far! I have a low boredom threshold so being given the chance to write about something different is great.
What types of things do you write?
Articles, interviews and humorous pieces. Though I did have a dozen poems published in the early days!
Apart from the early poems, have you had anything else published?
My features have been included in a range of magazines including: Country Living, The Oldie, The Chap, Buckinghamshire Life, Worcestershire Life, Lincolnshire Life, Prayer for Today, Dance Review, The Four Shires, Writing Magazine et al. I currently write humorous blogs for Hertfordshire Life and Hampshire Life.
Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
Humour generally. So I enjoy reading Sandi Toksvig, Robert Crampton, Maureen Lipman, Joyce Grenfell. Inspiration is mainly from everyday things that happen to me / my family or that I hear about.
I'm very fond of Joyce Grenfell, especially her one-sided conversations with children. How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
Sometimes they just come to me when I’m not even trying (Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle is a prime example). Other times you have to just work at it.
Are you sure you weren't eating crisps at the time? What is your writing routine?
Writing is my day job but my time is flexible so sometimes I might write at 6am, other times midnight.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I don’t write stories as such, more slice of life pieces. When I begin I always know the beginning and end. I then let the journey evolve as I write.
Do you have an editing process?
I sometimes read my work aloud. I find it easier to edit from paper copy rather than my laptop. So although I don’t like printing too much (paper, ink costs etc) I sometimes print out a near final copy then I go to a different part of the house and read it.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
There are two enjoyable bits: the inspiration and seeing your name / piece in print. Actual writing is the hard bit!
How important is it for you to share your writing?
In the early days it was very important. Not so much now.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
No and no.
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
No, must get round to that.
Yes you must; it's great fun! What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Don’t complain you don’t have a desk, or it’s in the wrong place, cluttered etc. You have a desk in your head so use it.
I think the desk in my head is more cluttered than my actual desk! What advice could you give to a new writer?
Write. No matter how bad, irrelevant etc. Just keep writing.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I love the theatre, serious plays mainly, but local stuff too in small, intimate settings. I’m passionate about my cats, tolerant of the dog although we enjoy our daily walks. I try and read as widely as possible. Procrastination, eating, daydreaming, oh, and my family . . .
Ah, procrastination. If there was a degree in that, I'd never get around to enrolling. You mentioned earlier a few authors that inspire you. What other types of things do you read?
I try and read as widely as possible, anything at all though my favourites are anything by the Brontes or Philippa Gregory. And anything humorous.
If you could have written anything, what do you wish that could have been?
It would have made me very proud to write with the emotional intensity of Charlotte Bronte.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m always working on several things. At the moment I’m putting together my next A Write Life! blog for Hertfordshire Life; finishing a 2,000 word interview for Sorted magazine; putting the finishing touches to a workshop I’m running this Saturday at the Thame Arts and Literature Festival; and thinking about my next Lady Margaret Gosworthy-Pringle blog.
Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
There’s always a new way of approaching old topics.
Thank you very much, Sandra.