I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Fiona Gibson. Enjoy.
Hello Fiona, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I'm Fiona Gibson, based in Lanarkshire in Scotland. I also also write books for 9-12s under the name of Fiona Foden.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was 17, when I started working on teenage magazines. I started writing fiction around a decade ago, when my third child was a baby, and I was working as a freelance journalist.
What first got you interested in writing?
A love of reading - mainly famous five books - and also an obsession with magazines. I was determined to work on a teen magazine when I left school, and was lucky to get a job on the now defunct Jackie.
Do you attend a writing group?
I joined the Dolphinton Writers 13 years ago when we'd just left London and moved to our small Scottish town.
Why do you attend a writing group?
My reason for joining at first was to get to know some like-minded souls in the area, and also to develop ideas for short stories and, hopefully, full-length novels. But mainly it was a social thing.
What is the most valuable thing you have taken away from your writing group?
My friendships - most of us have known each other for a decade or more, and the sense of support is wonderful.
What genre(s) do you write? What drew you to this/these genre(s)?
I write commercial women's fiction - fast, easy reads which hopefully make my readers laugh and recognise themselves. I write lots about family and relationships - these themes throw up endless potential for humour, especially when all seems to be going horrible wrong. I also love to write for pre-teen girls, which feels a little like being back on those teenage magazines which I worked on for 15 years, and always loved. Plus, I enjoy reading teenage fiction, so it made sense to try writing some of my own.
What types of things do you write?
As well as novels for children and adults, I write features for women's magazines - I've written for Red, Marie Claire and many others, and have a monthly column in Sainsbury's magazine.
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing? Why/why not? Are you interested in eBooks, or do you prefer the old fashioned paper-made books?
My novels have done pretty was as e-books - it's all very new and exciting. I feel we've reached the point of clutter overload in our house - I have 3 children, all big readers - and so welcome being able to download instead of aquiring more paper!
Have you ever attended an open mic night for spoken word performers, and either an observer or a performer?
I have done various readings, events and workshops and enjoy it very much - it's a welcome change from being hunched over the laptop.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
To simply get the bum on the seat and start writing - there are always a million reasons not to do it, and other things that need doing instead. It's not easy. You just have to force yourself to keep at it. But starting is the hardest part.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
See above - and also, to play around with different styles until you find the voice that feels right and true to you.
Do you have a writing routine?
I see my kids off to school, then walk my dog, then come home and eat - then write. I start at about 10.30 and when deadlines loom often work late into the night, at weekends too. It's all consuming sometimes.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
A mixture really - I have my main characters fairly clearly drawn in my head, and a setting and theme - but the plot can be fluid. Knowing every twist and turn in advance can be very boring to write.
Do you have an editing process?
I often read aloud as I write - or sort of mumble along. I used to send out chapters to friends to read but realised all I was looking for was positive affirmation. So now I trust my instincts. My editor is usually the first person to read my books - terrifying!
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I love the ideas stage - scribbling in notebooks, usually sitting in cafes and letting the thoughts come. I find the 'middle stage' of a book very difficult, and often want to give up!
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
I was a runner up in a scholastic short story comp around 13 years ago.
How important is it for you to share your writing?
I find it hampering and confusing and, generally, would rather keep it to myself. But I do read the odd parts of a book in progress to the writing group, especially if I'm stuick with plot - having input at that stage can be helpful.
Where can we find you on the internet?
My website is fionagibson.com - but desperately needs an update! Twitter - @fionagibson
What are you working on at the moment?
A children's novel, A Kiss, a Dare and a Boat called Promise (Scholastic) out in August 2013.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I enjoy running, dog walking, reading and movies, and play the flute and saxophone.
Thank you very much Fiona.