I hope this post finds you well in body, soul, and imagination!
Today, it is with great pleasure that I get to introduce you to Abigail Shepherd, one of my dear writing friends and a true – in the poetic words of Anne Shirley – kindred spirit.
I can’t remember exactly when I first connected with Abi on Instagram. All I know is that there was something about her feed – its elegance and charm, its warmth and whimsy, its lovely photographs of tea and books and all things cozy – that immediately endeared her to me. (Go check it out – you will see what I’m talking about!)
Though I have not yet met her in person (though I would love to make it to Scotland one day and visit!), her online demeanor makes it unquestionably clear that she is a genuinely kind, caring soul who loves to help other writers through her tweets, posts, and wonderful blog articles and newsletters.
When Abi contacted me with news of her novel’s upcoming publication, I knew I had to jump on the book-launch bandwagon by having her on the blog.
Without further ado, please enjoy this interview!
When did you begin writing and what motivates you to write?
I think I’ve always written. I remember making pretend picture books when I was around six years old. Then I had a break from it when I was around 18 and let life get in the way for a little while. I started again at 25 and have never let that happen again.
When did writing become more than just a hobby for you and transition to career path?
I’d always planned to make a career out of it, but I’d never written anything I felt was good enough. Nor did I realise that one rejection didn’t necessarily mean it was rubbish! Then my sister challenged me to write a regency romance, a genre we both enjoy when well done. So I did. And for the first time I felt there was something in it. And I finished the book because I couldn’t leave my characters in the lurch! That story is now being serialised here: http://channillo.com/series/ask-me-no-secrets/
Your new novel, Victoria’s Victorian Victory is available today! Congratulations! Can you sum up what it’s about?
I’ll do my best! The story starts with the loss of Victoria’s Pa. The death of the main breadwinner in Victorian times was a serious hardship, and in this case it leaves the family’s rented farm with no farmer. Eventually, Victoria steps in and begins running the farm herself, but that’s not an easy thing for a teenage girl in Victorian times to attempt!
Where did the inspiration for it come from?
I was originally planning to write another regency romance. The first one I wrote had been about the upper tier of society, so this time I wanted to write about ordinary people. And then I thought to myself, “I don’t want this girl to be rescued by a man, who comes and takes over. I want her to do it all herself.”
So at that point it ceased to be a romance and I felt it made sense to make the girl younger to increase the challenge. It changed to Victorian times during research as the advances then in farming meant it was a lot less of a physical job than before.
What would you say was your biggest challenge when writing it, and how did you overcome it?
I originally wrote the entire book in diary format. Then Cynthia Rogerson, an award winning author, did an event near me where she would critique the first few chapters of your book. She advised me that my writing style was too detailed and literary for it to be believable as someone’s diary.
So I had the option either to change the way I’d written it, or change it to a third person narrative. I decided to do the latter, but keep some diary extracts too. It was a lot of work! But I just kept reminding myself what the end goal was. However, if I really needed a break from it then I took it.
Are there any particular writing rituals you have?
Not until recently. Before I got a publisher I always felt slightly apologetic about writing. I felt like I should be doing something more useful with my time! So I would write on my iPad at odd moments, like waiting in the car or for the kettle to boil.
I’ve now decided that it’s ridiculous to feel apologetic for doing something I love, so I’ve made myself a little writing nook in the corner of the living room and I sit there and scribble and drink copious amounts of tea!
Do you believe in or experience “writer’s block”? If so, how do you overcome it?
I don’t believe in writers block. I feel that if you start writing, the words will come. Writers block just means you’re worrying too much about what those words are! However, I do believe it’s good to take a break sometimes and let your brain recharge.
How are you going about the marketing process? What’s your favorite and least favorite part of it?
I set up my author platform on social media a little while ago, so I like to think I already have a bit of a fan base. So now I’m really just trying to create a buzz round the book and show people why they should buy it!
My favourite part of marketing is creating images and videos to post on Instagram and Twitter. My least favourite part is I don’t have much time to actually write at the moment.
What advice would you like to pass on to new or unpublished writers?
Keep writing. Keep editing. Keep querying. It will happen for you.
What’s next on the agenda for you?
At the moment I’m trying to get an agent for my next book.
Where can we buy your book?
It’s currently available on Amazon here!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently building a mailing list and everyone who signs up in the month of January will receive a free prequel short story! Sign up here: https://bewritingblog.wordpress.com/contact/
How can readers get in touch with you?
A brief bio on Abi!:
Abigail Shepherd is the 29-year-old author of teen historical fiction novel Victoria’s Victorian Victory. Her other work has most recently been published by The Flash Fiction Press, and Mystery Weekly, and she has a regency romance series, Ask Me No Secrets, on channillo.com She’s hoping her upcoming novel will encourage teenage girls to think about their futures, set goals for themselves, and insist on being treated with the respect they deserve. Her hobbies include fishing, napping, and drinking exceptionally good wine.