Please welcome Penny Batchelor to The Bandwagon!
Penny Batchelor is an alumna of the Faber Academy online ‘Writing a Novel’ course. She is a freelance journalist, a former BBC content producer and website editor for various educational institutions, and lives in Warwickshire with her husband.
Her journalism has appeared in numerous publications including The Knitter, Vintage Life, Mollie Makes, Travel Africa, The Simple Things and Pretty Nostalgic magazines; and BBC Ouch!, moneymagpie.com, welovethisbook.com and The University of Warwick’s Knowledge Centre websites.
My Perfect Sister is her first novel and she is currently writing a second.
How did you get into writing?I’ve written poems and stories ever since I learned to write. It has long been a dream to become a novelist but I made the rookie mistake of working on ideas but never finishing anything! When I turned 40 I gave myself a good talking to and decided it was time to take my ambition seriously. I enrolled on Faber Academy’s ‘Writing a Novel’ course, where My Perfect Sister was born, and then kept writing and redrafting until I had version I was really pleased with. It was a wonderful day when RedDoor Press, after requesting the full manuscript, gave me the thumbs up!
Why did you choose to write in this genre?It’s more that it chose me. I had written a couple of chapters of a historical novel beforehand but the idea of a woman who felt angry because her whole childhood was shrouded by a missing older sister kept popping up in my head. It’s a genre I like reading and gives lots of opportunities for twists and turns, red herrings and lots of exploration of people’s behaviour. I’d be no good at writing rom coms – I’d want to kill someone off after 50 pages!
Who are some of your favourite authors?Current authors include Ruth Ware, Sarah Waters, CJ Sansom, Lisa Jewell, Maggie O’Farrell, SJ Watson, Lesley Kara and many more. You also can’t beat Jane Austen or Daphne du Maurier. Rebecca is my favourite psychological thriller of all time.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?In between. I need to work out a rough story arc – a beginning, middle and an end – before I start writing, although they may change as I go along and characters begin to suggest their own possibilities to me. No way though could I sit down and start to write from nothing.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?Write! Don’t be disheartened if your first draft isn’t that great. Writing is about redrafting, reworking, and the alchemy that happens when you’re in the flow. Find a writing buddy you can trust to share your work and the ups and downs that come with the profession. Read widely in your genre so you’re not unwittingly working on a story similar to someone else’s. Finally, enjoy the luxury of playing with words and celebrate your success.
Finally, what are you currently working on?Book 2! I hope it will be published in 2021. I’m keeping schtum at the moment as to what it’s about but I can reveal that there are lots more twists and turns!
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