Today, I'm welcoming Sally Quilford to my blog, an amazingly prolific writer - the author of over 60 published short stories, and 15 pocket novels - who was one of my early blog contacts. And now she's launching her book The Secret of Lakeham Abbey. Phew - I think I need to lie down!
1) Hi Sally. We met when you set up a blog
challenge, 80k in 80 days. Can you remember what you wrote for that challenge,
and what happened to it?
know, I honestly can’t remember? Now
you’ve got me thinking. I think I wrote a pocket novel, but I can’t remember
which one. It was a fun challenge, with lots of energy from those involved. It’s
now become 100k in 100 days and it’s still very popular, even though we don’t
always all manage to do it now. I hate to say it but sometime I write more
between the challenges than during them…
2) You've written short stories, 30k and 40k
novellas, and now a novel - what's your favourite length to write?
Most of the
novellas I write for My Weekly Pocket
Novels are 50k now, so I’m used to that length. The Secret of Lakeham Abbey is
actually a bit longer, at 55k. So not quite full novel length. Obviously 30k is
great as it can be done fairly quickly. I’ve written 30k novellas in a week
before now! But 50k allows for a bit more character development and plot. I do
want to build up to full-length 80k novels. I have written one; a saga called The Steps of the Priory. But I’ve
struggled to write that much. I’ve become so used to writing the shorter form.
not a bad thing as there are so many publishers out there now, particularly
ebook first publishers like Crooked Cat, who like shorter novels, because
that’s what readers like. Shorter novels are ideal for e-reader devices and for
our busier society.
your inspiration to start writing and submitting?
inspiration to start writing was just that I’d always wanted to have a go, but
without ever really trying. Then, when I was 30 I went back to school to do a
literature GCSE, and it opened the floodgates for me. I started writing then
and haven’t looked back. It was so therapeutic, and lovely to be able to put
all the dreams in my head down in writing.
submitting because there is no greater validation than having an editor say
‘Yes, I like that and I want to pay you money to publish it.’ Even now I get a
thrill when I have work accepted. And even now I have a sick feeling in my
stomach every time I submit something, fearing it won’t be good enough. That
keeps me on my toes, and keeps me trying to improve my writing.
I've got kids, people always ask me if I write children’s stories (I don't).
You've got grandchildren, do you get the same question? And, you know... do
I do get
asked that, along with questions like ‘Do you want to be the next JK Rowling?’
which is silly as there’s only one JK Rowling and she’s magnificent. I don’t
write children’s stories, even though Percy Sullivan, the main character in The Secret of Lakeham Abbey, is a child.
My granddaughter, Gracie, is always asking me to write a story about her and
some unicorns, and I hate to admit to her that I just don’t have the right
skills for writing a children’s story. All the children’s authors I know are
just in tune with children and know just what makes them tick. I adore my
grandchildren, but I’m not sure I know enough about the other children around
them to write a convincing story that speaks to their age group. But I should
do it for her, shouldn’t I? Just because she asked me…
The Secret of Lakeham Abbey Blurb
When Percy Sullivan’s family take over Lakeham Abbey for the summer, it was a
chance to get away from battered post-war London and be cossetted by the
capable and pretty housekeeper, Anne Pargeter.
They soon learn that the Abbey conceals a dark secret; one that someone was
willing to kill to hide. When Anne is convicted of murder and sentenced to
execution, Percy is determined to do all he can to save his friend from the
He encourages everyone to tell their side of the story. This leads to some
startling revelations, including a shocking secret that Percy’s mother tried to
hide from him.
Will it be enough to save Anne’s life?
Buy The Secret of Lakeham Abbey: Amazon UK // Amazon US // Smashwords