5 Minutes With… Breige King

Silver blue ringI haven’t interviewed anyone on my blog for quite a while so what better way to celebrate my first interview of 2014 than by welcoming a friend to my blog – the very lovely and incredibly talented Breige King. Breige and I worked together at NHS Direct until she took the plunge last year and left to concentrate on her ever-growing jewellery business. To give up the day job to work full time on your creative passion is something that many of us strive for and Breige is the perfect example of making a real success of going freelance.

So, without further ado I’m dragging Breige away from her workbench and making her put down her tools to find out what makes her tick and just how she’s managed to get to where she is today.

Thanks so much for stopping by my blog today. First off, for anyone not familiar with your work how would you describe what you do?

I’m an independent jewellery designer working with gold, silver and precious stones using traditional silversmithing techniques. Whilst I enjoy working with newly sourced metal and stones, my true passion is working with a piece of jewellery that has meaning, perhaps a piece left by a loved one, taking it and breathing life back into it. With any piece I make, the privilege is all mine – for someone to come to me and ask me to make them an engagement band, a wedding ring, remodel a piece of jewellery – it’s such an honour. It’s as if I step outside of my life straight into theirs…

Garnet ringBeing a writer I can certainly relate to that, immersing myself in my characters’ lives. Have you always been creative?

Mmm? I’ve always been a ‘maker’ without a doubt. As children, my sister and I used to save our pocket money and visit the local haberdashery in Chipping Sodbury. We’d buy packets of sequins, feathers and beads and turn them into magnificent earrings! Our poor mother ‘Ooohed’, ‘Aaahed’ and modeled every creation and so fed my habit of making! I never lost that ‘creative’ bug and dabbled in many crafts over the years.

I used to write mini-plays and perform them with a friend to our mums and long-suffering brothers, and I never lost that creative bug either. How did you then turn that initial childhood passion turn into jewellery making? 

Being forced to give up my horse after a nasty fall left me with two partially fused discs and meant I had huge crater in my life – not that my four children didn’t take up time of course! This is where evening classes at The Orchard Studios in Kingswood, Bristol filled that gap – silversmithing sessions – the rest, as they say, is history!

You quit your job just a few months ago to concentrate on your jewellery business – has going freelance met your expectations? What have been the highs and lows?

After five months freelance it still doesn’t really feel like a job! I left part time Green diamond ringemployment in August 2013 – somehow, at the same time my business demand went through the sky. Was it fate that I left when I did? Who knows! I had an exhibition booked for September/October so the time seemed right. The Peacock Art Trail  in Corsham took my exposure away from friends and family and internet selling and into the domain of those actively seeking art – I’ve really not stopped since. There is always something missing from a photograph compared to the real thing. I guess it’s to do with seeing in all dimensions.

My highlight has to be a complete stranger telling me that my calibre of creative work was what was missing from a long established county fair that I can’t name!

Freelancing does come with minor drawbacks of course, it can often be quite a solitary existence. That and the extreme effort involved in making myself look human in the morning in the knowledge that no one except the postie will even see me!

But at least you’re making the effort even if it is just for the postie! As for freelancing being a solitary existence, where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere and anywhere. I’m a really random person when it comes to the bare facts. I love to name my pieces, to give them an identity, to tell a story. Sweet Dreams, this was one of the frequent designs that woke me frantically from sleep, clutching for a pen and paper. La Pelosa, an aquamarine ring named after the clearest, crystal blue sea I’ve ever seen. Little Satsuma, a small but very sweet orange sapphire stacking ring. Something Blue, a modern twist on an engagement ring – set with a striking natural blue diamond – I could go on and on and on…

What are your favourite pieces that you’ve designed and the story behind Memories..them?

Every piece is special without a single doubt. Some pieces tug my heart strings more than others. I always cry at sad (and happy) movies and often shed a little tear over a piece of my work. Strangely, given my (fading) red hair it’s rarely to do with temper or anger (though my children and dogs do inherently know when is a good time to ‘not bother’ me and when to ask for those new trainers!)

I was recently contacted to remodel a set of wedding and engagement rings I named ‘Memories’. By some chance, I had worked with the customer some 20 years previously, she hadn’t realised this when she’d approached me regarding the commission. Her commission was tinged with sadness but also great joy – celebrating life and knowing that her son will always be in her heart… A great privilege to be part of this – and for a friendship reunited.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of giving up their day job and turning their passion (whether writing, illustration, pottery etc.) into their full time job?

Cuff linksTrust your gut instinct and try to do something that sets you apart – don’t be scared to let your personality shine through.

You won’t need to be told to work hard if you love what you do. You might however, need to be told when to switch off, when to step away and when to chill out – I hear you family! 😉

Don’t be distracted by social media other than when working it to your advantage!Silver gold ring

Do make sure that you have a like minded friend to confer with. I’ve a good jeweller friend that I share a good few tools with, also a fair amount of ideas and problem solving, successes, failure and off loading etc! In a solitary working environment, I’d say it’s a must.

Do grasp life and live it! We humble human beings don’t have long to make our mark!

Purple rope ringWise words indeed Breige! What are your plans for 2014?

In 2014 I vow to become computer literate and hopefully get my website up in the near future – watch this space! (I will add a link on my blog to Breige’s website when it’s ready.)

I’ve a few exhibitions booked already – you’ll find me at The Pound Arts Centre in Corsham, Wiltshire during Cloth Road Arts Week 3rd – 11th May 2014 and somewhere in Frome (yet to be confirmed) during Frome Open Studios over the weekends 5-6th and 12-13th July 2014, so a busy few months ahead!

I’m also working on a collection for a wonderful gallery in The Cotswolds – but don’t want to tempt fate here!

Last but not least where can people find you?

Over on FacebookEtsy or on my new blog. I will also have my website up and running soon.

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Thank you so much Breige for taking the time to share your journey from childhood ‘maker of things’, to successful independent jewellery designer. I’m sending you back to your workbench to get cracking again on making that stunning jewellery. I love the fact that I have such talented friends both in real life and online.

Breige takes commissions and there are also beautiful pieces that can be bought from her via Etsy. Also, if you like her Facebook page then you can get to drool at her creations on a regular basis. Just saying. 😉

5 Minutes With… Jade Reyner

AnnMarie 3I’ve only known Jade Reyner for a couple of months but in that time I’ve got to know her via her blog and enjoyed a lovely coffee and a chat with her about writing, our books, hopes and dreams along with fellow writer and friend, Elaine Jeremiah. Not only is she an exciting new author but she’s incredibly supportive too and I was honoured to be her first guest blogger on Wednesday.

Jade published her debut novel, Twelve Days – The Beginning, at the end of April and she’s busy working on its sequel, Twelve Days – The Future. Jade took the time to talk to me about both books, her ideal writing location and exactly just what inspires her…

For anyone who’s not read your debut novel, Twelve Days – The Beginning, how would you pitch it to them?

I would say that it is a hot and spicy romance with an element of thriller and plenty of twists and turns. It’s one that you can’t put down (but then I would say that!)

What books, if any, would you compare it to?

Gosh, that’s tricky as it’s not the sort of book that I have ever read before. It’s kind of a cross genre, sort of Fifty Shades meets Stephen King I suppose.

Can you describe the writing process of Twelve Days from initial idea to finished book.

The plot line for Twelve Days is based on life experiences and those of others that I have met on my journey and is something that has been rattling around in my head for a while. I started a Creative Writing course last year and that gave me the confidence to believe that I could write a novel and so I just sat down and started writing. It only took me a month or so to write, but the cover art, editing etc… all took up more time than I anticipated.

How is work on Twelve Days – The Future coming along and are you finding that because it’s a sequel it makes writing it easier?

Twelve Days – The Future is progressing well, I am about a third of the way through it Cover 2now and it should hopefully be ready late autumn. In some ways it is harder to write a sequel as you have to remember all the details about the characters that you dropped into the first book and make sure that you follow them through – although I feel that I have more freedom with the plot line for this one as this is completely new and is not based on anything other than my imagination.

Where do you write and if you could live anywhere what would be your dream location for writing?

I am very lucky in that I have just had a section of the spare room made into an office space for me so I write from there. In my ideal world I would have my own room overlooking the countryside and it would definitely need to have a field full of cows!

For anyone who’s thinking about self-publishing do you have any tips or advice?

I would say don’t underestimate how long the process takes and be prepared to spend a huge amount of time marketing. This is an area that I am struggling with, as do many self-published authors and for anyone starting out, you have to realise that it is an ongoing journey – even once the book is out there.

Did you write the kind of book you like to read?

At the moment yes, although I have some others in the pipeline which will more than likely stray from my normal reading/writing genre.

What inspires you?

Truthfully, my family. I am blessed with a wonderful support network and without them it wouldn’t be possible to do what I am doing. Their never ending faith in me is what keeps me going.

If you could only take one book to a desert island what would it be and why?

Could I take a trilogy? Wow, that’s a hard question. It would have to be real escapist type book, maybe something by Sylvia Day or Colleen Hoover.

What are your plans once you’ve finished Twelve Days – The Future?

The initial plan is for Twelve Days to be a series and I have plans for two other books in the series featuring two of the other characters. After that, I have two more completely different books in the pipeline so I am hoping to get all six books out there eventually. After that, who knows?

I’ve no doubt that Jade will have all six books out in the not-too-distant future. With her debut published this year and another one due to out in the autumn it’s clear that she’s a hard worker and is certainly not at a loss for inspiration. If you’d like to find out more and follow Jade’s writing journey then she has a great blog where she publishes lots of interesting and informative posts. She can also be found on Twitter @twelvedaysjade and her book is available on amazon.

5 minutes With… Alana Terry

It was only a few months ago that I met Alana Terry thanks to the wonderful world of Twitter and the bloggersphere. We follow each other’s blogs and have got to know each other and our writing via our WIPpet Wednesday posts. This is all virtually of course as I live in the UK and Alana resides in beautiful Alaska.

What has impressed me the most about Alana is how proactive she’s been in getting her work out to the world with a true life story about her tube-fed son, A Boy Named Silas, followed by the first of a time-travel series for kids called, What, No Sushi?, and then most recently a novel for adults, The Beloved Daughter, which within its first month of being published became the number one Amazon bestselling Christian suspense novel.

The Beloved Daughter is a powerful and moving story – where did the idea for it come from and did you have to do much research for it?

I’ve followed cases of religious persecution for over a decade and a half. Since North Korea is often considered one of the most dangerous countries for Christians to express their faith, I guess it piqued my interest more than others. I spent about three months researching before I wrote it. The research was very difficult, not so much because it was tedious, but because the stories I read were so gruesome.

What inspired your time-travel series, What, No Sushi?

My boys are homeschooled, and when we started looking for books about other homeschoolers, we realized there weren’t many. I got connected to Do Life Right, a publishing company that exists exclusively to provide good fiction books about contemporary homeschoolers. I loved their idea so much I sent them my manuscript a few weeks later.

Would you like to write more children’s books?

Yes! What, No Sushi? is the first book in the Solar-Powered History series. Two more books in that series are being edited. I’d love to see the series really kick off! (I’m sure that’s what my publisher is hoping, too!)

As a writer what’s the most important lesson you’ve learnt so far?

Well, I can tell you what lesson I should have learned by now, and that’s to RELAX. Ever since The Beloved Daughter was published last month, I’ve been driving myself (and my husband) somewhat crazy by constantly checking my book sales, stalking my book reviews, etc. I take these things way too personally and am trying to stop.

How much time a day or a week can you put aside for writing and where’s your favourite place to work?

Funny you should mention that. I just got my own desk about half a year ago. Before that I had to pull out my laptop and set it up on the kitchen table whenever I wanted to work! I have my desk out in the living room so I don’t have to be a recluse in my own home. I write during naptime and in the evenings mostly. When I’m really going on a project, I can really get too single-minded. I still have to be a mom sometimes! I’d estimate I spend an average of two to four hours a day writing, but that’s been known to escalate when I’m really absorbed.

For those who haven’t read extracts from the latest novel you’re working on via your WIPpet Wednesday posts, how would you describe Saving Natalie, your new work in progress?

Saving Natalie is a contemporary family drama that centers around two college students, their critically ill newborn daughter, and their extended family that will do just about anything to keep baby Natalie alive.

You seem to be able to write about a diverse range of subjects for different age groups including your book, A Boy Named Silas about your tube-fed son, but is there a particular genre that you’re most comfortable writing and if so, why?

I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. I’ve decided I would most like to be known as a suspense novelist. I also hope to write a lot more books like The Beloved Daughter that have international settings.

If you could be anything other than a writer or a full time mum, what would you want to do for a living?

There was a point I actually thought about becoming a doctor, believe it or not. I took the medical school entrance exams and everything. I do enjoy teaching (sometimes) and might have become a science teacher. I like hospital settings, too. I’ve thought at times that being a hospital chaplain would be a rewarding experience.

Describe your perfect day.

Well, how about I tell you about yesterday? It was gorgeous and sunny, so we headed out early to the park before therapy. While my middle son was in his therapy appointment, I took my other boys to the library and to the homeschool bookstore to get new workbooks. After Silas’ appointment was over, we had a picnic lunch on the beach and spent a few hours chasing geese and exploring the woods. We even saw a beaver. We came home for a quick nap time, and then we met some friends at a nearby field to climb trees. After dinner, I took my oldest to Tae Kwon Do, and the younger two practiced riding their bikes while we waited for his lesson to be over.

It wasn’t much of a writing day, but it sure was a blast! We even managed to throw in handwriting, math, and reading practice to boot.

That sounds like a pretty lovely day to me, especially the picnic lunch on the beach…

If you’d like to keep up to date with Alana Terry, her life and her writing then check out her fabulous blog, Lightly Salted. Alana can also be found on Twitter @ABoyNamedSilas. If you’re in the US then I urge you to buy a copy of The Beloved Daughter from which Alana is donating $5 per book to the Samaritan’s Purse disaster relief efforts for the Oklahoma tornado victims. Even if you’re not in the US buy it anyway – The Beloved Daughter is a powerful and moving story.

5 Minutes With… Elaine Jeremiah

It’s thanks to Twitter that Elaine Jeremiah and I became friends after realising that not only were we both writers but that we lived in the same city. So a few months ago we arranged to meet up and spent a lovely couple of hours in a café on the harbourside talking about writing, our novels and self-publishing. We’ve met up a couple of times since then, most recently last week, but as I said to Elaine it feels like we’re in contact with each other more often than I am with my non-writing friends because of communicating via Twitter and our blogs. Writing can be a lonely business but with a thriving online writing community it’s easy to reach out to other writers for support and encouragement.

Elaine’s busy working on a new WIP at the moment (you can follow her progress over on her blog) and is also putting the finishing touches to her novel, The Inheritance, but she was kind enough to take some time out to answer a few questions…

How did you come up with the idea for your novel, The Inheritance?

I came up with the idea for The Inheritance when it occurred to me that I could do a modern reworking of the parable Jesus tells in the Bible called ‘The Prodigal Son’.  It just seemed like a really good idea because the story is an interesting one and the themes are relevant today. Without giving too much away, but for those who don’t know about the parable, it’s about a young man who demands his inheritance from his father and then squanders it, leaving himself penniless. The way the father responds to what happens is central to the story and the themes in it – love, forgiveness and redemption – are still important today. So I felt a modern retelling of the story would be an interesting project.

You chose the settings of London and a farm in Cornwall – are these places that you know well?

I do know Cornwall – or at least parts of it – very well. My mother’s family all live there. Although she grew up near Hounslow, her parents and older brothers ‘emigrated’ to Cornwall in the seventies and their families all grew up in Cornwall. My mother went to university in Southampton, met my father and settled there. Throughout my childhood right up until the time I left home, we and my two younger siblings would go on holiday there to visit my elderly grandparents, uncles and cousins. I always loved it – it’s a great part of the world, lots of beautiful countryside and beaches. We would often take our rickety caravan there to a lovely campsite near the town of Bodmin where my grandparents lived. Sometimes, when my grandparents were still alive, we would even rent a cottage when we were down there which was different and exciting.

I don’t really know London that well at all. Although I used to live relatively near when I was growing up – about seventy miles away – I haven’t been to London a huge amount. So a lot of what I’ve written in The Inheritance about London is research and a bit of guesswork.

You’re going to be publishing The Inheritance as an eBook, how’s that coming along?

Slowly! I’ve had a couple of writer friends read it in an eBook format and now I’ve had the comments back it’s going to be a case of editing and revising it. When that’s completed I’ll have it proofread. It’s hard to say how soon I’ll be able to publish it once I’ve done all that, but hopefully it’ll only be a matter of months. How many months I really wouldn’t like to say – I guess it just depends how fast I work.

You’ve said to me before that you like to write all kinds of things but if you could only pick one genre of book to write what would it be and why?

I suppose I would have to say contemporary women’s fiction as that’s the genre that I feel most comfortable writing in. It lends itself well to exploring themes of relationships, emotions and bereavements, which is what I’m drawn to. I have a lot of ideas for this genre and they seem to flow from my head to the page quite well. Another thing: I know this is veering off the question a bit, but I would love to be able to write historical fiction as that is one of the genres I love reading. I just don’t feel I have the knowledge to write about that at the moment though. Maybe one day…

What are you currently reading?

I just started reading The Real Jane Austen: A Life in Small Things by Paula Byrne. I’m a massive fan of Jane Austen and I love her books, the films/TV adaptations of her books, the lot! I also love reading about her life and times. This book is a birthday present from my parents and the author has taken an interesting angle on writing about Austen’s life. She started each chapter from the subject of an object, either a real one from Austen’s life or an object described in one of her novels. Byrne then writes about why that object was important and how it relates to Jane Austen’s life, the wider world beyond Hampshire and England, and her writing. It’s a fascinating book and I’m really enjoying it.

What’s been the most valuable lesson or lessons that you’ve learnt so far as a writer?

One of the most valuable lessons I’ve learnt as a writer has been to try to write about what you know, or if you don’t at least keep what you’re writing true to life and accurate. This is important for me to remember because there are times when I’ve felt out of my depth with what I’ve been writing. At some points when I was doing research for The Inheritance, I was struggling a bit to make the passages in my novel about subject matters I didn’t know so much about believable. Thankfully the responses I’ve had to the novel have been positive and any parts that my writer friends who’ve read it have had a problem with, I can go back and revise and try to improve on.

For anyone who hasn’t read your WIPpet Wednesday posts, what are you working on at the moment?

My current work in progress has the working title of Reunion. It’s about a young woman who, along with her best friend, goes back to her secondary school for a school reunion and the events that happen in her life in the weeks and months that follow. My main character – the young woman – had a particularly bad time at school and so going back there is a more cathartic than good experience. The whole idea of school reunions and revisiting your past fascinates me and I thought it would be interesting to explore that as part of my subject matter for a new story.

What’s the one book that you wished you’d written and why?

Well it’s a bit of a cliché for me, being a huge Jane Austen fan, but I’d have to say Pride and Prejudice. It’s just such a wonderful novel and has so many fantastic characters in it – I really wish I’d written it! It’s also an incredibly well observed book. What I mean by that is that the author describes the characters and their personalities so well, and yet she does that without ever really giving a proper description of what they look like. And it’s well observed in the way that Austen subtly describes and comments on the social mores of her day. Then there’s the irony: ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.’  Need I say more?

If you’d like to find out more about Elaine Jeremiah then hop on over to her blog to read snippets of her work in progress and to discover what inspires her. Elaine can also be found on Twitter.

5 Minutes With… Tom Frost

Straight up I have to tell you that Tom Frost is my brother, but he also happens to be a very talented print maker and illustrator making all kinds of magic with screen printing, vintage Meccano, wood and acrylic paint. He lives in Bristol with his girlfriend, Teresa Murfin (also an illustrator), and my cute-as-a-button nephew, Harry.

A week ago we met up at The Harbourside, a cafe-bar on Bristol’s regenerated waterfront, for a working lunch (any excuse, Tom, for a sneaky lunchtime pint or two…) and talked blogs, Pinterest, writing, print making, and the potential move to a house with a barn in a Welsh village just 20 minutes from the Pembrokeshire coast (that’s Tom not me).

Before launching into the interview we tucked into a peppery bowl of broccoli and potato soup followed by lip-smackingly good Cornish Mussels with Somerset cider and cream served with black pepper fries… come on, we had to get our priorities right…

How would you describe your style of work?

Err… (laughs) … it’s going to be really difficult to get started… it’s um a bold, it’s a screen printed, um… what a terrible start… (we both end up laughing and agree that we’d both be far more professional if we didn’t know each other – honest…)

So, it’s a bold style of screen printing?

The majority of my work is screen printed, which lends itself to a strong, flat, bold style of work with strong geometrical graphic shapes. I’m influenced by 1950s packaging, labels, tin toys, folk art – just a mishmash of styles.

You’ve been ridiculously busy over the last few weeks – what have you been working on?

I’ve been finishing off prints that have been commissioned by the V&A for their Spring/Summer collection. I’ve got five Affordable Art Fairs coming up this year, London’s just out the way and Hong Kong was on the 15th – 17th March. Then I’ve got a solo show coming up in August, a group show in Brighton with two other great artists, Graham Carter and Helen Musselwhite, which focuses on our 3D work. In amongst all of that it’s just keeping on top of selling my prints in my online shop, stocking galleries, and doing other commissioned work such as cider labels for a company in Somerset, doing a poster for Selvedge, a great textiles magazine, and all sorts of other stuff like that.

Where’s your solo show taking place?

The solo show is in Bath at the Rostra Gallery. It’s the first solo show where I can really focus on my prints now I’m up and running as purely a screen printer.

You graduated from Falmouth College of Arts in 2001 with a First in Illustration, is what you’re doing now what you dreamed you’d be doing when you left Falmouth?

It is exactly what I dreamed I would be doing but not necessarily what I thought I’d be doing, if that makes any sense! When I left Falmouth we were geared up to be freelance illustrators – that’s what we trained to be and I spent ten years doing exactly that, being commissioned for editorials and book covers, but I eventually realised that I didn’t actually like doing that. I didn’t like working for the publications, it wasn’t inspiring. What I’m doing now is very similar in the fact that it’s artistic and I’m still freelancing but I’m now doing what I love doing, which is creating artworks that people will buy and put on their walls, which means they like it, rather than it just appearing in a magazine because somebody’s asked me to be in it.

What do you hope to be doing in ten years time?

I would hope to be doing exactly what I’m doing now, which is being inspired to do more personal artwork such as prints, moving into creating 3D pieces, and for galleries to continue to show my work. Just be inspired to do different things and for it, not necessarily to get bigger, but to continue to be paid for what I love doing.

Apart from Harry, what’s your greatest achievement to date?

It is quite simply being able to make a living by doing something that I love.

Which is what most people, particularly in a creative field want to be doing, myself included.

Yes, exactly.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Everywhere, and from everything and anything. There are so many great blogs out there, websites like Pinterest are brilliant. Specifically my inspiration comes from things that I collect such as old tin toys, children’s books, old stamps, old packaging from the 1950s, and the fact as a creative person I’m surrounded by some brilliant people, lots of my friends are illustrators and artists, painters and writers.

Whose work do you admire?

I admire people such as Jonny Hannah, Mark Hearld, Angie Lewin, Ed Kluz and the other plethora of contemporary British print makers out there at the moment.

Name three blogs that you would encourage people to check out.

Pinterest because it’s a brilliant source for anything – it’s just very inspiring. There are lots of great interiors and illustrations and toys. As a sourcebook it’s brilliant. Also, Remodelista and All Things Considered for endless inspiration.

If you could only choose one piece of artwork to showcase what you do, what would it be and why?

I would have to choose two – just to be greedy. The first one would be the first stamp design I did, which was a puffin, simply because it was the first screen print that I did that got interest from galleries and through my online shop. It made me realise that I’m doing something that can pay the bills rather than an indulgent hobby.

The second one would be an image that’s called Even on Calm Waters, which is just a natural progression from where I started, to where I want to be. It’s been received very well; it’s the first large, more expensive print that I sold out of an edition of and cemented that I’m doing something that’s worthwhile.

If you could be any character in a book who would it be?

Huckleberry Finn!

Why?

It just sounds like an idyllic childhood. Who wouldn’t want to go on an adventure down the Mississippi?

Did you not have a good childhood…

(Laughs) Not as good as Huckleberry Finn… it’s weird I can’t actually remember the story… when I think back on it it’s an adventure but there’s probably a lot of slavery and oppression involved… I’d have to go back and look at it again!

That’s reminded me of reading Swallows and Amazons when I was a kid, I’d quite like to be someone from that.

That’s true. Yes, a character along those lines, or the Famous Five. An idyllic childhood.

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We may not have had an adventure on the Mississippi or spent the summer camped out on a deserted island when we were kids but I can assure you that Tom and I had a very happy childhood (Mum and Dad I’m sure you’ll be relieved to hear that). With the voice recorder turned off we continue to chat over another pint and glass of rosé before heading our separate ways.

If you’d like to find out more about Tom and his work then take a look at his blog, The Boy Frost, or take a peek at his online shop. A Twitter newbie, Tom can now be found @theboyfrost and he also has a facebook page, Tom Frost Illustration.

5 Minutes With… Leah Symonne

I’m kicking off my 5 Minutes With… feature with an interview with a talented young writer called Leah Symonne. Leah actually got in touch with me in January about featuring her short story, Jesse Ellsworth, on my blog and I thought she’d be the perfect person to do the first interview with.

Leah is 17 years-old, lives in Canada, has been writing since she was ten, and has already been proactive in making her work available to the world by self-publishing her two short stories, You Can Hold My Hand and the very moving, Jesse Ellsworth.

What’s the inspiration behind your short stories Jesse Ellsworth and You Can Hold My Hand?

You Can Hold My Hand was just inspired by the world we live in. Everyone can relate to a story of simply not feeling accepted, for whatever reasons. Reasons that make them physically different from the people around them, or things a bit below the surface. It’s somewhat of a modern twist of an age-old story of begging for acceptance. Jesse Ellsworth is quite a different story than You Can Hold My Hand. It’s more a tale of a girl named Jesse, who got a bit lost in her own story. Jesse was inspired, again, by an everyday occurrence. I think we all know of a girl who (on the outside) seemed to have it all together. When you looked at that person they, for all intents and purposes, embodied humanly perfection. That was Jesse, but her train derailed. This society is more than accustomed to seeing those who we hold to esteem fall from grace; whether they are people we work with, or celebrities. They were both intended to be relatable. I wanted people to feel as if they knew the characters personally.

Do you write with a particular readership in mind?

When I write I try to write for everyone and anyone. I think if my work were to be categorised it’d be young adult, which is my age group, but I try to write stories that any age group could understand and relate to. I think many stories, especially those with central themes of love, loss or acceptance surpass age boundaries. A twelve year-old could read it, and so could a ninety year-old. When I write, I don’t tend to keep a specific demographic in mind. I try to write for anyone and everyone.

Both of your stories are available online to download  – what prompted you to publish them and how have they been received so far?

I’d heard about the world of online publishing, and really wanted to give it a go. I feel it’s an incredible thing to be able to put a story or book online and share it with people and get instant feedback. Especially in today’s society when everyone spends a majority of their time on computers or some form of device that connects to the Internet. I think it’s important to keep up with the times, and not try to stay stuck in old ways. Getting involved in sharing things online, I felt, couldn’t be a bad idea.

What are you currently writing or working on?

Currently I’m editing, which as any writer knows is the most tedious part of this job! I’m also writing and coming up with new ideas all the time. While editing, keeping the creative juices flowing is really important for me! It helps remind me what the fun parts of doing this are, because editing can be such a turn off.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned since you first started writing at the age of ten?

My writing’s greatly changed since I started back then. It’s still changing to this day and I don’t think it will ever stop changing. The first notable change is that I’m writing original pieces now, whereas back then I enjoyed rewriting stories I’d read. I added my own characters to my favourite books, and rewrote endings to existing books and television shows. Two of the most important things I’ve learned is remember to back up your work (save, save, save!) and  just write what you want. Not everyone is going to be particularly pleased with what you’ve done, but that’s okay as long as you’re happy with what you’ve done. One of my favourite quotes is, “Don’t think, don’t hesitate curving back within yourself just create.” It sums up what every writer should keep in mind all the time!

What’s your favourite book of all time and why?

It’s really hard for me to pick favourites of anything as I’m one of the most indecisive people in the world. However, I really like Just as Long as We’re Together by Judy Blume, which I read when I was about twelve. The story and message just always stuck with me, and it may have been a bit of an inspiration for a lot of my writing.

Describe your perfect day.

Since I’m a teenager, a perfect day never usually starts until the afternoon! A perfect day for me usually involves waking up late, getting to see some friends, and finishing something. It’s always a good close to the day when you manage to complete something you’ve been doing for a while. Though, I’m still quite fond of keeping myself busy, so I also feel really good when I manage to get a lot done in a day.

Would you like to write as a career, or what do you hope to do in the future?

I would like to write as a career. I’m hoping the future will be bright, and I just look forward to hopefully getting to share work with a wider audience soon.

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If you fancy finding out more about Leah then check out her website or follow her on Twitter: @leahsymonne. Both of Leah’s stories are available on Smashwords and Jesse Ellsworth is free and well worth a read.