As you have may have seen on the Chasing Driftwood Facebook page, it is Indie Author Week UK all this week so we are trying to highlight a few local indie authors who we think deserve the shout out! Gail Aldwin is a Dorset based author with some fantastic titles to her name. Her latest release, This Much Huxley Knows is available from the 8th of July. She kindly agreed to an interview with us – so here it is. Enjoy!
- Can you tell us a bit about yourself – introduce yourself to anyone dropping by!
I’m Gail Aldwin, a Dorset writer currently on sojourn in Cambridge. I like to get about and was volunteering at a refugee settlement in Uganda before repatriation in 2020 due to Covid-19. I’ve been writing for over a decade and am continually fascinated by the ideas that pop into my head.
2. Do you have a preferred genre to write in and if so why?
My passion is for writing contemporary fiction. A novel is the biggest undertaking of all writing projects and perhaps the most rewarding. Pandemonium a children’s picture book I wrote with illustrator Fiona Zechmeister was great fun to create and involved in-depth collaboration – a whole different process from writing a novel independently. I continue to dabble in short forms of writing alongside drafting a new work in progress, as I find this exercises different creative muscles and like cross training, helps to build the stamina to complete a long project.
3. Where do your ideas come from?
Ideas are like dandelion seeds floating in the air. You just have to reach out and grab one. Now I’m more experienced as a writer, I usually know how to develop an idea. If it’s a fleeting moment or thought, that works for poetry. Where I can develop a story arc, it might be right for short fiction. Sometimes, ideas prompt questions and considerable thought. Those are the ideas I want to explore in a novel.
4. What kind of reader do you think likes your books?
This Much Huxley Knows targets readers who enjoy an uplifting novel. As it’s set in a London suburb and is going to be published in America, anyone who is an Anglophile or likes British humour won’t be disappointed.
5. What are you working on right now?
My work in progress is called Little Swot. It’s a dual timeline novel initially told from the viewpoint of a menopausal and redundant journalist in 2010. Stephanie decides to create a podcast which looks into the disappearance of sixteen-year-old Carolyn in 1978. Through the alternating structure of the two viewpoints, readers engage with Stephanie’s investigation and also connect with Carolyn’s experience of infatuation for a teacher and exploitation. This is a new venture for me, into the realms of crime fiction.
6. What sort of books do you like to read yourself? Any favourites or recommendations?
Lots of my reading recently has supported writing friends who have been published. One of them, Paula R C Readman, has written a remarkable novel Stone Angels which has been described as a why-done-it rather than a who-done-it. The story relates to an artist who requires beautiful models to satisfy his muse.
7. Can you tell us about your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser? How many drafts do you tend to do before you are happy?
My debut novel The String Games was written as part of a PhD and this involved using the novel to experiment with different ideas, techniques and strategies linked to the research. As a result, the novel went through about fifty drafts. Since then, I’ve plotted each novel to the ninth degree to try to avoid going down fictional dead ends. I’m sure This Much Huxley Knows went through loads of drafts but certainly not as many as fifty!
8. How often do you write?
I write every day. Since lockdown, I’ve joined writers’ hour each weekday morning at eight o’clock. It’s a zoom call with hundreds of other writers who share a concentrated fifty minutes of writing. We are welcomed by hosts at the London Writer’s Salon and offered a few inspiring words before we begin. At the end, there’s a chance to debrief. It works well for me, helping to separate the week days from the weekends (when I shouldn’t be writing so much but spending time with my family).
9. Did you always want to be a writer?
I came to the idea of writing much later than most although the seed was planted in my twenties when I lived overseas and wrote letters home. As a mature student, I worked on pieces for performance and then much later, when my children were teenagers, I was able to really focus on writing fiction.
10. Can you tell us about your publishing journey so far? Why did you take the indie path?
All of my books are published by small presses and in this way, I am regarded as an indie author. I started by getting interest in my collection of flash fiction Paisley Shirt and this was followed by a competition win with the offer to have a pamphlet of poetry based on the theme of siblings published. There is a huge growth in publication of such work by small presses, so this seemed the obvious place to start. I continued on my journey with independent presses in 2019 with my debut novel The String Games where the catalyst for the story relates to a missing child. Victorina Press also published a children’s picture book Pandemonium which tells the story of a purple panda. My latest novel This Much Huxley Knows found a home with a small press in America. I’m working hard to ensure my current work in progress is commercial so Little Swot may stand a chance of gaining literary representation and publication with a more established press.
11. What do you like about being an indie author?
Working with a small press means I’m involved with every stage of the process. It’s fun collaborating with cover designers and marketing assistants to try to help the work reach a wide audience.
12. What would you say are the struggles or hard parts of being an indie author?
Getting your book noticed when published by a small press is really hard. I actually enjoy the marketing aspect but it does take a lot of time and effort to get any recognition.
13. What advice would you give to anyone thinking of taking the indie route?
Try it! I’m very proud of the work I’ve had published to date. Small presses produce quality books that look attractive and professional.
14. How do you tackle marketing your books and what has been the most successful?
I’ve arranged a blog tour for This Much Huxley Knows. I’ll let you know how successful this has been after publication day on 8 July!
15. What has been your proudest moment so far?
Completing my second half marathon in 2019 – but that has nothing to do with writing!
Thank you so much to Gail for agreeing to this interview. If you would like to find out more about her and her books, her links are below. This Much Huxley knows is released on 8th July!
About This Much Huxley Knows
I’m seven years old and I’ve never had a best mate. Trouble is, no one gets my jokes. And Breaks-it isn’t helping. Ha! You get it, don’t you? Brexit means everyone’s falling out and breaking up.
Huxley is growing up in the suburbs of London at a time of community tensions. To make matters worse, a gang of youths is targeting isolated residents. When Leonard, an elderly newcomer chats with Huxley, his parents are suspicious. But Huxley is lonely and thinks Leonard is too. Can they become friends?
Funny and compassionate, this contemporary novel for adults explores issues of belonging, friendship and what it means to trust.
‘Read this and feel young again’ – Joe Siple, author of The Five Wishes of Mr. Murray McBride
‘Moving and ultimately upbeat’ – Christopher Wakling, author of What I Did
‘A joyous novel with the wonderfully exuberant character of Huxley’ – Sara Gethin, author of Not Thomas
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