I was lucky enough to speak with Daisy White, a YA fiction writer, blogger and multi-award-winning consultant. We talked influences, inspirations, methods, routines and more. Who doesn’t like a peek into the life of a writer?
Sam Howell: So let’s get the ball rolling with a little bit about yourself. You’re based in Brighton and it seems to be where a lot of your writing is set. Was Brighton always home?
Daisy White: Nice to meet you! I was born in Brighton, but have moved around a bit. I spent 12 years as cabin crew travelling the world, before launching my pop-up bookshop after the birth of my second child. Having always been scribbling down stories it seemed a good time to find out if I could write.
Unfortunately I didn’t sign that 6 figure publishing deal straight off (lol), but I have worked my way up via self-publishing, to small press, to my 4 book deal with Joffe Books. I work hard, and try to grab any opportunity to learn and get critique. Bloggers are invaluable, and I often change various aspects of my characters/books based on their feedback.
I’m back living near Brighton with my family now. The Ruby Baker novels have been in my head for a long time, and I actually entered book one (The Killing Stone) into a novel writing competition before Christmas. I was thrilled to be long-listed, and when I had finished editing sent the manuscript off to a couple of publishers.
My family have lived in Brighton for a couple of generations, so I was able to get first hand accounts of life as a teenager in the 1960’s. All the characters in the Ruby Baker novels are fictional, and whilst the landmark places are all ones which did/do exist, it is a work of fiction so some place names have been changed.
SH: Nice to meet you too! You mention self-publishing as a stepping stone. It’s something I’ve been more interested in myself recently. I think a lot of new writers start with the assumption that the only good work out there is going to be ‘properly’ published by the so-called Old Guard publishing companies. (I know that’s the way I used to see it, at least.) While it would be wonderful to have the support of an established publisher with money available for marketing, promotion, etc., it’s clear to see (as I’m sure you know) that doing it yourself can also work. Would you say there are benefits to self-publishing? And do you have any tips for aspiring writers who might be thinking of self-publishing themselves?
DW: Self-publishing can work very well, especially if you have a good product to put out there. It can be part of a learning journey, or the ultimate goal. You can self-publish for free via KDP and Createspace, but there are also a huge number of companies you can outsource the editing/proofreading/cover design/marketing to if you like. Editing is so important! A really good self-publishing company is;
Don’t get caught by a vanity publisher! A vanity publisher will hide behind the outward appearance of a traditional publisher, but will ask you for money to get your book published at a later date.
SH: Some good advice. Moving on from publishing, describe your typical writing routine. When inspiration hits, do you reach for the laptop, or for pen and paper? What are your tools of choice and what is your usual writing process? Paint the picture of a typical afternoon’s writing in Brighton.
DW: Laptop. I may scribble notes when I’m out and about but I like to get things down on the computer in case I lose them! Writing has to fit around meetings, looking after my kids, marketing, research, social media etc so I work on a 2,000 per day word count when I’m writing a novel. I can’t be picky about where and when so I am very disciplined with getting my writing in. Sometimes I’ll be writing the next book, and the editing will come back from the publisher on the previous one, or I might have some PR to do. Radio and TV interviews are a great way to promote your brand.
SH: You’re clearly a busy lady. Do you find enough time to relax and switch off with all the parenting, writing, editing and promoting going on? What’s your favourite way to unwind?
DW: Trail running!
SH: A good, healthy way to clear the head! I’m off this weekend for a stay in Ferring in West Sussex and I’m looking forward to the restorative effects of the coast!
I thought I might ask some quick-fire questions to round things up…
Coffee or tea? Black or white?
DW: Green tea or chai latte.
SH: Favourite meal?
DW: Fish and chips (I’m a Brighton girl lol).
SH: What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
DW: Wake up.
SH: What’s the last thing you do before bed?
DW: Finish the sentence.
SH: If you could change one thing about your writing career to date, what would it be?
DW: Well it would have been lovely to be signed by an agent after my first book, but I’m pretty realistic about achievements and thrilled to have just signed my four book deal!
SH: If you wanted to and could live in any foreign country, which would it be, and why?
DW: Bermuda. Mark Twain misquote: “You go to Heaven and I’ll stay in Bermuda.” The people, the food, the island. Love.
SH: You’re stranded on a small island. What 5 items would you want?
DW: Pen, paper, phone, picnic hamper, tent.
SH: Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
DW: Hopefully still healthy, happy and writing for a living!
SH: Who’s your favourite writer, dead or alive?
DW: Tricky. I admire so many. Peter James, Emily Barr and James Patterson.
SH: What book has been the greatest influence or inspiration recently or in the past?
DW: I love Shakespeare plays. I inherited a massive old book complete with illustrations and I dip in and out for the drama and beautiful language.
SH: How would you describe yourself in 5 words?
DW: Crazy, energetic, loyal, stubborn, butt-kicking.
SH: Finally: Do you have any parting words for new writers?
DW: Read everything you can, and be aware that there are so many paths for your writing. Don’t get caught up in the scrabble for publication and agents if you don’t want to. Enjoy it and if you do want to publish, fight for it!
SH: Anything else?
DW: The Killing Stone is book one of the Ruby Baker crime series and out later this year 😉
SH: Thanks, Daisy.
Follow Daisy White on Twitter @DaisyWhite1922