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Interview with Joanna Nadin

Our How To Get Published conference with the charity Literature Works is on the horizon and in the run up to the event, Literature Works have interviewed our brilliant line up of speakers to give you a taste of the insider information they'll be sharing.

Next up is acclaimed children's and YA author Joanna Nadin talking about the importance of grabbing your readers from the off. 

You’ll be speaking on ‘first chapters and immersing readers into your written world’ at the ‘How to Get Published’ conference. In light of today’s publishing market, how does the construction of that first chapter impact on the way you approach novels and does your writing process always start with the first chapter?

The first chapter has a specific job to do. Not only does it have to grab readers and pull them into the world so they want to stay there, but it has to set up that world, introduce your protagonist and possibly a whole cast of characters, set the tone of the book, and throw something big into the mix – the inciting incident – that will rock this ‘normal’ and set your protagonist off on their journey. While my process starts with months spent on notes and planning out chapter by chapter, when it comes to writing up I always start with the opening and work chronologically from there. That doesn’t mean it won’t get rewritten though, or even culled altogether.

 Publishing has traditionally been seen as ‘London based’. We’re noticing more events and opportunities based around the process of getting published are happening outside of London. What would you say is the major benefit of attending such events for writers based in the South West as compared to say online resources on the subject?

The online writing community and online resources are indispensable, whatever stage you are at. Writing is a lonely job at times, and being in touch, even via social media, is a lifeline. But nothing compares with being able to meet up ‘in real life’, and learn live. You get to ask questions, you get to benefit from others’ opinions and ideas, and you get to widen your circle of contacts and friends further.

Why do you think it’s important to have writers talking about their own pathways and careers at events like How to Get Published – what it is that writers can offer that is different from the advice of editors and agents?

Every writer’s path to publication is different. And while editors and agent see that at close hand for a large part of the journey, they aren’t there in the early days, and they can’t see just how far each book has travelled on its journey, as it spends a large part of that time inside your head, not on the page.

What would you say is the top misconception people have about the process of getting published?

That all that matters is one book. Being a writer means, ideally, you will publish many novels over the years. So don’t rest your hope on a single story, whether that’s selling to a publisher in the first place, or selling thousands of copies. Careers take time to build, so stock up on ideas and accept you will learn and improve on the job.

Can you give us a taster of one of the tips you’ll be sharing on the day?

I think you’ve already had a few!

What’s coming up next for you?

My first adult novel – The Queen of Bloody Everything – is out with Macmillan in February, a new teen diary – Girl Thursday – comes out with Stripes in April, and a new Middle Grade novel – Where Do You Go, Birdy Jones? – will be published by Orion in June.  Alongside publicity for these I’ll be teaching on the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, and writing my second adult novel.

 Thanks Joanna!

This interview first featured on the Literature Works website here. How To Get Published takes place on Saturday 2nd December at Plymouth University in the Portland Square Building. 

Book your place now, using the code SOUTHWEST30 at the checkout to save yourself £30 off the ticket price!