Marla Skidmore

Marla Skidmore. Based in a North Yorkshire Dales village. Writer of historical fiction, also short stories and poems. Author of award-winning ‘Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King.’ Also contributor of stories and poems to three published anthologies: ‘Grant Me the Carving of My Name; York Stories; A Chorus of Seven.

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How long have you been writing for?

Approximately 15 years – on and off – between career and family comittments.

What’s the average word count for the books you write and how long does it take you to write your average book?

Between 50,000 to 70,000 words. Approximately 2 years writing and researching.

What is your writing routine?

I write whenever the spirit moves me but when it does I will spend at least 6 hours a day writing and researching. The word count doesn’t matter.

How much do you research for a book before you start writing?

I research extensively before I begin writing and also during the writing process itself.

What do you find most difficult about writing a book?

I am a procrastinator – will do all sorts of things to delay actually getting down to it, but once I start to write I go on for hours and find it had to break away.

Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

Renaissance – The Fall and Rise of a King’ my debut novel, which started out as a short story that took on a life of its own and kept growing. Once published it won three reader awards.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write and why?

My present project – ‘Renegade’ the sequal to ‘Renaissance.’ This is a much larger undertaking involving a great deal of research.

Which self-publishing platform do you like the most and why?

This is difficult to answer – I am published on Amazon and IngramSpark but I had professional help with publishing.

Would you publish with a traditional publisher if they contacted you? Why?

Yes – then I could leave the publishing and marketing headaches to the professionals.

How many unfinished or unpublished works do you have?

Two – both historical novels – one has been shelved until I have completed the other which I am currently working on ‘Renegade’ – which I hope to do next year.

Do you prefer creating stand-alone books or series?

Stand-alone books.

What’s one character you wish you would have created? What do you find compelling or interesting about this character?

Emma – the way Jane Austin developes her character and shows her growing in maturity and learning the lessons of life make fascinating reading.

What book do you wish you would have written? Why?

Emma by Jane Austin – for the way the author puts early 19th century society’s standards and flaws under the microscope.

Do you find it challenging to write characters of a different gender, race, or culture than you? Do you do any special research for these characters?

No my last novel was written from the perspective of a medieval king – neither the culture of the time nor the gender caused me any difficulty. I did have to take care to create the syntax of medieval dialogue regularly throughout the story though – to give an accurate feel of the period but as I studied both English and History at university for my BA and Masters, I had no problems with this.

What does success as a writer look like for you?

To write a story that readers will enjoy and remember.

Writing can be a lonely job. Do you take any special steps to ensure you remain part of the world?

I regularly meet with writer friends; explore ancient buildings/ruins; am a keen gardener and love to visit nurseries; take long walks in the Dales with my dog and duriing the present Covid19 pandemic make sure I am in constant touch with my children and grandchildren and friends.

Constantly sitting and writing can be physically debilitating. How do you take care of yourself, physically?

Daily walks of at least one hour in the surrounding countryside and gardening.

Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?

Yes, I check out reviews every so often – happily I have only come across one really negative review. When I read it I reminded myself that as a writer I cannot please every reader out there.

What books have you read that were particularly inspiring?

Richard The Third’ by Paul Murray Kendal – a biography – a little dated now but still a fascinating study of the man written in beautiful lyrical prose; Georgette Heyer’s regency novels – especially ‘An Infamous Army’ and ‘The Spanish Bride’ – Heyer’s recreation of the battle scenes are so vivid and accurate.

Do you have a favourite author? A favourite book?

Katherine’ by Anya Seton.

Do you plot your stories in great detail before starting to write, or fly by the seat of your pants?

As most of my writing is based on historical events very often the plotting is already done but my characters response to them comes to me as I write – so a little bit of both.

Of all the characters in your stories, which is your favourite?

Father Gilbert – he started out as a minor character in ‘Renaissance’ but refused to bow out of the story.

Have you based any characters on real people? If they found out, how did they respond?

My characters are mostly real people who lived centuries ago – so they can’t respond.

What’s the best thing about being an independent author? The worst?

The best – No publisher’s deadlines to meet – I can write at my own pace. The worst – marketing/promoting my work – I hate doing it.

Do you make a living selling your books?

No – I never set out to do so.

What advice would you give to a new author?

If you have a story you went to tell – get it down on paper – then find a good editor to polish it with you.

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