Novels Now is pleased to have a visit from the RONA nominated medical writer
Scarlet is a fellow Scottish based writer beavering away at parenting, the day job and writing first class Medicals for HM&B. I was very impressed by Scarlet’s two nominations in the short category, but having heard her speak at the Penrith RNA conference last year, not surprised. I asked Scarlet a few questions and here’s what she said in reply:
I first met Anne as part of the Scottish contingent at the RNA conference in London in 2010. It was my first time at a RNA conference and I was terrified. I didn’t know anyone and had travelled down on the train from Scotland by myself in the hope of meeting some like-minded individuals. Some wise person had decided to put all the Scottish ladies in one corridor and boy, did we have fun. I’ve never seen so many women consume so much wine in such a short space of time. I knew I’d found some kindred spirits!
Qu 1) Congratulations on your places in the Shortlist, Scarlet. I’m sure you’re too modest to bring it up, but it must be unusual to secure two places on the same shortlist, isn’t it?
I’d love to pretend it’s only ever happened to me, but actually one of my fellow nominees – Fiona Harper was nominated twice in 2009. I’m just so glad to see medicals on the shortlist, because the line I write for isn’t quite as popular as some of the other lines. Last year Kate Hardy was shortlisted with another medical, so it’s great to see recognition for the line that I love.
Qu 2) How long were you writing full length before you were contracted by HM&B? Do you have any insights for the aspiring HM&B writer?
I wrote my first really awful Mills and Boon when I was 17. It was called Hidden Love and got a form rejection. I didn’t start writing again until 2009. I joined the New Writers Scheme via the RNA and got myself two critique partners via the Harlequin boards. The story I sold was my second attempt at the New Writers Scheme, and by that point I’d been writing for 18 months. (My first attempt has since been rewritten and is released in February – An Inescapable Temptation a.k.a. the cruise ship story!)
Qu 3) How has your life changed since you were contracted to write a specific number of novels a year, rather than writing as and when?
I’m fairly disiplined and write 1000 words every day – usually at lunch time. If I keep doing that it keeps me on track. I’m not the type of girl to pull an all-nighter to meet a deadline. So far, I’ve always submitted my contracted books early. 1000 words isn’t actually that much and it’s manageable along with working fulltime and having two sons who have actitivities on every night of the week. I enjoy writing, I don’t think I’ll be able to manage any more than 4 books a year in amongst other things, so I’m quite happy crawling along here like a tortoise!
Qu 4) Is it more or less fraught to be under contract? Do the ideas flow, or does the deadline freeze?
I haven’t had brain freeze yet. And if I get it now I’ll blame you!! I always know what the next story is going to be. Sometimes I get a little stuck around the middle. I always know how my story will start and how it will end. How I get there is sometimes a little fuzzy. If I’m stuck I brainstorm with my critique partner Rachael. If she gives me a few sentences or thoughts that’s all I need. I also pitch things back and forth to my editor Carly. She always knows the general story idea and looks at a partial, giving me a few suggestions, before I complete the full book.
Qu 5) Has your new career impacted on relations with your colleagues in the day job? Do they worry about appearing, heavily disguised of course, in the next opus? (As fellow writers, we all know individuals are unlikely to be sufficiently interesting to secure imortality in our prose, but it is a preoccupation some encounter. )
The trouble with working in the health service is that everyone thinks they should be in your next book. And claiming all the profits! My colleagues are supportive and also know their secrets are safe with me! I actually have a much more vivid imagination, their stories are tame in comparison to what I put in my books. I’ve also yet to meet a George Clooney or Patrick Dempsey in my workplace – that’s why I write fiction!
Thank you so much for sharing these insights, Scarlet. Fingers still crossed until the results.
Scarlet’s blog is here http://rosieringlet.blogspot.co.uk/
Scarlet’s nominated books are Her Christmas Eve Diamond and From West Wing to Maternity Wing
Fantastic interview ladies. The RNA is wonderful isn’t it? I’ve had so much support there. It’s lovely to be part of such an inclusive, caring community. Congratulations on your nominations Scarlet and good luck!
Thanks for dropping in, Christy. Yes, I’ve had a lot of support from the RNA. Looking forward to Sheffield in July.
Many thanks christy. Really looking forward to Sheffield, just trying to work how to get there – right now the train to Sheffield takes longer than the train to London!
Pleased to meet you Scarlet and many congratulations on being nominated for TWO books on the Rona Awards. I do not write for HM&B but I know a few of their authors and we lost two Scottish M&B medicals last year with Margaret Gray and Magaret McDonagh. Both wrote books in the Penhally series. It is a competitve world and you are doing well so long may you continue. Good luck.
Hi Gwen, nice of you to comment. There have been several good HM&B writers in Scotland as you say. Must be something in the air. They were my mother’s favourite – she had been a nurse.
Hi Gwen, yes last year was a sad year. I knew both Maggie and Margaret, we also lost another author Leonie Knight. Tough times. I’m really lucky that the medical writers are such a supportive bunch x
Great interview, Anne and Scarlet – enjoyed meeting you at Penrith last summer, Scarlet, and was impressed by your love of red. Even more impresssed with your output considering you also have a day job and family. Well done and the best of luck in the awards!
Hi Rosemary, thanks for dropping by. I’m always in awe of your output, too. Anne
Thanks rosemary. Penrith was a fabulous conference, really enjoyed it. Your own output is pretty impressive not to mention your Internet presence!
Great interview, Anne and Scarlet. I enjoyed our kitchen party at Penrith. All best for the awards.
Seems to have been an interesting kitchen, Joan, but then they all were. Thanks for dropping by. Anne