Writing plays for local performances gave Cheryl Rees-Price, my guest today, the confidence to write her first novel. Cheryl also loves walking and gardening (two hobbies I share), which she claims free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters. (I agree Cheryl – and apologies for the pun in the headline…). Welcome to my blog.
Tell me, Cheryl, how long have you been writing?
About fifteen years. I started out writing poetry and later short stories, which I made up for my daughters when they were young. At the time I didn’t have the confidence to share my work. It was writing a play for a local church that gave me the impetus to write my first book.
So how and when did you get published?
It was a long road. When I was finally ready to show my work to the world it was at a time when publishers only accepted postal submissions, a synopsis and the first three chapters. The guidelines quite often stated no simultaneous submissions which meant waiting up to three months for a reply and sending it out again. I had some encouraging letters along the way but it was a struggle at times to keep my optimism. The growth of e-books and electronic submissions brought about renewed hope and more opportunities. In 2012 I got my first contract from an American publisher, finally I felt I could call myself a writer but I still longed to fulfil my ambition to be published in the UK. My dream was realised in April 2015 when I received a contract from Accent Press for the first two books in the Winter Meadows Series.
What do you love about writing? Or find difficult?
I love creating characters and getting lost in their story. They often take on a life of their own and dictate the direction of the story. I try to put myself in the characters’ minds, even the not so likable ones. A little scary sometimes! The scenes run through my mind like a film and I can be surrounded by people or catching up on housework and be lost in another world. I love getting reviews, it makes all the hours of rewrites and editing worthwhile when someone compliments your work.
I don’t think there is an aspect of writing that I dislike. Some of the work can be tedious, like reading the same thing over and over again to check for errors, but this is an essential part of the process. It can be hard at times to let the manuscript go, there is always that worry that it could be better.
Do you have a favourite place for writing?
My favourite writing spot is my kitchen, it is the hub of activity in my house and I’ve become skilled at tuning out background noise during the evening. A couple of steps to the kettle and biscuit barrel is an added bonus.
I always write the first draft on paper, which means I’m free to write anywhere and it’s convenient when I take a break from work to scribble a few pages. My notebook is my constant companion.
Goodness. Paper. I remember that! My first book was drafted on paper too (but then, it was 1979!). Just teasing – a number of best-selling novelists write longhand as well. So what’s occupying your notebook at the moment?
I’m working on the third book in the Winter Meadows series. It’s the most challenging so far. It’s been a great opportunity to develop the characters and their back stories but the subject matter is darker than the first two books.
Sounds good, Cheryl! I look forward to reading it in due course. Thanks for being my guest today.
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services, and also manages to find time to indulge her passion for writing.
The Silent Quarry is the first in the DI Winter Meadows series by Cheryl Rees-Price.
In 1987 a quiet Welsh village was devastated by a brutal attack on two schoolgirls, Bethan Hopkins and Gwen Collier. Only Gwen survived, with horrific injuries and no memory of the attack. The killer was never caught.
Now, nearly thirty years later, Gwen has gone missing and DI Winter Meadows is assigned to the case. Charismatic and intuitive, he has an uncanny gift for finding the truth. But in this small and close-knit community, the past is never far away, and those who have secrets will go to any lengths to keep them. Tensions run high as old feelings and accusations are stirred. And DI Meadows has to battle his own demons as he uncovers a truth he wished had stayed in the past …