It is my greatest pleasure to welcome our all time favorite People’s Friend writer – Teresa Ashby to my blog.
For quite a few years, I’ve been following Teresa’s stories, and I always used to think, ‘I’m sure she’s a bit like me,’ or does she even exist? Now, through following Teresa’s blog, it’s lovely to know more about the person behind all the wonderful stories, and having her as a guest is a great moment for me and my blog. Over to Teresa…
Teresa. I’m very happy to be here at your lovely, happy, positive blog, Susan. I think this is one place we’re always guaranteed a smile – thank you for inviting me.
S/ I’ve been reading and enjoying your stories for a long time. Did you always plan to be a short story writer?
T/ Thank you, you say the nicest things. I didn’t set out to be a short story writer at all, although I don’t know why because I always loved reading them. I wanted to write novels, but once I started writing short stories, it became almost an obsession and I loved it!
S/ What was the title of the first story you had accepted by the ‘People’s Friend,’ and how did you celebrate?
T/ My first story in the People’s Friend was called “Happy Father’s Day” and that was in 1991. My son, who had just turned four, used to catch the mail as it came through the letterbox and sometimes our post lady would grab his hand and make him giggle. So we were already laughing when he brought me the letters. Well, I was over the moon when I realised I’d got an acceptance and I got straight on the phone to my mum. My husband arrived home from work that evening with a bottle of wine and we had a glass or three to celebrate.
S/ I like that you often have either a dog or cat, also, a loving family at the heart of some of your stories. Now, it’s great to know you through your blog and twitter/face-book etc. How do you fit the story writing into your busy day?
T/ If I can’t get to the computer, then I write in a notebook. But I find it really hard to get started if there’s something else that needs doing. I don’t have any sort of writing routine these days. But dogs, cats, family – they’re all brilliant for inspiration!
S/ How long does it take for you to get a story exactly how you want it, ready for sending to People’s Friend?
T/ The last story I wrote for the People’s Friend took me almost two weeks before I felt I’d got it right and it was nothing like the original by the time I’d finished twiddling. Sometimes I can write a story over a couple of days if I’m lucky! So it varies from one story to the next.
S/ What advice would you give, to someone like me, who feels as if they’re close to getting an acceptance with People’s Friend, but still waiting for that first one?
T/ I did a blog post a few years ago called Recognise Your Reader because I think there is a misconception about People’s Friend readers. http://teresaashby.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/recognise-your-reader.html
My advice would be to write from the heart, use your own experiences and emotions and focus on your main characters. Use your feelings to describe their feelings. Have something change by the end of the story so that your reader feels they’ve gone on a journey with your main character and reached a satisfying conclusion. Respect your reader and of course most importantly, read the magazine – I can’t stress that enough. And if you’re close to getting an acceptance, just keep trying and take note of any advice or comments.
S/ How far in advance would you send a seasonal story, like Christmas for example?
T/ I think with the Friend, it’s a good idea to be thinking about six months in advance. It can help focus your mind and give you a theme if you’re writing for a particular date. But if you have say a Christmas story idea at Christmas, then get it written up!
S/ Thank you Teresa, for taking time to pop over.
T/ Thank you for having me! It’s been lovely!
Teresa’s Blog. http://www.teresaashby.blogspot.com
Look out for another favorite ‘Friend’ writer around the middle of next month.