Our Writer Of The Week this week is Sharon Newell, whose first story for the “Friend” is published in our latest issue.
“Apples For Aaron”, published in our November 2 issue, is your first story for “The People’s Friend”. How did it feel to hear that your story had been successful? Had you been submitting material for long?
I was delighted and very excited! I had sent two stories to the magazine and it was one of them.
Have you always written stories?
Yes, although I started out as a journalist. I’ve been publishing children’s books for a while now, as Sharon Gosling. I also write non-fiction books about television and film.
What inspired this particular story, Sharon? It’s about autism, a sensitive subject.
My mum worked with autistic children when I was growing up, so I maybe had more awareness of what it was like to both have and live with autism.
“Apples For Aaron” was partly inspired by a friend’s son, partly by a memory of watching my grandfather collect and store apples for winter when I was very young.
Who are your own favourite authors and what do you admire about them?
Barbara Kingsolver is a big favourite. I love how she writes women. I also love Frances Hardinge’s children’s fiction, which is so completely different to anything else out there. There are many others too — Stephen King, Willy Vlautin, Will Dean, Jane Austen . . .
Did anyone particularly inspire your writing?
I couldn’t do what I do without the support of my husband, Adam. It’s not an assured or easy way to make a living, but he has always been adamant that I have the time and space I need to write.
Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
My desk is in one corner of the living room of our very small cottage.
It used to face a blank wall, but I’ve recently had a bookcase built over it, which is full already.
On the other wall is usually a large map to do with whatever book I’m working on at the moment (right now it’s a 1775 map of Cumberland). And a laptop!
And a P.S. – what’s your top tip for aspiring writers?
Reading is almost more important that writing. Read as much as you can, and as widely as you can. It will teach you how to write.
For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.
Has Sharon’s advice inspired you to write? Click here for our hints, tips and tricks to help you get started.