Writer Of The Week Vanda’s sparkling short story, “In Tandem”, is in this week’s issue of the “Friend”.
Tell us about the inspiration behind this story — especially the character of Lavinia!
The character of Lavinia was sparked off by a comment I once overheard, which then became the first line of the story.
I love writing about older people who do unexpected things because they don’t care what other people think. People who are feisty, fun-loving and a little bit eccentric.
From that one line, Lavinia’s character sprang into life with a mind of its own. Coupling her randomly with a bicycle sowed the seed of the story.
How did you get started writing for the “Friend”?
The first story I had published in the “Friend” was back in 2001, when I first started writing for the magazine market.
I had a break from writing for a while, but was lucky enough to be accepted again in 2017. I’ve always enjoyed writing for the “Friend”, as the magazine contains such heart-warming stories about real people.
It was often around when I was growing up, which makes it extra special to have stories published in it.
Advent isn’t far off. Do you ever set your stories in a particular time or season?
Yes, I do enjoy writing seasonal stories. The fact that they are set at a particular time of year, usually around a certain festival, gives the story a focus before you even begin. And there’s something special about having a story set in the here and now.
But it needs to be written well in advance, and when you might not be in the mood.
Having to imagine cold and frosty mornings with deep snow when it’s actually steaming hot outside is sometimes difficult!
Who do you admire, in the writing world?
I am a particular fan of Maeve Binchy’s short stories, which are always about people and relationships.
I’ve never felt inclined to write for any other media, but who knows what the next chapter might bring.
How do you go about writing a “Friend” story?
A story usually takes a couple of weeks from beginning to end.
Following an initial few days when the idea simmers in my mind, I write down all I can in one go, straight onto the computer.
This might take a couple of hours. Then follows the editing, printing and shifting things around. I always re-read several times, and wait a few days before actually sending it off.
I can only work on one story at a time unless it’s at the final stage, then I’m waiting for more inspiration and could start another.
Of course it used to upset me when a story wasn’t successful, but now I realise it’s the way it is. And as long as I’ve enjoyed the process of writing it, then it’s never a real failure at all.
Notebook and pencil, or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?
I always write on my PC in my study, with eyes glued to the screen while the story plays itself out in my mind like a film. So blank wall is fine.
And a P.S.- what’s your top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?
When you feel inspired with a story, just sit down and write to get as much of the story out as you can.
It’s amazing how much work our subconscious minds do without us realising. And the story will often write itself.
Trust the process and don’t try to make it perfect. There’s plenty of time for tidying and editing later.
Above all enjoy the writing.
For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.
Click here for writing advice from the “Friend” Fiction team.