Writer Of The Week: Tess Niland Kimber

writer of the week

Abbie talks to Writer Of The Week Tess Niland Kimber about her writing and the inspiration behind her latest story.

You can read Tess’s story, “Mothering Heights” in our weekly issue out on Wednesday.

“Mothering Heights” is a lovely story about a woman who is wary of giving up the life she loves as a foster mother. What inspired you to write it?

I’m very lucky to sometimes be asked to write stories around illustration.

“The People’s Friend” sent a gorgeous picture to me and asked me to write a story about the woman in the drawing.

I always wait until I’m ready to write before I look at the illustration and then I find a story idea will usually come to me straight away.

This super picture instantly gave me the idea for “Mothering Heights” and the inspiration for the character came from a lovely friend who has been an amazing foster mum to her son.

As a fulltime writer, you’re living the dream! What challenges did you face to get to where you are today?

I have always loved writing but I didn’t realise it would be so hard to become established.

When I first started writing I targeted one particular magazine, reading every story in every issue and checking out the adverts and letters page for insight into their readers. Then I sent off the story.

I subbed about twenty pieces to that magazine before my first acceptance.

But I have to say the excitement of hearing I finally had a story being published was well worth the wait.

How do you balance your writing with everyday life? Do you write every day or write when you can?

I have three children who all still live at home. My eldest are twins with cerebral palsy so I always write around their needs.

I’ve often written in the car while they were having therapy or even in hospital waiting rooms.

Once when my son came round from an operation the nurse asked if his mum was waiting for him.

He said I was, so she asked if I was the woman with the laptop.

He replied, “Oh yes, that’ll definitely be my mum!”

I write every day. I get up early when the house is quiet and then write again in the afternoons before I cook the evening meal. I then write again in the evening.

I don’t really like days when I don’t manage to write something.

Do you only write short stories or do you enjoy other styles too?

I love writing short stories and have sold almost 300 now but I also enjoy writing serials which gives me the chance to work with an editor and learn more about the craft of writing.

I’ve also sold features in the past and I had a romantic novel published a while ago.

Recently I’ve finished writing a 100,000 word commercial women’s fiction novel called “The Parents” which I’ve sent out to agents.

Notebook and pencil or laptop? Kitchen table or study? Blank wall or inspiring view?

Definitely laptop. I have two in case one breaks down.

But I always have a notebook with me to jot down ideas, plots and I use ledgers for submissions.

I have about 50 stories submitted at any one time so I need a good system to keep track of them.

We are about to move, and I can’t wait as it will give me a study again but for now I write at the kitchen table which has a great view over the garden.

P.S., What’s your one top tip for an aspiring Writer Of The Week?

I have two tips. If you really want to do this, don’t let anyone put you off.

The other tip is to learn to edit.

Read your work aloud as the ear is a better editor than the eye.

If when you read through your work you feel it’s not quite right, but an editor might not notice, it needs another edit!

An editor will always spot when a story isn’t right.

Work on it until it feels as good as you can possibly make it.

Don’t give anyone a reason to reject your story.

For more from our Writer Of The Week series, click the tag below.

To subscribe to “The People’s Friend”, click here.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.