Della Galton is an accomplished novelist, short story writer and writing tutor. I caught up with Della and asked her about her writing.
Have the Covid years impacted on how you now work?
Yes, but more on my teaching than my writing. The biggest change was not being able to teach face to face during the Covid times so, although I resisted at first, I finally turned to Zoom and now I teach most of my classes on Zoom.
This has resulted in something rather wonderful. I can now teach students from all around the world. I have one student who ‘zooms in’ from South Africa. Another one from Wales. And another from Florida who’s thinking of joining. It’s fantastic. It has opened up the world. During the past few weeks, one of my students has been on a cruise with different time zones and she’s been ‘zooming in’ in the middle of the night (her time zone).
What were your biggest challenges during that time?
Travelling to the places I wanted to research was certainly a challenge. I needed to go to Chesil Beach and Weymouth to research and take photos for one of the novels in the Bluebell Cliff series. It was during a time when we were only allowed to make essential journeys. It was essential as far as I could see. I had a strict deadline for the novel. It was also an hour away from my house so I was a bit worried.
I remember my partner and I setting off nervously in the car, hoping we wouldn’t be stopped. The only evidence we could think of to prove that we were genuine were a couple of my novels from the series, so we had these in the back of the car. As it happened, we didn’t get stopped!
Your latest novel was published on March 2. Tell me about “Confetti Over Bluebell Cliff”, and was it an easy book to write?
In many ways it was a joy to write because I’m very well acquainted with the subject – which is being on a diet! “Confetti Over Bluebell Cliff” is about Ruby Lambert, who’s been asked to be Chief bridesmaid at her sister’s wedding and wants to lose two and a half stone before the big day. She joins the Bluebell Cliff Booty Busters, a swanky diet and exercise club.
I have been to hundreds of diet clubs – OK, slight exaggeration – but I’ve been to loads. None of them were actually “swanky” and I definitely couldn’t afford the kind of diet club Ruby goes to. But I know a lot about dieting so I didn’t have to do too much research.
Booty Busters, incidentally, is the kind of club where very posh, yummy calorie-counted meals are provided, and there’s an internet sensation celebrity exercise guru who makes you exercise. I don’t know if such a place even exists because I made it up, but I’ve since been told by a few people that if it doesn’t exist it should – and that I’ve identified a gap in the market.
We met once at a Warner holiday where you were involved in an Authors in Conversation session with fellow writer Lulu Taylor. As an author, are you comfortable with the limelight?
Yes, actually. I quite like being in the limelight. As long as it’s not for too long. The part I don’t like is the build-up to the event. Then I can get incredibly nervous, but once I’m chatting with an audience of people (I really like people) I’m fine.
Choose one – writing or tutoring?
That is so very tough. Because I see them as opposite sides of the same coin. Writing is insular and you’re obviously alone, but it’s fabulous when it’s going well. I’ve never been afraid of my own company. I’ve lived in my head since I was a little girl.
Tutoring is interactive and social and I love that. I also love the fact that my students are amazingly talented and many of them are published and they teach me as much as I teach them.
So, to get back to your question, I’m sorry, I can’t choose one. I can’t imagine doing one without also doing the other.
I remember first seeing your name in print when I first worked on our sister magazine, My Weekly, over 15 years ago. Has your writing style changed in that time, and do you think a writer gains confidence with success or experience?
I have to say that yes I think my style has changed recently. I got a 4-book contract in 2019 with Boldwood Publishers and another 4-book contract with them in 2021. I’ve been working with the same editor all that time and she has definitely had an impact on my style. I write in a much more visual style than I once did and that is down to Caroline. I must admit, I like my writing better this way and I can’t imagine going back.
As far as confidence is concerned, I think the answer is bit of both. Success definitely gives a writer confidence, but it’s a fragile thing that can be smashed again by one bad review. However, I think we do gain a confidence in our ability with experience.
The more practice I have at writing, the more confident I am that actually I’m not bad at stringing a sentence together. I had my first short story published in 1987. That’s thirty-five years of writing professionally. Thirty-five years of daily practice. I’m painfully aware that there are some best-selling authors out there who haven’t even been alive that long!