We are delighted to chat to our debut author Ann-Marie McNicholas whose story “A Problem Halved” is in this week’s issue.
Tell us about the inspiration behind “A Problem Halved”.
As a teacher, I get a lot of inspiration from young people and how they view and make sense of the world. I thought it would be interesting to explore their point of view within the context of dealing with family issues.
What is your writing background?
I have loved writing for almost as long as I can remember. I have notebooks full of stories and poems written from the age of around eleven or twelve, and now my laptop has lots of stories, plot outlines and chapters of unfinished books! It is my favourite hobby. When I retired from my full-time job as a specialist teacher a few years ago, I began to commit more time to writing. I have written two non-fiction educational books for which I was lucky to receive a publishing contract.
What made you send a story into the “Friend”?
I love reading as well as writing fictional stories, and I remember finding and devouring a “People’s Friend” Annual at my grandma’s when I was in my early teens. I have been a fan ever since. I just love the feel-good nature of the magazine and the stories and have had a longstanding ambition to write for the magazine. Over the years, I have submitted a few stories to the “Friend” that didn’t quite make the grade!
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Gosh, there are so many! I love the writing of Dorothy Koomson and also Maggie O’Farrell. Marian Keyes is deliciously funny. Other favourite authors include Ian McEwan and Sebastian Faulks. Patricia Cornwell has to be my favourite crime fiction writer.
What are your future writing plans?
I would love to write more stories for the “Friend”, I am currently working on another educational book and I am determined to complete one of my many unfinished novels!
What advice would you give someone trying to get their story published?
My advice would be to read and read, to get the feel for your audience. Also, study your publisher’s guidelines carefully. Finally, do not give up!
Thank you, Ann-Marie!