Interview with Author Hazel Walshaw – Ramona Portelli Blog

Interview with Author Hazel Walshaw

Author Hazel Walshaw came to writing only recently and it all started with a tarot reading and coaching session she had in March 2019. She already had an idea for a story for children, but hadn’t done more than write a paragraph and jot some ideas down. Then during the reading, they ended up discussing this creative project that wanted to be born and it was as if she was given permission to write it – and  became a writer.

Hazel wrote her book within three months, but did not publish it straight away, as she was holding out for a Literary Agent and had an idea for another book she wanted to write.

She had been a wedding planner for over a decade, but had ‘retired’ in 2017.  Hazel decided, that with her new writing skills and passion, she would put her wedding planning knowledge into a book to help couples plan their wedding. That knowledge was helping no one being stuck in her head. So, another four months later she had written, edited and self-published her first book – Planning a Wedding the Wedding Planner Way – in November 2019.

She then went back to writing children’s books and started writing a story for older children and exploring YA fiction too.

Hazel lives in Leeds, UK, with her husband, three boys, and three-legged husky.

Tell me more about your latest book  

Erika and the Skeleton Staff is a book for 7 to 9 year olds. It is a chapter book with amazing illustrations by Ruksandra Şerbănoiu. It is set in a school on a snow day, where Erika has heard rumours of a skeleton staff when the teachers can’t get to school. Erika sets out to discover if they are real skeletons and makes a creepy discovery. It’s a slightly spooky but ultimately humorous romp where Erika discovers that the skeleton staff are not what she expected. A lot of fun can be had when you combine skeletons with a snow day!

What was the most challenging aspect of writing this book?

Finding the time to write is usually the most challenging aspect as I work almost full time and have a house full of kids, so I only have small pockets of time to write. And my house can get very noisy!

What is your normal procedure to get your books published?

For the self-published books I made sure the manuscripts were professionally edited and proofread. It’s important to make sure they look good with no errors. I spent a lot of time on the cover designs. I used Blurb to publish the books, with Ingram as the distributor. I will be on the search for an Agent for my next book though as it would be good to have the support of an industry professional.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

In a way, because I don’t know where the ideas come from! It’s like the words are downloaded into my head. I get a lot of ‘aha’ moments which take me by surprise and enhance the story just when I was stuck and wondering what to do. Sometimes, if I need a particular scene I either meditate or go for a walk and then it all becomes clear. So yes, in a way it is a spiritual practice as it is my connection to something beyond me.

How many books have you written so far?

I’ve published two book – Planning a Wedding the Wedding Planner Way (November 2019), based on my decade plus experience as a wedding planner in Yorkshire, UK.

Erika and the Skeleton Staff (July 2020) – a middle grade book.

I also have a second Middle Grade book aimed at 10-12 year old girls, called The Saffron Princess, which I have just finished but as yet unpublished.

What’s the best way to market your books?

I have a website and Facebook page. I do try Facebook ads. For children’s books it’s good to do school visits, although, with Coronavirus, schools are not allowing visitors so that will have to wait. Word of mouth is great, and I hope that people who read my books will tell other people about them and leave reviews. Reviews are so important for an author, as it establishes quality and helps the author get seen on sites such as Amazon.

How hard or easy is it to establish and maintain a career in writing?

I think it is very hard for authors to establish a career. The children’s literary world seems to be dominated by celebrity authors and it can be hard to be seen or stand out. You need to write the perfect book that captures the imagination and be great at marketing. To be a successful author you need to treat it as a business and be a prolific writer. It’s hard getting started when fitting it in around a day job and family. I would love to be an established author though. I think once you have that audience and fan base it’s then up to you to maintain it by continuing to write books for your fans. But getting started is tough, especially when there are other commitments.

What is your advice for aspiring writers?

Don’t worry about the state of your first draft. You can’t do any editing and improving until you get your basic story written. I used to worry too much about getting the perfect sentence written. Now I write the bulk of the book, then go back to fill in the gaps, add more back story or explanations, expand scenes etc. My second draft usually adds about 25% to the word count. Then I edit. I advise hiring a developmental editor once you think you can do no more. My ones were amazing, and they are great at finding inconsistencies, or asking questions where something wasn’t clear in the text.

And get a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook (or Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook). They have everything you need to help you navigate writing and publishing a book, whether traditional or self-published.

Visit Author Hazel Walshaw book links:-
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