Ian Wilfred describes his perfect day as going for a walk on the beach with his dog, coming back and enjoying a lovely hot coffee and then writing.
Swap the dog for Freya and coffee for a hot chocolate and Ian and I are on the same page but we also have something else in common – having both adopted Norfolk as our home county.
Ian is the author of three books (so far), after publishing his debut in 2013 and then two more last year. I was so pleased when he agreed to be my first Behind The Book interviewee of 2018.
I hope you enjoy his answers as much as I did.
Can we begin by talking about when you first started writing? Have you written since you were a child or is it a more recent discovery?
My first serious writing started in 2012 and led to me publishing Putting Right The Past in 2013. It all came about as I gave up work to become my dad’s full time carer and, with a lot of time on my hands, I thought this is the perfect time to get started. I had always written little bits but no one had ever seen any of it.
You mention you’re a fan of Mills and Boon. I also love them and think they are totally underrated (as a lot of romantic fiction is). What do you like about them?
Oh yes, I’ve always loved Mills and Boon, their books seem to have been in my life as long as I can remember. Back in November I was very lucky to have lunch with the Norfolk chapter of The Romantic Novelist Association (RNA) and at the lunch were two Mills and Boon authors who between them have written 200 books – I was a little star struck. Also, I’m really looking forward to seeing the new look Mills and Boon as 2018 is the year they are having a big makeover. Exciting times ahead, I think.
Was it Mills and Boon that inspired you to write romance/women’s fiction?
I don’t know if it was Mills and Boon that influenced me but what I write is sort of all I know. I don’t think I could write in any other genre.
I’ve been trying to hunt down statistics for what proportion of women’s fiction writers are men these days but they seem to vary – although they are all on the small side. Were you ever put off by the fact that so few men seem to write that genre – at least under their own names?
In the beginning people thought it a bit strange but there are more and more of us out there now. I know of quite a few that write under female names or just their initials but I’ve stuck to Ian.
As you’ve said, you published your debut, Putting Right The Past, in 2013. What was that like? It seems to have been very well received, as all your books have, what did it mean to have people connect with your writing?
I have learnt so much since Putting Right The Past and some things I would change knowing what I know now but not the actual story. The feed back was lovely, I enjoyed the contact on Twitter and the emails with the readers, bloggers and other authors.
Last year you published two more books, The Little Terrace of Friendships and A Secret Visitor To Saltmarsh Quay. Was it an easier process?
After my dad died we moved from the Midlands to Norfolk. For the first few years, our lives were taken up with getting jobs, decorating, gardening and not forgetting a lot of time on the beach with a new puppy but a few things happened in the family and I felt I needed to return to my little world of writing. I first re-read loads of little projects I had started and that’s when The Little Terrace Of Friendships was born. Everything about that book coming together was so lovely from writing it to meeting Rebecca Emin at Gingersnap Books who organised and formatted it, Nancy Callegari who edited it, Maureen Vincent-Northam, proofreader, and working with the very talented Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics on the cover. The icing on the cake was having it in the top 30 Amazon holiday chart for several months. It was such a happy time. I feel really blessed and I was so lucky to be able to work with these fabulous ladies again on my last book, A Secret Visitor To Saltmarsh Quay
Do you ever miss any of your characters? They take up such a big chunk of brain space and then suddenly they are gone, it must be like losing a friend in a way.
This is such a great question, Tara, I’ve never been asked this before and I’ve given it a lot of thought. One of the characters in Putting Right The Past was a women whose husband got his comeuppance for lying cheating and being a horrible individual but, as she wasn’t one of the main people in the book, we really didn’t know where her life could go. Perhaps one day I should return to her story and give her a happy ending but I find once I start writing something new I get involved with the new characters and they take over your life in a big way.
Can you tell us what you’re working on at the moment?
My next project (which at this point has three titles, not sure which one I like the most) is off to the lovely Nancy very soon. It is set in Norfolk and again with another fabulous female over 40 called Caroline whose husband has a secret and this leads to her starting a new and exciting life without him.
Do you have any writing tips to share please?
Me give writing tips? I’m the one always asking authors for their tips and they are so helpful and generous with their advice. The best bit of advice I have been given over and over again is keep writing everyday – even if it’s just a couple hundred words. I work full time so it’s not easy. I manage to write something about five days a week; anything from two hundred to three thousand words. I never go back I just plough through until I write THE END and that’s when the hard work for me starts – back at page one rewriting, cutting, adding, getting rid of characters that don’t need to be there and adding new ones doing this over and over again until I’m happy with it.
Thank you very much to Ian for kicking off the 2018 series of Behind The Book, I love how modest he is – even with three very well received books under his belt. If you’d like to know more about him you can chat via Twitter or check out his page on Amazon here.
I’ve got some more fabulous authors lined up for this year so please pop back.