deborah wright
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Magical author of the romantic comedies The Rebel Fairy and Olivia's Bliss, talks book deals, courgettes and transcendental meditation.

What inspires you to write?
Inspiration is not a problem. My problem is having too many ideas (literally, I have 100s of books planned out) which gush into my head on a daily basis. This is actually more of a curse than a blessing; I find myself getting distracted easily and it takes real discipline to persevere with one book and do it properly.

How long does it take you to write a novel?
‘The Rebel Fairy’ took 8 months…but I have another novel I’m working on, a literary crime novel, that has taken 2 years so far and I only have 30 pages I am (quite) happy with. It really depends on deadlines & the genre I’m working in. If I’m writing a commercial novel, I hammer it out happily; if I’m writing a literary novel I sit and agonise for hours over each sentence, chipping away at words, trying to sculpture something exquisite.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?
I would write twice as many books if I wasn’t on the internet. I get up at eight and surf for an hour. Then I practise my Transcendental Meditation, which makes me feel fresh and full of beans. I write till lunch. If I’m in Sutton, I will go to Starbucks for lunch; if I’m up North I will attempt to cook something involving courgettes that will invariably end up an unappetising green mush. I write in the afternoons and sometimes evenings too.

Has your life changed since you became a novelist?
I am probably more neurotic. I think this is an inevitable side-effect of such an internalised, anti-social activity. At the same time, I am more happy, because I’m making a living from something I enjoy. I also earn a lot more writing than I did working in an office, which is a plus.

How do you cure writer's block?
I practise Transcendental Meditation.

Who is your all-time favourite author?
Roald Dahl, who is a genius with a capital G. I grew up reading classics such as ‘Matilda’ and ‘The BFG’ and even now, twenty years on, I still glean as much pleasure from them. Another author I loved as a teenager was Robert Cormier; I remember ‘The Chocolate War’ being a life-changing read. I also like John Lanchester (especially The Debt to Pleasure), Will Self, Lemony Snicket, Joanne Harris and Jilly Cooper.

What are you reading at the moment?
‘Exhibitionism’ by Toby Litt.

What's the biggest myth about being a writer?
That once you get published you can write whatever you like and that you will be published forever thereafter. Publishers are quite tough; your first book needs to sell right from the start or you’re in trouble.

What advice would you give budding authors?
Read a lot (I try to read at least 3-4 a week and I learn something new from every one I pick up). Write every day. And then once you’ve finished your book do as much research as you can before sending it to agents. Buy ‘The Bookseller’ – it’s a bit expensive but contains information on all the deals, so you can get an idea of different agents’ tastes. I think that stamina is important. I know so many people who get 2-3 rejections from agents and then give up. It might take 10, 20 or even 40 (as I took!) rejections before you break in. Also try to get a high-quality agent. I think a good agent can make all the difference between getting £10 000 for a deal and a £100 000.

What can readers expect from Deborah Wright in the future?
The next thing to be published is a short story for children called ‘The Amazing Furniture Zoo Park’ in ‘Kids Night In’, an anthology of short stories to raise money for WarChild which is published this July. Then, next February, ‘Under My Spell’, a romantic comedy about a witch will be out. And then there’s the literary crime novel…if I ever finish it!

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