A blog from Tonto Books, featuring musings from the publishing world and some occasional special guest appearances.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tonto Author Profile #1: Ros Wyllie

The Newcastle Evening Chronicle ran a double-page feature profiling three Tonto writers yesterday. As it was published on a Bank Holiday and misprinted over non-consecutive pages (!) we'll reproduce it here over the next few days. First up, here's More Tonto Short Stories contributor Ros Wyllie:

Who will be the next to light up the literary world?
Mitya Underwood, The Evening Chronicle, 28 May 2007

DETERMINATION: Heaton scribe Ros Wyllie

"I have always been into writing stories, I was a bit of a dreamer as a child," says part-time author Ros Wyllie, grinning.

"It's a very good way to get the fantasies and neuroses out in a constructive way."

Ros spends half her week trying to write witty, intelligent and hopefully best-selling books, and the other half working in children's services at Newcastle City Council.

At the age of 37, she has already had various short stories published, won numerous writing competitions and seen her scripts turned into popular stage plays.

But like so many writers, she is still chasing that elusive publishing deal for the book she has dedicated the last two and a half years of her life to.

"I've been really lucky so far. Some writers spend their lives writing things which never get recognition or published.

"I've been lucky enough to see my work on stage at the Customs House in South Shields, and get my short stories published, I certainly can't complain. Ros, who has kept a diary since she was 17 ("That's 20 years of self-obsession!") thinks part of her ability to write comes from her own passion for reading.

She is a big fan of female authors like Margaret Atwood, Carol Clewlow and Carol Shields, but is always happy to read new novelists. She started concentrating on her own writing 10 years ago, but only for her own pleasure.

And it wasn't until her cousin died suddenly six years ago, aged just 35, that Ros decided to turn her dream of being an author into reality.

"It made me realise you should do with your life what you want. So I gave up my job and went to Brazil for three months to stay with a friend.

"It was really amazing. I wrote the first draft of a novel, A Case of Pomba Gira, about a Brazilian girl looking into the religion Umbanda.

"I wrote it for myself, I had to discipline myself to write 70,000 words, which isn't always easy."

In 2003, Ros, who lives in Heaton, Newcastle, with her partner Paul, decided she wanted more training and did an MA in creative writing at Northumbria University, balancing this with her job as a drugs worker in Blyth.

Her most recent effort, Everything You Ever Want, is "part thriller, part coming-of-age story". Set in a hostess club, it tells the story of two very different women who are thrown together after a murder.

It is her favourite book yet and she has spent hundreds of hours making minor and major adjustments to give it the best chance of being picked up by a publisher.

She is currently in talks with a few agencies in London but after more than two years' work, knows it can be a long and tiring process and that the chance to get published are few and far between.

"I'm three quarters of the way through another play because I just can't bear to look at my novel," she laughs.

"It's had even more encouraging responses, which is great, I'm just waiting now.

"The thing with writing is you can get 19 rejections for every one acceptance. I have to believe.

"Lots of people write for years and are never published, but if you were to give up you might miss your one chance."

One of her other favourite works is a short story called Possibilities, set in the North East coastal village of Seahouses. It tells the story of a how a little girl deals with grief by imagining her absent father living under the sea with mermaids.

"What is really good for people like me in the region is there is so much support from agencies who want to encourage new writers.

"And there's lots of places to look for inspiration. That's probably why the region has a long history of successful authors. I just hope it continues the same way."

You can read Ros's work in More Tonto Short Stories and the original Tonto Short Stories.

You can read the full Chronicle article here. More recent coverage of Tonto Press and our authors can be found here.


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