Writer in Residence Interview with Book Blogger Isabel Costello

This month on the University of Brighton Writers in Residence blog, I was delighted to welcome writer Isabel Costello, to discuss writing, the art of book blogging and her experiences along to the path to publication.

Isabel Costello PhotoIsabel Costello is a writer of contemporary fiction.  Originally from Salisbury, Wiltshire, she lives in London with her husband and two sons.  Isabel started the Literary Sofa blog in September 2011, inspired by her love of reading and talking about good novels.  Since then it’s had over 65,000 hits.  Read more …

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Summer of ’76 in the 99p Kindle Spring Sale

Amazon is celebrating springtime with a special Kindle ebook sale – including Isabel Ashdown’s latest novel Summer of ’76 for just 99p!  Click on the book image to buy:

SUMMER OF '76 by Isabel Ashdown, COVER, April 2013‘A fabulous coming-of-age novel that’s saturated in ’70s nostalgia’ – Glamour

‘Isabel Ashdown is adept at portraying the bickering normalcy of ordinary family life … [she] effortlessly transports you back to the seventies – a world of Abba, flares, punk and David Bowie’ – The Press Association


Writer in Residence Interview with Literary Agent, Kate Shaw

Following on from this month’s How to Get Published salon at the University of Brighton, I was delighted to welcome Kate Shaw to the Writers in Residence blog, to answer questions and offer words of wisdom on the subject of finding (and keeping!) a literary agent.


kateshawKate Shaw has been a literary agent since 2001, joining The Viney Agency in 2009.  She represents writers of literary and commercial fiction, children’s books from age 7+, and non-fiction across a variety of genres including politics, current affairs, memoir and lifestyle.  Her passion is nurturing new literary talent.

Kate, thank you for so generously agreeing to chat with me today.  Firstly, perhaps you could tell our readers exactly what a literary agent can do for a writing client?  Read more …

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Strange Alliances: Isabel Ashdown on Writing the Close Up and Personal

This month I’ve had the pleasure of chatting to Elaine Aldred over on Strange Alliances, on the intricacies of writing about people and place.  Here’s a short extract from the interview – please click the link to read on:

IA Charlie, Sept 2013 BW Bright“Isabel Ashdown is a writer who can make the ordinary extraordinary. Her perceptive stories create characters you care about, and Isabel’s attention to detail is so seamlessly applied to the narrative that the reader becomes easily immersed in their worlds. These are the skills that make Isabel’s books invaluable reads for any writer struggling with characterisation and the way to create a credible world around them.

How do you go about writing? Do you have the plot worked out ahead of time or do you just sit down and write?
My writing always begins with a seed of an idea – a what if? – and a strong sense of a character. Once I have these two things I can throw myself into getting words down, into finding and refining the voice, and it’s not until that’s firmly located and flowing that I can even start to think about plot.

IA Kite Hill, IoW, Apr 2011In Summer of ’76 my what if? was: ‘What if adults were misbehaving in a small community – and what if their teenaged kids found out? Imagine the shame. How would that unfold?’ Whether I’m reading or writing, character is king – above any amount of genius plotting and lyrical prose. I have to feel something for the character, care about them, be intrigued enough to follow them on their journey and turn the page.”  Read more …

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How to Get Published: Free Literary Salon at University of Brighton

On Wednesday 5th March, as part of my writing residency at the University of Brighton, I’m delighted to present an evening of lively conversation and practical advice from industry insiders – invaluable for anyone who wants to find out more about how to get published.  Our generous panelists include Anna Kelly from Hamish Hamilton (Penguin group), Candida Lacey and Eleanor Crawforth from Myriad Editions, Kate Shaw from London’s Viney Agency and Sylvie Zannier, a literary scout and agent based in Brighton. Don’t miss out … it’s a free event and everyone’s welcome!

Microsoft Word - UoB How to Get Published Salon Flyer, March 201

Writer in Residence Blog – ‘Finding Voices, Changing Voices’

Jake's Eyes“While giving voice to the ‘voiceless’, writers are also working to establish their own voice” – Karen Stevens, Editor of Writing a First Novel (Palgrave MacMillan, 2014).

My own debut novel, Glasshopper, first started out as a short story, back in 2005.  It was a piece I had written whilst studying for a BA in English and Creative Writing at the University of Chichester, with a storyline centred on a teenage girl and her mother.  Read more on the University of Brighton Blog …

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University of Brighton: Writer in Residence Blog – So you want to write your novel … ?

#shelfie #1I wonder how many emerging writers have started the year with this resolution: ‘2014 will be the year I write my book.’  A good few, I would guess.  And a fine resolution it is.  But like many a positive intention – it’s hard to stick to, and often all too tempting to give up at the first tricky hurdle.  Read more …

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The Write and Walk Retreat, West Wittering Beach, March 2014

If your New Year resolution is to write that book – then this could be the thing for you.

Amanda Saint’s Write and Walk Retreats combine peace, quiet and home-cooking with author-led workshops and inspirational walks – and this March, the retreat is coming to West Sussex.

The 3-day retreat will take place from Saturday 8th March at The Dodo, a beautiful converted railway carriage in West Wittering seafront, and the £375 cost includes accommodation, meals and a workshop and walk with me (and The Hairy Boys, Charlie and Leonard).  A nice touch is that non-writing partners are also welcome, so it’s a great excuse to make a weekend of it.

In my workshop ‘Location: research into fiction’, we’ll consider the process of fictionalising real places – of taking living landscapes and shaping them to become our own. I’ll be encouraging writers to draw on all their senses and memories of place, to start to develop intriguing new landscapes where their characters and stories might flourish.

If you’d like to find out more, visit Amanda’s website (where you’ll get a 5% discount in her January Sale) – or read her interview with me and fellow author Jane Rusbridge on how the Sussex landscape has shaped our writing.

It will be great to see a few of you there!

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