Sunday, 29 September 2013

Interview with Kate McCormick aka Elizabeth Ducie

Good morning Kate, it’s a bit early for alcohol, so would you prefer tea or coffee?

Tea please, Tina. Fresh mint if you've got it or Earl Grey.

Okay Earl Grey it is, make yourself comfortable. Kate, how did the writing start? Did you always want to write?

Well, I've always loved words and I've been an avid reader all my life. My first published piece came out when I was fifteen, but after that, I spent forty years writing technical reports, scientific articles and text-books. It’s only in the past 8-10 years that the urge to write creatively has developed and gradually overtaken everything else.

I know you as Kate McCormick, but you write as Elizabeth Ducie, how did that come about?

If you look up Kate McCormick on Amazon, you will find my pharmaceutical textbooks. I wanted to create a completely different persona, a different brand, for my creative writing, so I reverted to my maiden name.

So you spent many years writing technical stuff – audit reports, text books etc, during those years did you write anything else, or did being a technical writer hamper any creativity?

I used to keep a travel diary occasionally — I visited more than fifty countries in twenty years including more than 100 visits to Russia and the Former Soviet Union countries — but no-one ever saw it. I also wrote non-technical articles for journals and in-house magazines, so I guess the creative non-fiction was always there in the background, but the fiction only came later.

And how did that happen?

For years, my husband had encouraged me to write up some of my travel experiences and I always said ‘yes, yes, one of these days’. Then in 2005 I had a bit of a health scare which made me realise that ‘today is one of those days’. So I enrolled on the new OU Course on Creative Writing A215 and it all went on from there.

When you started creative writing again, was there a particular avenue you wanted to go down – short stories, articles or novels for instance?

I went into the course with the intention of specialising in life writing. However, I found I was also interested in fiction and really enjoyed writing short stories. 

I like writing short stories too, when I can come up with ideas! You've told us you've done quite a bit of travelling, did you write about your travels?

There are a few pieces of travel writing in Parcels in the Rain but I primarily use my travel experiences as the basis for my fiction, which is why my stories are often set in Russia.

Sounds like Russia made quite an impression on you! You've now published four books, two anthologies with a co-writer and two on your own – how did they come about?

Sharon Cook and I co-edit Chudleigh Phoenix, our local community magazine. We often swap notes on our writing journeys and in January 2011 we found we both had ‘to get some short stories published’ on our New Year’s list of objectives. We knew the chances of getting a traditional publisher were practically nil, and neither of us writes typical womag stories, so we decided to have a go at doing it ourselves. Life is Not a Trifling Affair was the result and we launched that at the Chudleigh Literary Festival in July 2011. Eighteen months later, we brought out the second collection Life is Not a Bed of Roses. The collections were published both as print copies and e-books and it’s been a fantastic learning experience for us, not just in terms of writing, but all other aspects of the business as well.
Parcels in the Rain and Other Writing is an e-book brought out in April 2013. At the end of February, I’d just finished the second draft for a novel and I found myself hitting a wall, not knowing what to do next. So I set myself a challenge to go through my files, pull out 31 unfinished pieces (I never throw any words away) and finish them at the rate of one per day in March. I then put the e-book together and published it on 10th April, which would have been my parents’ 63rd wedding anniversary.

Sunshine and Sausages is completely different. It’s a ‘How To’ book on running successful summer parties, based on our thirty years of experience in throwing huge parties for everyone we know. Sausages is my test tube, my play book. I use it whenever I want to test out a new technology. So it started life as a very early e-book (from which I learned that no-one would buy .exe files); then it became a CD; then I used it to test out Amazon and Smashwords; then Lulu Print on Demand; and finally I published it as a short run with our local printer. Who knows where it will go next.

Sounds like it’s certainly had a good run. April 10th is a good date, it's my birthday :) Tell us what you’re planning next as a writer.

Well, I mentioned my novel. It’s set in Russia and is a story of love, loss and broken promises. I left it to rest between February and August, but have now started work on the third draft and am adding new chapters and an additional storyline at the moment.
I'm also planning to publish another ‘How To’ book before the end of the year. This one will be The Business of Writing. I teach business skills for writers at Swanwick Summer School and from June 2012, I spent a year blogging about the same topic. Now I'm going to pull everything together in one place.

You’re going to be a very busy lady writing wise then! If you could achieve one thing – not necessarily writing related – what would it be?

I would love to be able to clear my ‘to do’ list, but to do that, I would need to invent the 36 hour day! Since we moved to Devon, I've found that life in a small town is busy, hectic and always throwing something new at you; and there's never enough time to do everything. A longer day would also allow me to read all the books on my TBR list as well. (Sorry, managed to slip two achievements into one there!)

I can identify with not having enough hours in the day. I hope all your plans come to fruition, and wish you the very best of luck with your ventures. It’s been lovely chatting with you Kate, thank you :)

To find out more about Kate/Elizabeth you can visit her website - Website
Or read her blog - Blog
You can buy her books Life is Not a Trifling Affair, Life is Not a Bed of Roses, Sunshine and Sausages and Parcels in the Rain and Other Writing here - Books

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

On to the Next Book!

Well, I had a fab launch party on Facebook, and sold a fair few books too - both in paperback and e-book versions. As well as the UK, I sold one in Australia and one in Spain, and my ranking was in the top 2000. I think I ended up at something like 1783, which is bloody good for a new book :)

The excitement has died down - although I'm still trying to promote it. Argh, I hate this self promoting business, absolutely hate doing it. I'm not the most confident person, so trying to promote myself is awful, but has to be done I guess.

Now, down to the business of the next book!

I have three in various stages of being written, but people are asking for a sequel to Chapters of Life, so I'm going to get cracking on that. I've had some great ideas for one of the characters - a shady past will be revealed - and the book also features a rather haughty but beautiful Siamese cat called Cleo, who will most definitely make her presence known :)

So, if you don't see me much on Facebook, you'll know why - hopefully I'll be frantically typing away at my keyboard!

If you do see me, I'll be trying to catch up with what's going on - or playing Scrabble and Bejewelled - but if I'm on there a long time, please tell me to get off and do some writing. I need to be more disciplined! I find it so easy to procrastinate. I blame it all on social media for bringing out such addictive games, ha ha.

I'm setting up some interviews with some lovely writing friends, so look out for those in the coming weeks, but for now, I'm off to introduce Cleo to the other characters :)