I’m delighted to be joining the blog tour for A Grand Old Time, the new novel from author Judy Leigh. With thanks to Sabah Khan of Avon Books for inviting me to join the tour. I’ll be sharing a guest post from Judy in just a moment, once we’ve seen what the book is all about.
About the Book
A funny and heartwarming debut for fans of Celia Imrie and Dawn French.
Evie Gallagher is regretting her hasty move into a care home. She may be seventy-five and recently widowed, but she’s absolutely not dead yet. And so, one morning, Evie walks out of Sheldon Lodge and sets off on a Great Adventure across Europe.
But not everyone thinks Great Adventures are appropriate for women of Evie’s age, least of all her son Brendan and his wife Maura, who follow a trail of puzzling text messages to bring her home.
When they finally catch up with her, there are shocks in store . . . because while Brendan may have given up on life and love, Evie certainly has not.
‘Lovely . . . a book that assures that life is far from over at seventy’ Cathy Hopkins, bestselling author of The Kicking the Bucket List
’Brimming with warmth, humour and a love of life… a wonderful escapade’ Fiona Gibson, bestselling author of The Woman Who Upped and Left
My publishing journey
Friends say to me all the time. ‘I know I have a novel in me.’ Then the valid excuses follow, the reasons: there isn’t time, not with the family, the full time job. They don’t have the discipline. And they are right. Deciding on an idea for a novel, having the strong urge to write something down is the easy part. I’ve seen examples of my friends’ writing. They ask ‘Do you think this is all right?’ ‘Is this just rubbish?’ ‘Give me your honest opinion?’
Mostly, their writing is really good. It ranges from grippingly brilliant to potentially very good but untutored. They’ve never read Stephen King on How to Write. They’ve never heard of Show don’t Tell. Talent is important, as is reading widely, but so is knowing the ropes.
Which is how my journey started. I wrote short stories, monologues for stage, that sort of thing. But I wanted to become a full-time writer and that meant doing some learning about the craft.
I enrolled on an MA Professional Writing course. I learned very quickly about the craft of writing from professionals and also from the other writers on the course. Critiquing was not only natural, it was necessary. King’s ‘Kill your darlings’ was the norm as we‘d rip out chapters, change time and location, annihilate beloved protagonists, all in the name of pleasing the reader. There was the first big lesson. I was writing to entertain someone I didn’t know, not to indulge myself. I learned from people in the industry about publishing. I went to the London Book Fair. I won a place on a writers’ tutorial with the magnificent Matt Haig.
After I’d finished the course, the mist cleared. Like riding a bike, writing became automatic but I still needed to think ahead, be observant, look for potholes and pitfalls. An MA isn’t essential but groundwork is.
I was placed in competitions, I published short stories. I built up a CV of my published writing. I went to the Winchester Writers’ Festival and met agents. I took advice and encouragement from their interest, finished my first novel and submitted first chapters to agents I found in the Writers’ Yearbook. That was a springboard.
Within three months, I’d found an agent, Kiran, who is superb. One year from being an MA student at the book fair, my agent found me a publisher for my first novel, HarperCollins Avon. After that, the whirlwind took over, meeting some of the loveliest people: editors, publicists. The thrills of seeing the cover design, holding a real copy of the novel, such things are exciting beyond belief. Every day I read, I write, sometimes I edit, but I never forget I’m blessed.
So to my friends who want to write, wherever they are, I can offer words of encouragement. If you think you have a novel in you, get it down in writing. You can do it, with some basic time management, determination and some hard research. Go for it.
Thanks Judy. You can purchase Judy’s debut novel, A Grand Old Time from the following retailers:
About the Author
Judy Leigh completed an MA in Professional Writing at Falmouth University in 2015, leaving her career of 20 years as an Advanced Skills teacher of Theatre Studies. She has had several stories published in magazines, including The Feminist Wire, The Purple Breakfast Review and You is for University. She has also trained as a Reiki healer, written a vegan recipe blog and set up a series of Shakespeare Festivals to enable young people to perform the Bard’s work on stage.
Follow Judy on Twitter: @JudyLeighWriter
Do make sure to follow the tour: