An award-winning writer and blogger, Gabi grew up in London, but moved to the United States and settled in Westport, Connecticut which she now calls her home.
What brought to you to America?
Work. I moved to the States when I was 30 to work for a holiday company for just six months and romance kept me here. I go back to London at least once a year.
I tried going in the summer this year, but I don’t think I’ll do that again. The heat! No air-conditioning! That should tell you that I’ve lived here a long time, and now have most of my family over here, so I can’t see myself ever moving back to Britain.
This summer was a once in fifty year season I can assure you! What’s one of the best things about being a Brit in America?
I have a higher IQ in America than in England, because my British accent automatically adds 40 points.
To say you are active in writing circles would be an understatement, but what do you get up to when you’re not writing?
I’m always writing, or reading , or helping to organise a literary Festival called Saugatuck StoryFest, or running a couple of meetups for writers, but I do enjoy traveling.
Can you tells more some more about the literary festival?
The Saugatuck StoryFest is the first annual literary festival organised in Westport, CT, this October 12-14. There’s something for everyone here. More than 30 writers of note have signed up to come, in many genres, including graphic novels and children’s literature, as well as memoir and all kinds of genre fiction. This is a great way to meet them face-to-face. There’s a list of authors and events on this website, and new info is added daily. Almost everything is free, including A Bradbury Evening, a celebration of Ray Bradbury with his biographer, Sam Weller and a live performance of one of his radio plays.
Have you published before?
Yes, in lots of print and online journals, in an anthology of women writers, Tangerine Tango: Women Writers Share Slices of Life, and in the eChook literary app.
How did you go about getting published in journals?
First I make sure my stories have been run by my writers critique group which meets weekly. When it’s as good as I can get it, I send it to my editor in England – Doug Watts of JBWB (www.jbwb.co.uk/) who finds all the stuff my critiquers and I have missed. After that, I sometimes submit to publications that I find out about because I follow various blogs and get newsletters with suggestions. (Submittable https://www.submittable.com/ and Duotrope https://duotrope.com/) These help me find publications and track them, too. Then I wait.
Plus you have a story published in the Fairfield Scribes’ anthology, When to Now, but we’ll talk about that in a later post. Do you have any advice for new writers?
Write badly. Just write.
Set small goals. “I’m going to get up at five and write until nine and then go to work and start again when I get home and everyone else in the family is asleep” is a recipe for failure. Start with ten minutes. I’m willing to bet you’ll get more done and feel good about it. If you set a high goal and fail, you’ll find it harder next time.
Tell me a bit about how you write.
I try to plan, but I really prefer to write the first draft as a pantser, and then apply some order in the second draft. I use Scrivener for organising and drafting, Autocrit for some editing, and good old Word for final edits. Even though I’m a terrible typist, or maybe because I am, I can hunt and peck much faster on my laptop or tablet than I could on a typewriter. I use Duotrope and Submittable to make submitting easier. My favourite part of the process is the editing. So much easier than writing the first shitty draft and submitting, publishing, social media and marketing all seem more like work.
When I have something ready I have two readers who see everything first. We have a small critique group, in spite of the fact that one lives in Carmel and one in Sarasota, and we Skype once a week to read and critique each other’s work. I don’t know what I’d do without them
What are you working on right now?
Writing a romantic comedy, because variety is the spice of life. And I’m trying to pitch my memoir, A Handprint on my Heart, to find a publisher, either traditional, or failing that, perhaps a hybrid publisher. The key thing is that there should be distribution, not just through Amazon, but though bookstores. And it would be good to have someone do the design work.
Tell me about the memoir.
It had been love at first sight when we first met long ago. But now I was living apart from my husband and ready to divorce. When I returned to take care of him after his cancer diagnosis, I never expected to fall in love with him again.
What were the biggest challenges you faced?
Putting my emotions on the page. I’m British, for heaven’s sake. But I got it done. I had two professional editors work on it, one in Britain and one here in the US, because I wanted the book to work in both countries. I also have British “tics” which irritate American editors. Like using “which” instead of “that” in the previous sentence.
Thank you Gabi for taking the time to speak with me. I wish you every luck in finding representation for your memoir, please let us know how you get on. You’ll hear from Gabi in a few posts time when we talk about the next anthology her work appears in which is published at the beginning of October. In the meantime you can keep in touch with Gabi via her blogs or Twitter, @GabiCoatsworth.
If you enjoyed this interview then why not follow my blog where I’ll be posting more interviews soon and I regularly provide an insight into my own experiences as I work towards publishing my debut novel, In The End. If you’re an author, or you’ve just got an interesting story to tell and you’d like to be interviewed, just drop me a line on firstname.lastname@example.org