Sunday, 18 July 2010

RNA Conference 2010 - Talk by Dee Williams

The talk given by Dee Williams was the first one I attended at the 50th Anniversary RNA Conference, and what an interesting lady she is. Dee told us how her father used to tell her off about her dreadful spelling, and how she tried writing short stories and articles, but didn’t get anywhere with them. She moved to live in Spain and whilst there, decided to give novel writing a go.

Dee sent in her first three chapters to her writers’ group and then on to Headline. She didn’t keep a copy as she only had an old typewriter, however, Headline were interested in her work and wanted to see her. They asked for changes, still typed up on a portable typewriter – can you imagine how time consuming this must have been – and was nurtured by them and was signed up by her agent.

Dee made us laugh by recounting how delighted – and no doubt a little relieved – she was when she bought her Amstrad 9512+ word processor, with spell check. She rewrote her novel three times in one year and on 24.4.90 at 12.45 she ‘got the call’ from her agent. Since then she keeps signing two book contracts, thankfully for us readers who enjoy her books so much.

Dee said she likes to have the idea for her next book half way through the wip. She has a rough idea about what she’s going to write, but doesn’t plot. However, Dee obviously knows her subject well and does detailed research. She told us how much she loves the jackets to her books, and has occasionally pointed out amendments for a few of them, ie with regard to one showing a girl not wearing a wedding ring, when she definitely would have done; another where it showed the girl wearing a pristine apron, and Dee pointed out that if she had owned such a material she would have make knickers out of it and then worn sacking as an apron.

Although Dee doesn’t plot, she does keep notes of the date, the names of the girl, colour of her eyes, build, etc. She was always a voracious reader and when young loved the abridged versions of books bought by her uncle. She was also inspired by Lena Kennedy books.

Dee told us about all the changes she’s seen since being published. The main one that struck me was that now we have the luxury of computers, where any changes can take moments, whereas when Dee first started writing, you were lucky to have a word processor rather than a portable. She told us there seem to be more agents now, although writers can email submissions to some of them, whereas before everything was sent by post. PLR 20 years ago was 1.37p and now it’s 6.29p. Also authors have to do their own publicity far more now than before.

It was an enjoyable and interesting talk and Dee told us never to be afraid to ask when researching, as people are usually more than happy to answer any questions.
Freda Lightfoot, who had introduced Dee to us, then thanked her for us.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these notes, but remember, they are deciphered from my hurried scrawl across a notepad, so any mistakes are no doubt due to my horrendous handwriting.

28 comments:

leah said...

Thanks debs for the chance to read up on Conference. I think Dee Williams has inspired us all in the past. She's so full of life
leah@ leahfleming.co.uk

Phillipa said...

Thnak you, Debs. lapping up any reports from the conference. P x

liz fenwick said...

Thanks debs - wanted to go to this one!

lx

Debs said...

leah - she was so interesting, and what a lovely lady too. She kindly signed a copy of her book that I'd bought too.

phillipa - Thanks. Will post Nell's next.

liz - it was really interesting, but it's hard fitting everything that you want to attend into the course of the day/s, there's so much to choose from.

Queenie said...

Very interesting, thank you. Looking forward to the rest.

jfb57 said...

I get really frustrated when I can't read my scrawl. As I was writing it was SO clear!!

Debs said...

queenie - many thanks. Am madly sorting out the house for various guests coming to stay this week, so will post as soon as I can.

jfb57 - I know what you mean. I always think my writing is so clear and concise until I have to read it back.

Denise said...

Sigh, I love going to talks like that. Nothing like being at work to get all inspired about writing!

HelenMHunt said...

I'm loving all these reports from the conference. Sounds like you all had a great and productive time.

Debs said...

denise - all the talks I attended were so informative and amusing. It's a great conference and definitely one worth going to, if possible.

helen - me too. I need to get on and try to decipher my writing for the next couple of talks I went to now.

Faye said...

Thanks for taking the time to share your notes from this conference, Debs. Although not a writer, I love hearing about writing from different writers' perspectives. Don't get that except for an informal talk now and then.

Looking forward to next installment!

Karen said...

Really interesting, thanks Debs :o)

I can't imagine having to write everything on a typewriter now, but I used to years ago!

Debs said...

faye - thanks. I'll post the next notes in a few days. It's interesting to see how different writers go about their work.

Karen - me too. Everything would take far too long, although it would probably encourage me to do far less editing.

Chris Stovell said...

I love being able to catch up with the talks I wasn't able to attend. Dee's talk sounded fascinating - thank you for posting.

Boonsong said...

Thanks for this. Interesting.

All the best, Boonsong

Debs said...

chris - Dee's talk was informative and fun, I enjoyed it immensely.

boonsong - thanks, it was a wonderful talk.

Talli Roland said...

Thank you so much for the recap, Debs! I missed this talk but I did have the pleasure of speaking with Dee over lunch one day. She is so lovely!

Melissa Marsh said...

It is so much easier to write with a computer, isn't it? Although when I began to write, I hauled out my mother's manual typewriter and set to work. :-)

Debs said...

talli - I'm sure your lunchtime chat with Dee was very interesting. Such a fascinating lady.

melissa - I can't even imagine attempting to write a book on a manual.

Bluestocking Mum said...

Wish I could have gone. Dee sounds lovely - fancy writing a ms on a manual. Thanks for the updates.
x

Jayne said...

What an inspirational lady and a wonderful blog. Thanks so much Debs x

Debs said...

bluestocking mum - it would have been great to see you again. Maybe next year?

Jayne - She was lovely and so entertaining.

DJ Kirkby said...

This was so interesting. I've really enjoyed reading blog posts about RNA 10, I don't feel like I've missed out on so much now.

Suzanne Jones said...

Thanks for posting this, Debs. I didn't make it to the conference so I'm very grateful.

XX

Debs said...

dj kirkby - thanks very much. I still have another couple to do, and will get on with them as soon as I have a second to do so.

suzanne - my pleasure. The conference was excellent, and I love reading all he posts about it too.x

Amanda said...

Thanks for sharing, Debs. Very interesting. I remember my aunt, who used to write local history books, typing everything on a heavy old typewriter. We don't know we're born with our computers and our spell checkers, do we? x

Liane Spicer said...

Thanks for sharing. I wrote my first full length manuscript longhand on foolscap, then typed it up on a typewriter, and finally typed it all over again on a computer years later. I never get tired of hearing about other writers' journeys.

Debs said...

amanda - I completely agree. The thought of trying to type anything at all on one of those things is horrifying. All respect to those who wrote books on portables.

liane - now that's impressive, although rather you than me.x