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.