Friday, August 24, 2012

Author Sophie King: Different Styles Of Writing

I’m always delighted to find an author who has been or currently is a journalist and my guest today fits this bill. Bestselling author Sophie King recently released a collection of her short stories entitled, TALES FROM THE HEART.

TALES FROM THE HEART brings together some of Sophie's best-loved short stories which have been published in a range of UK magazines such as Woman's Weekly and My Weekly. There are 20 stories on the themes of love, family and friendship. As a special bonus, the collection also contains the first two chapters of Sophie's brand new witty romance novel, DIVORCE FOR BEGINNERS, which will be published later this summer.

An e-book exclusive, TALES FROM THE HEART initially published only as a Kindle eBook but is scheduled to be released in other e-formats shortly. It was published by Corazon Books in July 2012.

Sophie has graciously answered some questions for me about her writing.

Mason - What is an average writing day like for you? Do you write longhand and/or on the computer, have a favorite place to write, a favorite time to write, listen to music, etc.?

Sophie - I like to get up between 6.30 and 7 to write for an hour before taking our dog for a run along the beach. My husband and I moved to Devon three years ago and I still have to pinch myself. Then, after breakfast with my husband, I write until lunchtime. I normally do about 2000 – 3000 words in three hours. Later in the afternoon, I’ll catch up with emails and then revise what I have written that morning. If I’m writing a novel, rather than a short story,  I will write every day (maybe with Sundays off). I need to do that in order to keep the story running in my head.

Tales from the Heart by Sophie King coverI write at a desktop with a giant screen although if I’m traveling, I’ll write on my laptop. I was taught to write straight onto the keyboard as a journalist when I was straight out of uni, and the habit has stuck.

I like to write in my study which is on the top floor. You can just about see the sea from there. But I’m thinking of decamping to the library because I get disturbed if the door bell goes or the phone rings. I can’t have any kind of noise, as my family will tell you! The seagulls can be really loud too! 

Mason - You’re a journalist, have written novels and now your short stories are published. Is there a difference in the way you approach these 3 different types of writing?

Sophie - Yes, there is a difference. As a journalist, I was taught to pare down a story and present it in an eye-catching (and accurate way). The story took precedence although the case histories were important too. 

As a short story writer, the idea has to be able to take off quickly and get wrapped up within 1000 to 2000 words. At the same time, you need to draw thumbnail sketch characters which are believable. 

With a novel, you need much more time in your head to let the idea grow and to also let the characters come to life. It’s a real commitment – rather like marriage instead of a short term relationship. I don’t write many short stories when I’m writing a novel as I need a different mindset for each one. Writing in three different ways, is  a bit like playing the same game (like tennis, for example) but employing different footsteps. 

Mason - What is the worst advice you’ve ever received concerning writing?

Sophie - The worst advice? It was at a careers evening in London when I was 18 and an older woman told me that it was very difficult to get a novel published. She told me to try something ‘safer’. I walked back across Hyde Park, crying my eyes out. Then I proved her wrong. Nowadays, I tell aspiring writers that although it’s difficult, SOMEONE has to do it. So why not them?

Mason - Of all the authors (past and present) you enjoy reading, has any one (or more) been an influence in your writing?

Sophie - I adore Fay Weldon’s books for their feisty heroines and also Maeve Binchy’s earlier books because  she took lots of different characters and made us see life through each one’s eyes. I particularly loved Evening Class. Maeve made me realize that I wanted to write multi-character viewpoints myself.
Mason - You have been shipwrecked on an island. You have 2 books, 1 food item (plenty of it) and your favorite _____. Name the books, what food would you want and fill in the blank.

Sophie - The blank would have to be my laptop. I can’t imagine being stuck somewhere and not being able to write. The books would be the Bible to keep me going from a spiritual point of view and also the complete works of Somerset Maugham. I devoured him at the age of fifteen: he’s timeless. In fact, we’re related by marriage through Robin Maugham: a fact which my mother was very proud of even though we never met him! The food item would have to be drinkable water but if that was already provided, I think it would be fruit or maybe ice cream (my secret vice).
Mason - What can readers look forward to next from you?

Sophie - My first Sophie King novel, THE SCHOOL RUN, is being reissued in a new edition this month and I have a brand new novel, DIVORCE FOR BEGINNERS, which will be coming out in September. I also write as Janey Fraser, and my latest novel, THE AU PAIR is now available. My next Janey Fraser novel has already been commissioned by Arrow. I never talk about what I’m writing but it will involve some harassed parents who are trying to do one of the most difficult jobs in the world – bringing up children.

Sophie, thanks so much for answering these questions. I always enjoy learning more about a writer’s process. You have a number of interesting books coming out for us readers, can’t wait.

Here’s a bit of background on Sophie. She is the author of THE SCHOOL RUN, MUMS @ HOME, SECOND TIME LUCKY, THE SUPPER CLUB and THE WEDDING PARTY.  Her books are aimed at teenagers, mums and grans, or anyone else who can identify with a chaotic family life. Sophie has three children, a dog, a cat and a sleepy terrapin – all of whom make her laugh or cry, depending on how she feels.

Sophie has a pen name to distinguish her novels from her journalism. As Jane Bidder, she has written for The Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Daily Express, The Daily Mail, Woman, Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, Good Housekeeping and many other national publications. 

For more on Sophie and writing, visit her official website at and you can find her on Twitter @sophiek_writer.

Here’s a brief synopsis of TALES FROM THE HEART:
A woman cooks a meal for her ex-husband, but has more than food on her mind...
Can a new arrival remind a family of what is really important in life..?
A young couple's love transports an elderly woman into the past...
Will love second time around heal old scars..?
Warring grandparents refuse to see eye to eye...
Are family secrets best kept hidden..?
A wise man's last request brings surprises for his great-niece...

Told with wit, understanding, humour, love and romance - these Tales from the Heart, which have appeared in a range of popular women's magazines such as Woman's Weekly and My Weekly, are brought together in one collection for the first

Do you enjoy short stories? Thanks so much for stopping by today. Have a wonderful Friday.


  1. Sophie, thanks again for answering these questions. I especially liked how you took your worst advice and turned it around to give encouraging advice to beginners. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Sophie.

    Sophie - Thanks for sharing your writing experiences. I love it that you didn't listen to that woman who suggested you try something "safer" than writing :-). I wish you much success.

  3. Mason, thanks for this interview. You must be a morning person to start so early Sophie.


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