Interview: Rosemary Gemmell

Rosemary Gemmel has been a freelance writer for many years, and has had short stories and articles published in a variety of UK magazines. She also contributes to The Highlander Magazine in the US and has some articles on synergise.com. She is now writing novel-length fiction for adults and children. The thing that I liked best about this interview with Rosemary? Her advice to other writers: finish what you begin. So true! Enjoy this interview.

Rosemary Gemmell

Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?

I’ve been happily married for over thirty years. I’m from the beautiful west coast of Scotland where it rains a lot, which is why it’s so green. I’ve been writing off and on for nearly twenty years but only for the past three years as a serious freelance writer, once my two adult children moved on to independence.

You’ve written quite a number of novels and children’s books. What do you enjoy about each type? Is there one you prefer writing over the other?

I think I’m a bit of a butterfly writer, always trying different types of writing and genres. I find shorter work much easier to sustain as it is quicker to produce and have published. Novels require much more self-discipline, which is sometimes lacking!

You’ve had quite a lengthy career in print publishing. What are the differences you find in writing for the Web versus writing for print?

One of the first things I had to learn in writing for the Web was the different format of articles – shorter paragraphs, more succinct writing and, with Suite101, getting to grips with Search Engine Optimization and Keywords. It’s a brilliant experience. Writing for the Web is more immediate as there is no long wait for articles to be accepted, then published. I do earn more from print publications but it’s a one-off payment.

I love that you have inspirational quotes on your website. Is there a favorite quote that you go back to more than any other?

Thank you. My favourite is: ‘We have the power to shrink our dreams to fit reality, or the power to stretch our reality to fit our dreams.’ Unfortunately, I don’t know who wrote it but it is a powerful reminder that there are no limits to what we can accomplish.

Share some of your writing goals. What’s next for you?

My immediate goal is to have my two adult novels and children’s novels published by a mainstream publisher, and to find an agent. I want to keep developing my online writing skills as well as writing for more print magazines. I’d also quite like to teach some creative writing classes as I already give talks to writing groups.

What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?

Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh is the book I still talk about after the many years since first reading it. It is a philosophical, moral dilemma of a novel about whether humans have an innate belief in God. There is a child brought up by wolves and a strange young man washed ashore. His fate lies in the decision the religious leaders come to regarding human faith.

Favorite authors?

Difficult, as I like variety and different genres. Classics like Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. Crime of PD James, Agatha Christie and Elizabeth George. Women’s/Historical Fiction of Kate Mosse, Tracey Chevalier, Barbara Erskine. I also like many children’s authors like JK Rowling, Philip Pullman and the twilight series of Stephenie Meyer. Too many to name!

Book you’re currently reading?

Star Gazing by Linda Gillard, which is a very unusual and beautiful sensory story about a blind woman being ‘shown’ the Scottish island of Skye by the possible new man in her life.

Any type of writing ritual you have?

I prefer to write during the morning but don’t keep to a regular enough schedule! I do like to listen to background music and try to match it to the kind of writing I’m doing, if possible.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?

Not really. I think you can have less creative times, or times when you just can’t get going. Doing writing related things like eamils and looking through writing magazines recharges me. Going to a cafe for coffee with a notebook and pen is very helpful.

In your opinion, what’s the measure of a successful writer?

Someone who sits down and gets on with writing and completes whatever they are working on, whether published or not. Publication vindicates the hard work and brings recognition.

Advice for other writers?

Believe in yourself. Finish what you begin. Experiment with genres until you find your own voice. Send work out to publishers.

Where can we learn more about you?

Thank you for asking! On my website: www.rosemarygemmell.com.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Writing is a privilege and a responsibility for we never know how much our words might affect someone. What a great job to have!

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