Mandy Robotham is the author of “Breeder”, the story that was awarded the runner-up prize in the BPA First Novel Award Competition 2018. After completing a masters in creative writing at Oxford Brookes University, Mandy has won several prizes for her short stories. Our judges particularly enjoyed the tension and structure of Mandy’s writing and so we asked her for some advice on writing to help anyone currently considering entering our competition this year.
How would you describe your writing style?
Not for me to judge, but it’s been called descriptive. I think I am fairly flexible – I can write commercial and slightly less so narrative.
How do you deal with writers’ block?
I can’t afford to have it! I work four days a week so my writing time is precious. But if the words are not coming on one text, I’ll switch to another for that day. Or just write something else, a short story or a monologue – anything to keep the wheels oiled.
When you start writing/come up with an idea, what is the first thing that you do?
Type or write all my thoughts/characters names and possible plots into a computer file or notebook, and then let it sit and cook for a bit. When I’m itching to lay down the opening line, I know I’m ready to write.
Where do you get the inspiration for your work?
As a midwife, a lot comes from my working life. But anywhere – I’m a very nosy person. I sit on the Tube and wonder what the people opposite me do, where they live, if they might have secrets….
What is your writing process like?
Because of my day job, I need to write fast – 1,000 – 1,500 per day mostly – and aside from a synopsis, I don’t plan. I edit the previous day’s writing and then springboard off into the abyss!
Do you have any advice for avoiding falling into the trap of telling rather than showing?
I don’t do it consciously but I think I skim off the top layer of any situation and describe the layer just under. And use a thesaurus – a great tool.
Any advice on editing?
I’m the world’s worst at ‘killing my babies’ and I am quite wordy. But I have learnt, painfully, that less is always more. And that every work benefits from a good editor.
BPA First Novel Award 2019 is open for submissions from unrepresented and unpublished authors for a novel in any adult fiction genre. Our Judges this year are literary agent Nelle Andrew and author Beth Underdown. The deadline for entries is the 31st May 2019.