Sunday, 22 June 2014
Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown and Deborah Arnander talk about The Pen Factor competition
Guin and Deborah, both Words And Women members, Guin from Cambridge and Deborah from Norwich, had success recently with TLC’s Pen Factor competition. Both were shortlisted and Guin went on to win first prize!
Over this week on the blog we will be posting our Q&A with Guin and Deborah. Their generous responses to our questions reveal how they prepared for the competition, and what the competition has shown them about their writing and about the business of getting an agent and publishing.
Before we start a little bit of background info on Guin and Deborah, TLC and Pen Factor:
Guinevere Glasfurd-Brown lives on the edge of the Fens, near Cambridge. In 2012, she was one of ten writers mentored by the Escalator Programme for new writers at Writers' Centre Norwich, and was awarded a grant from Arts Council England to write her first novel, x y z, which is set against the backdrop of the Scientific Revolution in Holland, and tells of the hidden love between Helena Jans van der Strom, a maid, and French philosopher, René Descartes. The novel was longlisted for the Bath Novel Award 2014. Guin can be followed on twitter at @guingb
Deborah Arnander was born in Northumberland and spent her childhood in Thailand. She has a PhD in French literature, and after leaving university she lived in Paris, San Francisco and Seville, and worked as a translator, researcher, speechwriter, house doctor, market trader, bingo-hall caller and bartender. She was lured to Norwich by the siren on the ziggurat – she spent four years doing various courses in UEA’s continuing education creative writing programme – and her two young daughters were born here. In 2009 she won an Escalator New Writing Award, and is currently working on her first novel, about a G.I. baby, set in wartime Norwich and 90s California.
TLC stands for The Literary Consultancy which is based in London and is a leading editorial assessment service. More info about TLC can be found by clicking here.
TLC held a conference on the 13th-15th June this year in London called Writing In A Digital Age. The Pen Factor competition was held during this conference. The shortlisted entrants had to pitch their work to a panel of agents from Greene & Heaton, DHH Literary Agency and Blake Friedmann. The panel was hosted by TLC Director Rebecca Swift. Each pitch received feedback, and the overall winner – Guin! – received a year’s access to TLC literary and publishing events at Free Word Centre, London, and editorial and advisory support. Kobo Writing Life also presented Guin and two runners-up with Kobo e-readers, and a professional photo shoot session.
Now let’s begin our Q&A:
Why did you decide to enter the TLC Pen Factor competition?
Guin: For the experience of being scared witless!
I wanted to see if my work was good enough to be placed. I knew that the judging panel included top editors at The Literary Consultancy as well as agents, and to put my work before them represented an amazing opportunity. I wasn't expecting to win, but I was interested to know how well the work would do.
Deborah: TLC had a small number of bursaries available to enable writers to attend the conference. I applied, and was thrilled to be accepted. I would have found it difficult to attend otherwise. Conference attendees were eligible to submit to the competition, so having just completed my novel I thought I’d send a chapter in. I was delighted to make the shortlist of fifteen, which included writers from around the world.
What did you submit?
Guin: We each had to submit the opening of the novel – the first 2000 words – a covering letter, pitched to an agent, a synopsis, and a short biography.
Deborah: I submitted 2000 words from the first chapter of my novel. The bit I submitted was a scene set in 1944 in the old Samson and Hercules dance hall; boy meets girl. I also submitted a one-page cover letter and a synopsis of the rest of my novel.
More questions and answers on our blog tomorrow, when Deborah and Guin will talk about the pitching session...