Sunday, 2 July 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A with Ginger Black

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Thank you for featuring Ginger Black in your Fab Firsts blog.  Ginger Black is the pen name for the writing partnership of Gaynor Pengelly and Julia Thum, and our debut novel, Riverside Lane, is published by The Momentum Publishing Company.

Riverside Lane is a village mystery set in springtime by the banks of the river Thames.  Tautly paced and sumptuously located, it peels back the genteel fa├žade of a picture-postcard hamlet, while gently satirising English manners. One reviewer describes it as “the literary equivalent of a glass of Pimms” which we think sums our novel up delightfully.

Riverside Lane started out as a ‘fun thing to do’ but quickly turned into a serious project as we discovered our writing chemistry. It was written in snatched hours before our families awoke and late into the night after a busy working day. It took three years to complete and we learned an awful lot along the way.  We are now half way through our second novel, and it is progressing much faster!

We were advised early on that, as debut authors, we should submit our manuscript to independent publishers who are more able and prepared to take a risk on unknowns.   This turned out to be good advice. After receiving three offers to publish we chose a start-up imprint called The Momentum Publishing Company, which crowd funded our novel. We also have an ebook version published by Endeavour Press.

At a time when large publishing conglomerates are finding it hard to take a risk on an unknown author, crowd funding a book is a viable alternative. This is where independent publishing companies come in. They are often willing to sign to authors who do not fit the mould in mainstream publishing. They can prepare your work to be read and enjoyed – editing, book design, printing – and crucially get your book to the right audience and ensure they read it.

Independent publishing companies are not a self-publishing or print-on-demand service provider; they believe in the books on their list, having either commissioned them or responded to them as submissions.

Riverside Lane hit the bookshelves late last year and thanks to our slick marketing campaign (even though we do say so ourselves!), our novel has nearly sold out and set to go into a second print run.

If we were to offer advice to first time authors, it would be:

  1.  Don’t send your manuscript off to early – put it in a bottom drawer and come back to it in a few months;
  2. Submit to an independent publisher. It worked for us;
  3. Get up to speed with social media. The days of rattling out a thrilling story and signing to a literary agent have gone. Today’s authors must juggle creativity with entrepreneurial flair, good PR and marketing skills, as well as a thorough understanding of social media are essential skillsets;
  4. Write because you love it and never give up!

Rachel, you have asked us lots of lovely questions about our “firsts” and so we hope it is OK that we have both chipped in with our answers?  

Of course it is ladies, I would love to hear from both of you. 

The first book you bought  -

(Julia) either one of the Thelwell series or the adorable Olga da Polga which I still have and have read to muy children many times

(Gaynor) A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle, a science fiction fantasy full of adventure and wonder that made me rethink my dislike of math’s and science.

The first person you fell in love with –

(Julia) I have to leap in here and shout Alvin Stardust from the rooftops!  I totally adored him.

(Gaynor) My lovely father, Jim.  I truly believe a daughter’s good relationship with her father sets her up for life. He shaped my self-esteem, confidence, self-image and opinions of men and had so many positive influences on my life .

The first holiday you went on –

(Julia) Bude in Devon and I still remember how cold that sea was!

(Gaynor) I was born in Malta, so the beautiful beaches and rockpools of Gozo and Sicily are my earliest holiday memories.  Whenever I watch Inspector Montalbano on TV, I am transported back there.

The first prize you won –

(Julia) I never win prizes but I did get the odd rosette on my little fat pony at the local gymkhana.  I still have them

(Gaynor) I won the Year 7 School Art’s Festival for my play Alice’s Dream, which I wrote, produced, directed and starred in.  It was my greatest moment! (I should probably say I was the only entry).

The first album you purchased –

(Julia) Alvin Stardust of course!

(Gaynor) Blondie: Parallel Lines. As a school kid, Debbie Harry was the coolest woman on earth, I loved her style, I loved her hair, I wanted to be her.

The first sport you enjoyed participating in –

(Julia) Mmmm – not sure I would really use the words enjoy or participating when it comes to me and sport!

(Gaynor) I was useless at sport at school, does ‘winding up my two brothers’ count?

Embarrassing moment you can remember - 

(Julia) In my first meeting when I was in the PR industry, I was asked a question by the client and, not knowing the answer, I turned to my boss and said, “Mummy you probably know the answer to that one!”  My boss, who was a lot older than me and had something of a complex about her age, was not best impressed.

(Gaynor) After landing my dream job as a journalist, I was sent to a swanky London hotel to interview a prominent chief executive.  I looked good and felt pretty confident as I sashayed across the foyer to meet him. We shook hands and I made a little ceremony of removing my notepad and pen.  After a couple of minutes, he tentatively asked if everything was all right with my skirt.  To my absolute horror, I realised it was tucked into my knickers! Worse still, a group of American tourist shouted over: ‘I’ve never been to London before, but with such stunning views, I sure will visit again!”  Luckily it broke the ice, I got a wonderful interview and years later, I’m still in touch with the CEO.  I describe it as my most embarrassing moment, he laughingly calls it ‘a cry for help’.

Your first pet –

(Julia) Sorry – there’s a theme here – Ping Pong the little fat pony who looked just like one of those Thelwells from the books I used to adore.   I used to gallop about on him everywhere and he was good as gold but whenever anybody else got on him we would buck them straight off. 

(Gaynor) Jamie the Labrador, he was the greediest dog on earth and could not be trusted around food. He would snatch sandwiches out of the hands of children at picnics and drool like crazy underneath the dinner table. He was, however, super useful as the clandestine recipient of unwanted vegetables when my mother wasn’t looking.

Choice of alternative career if you weren’t an author - 

(Julia) I always wanted to be an actress as a child but that industry is even harder to break into than writing so, inspired by his wonderful books, for my next career I would like to be a female version Oliver Sacks.  It must be so wonderful to  understand how our brains and minds work like he did.

(Gaynor) I greatly admire my friend, Dr Margaret Mountford, Lord Sugar’s former side-kick on the Apprentice. First a high-flying City lawyer, then a TV presenter, now a professor of papyrology (reading ancient scripture) and trustee of the Egypt Exploration Society, now that’s a career!

Toy that you recall loving –

(Julia) I still have him; Bunny Cuddles, a brown and white fluffy rabbit whose tail fell off.

(Gaynor) My first Tiny Tears Doll.  You could feed her from a bottle and she wet her nappy. Later, I restyled her hair with paper scissors and used pen to ‘make-up’ her face. She was ruined but I loved her all the more.

Thank you so much Julia and Gaynor for sharing all of that with us.  I have loved reading this interview. 

For more about Ginger Black:

Purchase link:-. Amazon
Social Media links:-
Website – Ginger Black
Facebook -
Twitter - @GingerBlackink

1 comment:

  1. this is a Fab First for us! Thank you sO much for having us in your blog Rachel! X


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