Friday, 18 August 2017

Guest Post - My Writing Path by Jane Lythell - Blog Tour

As a child my mum would describe me fondly as a bookworm. My favourite activity was to lie on my stomach, on my bed, in the garden or on the beach and to escape into the latest fictional world that was enthralling me. From the age of nine we lived in Norfolk and as an early teen I read my way through the fiction shelves of Sheringham library. I also tried my hand at fiction when I was seven or eight. I wrote a story for my younger sister Caroline about Sally Dumpling, a fairy with curves who lived in a yellow rose. Her best friend was a robin. I read this to my sister who said she loved it. She still sometimes mentions it today.

I studied English Literature at university so I enjoyed three more years of intensive reading, novels and poetry, and writers were my heroes: Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

I started to write a few short stories. These were highly autobiographical and I never did anything with them though I think they were teaching me something about how to write. Then, from about the age of thirty and for many years, there was no time for writing and a lot less time for reading. I was working in film and TV in the kinds of jobs that gave you very little empty time. I think you need empty time to be able to write. And I had my daughter and was a lone parent from when she was two and a half. But I had stories in my head which I wanted to tell one day. While I was at the Foreign Office, heading up their TV and Radio Unit, I started on my first draft of what would become The Lie of You.

One of the things that helped me at this time was the Arvon Foundation which runs writing retreats. I went to two week-long retreats, one in Devon and a year later one in Scotland. These were very valuable because I met other would-be writers and the published writers who lead the courses and this made me take my wish to write more seriously. I carried on with The Lie of You.

The next step in my writing path was blogging. In 2011 I started to write a novel in instalments which I called The Chronicles of Chloe Greene. It was set in the 1980s and centred on a young idealistic woman called Chloe Greene who lived in a run-down housing association house in North London with two artists. Each week I made myself write an 800 – 1,000 word instalment and would post this up on my blog every Tuesday. I then tweeted about it and began to attract readers who enjoyed the unfolding story. Blogging gave me two very good things: the discipline to write every week and the sense of reaching an audience, however small. Readers would post comments on the instalments and I found this thrilling.

I took my draft of The Lie of You out of the drawer where I had stashed it and read it again. I felt it had something and I finally plucked up courage to ask my partner Barry to read it. Barry is a TV script writer and we hadn’t been going out very long! I asked him to be honest. Was it worth trying to redraft it or should I start again? Barry’s feedback was so helpful. He said it opened well and that the characters were interesting but that the last third of the book had lost direction. And it had.
This encouraged me to work on it again and I rewrote it and sent the first forty pages of the manuscript to the literary agency Sheil Land. I didn’t know anything about publishing at this time. 

My work world had been film and TV. My finished manuscript was only 57,000 words long. 
I had the huge luck to be taken on by the literary agent Gaia Banks of Sheil Land. Gaia guided me. She explained that publishers expected a novel to be at least 80,000 words long. We discussed the book at length and how it needed some new scenes to deepen the characters and the plot. And I learned that you never submit to a publisher until you have made your book as good as it possibly can be. A first draft is just that, a first draft. It is at the redrafting and editing stage where you can hone and polish your book.

Six months later Gaia submitted my now longer novel (87,000 words) and I was selected for publication by Head of Zeus which was a new publishing venture. If I could do cartwheels I would have done these all around the garden! 

This was my writing path and I now write full time.

Jane Lythell

Thank you so much Jane for sharing your writing path with us.

Jane's latest book Behind Her Back is out now, and I hope to be reading and reviewing it as soon as I can.

Liz Lyon is a television producer and busy single mum to a teenage daughter. She works at StoryWorld, the UK's favourite morning show. As both confidante and team leader, she is the person tasked with controlling the conflicts and tantrums that flare up off-air. Having just started dating again, she's also having to deal with a few conflicts and tantrums at home...

Following a blissfully peaceful two-week holiday in Italy, Liz has returned to find a new colleague has joined the station. Lori Kerwell has been brought in to increase the show's profitability. But Liz is not sure that's the only thing on Lori's agenda.

As Lori builds her power base with the bosses, Liz finds herself wondering what's really going on behind her back... 

Purchase from Amazon UK

Please follow along with the rest of the blog tour to see more from Jane. 


  1. Hello Rachel and thank you so much for inviting me onto your Blog.
    It's lovely that you were the last stop on my Blog Tour and gave me the opportunity to write about My Writing Path.
    I really appreciate the support we writers get from you magnificent book bloggers.

  2. This was a wonderful guest post - so nice to read about the journey of Jane! :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...