Tell us about how you began your journey as an author - Did you always want to be an author?

I was creative from a young age but originally hoped to be a dancer, though that was a pipe dream more than anything else! I was always an avid reader as well. From the first moment I was encouraged to write at primary school for SATs exams, I fell in love with words. My passion for both reading and telling stories never really went away as I grew up, from fanfiction to mimicking some of my favourite authors and posting those stories on Wattpad. So, I studied English literature and creative writing at university, not really believing I was anywhere close to being a decent writer. Apparently, I was wrong! After lots of workshops, lectures, coursework, and lots of overwhelmingly positive feedback from my tutors and peers, my confidence grew and I graduated with a first-class honours degree. I was focusing primarily on fantasy romance at that point and was terrible at completing projects.

However, later that year, I found a call from Scribd searching for freelance romance authors, so I submitted my samples, though it seemed too good to be true. Again, I was wrong! I ended up writing steadily for Bryant Street Shorts for over a year, submitting a novella each month, which you can now find under my self-published works.

What has been the toughest part of the journey so far? What part has felt the most natural?

The most natural for me will always be my passion for my characters and their stories. Minus a rough patch earlier this year, I’ve always felt like writing is the thing I’m supposed to do, especially in a genre that offers comfort and escape. With quite a chaotic neurodivergent brain, I’m always starting new hobbies, and nothing ever completely fits – but writing does. I can get lost in a word document for hours and finish up feeling more content than I ever could doing anything else. Without sounding too cheesy, it feels like my calling! However, putting my work out there hasn’t always been easy. I’ve definitely struggled this year with the pressure of traditionally publishing a second novel, and was disappointed when it didn’t perform as well as my first. As a queer author of queer books, there can be friction when it comes to the traditional market. I reluctantly changed the title of my book to suit my publisher’s vision after a lengthy conversation, and I’m still having trouble finding the right audience. The industry isn’t really fixed to benefit small, underrepresented authors, so it’s easy to feel out of place and misunderstood. That struggle had a bit of a domino effect, as I then faced a rejection for my third novel and had to return to the drawing board. I think I focused too much on what people wanted from me, and the pressure ended up taking its toll in the form of self-doubt and writer’s block. Plus, a lack of financial support meant working harder as a freelancer, which left little time or energy to keep working on my next project. I’m finding my feet again now, though, thanks to the unwavering support of my agent and friends!

How have you found being a part of the indie community?

I love the indie community dearly. I’ve found some really great friends of all genres and am always taken aback by how supportive and lovely everyone is. From participating in sale events with the amazingly hard-working Hayley Anderton, who champions indies constantly and is always seeking new ways to get our books into the hands of readers, to finding Indie Book Spotlight, a wonderful friend who manages an overwhelmingly large indie platform, to taking part in this feature with Your Paper Quest, it’s been so nice to find the right people who share the same dreams and goals not just for their own work, but for everyone’s. And there are so many readers willing to shout about your work, too! I don’t believe being an indie author would be an enjoyable experience without people to lean on, and I’m very grateful for that. It’s super important to me to give back, too, and uplift marginalised indie voices with any platform I can get, which is why I began Swords & Sapphics with my best friend, a podcast and blog all about our favourite media. I’m also passionate about offering services for authors on a lower budget, which is more of a passion project. I love helping out by designing covers or editing, giving others that confidence and preparation needed to put their work out in the world.

If you could give some advice to a new writer in the indie community, what would it be?

Prepare yourself for a lot of hard work, but don’t put too much focus on the outcome. If you let sales and engagement get you down, you might fall out of love with storytelling, and that’s why you started in the first place! Know that your book will always find at least one reader who adores it. There’s something for everyone, and it might take time, but trust that it will find its place. Also, find your people! Like I said, the community is so important and there are so many opportunities to have your work spotlighted, whether it’s with podcasts or blog pieces or sales events. But make sure to give back, too. It’s a two-way street, and you have to be willing to support others in order to get that support back. Of course, none of this would be possible without social media, so be sure to follow trends and stay active, even when it’s icky out there. Marketing is difficult, but there are ways to keep it fun.

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