Della writes: “My first short story was published in 1987, when I was about… er hem… six – and since then I’ve sold over 2000 short stories and dozens of serials, which have been published in both the UK and abroad. I’ve also sold hundreds of features, a handful of children’s stories and around fifteen novels. Phew! No wonder I’m tired.
“I live in Dorset with my partner, several dogs and a flock of ex battery hens.
“I’m often asked for the secret of my success and it’s very simple. If I won the lottery tomorrow I would still write. I live and breathe writing. It has been a part of me for as long as I can remember. I simply cannot imagine a life without writing.”
1. Which book or writer do you feel has most influenced your writing and why?
Dick Frances has always been one of my favourite writers. I think he’s underrated. He’s brilliant at both plot and characterisation and not many thriller writers are. I can’t put his books down.
2. What made you decide to write novels?
Having a novel published was always my ultimate dream. I love writing them too because it means I can live with the characters for a much longer period of time than I would if I was writing a short story.
3. Did you find writing a novel easier or harder and why?
I found I could write many more words in a day than I could if I was writing short stories. In some sense it was easier because I only needed one idea, one set of characters, one plot etc.
4. Which living writers do you particularly respect and why?
There are some short story writers out there who I really respect. Teresa Ashby has always been a hero of mine because she’s both prolific and excellent. I like Sophie Kinsella for the same reason.
5. What do you think is the hardest part of writing?
With novel writing I find the beginnings are the hardest parts. And strangely I find it’s the opposite with short story writing. It’s the endings I have the most trouble with.
6. In terms of your writing, what would you consider to be your own strengths and weaknesses?
I think plotting is my biggest weakness. I’m far more interested in the characters than the plot and so I tend to neglect it, which can sometimes get me into trouble if I reach a plot cul-de-sac. What I’m good at is easy, it’s emotion and, according to my editors, I’m also quite funny. 🙂
7. Describe your writing process?
Once I have the idea I work out a basic outline, and then I start writing. I don’t go in for detailed plotting. My stories are character led. I write every day apart from Christmas Day when I’m not allowed! I think it’s important to get the first draft down as quickly as possible.
8. What one piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Attending a good writing class can be very helpful, but the main way to learn is to write and write and write and then get feedback from someone who is constructive and knows what you are trying to achieve.
9. How did you get started as a writer?
I started going to an evening class called Writing for Profit and Pleasure. And even though I teach writing myself now, I still attend that class.
10. What was your inspiration for The Bluebell Cliff series? My parents ran a seaside hotel for twenty-five years in Dorset. I thought, wouldn’t it be good if there was a hotel where you could go to actually live out your dream. This is The Bluebell Cliff Hotel. It’s also populated with a wonderfully quirky staff. I love writing about quirky people. Being a little quirky myself!
11. Do you show your novels to anyone before you send them to your editor?
These days, I only ever show them to my partner as he’s quite a good editor.
12. What books would you recommend to new writers?
On Writing by Stephen King. Also, if I’m allowed, could I recommend my own series. The Short Story Writers’ Toolshed and The Novel Writers’ Toolshed.