Ep 397 Meet Julietta Henderson, author of ‘The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman’.

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In Episode 397 of So You Want To Be A Writer: Meet Julietta Henderson, author of The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman. Discover how to write Regency romance. Plus, we have 3 copies of World Travel by Anthony Bourdain to give away.

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Show Notes

What is ‘Regency romance’ and how can I write it?

Writer in Residence

Julietta Henderson

Julietta Henderson grew up in the rainforests of North Queensland, and developed her passion for the written word producing ‘magazines' for school friends and neighbours with her sister. She has worked her way through jobs as diverse as bicycle tour guide in Tuscany, nanny in the Italian Alps and breakfast waitress in the wilds of Scotland. Like many Australians, her love affair with Europe began when she came to London and stayed for more than a decade.

Now a full-time writer, Julietta divides her life between Melbourne, the UK and wherever else she can find winter.

Her book is The Funny Thing about Norman Foreman is out now. 

Follow Julietta on Twitter

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Interview Transcript

Allison Tait 

Julietta Henderson has been writing professionally for more than 25 years with her work appearing in books and publications in the US, UK and Australia. Her debut novel, The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman, is out now in Australia and coming soon in the US, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Israel. Welcome to the program, Julietta.

 

Julietta Henderson 

Oh, thank you very much, Allison. And thank you for that lovely introduction. Sounds just like me.

 

Allison Tait 

So Norman is your first published novel, but you've been writing professionally for a long time. So tell us about the kinds of writing you've been doing over the years and how you got your start with that.

 

Julietta Henderson 

So yes, you're quite correct. So I've been writing for a long, long time. I've been writing since I was a child, really, but professionally, I started, yeah, it'd be over 25 years now. And the first professional job I had actually was working for a photographer who's quite well known now and has moved to America and made his fame and fortune. But I met him by chance, actually, and he asked me to come and work for him. And then within, and I worked for him in his gallery selling his photographic art, because I was a very, very keen photographer, amateur photographer, and that's how we came to meet.

And then his business expanded into a publishing company, his own publishing company. And I moved into the creative department, which was, the creative department was me, the photographer and a graphic designer. And so I did all the copy for just his images around the gallery, the little blurb and things like that, then I expanded to doing bios and things like that and then moved into… Someone else had done his books a while before that, but then I moved into doing all the copywriting for his books.

And that was sort of, I worked there for a good many years, maybe 10 years and got a couple of large format books under my belt, which was very exciting for me. And then after that finished, I moved back to the UK where I've been back and forward for the last 25 years or so. And I started working in a marketing company. So I did all their copywriting. And then over the years – and I actually still work for them all these years later, I obviously just contract because I'm back here in Australia – but I still do writing for their website.

And as any freelance writer knows, if you have to, if you want to call yourself a writer, you have to pretty much do anything and everything. And so just over the last few years, I don't know, 10 years, I guess, I've done everything from – and currently still do – real estate copywriting, I do the occasional article in a magazine or newspaper or, you know, inflight magazine, and things like that, but I'm a little bit too lazy with that these days, because you actually have to pitch and put a bit of work in to get that sort of work. As you would know.

So, but mainly I'm doing things like writing for people's websites and writing that sort of, which I think I coined the term myself in my head, and then I possibly shouldn't use it, but a lot of it is the writing that you would do like what we're calling content now. So you know, that goes out there into the ether. And, you know, those of us who write a lot of it know that in many cases, it's never going to be read. But it's for, you know, SEO purposes and things like that. So I haven't done any of that for a while, but I did a lot of that. And I actually think that that was the perfect training ground for more creative writing, because you have to, you know, it has to be, you know, very good writing because Google can recognise, you know, rubbish and all that sort of stuff. But it is very disposable, if I can use that term. You have to sort of get used to the thought that you spend your day writing this stuff that possibly people won't read but it does teach you to be a very good self-editor and not to be precious about your words because there's always more words.

 

Allison Tait 

So is The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman the first novel you've ever tried writing?

 

Julietta Henderson 

No, it's about the hundred and first. But no, no, not really. It's definitely the first one that's ever been published. It's probably, I would say I have three that are in various states of completion, but will probably now never be completed. One I was working on for a very long time, and it is, you can't see me, but I'm doing the inverted commas thing, it is finished. But obviously, it's not really. But this, but The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman is the first one that I went all the way, all the way to the end, and then persisted and then didn't get, you know, sort of side-tracked by some other kind of shiny idea somewhere else, which is what I'm very prone to doing.

 

Allison Tait 

Okay, so when did you… Let's sort of have a look at when you first, when did you first start writing fiction? Like how many years do you think you've been working off and on at various bits and pieces of it?

 

Julietta Henderson 

Probably for, probably for 15 years, I would say. No, probably for 10 years seriously, when I started telling people, and it's literally that long ago that I started telling people, “I'm going to write a book” or “I am writing a book.” And I didn't say it very much to people, because I'm very aware of, you know, like, anyone can say that. But if you sit, unless you actually sit down and do it, it's just another one of those things. And people will stop listening to you after a while. But I did start saying that at least 10 years ago, and I was actually doing it sort of very quite seriously, or what I considered seriously, which now, having finished my first and working on my second, I know I had no idea what serious really was. But yeah, so for a long time.

And I, you know, I think I've in my head, I sort of had to look at it as, I can look at that in two ways. I can say, “Oh, my gosh, what a waste of time. I should have, you know, I should have had a book published 10 years ago. Why was I wasting my time? Why did it take me so long?” Or I can look at it the way I'm choosing to, which is that that was really my training ground. I mean, I didn't ever have any, I didn't have any doubt. Without sounding, you know, big headed or anything, I didn't have, because I wrote for a living, I didn't really have any doubts that I could write. But writing a book is very different, as you well know. Writing a book, writing a long 90,000, 100,000 words is very different to writing 1000 words or even 5000 words. And so I think those 10, 12 whatever years it was that I was fluffing around, telling people I was writing a book and, you know, living in Paris and pretending to be a – Oh, I wasn't pretending to be a starving writer; I was a starving writer. You know that was, I think that was my training ground. And in order to make peace with myself, at that time that I, you know, could be perceived as being wasted, because nothing came out of it, I'm choosing to look at that as my very long apprenticeship.

 

Allison Tait 

It does take a long time to work out how you write a novel. It's something that we talk about a lot. And that transition from writing for other people to writing, you know, something that is entirely yours is something that I have also talked about. And it is, as you say, a very, very different process. But so let's talk about this book, The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman. What was it about this one that made you persist all the way to the end? Like, why? What is it about this book, do you think, that's different to the ones that you've done before?

 

Julietta Henderson 

I think, genuinely, I think I absolutely fell in love with the characters. And I… It was easier for me to keep going than it was for me to stop and put it in my hard drive. And, you know, watch Netflix for another weekend. Because I really wanted these characters, I don't know, they arrived, do you know the old thing – “oh they arrived fully formed in my head.” They actually did. And they, this little boy and his mother showed up in my head and they just wouldn't go away. And so I started, I was writing something else at the time, and I started out with them. And I just couldn't stop because I wanted to see what happened myself. And I didn't want to, I didn't want to give them up. I wanted to spend time with them all the time. And I became quite obsessed, as you have to, I think, when you're writing a book, you know, whether it's obsession or, or persistence, I don't know. Probably the same thing. But I just, I really wanted to, without sounding corny or cliched or anything, I wanted to honour them, and I wanted to bring them to life and I wanted their, I just wanted to tell their story. And so I just kept on going until their story was told.

 

Allison Tait 

So it began with the characters. Where did the idea for it come from? Because maybe tell us a little bit about it. Because, you know, we're sitting here talking, I've read this. So I'm talking to you about it like, you know, everyone knows what we're talking about. So maybe tell us about The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman. And just give me an idea of where the idea came from and where, you obviously began writing with the characters, so maybe just give us an idea how that happened.

 

Julietta Henderson 

Okay, so the story is about, not surprisingly, a boy called Norman Foreman. He's a 12-year-old boy. So the story basically is about him and his mother, single mother Sadie. So Norman and his best friend who's called Jax are obsessed with the old-time comedy greats, the British comedy greats. And they've got an ambitious plan to get themselves or their own comedy duo act all the way to the famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. And that's their five-year plan. But then, tragically, Jax dies. And that's not a spoiler, because he, you know that basically from the first page or second page. And Norman's left absolutely devastated, of course. And now he's just half of a comedy duo. And his mother, who, she's a woman who she's so flawed, and she's very self-deprecating, and she's a single mother and everything, and she never thinks she's doing the right thing. All she wants is to see Norman smile again. She can see how much he's suffering. And so she resolves not only to make his dream come true, and get into the Edinburgh Fringe, but also to help find the father that he's never known. So there's a lot of challenges that I threw in front of these two characters. But in answer to your question, where the story itself came from, definitely it came from those two characters popping into my head. As I said, I always had this, it was just, I really wanted… I don't have children myself, and I don't pine for them or anything like that. But I always wanted to, I love the special relationship between single parents, whether it's a father or a child, I've got many friends who are single parents, for whatever reason. And I think it's a really special relationship. And I think in a single parent family, you have to be each other's heroes sort of thing, you know, because you're all you've… Especially single parent and only child.

 

So I did want to explore that to a certain… But that only sort of came later, that whole idea of exploring the single mother thing, that that came a little bit later.

 

But these characters, they just, they just sort of played in my head. And the story really came about, definitely the characters came first. And I didn't quite know what I was doing with them. But I sat down and wrote. And then I started to think about… You know when authors, if you're stuck writing, if you've got writer's block, or whatever, you always ask yourself a what if question? What if we close that door? Or what if we, you know, run him over by a car or whatever? This what if question, I was watching some comedy thing at some stage or other, honestly, don't remember. I don't remember the moment, but I remember the vagueness of around it. I was watching a comedian that wasn't very good. And it just got me thinking about what if comedy was your life? What if you were so obsessed with comedy, and you really, really wanted to be a comedian, but you were really rubbish at it? And that kind of, it all sort of started from that.

 

And then also, I did want to challenge… That's the fun of writing, isn't it? It's like putting challenges in front of your characters and seeing how they react to them. But another question that I did ask myself, right at the beginning was, what if the worst possible thing that ever happened in your life led you to the best time of your life? And that was, I think, when everything really fell into place, because that's kind of what, you know, happens in the story.

 

Allison Tait 

So how would you describe your writing process, then? Is it sort of like a couple of random ideas, start writing? Or are you from that point planning things out? Or what happens?

 

Julietta Henderson 

Oh, my gosh, you know, the whole plotter and pantser thing. I never even had heard of that before I started trying to finish this book. How do you write a book? But never, never did I plan. In this first book, never did I have a plan. It was completely scattergun. And I actually wrote, I wrote the end… Really interestingly, the very beginning, the first page and the last page I wrote fairly close together. So I guess that's, in a way, it's a plan. I knew how it was starting. And I kind of knew how it was finishing. But those two pages have never changed. Like they're practically word for word from five years ago when I first started.

 

In the middle… I mean, I think with this book, I was fortunate in the planning in that it's a road trip, which, you know, again, is no spoiler; it's a road trip. So your plot is fairly linear. Obviously, there's thinking back and there's, you know, introspection and things like that from all the characters. But it's basically a linear plot, isn't it, a road trip; I mean, it can't be anything else. You've got to get from point A to point B to point C to your final point.

 

So in a way, the planning, I didn't really need to plan all that much. I knew where I was leaving from, and I knew I had to arrive there. And everything else that happened in between, literally, came out of my head, as it went on to the page. There was no forward thinking at all, which is, which is very different, by the way, to the one that I'm working on now. I'm trying to be a planner in this one. I'm looking at my huge whiteboard on the wall now thinking, yeah, that's a plan, but it's not really working that well.

 

Allison Tait 

Alright, so with Norman, the voice of the book is very specific and is actually one of the great joys of reading it. It's a very engaging book right from the start. Did that voice come to you straight away? Or was that something that's emerged as the characters developed?

 

Julietta Henderson 

Both the voices of Sadie and Norman came to me very naturally. A lot of my friends, I just got a text this morning, actually, from a friend who said, “I'm reading,” she said, “and I can't help hearing your voice all the way through when Sadie speaks.” So I said, “interesting, interesting.” And a couple of friends have said that.

 

So they were both, but they both came very easily to me. Very naturally, I should say. But I was, it was harder for me to write Norman, because I was getting, I was really, I didn't want him to… He's a very unusual 12-year-old. So he didn't need to sound, you know, childish or anything like that. But I also didn't want him to sound like an adult. And because I don't have children, I was really, I was really conscious of getting that right. And I didn't sort of ask questions or anything like that, because I was fairly determined. I didn't, I didn't want to be swayed by, you know, it's whenever you ask people advice, you're going to get conflicting advice. And so I didn't want to get, you know, even more, more confused. So I sort of went with my gut on that. And just because I'm not a parent, doesn't mean I haven't come across a million, you know, 12-year-old boys in my time. So I guess he's an amalgamation of every kid I've ever met.

 

And, you know, so but I found, maybe worryingly, I found that he did, his actual voice came really naturally to me. And I was like, oh, maybe I'm a 12-year-old boy in another life, because I kind of found myself understanding how he might think as a 12-year-old boy. And where that came from, I don't know. Maybe just remembering, you know, it's been quite a while since I was 12. But, you know, we've all been there. So I guess maybe I was drawing on that. But it was an absolute pleasure. But I have to say, when I got to Sadie's parts I was, I almost breathed a sigh of relief, because I'm like, “Oh, I don't have to worry about getting things right here.” Because I am a woman, you know.

 

Allison Tait

I know where I am.

 

Julietta Henderson

Yeah. It really was like that. And so every time I then got back to Norman, I was like, “right. I've got to make this right.” You know, and so I almost do like a happy jig on the phone or wherever when people say, “wow, you got the voice of Norman really, really, like, really, really down pat” sort of thing. I think, Oh my God, thank goodness.

 

Allison Tait 

Well, yeah, for me, I think one of the things that underpins both of those voices is that sort of feel-good factor that sort of goes through. I mean, even though things don't really, you know, begin on a high note, there is still somehow an underpinning of feel good. And I'm just wondering if that's something that you deliberately set out to achieve or if it's just evolved as the story has also evolved?

 

Julietta Henderson 

I think I did. I didn't deliberately set out to write uplit – which because I'd never heard the term until after I'd had my publishing deal actually. But it is very much uplit which is uplifting literature, obviously. I didn't consciously set out to… I didn't consciously set out to do anything, to be honest. Except, I think I knew in my head that I always wanted it to be hopeful. And by that, I didn't mean, I don't have to have a happy ending in a book. But I think I need to have some kind of a sign that the characters have evolved in a good way. And there's, and that even if it's not down on the paper that in the future, maybe they're going to get some happiness.

 

So, even though, and I knew, again, from when I sat down to start writing, I didn't know I was going to be dealing with like, you know, complex topics like grief and single parenting and things like that. I mean, that was never my intention. But then once I was there, I wanted to, I thought, “right, okay, well, this is what's happening.” But I really wanted to deal with them sensitively. But I also wanted to deal with them hopefully.

 

So you know, and sort of… I guess at the heart of it, the book is about resilience. Resilience for Norman and for Sadie; they've both been through different things. And for actually every other single character in the book. Again, it was not intentional. But I think I saw that coming as I was writing, and I was like, yeah, you know, I really like this feeling. And as it turns out, you know, I think I'd written the book, you know, writers often say, write the book that you want to read? I think, again, not consciously, but I think I did that. Because I read really widely, and I like some very obscure books. But I do love books that have a touch of humour that can make you laugh, make you laugh, make you cry, make you think, and just walk away from with, you know, you're not necessarily going to remember a book for the rest of your life. But just to remember it weeks later, and go, “Oh, that was really cool” or “wasn't that shocking?” You know, just some kind of thing that you can leave with people. And I hope that there are bits in that, that people might think of a couple of weeks at least, maybe not years, but a couple of weeks later.

 

Allison Tait 

Now, we touched on this a little bit earlier, and we talked about the challenges of switching to long form fiction, and, you know, the apprenticeship and stuff. What did you find most challenging about it? What was the most difficult aspect of it for you?

 

Julietta Henderson 

Just doing it, instead of thinking about it. I'm just the world's… There needs to be gold medals given out for procrastination because I would have a neck full of them. It's so easy to get, it's so easy to stand up and walk away from your computer when things are getting hard, when there's no end point. Or, you know, when 100,000 words is your endpoint. Because if 500 or 1000 or 5000 words is your endpoint, you're like, I'll just plod on, and I'll keep going and it's getting a bit messy, but okay, I'll tidy that up later. Whereas I found it really… I'm a lot better at it now, obviously. But it was really hard not to… It's almost like goal setting. It's almost like not having, you know, you've got a very arbitrary goal of finishing a book. But you haven't got, and particularly in the first one, when I was writing to no deadline, I was just writing into the future, you know, hoping one day I'd finish.

 

So me personally, I tend to fluff around, and I'll jump around from bit to bit if it gets too hard. I mean, I had the perfect example yesterday. I was just having the worst writing… I had the whole day free, I had nothing else on, I had the whole day free to write. And I couldn't even get through some of this first, not first chapter, but this chapter that was just being difficult to me. And I had to, I had to do it because I thought I've got to get this person from A to B. You know, it was literally getting them from a garden shed into a house sort of thing. And it was so difficult for me, but I just forced myself. Whereas normally, I would go for a walk, I'd go and do something else, I'd clean the house, I'd find some kind of excuse that really is an excuse. It's not, it's not trying to gain, you know, inspiration or anything. It's just an excuse, because things are too hard.

 

I forced myself to sit here on the lounge. And I sat here for, eleven til, for about four hours. And I got there. And I made myself get there. And I was so proud at the end of it because I honestly think that's the first time I've ever done that.

 

Of course you have to get, you have to go back and do the hard bits. But I always do that. And I always put notes in and go “oh, go back here” in red and go, Yeah, this means finishing but can't be bothered doing it now. And I've forced myself to do it. I was so proud. I was so proud. I mean, I haven't re-read it this morning. I'm sure it's going to be extreme nonsense, but at least I got there and I've got something to work from.

 

So yes, in answer to your very original question a long time ago, that's the hardest thing is actually sitting there, sitting your bum down on the chair, or keeping it there. I should say. Just keeping… I might invest in some magnetic pants. I just had such a great idea.

 

Allison Tait

You need the bum glue, that's what you need. The bum glue.

 

Julietta Henderson

Yeah. Bum glue. Truly I do because there's so much wonderful stuff going on in my house. You know – not! There's so many things that can be done apart from writing. So that's been an education.

 

Allison Tait 

So once you've completed the manuscript with Norman Foreman, what happened from there? Like, how did it actually come to be published? Do you have an agent? Did you just send it out? What happened?

 

Julietta Henderson 

No. So I have an agent, I have the most incredible agent, I have my dream agent. So the way I got to her – years ago, probably six years ago, a literary agency called Curtis Brown, they're a very large literary agency in the UK. So I was invited by them to do a week in – what do they call it? – summer school, or something like that, a week in the offices of Curtis Brown. And just to come in and do this week intensive, just an intensive workshop on your novel. And I just thought, “Oh, you know what, I'm so stuck with this novel that I'm working on. I don't know that I can sustain a week of talking about it. I'm actually losing interest with it” and all the rest of it.

 

So I'd had Norman in my head for not that long. But I started to write just a couple of notes about this book. And that was what I took to this week-long workshop. And that was what I worked on. And it had a really good reception from there. And I met, at the end of the workshop, I met this agent, because they gave us a little, you know, champagne party. And we were to meet agents and pitch to them, just as a practice sort of session, which I completely messed up, because it was a table full of agents and it was so intimidating. Anyway, I did that. And then at the champagne thing afterwards, I knew this particular agent called Sue Armstrong, I'd already researched her, maybe a year or so before that, and I knew she was the agent that I would have in my dream of dreams. Because she's, you know, she's a bit of a, she's very well known. And she's, you know, she's done some amazing books and things.

 

And so at that party, I said, “Oh, you know, would you mind if I pitch, if I sent Norman to you when I finish?” And she goes, “Oh, yeah, it sounds adorable.” And I walked away going, “Oh, she thinks it sounds adorable!”

 

Anyway, fast forward, gosh, I don't even know, another three or four years after that and I did send Norman to her. And so then I sat… I had no plan B. Because she was the agent I wanted. And I thought, well, I'll wait for the refusal from her. And then I'll start researching other agents. And within a couple of days, she got back to me, and she said, “I love it.” And the funny – well, I think it's a funny story, anyway – I planned everything. So I did everything right. You know, my letter was, you know, perfect, so I thought. Everything was perfect, my synopsis. And I knew that you never send anything to an agent in March because it's the London Book Fair. And that's their busiest time of the year and everything. So I got mine off at the beginning of February and sat back and waited, you know, thought, “Okay, I have to wait three months for an answer.” And she asked me in a couple of days, and she said, “Look, I'm really busy, because we're just gearing up for the London Book Fair next week.” I was like, well, I couldn't have sent it at a worse time. Because they they'd moved the book fair forward. And I didn't know that. So I was, you know, I was thinking, Oh, God.

 

But anyway, so then she and she said, “I love it. I just want to let you know, I love it. But I'm really trying to read it. But we're really busy actually, but I'll get back to you.”

 

And then within a couple of days, she rang me back, well, she rang me and she offered me representation. And seriously, I nearly fell through the floor because that is my dream come true.

 

And so then I worked with her, of course. I accepted her offer of representation. And then I worked with her for about maybe two months editorially, because she's quite well known for… Not all agents do work editorially with you, but she did. And so she suggested a few structural changes and things like that, which I worked on with her. And then she took it to publishers.

 

And again, it was really quick. So within just a couple of days, there were a few publishers interested and then it went to auction, which is an amazing thing to have happen. And yeah, and eventually got…

 

Allison Tait

And here we are.

 

Julietta Henderson

Here we are. Got pre-empted by Transworld. And then the rest is history, as we say, history now.

 

Allison Tait 

Yeah. And that feels like a dream run after 10 years of working on various things. And isn't that the thing? Like everybody sees the sort of, you know, the pre-emptive thing in Publishers Weekly and thinks, wow, dream run! But in actual fact, five manuscripts later.

 

Julietta Henderson 

Yeah, absolutely. And also, I definitely, definitely had a dream run. And it's really sometimes, you know, I have to be quite sensitive about saying that, I know, because there's so many fantastic writers out there who don't get a dream run or don't get their opportunity. But I do take credit for my own dream run in part by saying that I made it so easy for everyone at every step to say yes to me, in terms of, you know, what I could control, which was absolutely everything. I made it perfect before I sent it to her. My letter, it probably took me a month to write my letter to her, my synopsis probably took me a year. But even down to the point size and the double spacing of the letter and who, you know, I made everything just perfect, exactly what you want, so easy for you to read it and easy for you to say yes, hopefully.

 

So that would be…

 

Allison Tait

Make it as easy as possible.

 

Julietta Henderson

That's very important. Yeah, I think so. Yeah. Yeah. Why would you want people to say no to you for, you know, for putting it in the wrong font size? You know what I mean?

 

Allison Tait

No, that's right. Yeah, give yourself the best chance.

 

Julietta Henderson

Yeah.

 

Allison Tait

So you're working on another book at the moment. Obviously, you have a deadline for this one. Would I be right?

 

Julietta Henderson

Yeah. Yes, you would.

 

Allison Tait

And has that changed everything for you?

 

Julietta Henderson 

Oh, yes, it certainly. But for the better. I do actually work better with a deadline. Because as I said before, if I'm working towards the fluffy point, at the end of time, I'll just take till the end of time to get there.

 

But no, so I'm, you know, I have moments of – oh, you would know exactly what it was like. But I have moments of absolute panic at two o'clock in the morning thinking, I'm never gonna get this done and whatever.

 

But now, I still may not get it done. I don't know. I'm just putting one foot in front of the other and realizing that no one else is doing it for me. So I have to do it. And also how lucky am I to have a deadline in publishing? That's an absolute privilege.

 

Allison Tait 

All right. So that brings us to our final question, Julietta. So there's a couple of things we need to discuss. First of all, where do people find you online? Just so they can track you down if they want to.

 

Julietta Henderson 

So they can find me at my website, which is just JuliettaHenderson.com. And I'm mainly put all my bookie stuff, I started to try to be very prolific on Twitter and Instagram, but it's very time consuming, as you know. So I am on Twitter as @juliettajulia1 but I'm not on there very much. But I'm on Instagram a lot at @juliettahendersonauthor. So that's probably the main place.

 

Allison Tait 

Yeah, we usually talk about that, too. Like, I think once you start out with social media and stuff, you discover what you like. You find the thing that you're actually actively going to do. And we always say, do one thing that you're going to do rather than trying to spread yourself across stuff that doesn't…

 

Julietta Henderson 

Oh, right. Well, I'm glad to hear that advice. Thank you. I'll continue. I'll feel better now. I'll feel better for ignoring Twitter.

 

Allison Tait 

Just you know, play to your strengths. We always say that. Play to your strengths. All right. So we're going to wrap up with our final question that we ask everybody. What are your top three tips for writers, Julietta Henderson?

 

Julietta Henderson 

Okay, look, they're probably tried and true tips that you've all heard before. But I would say the very, very first one is just to read and read as widely as you can and even read out of the genre that you would normally read. I've learned a lot about reading, from reading friends' manuscripts and things, genres that I would never read, like dystopian fiction, or even thrillers. I'm not a big thriller reader. But you can just learn different structural techniques. And you'll probably find you enjoy it as well. But you can learn so much from reading that. And, you know, it's just, it's the basis of all writing. You can't write unless you read. So I read probably two books a week and just absolutely love it.

 

The second tip would be, again, tried and true. But absolutely, I'm living it now, which is just get… The first draft is telling yourself the story. It's not, it's never going to be seen by anyone else. It's never… It doesn't matter if it's rubbish. But you need to get the first draft down in order to have something to work for, or towards. So just get, just get the words down. Don't try and be perfect in your first draft. Just get them down, get from beginning to end, and then go back and start doing the editing.

 

But I think my favourite writing tip, which again, is not original, but really, really changed things for me, or it's sort of justified what I probably already did, but it made me think, oh, maybe I'm doing the right thing, which is to write for your characters. Don't write for your perceived audience. Don't write to get published. Don't write for your agent. Don't write to your mother or your friends. Write… If you find yourself some characters that you absolutely love and you want to spend 100,000 words with, if you, in your head, if you write for them to get their story out there, I think you're halfway to success.

 

Allison Tait 

That's great advice. Well, thank you so much for your time today. All the best for Norman Foreman coming out in all the various territories. Because it's out in Australia right now. But it's coming soon to lots of other places in April, I believe.

 

Julietta Henderson 

Yes. Mid-April in the US and then end of April in the UK and around Europe.

 

Allison Tait 

Fabulous. All right. Well, best of luck with it and best of luck with the new work and we look forward to seeing many more Julietta Henderson novels in the future. Julie Henna?

 

Julietta Henderson 

I've been called a lot of things. That's fine. Thank you so much, Allison. Thank you for having me. And thanks for having me particularly on this very excellent podcast which I love.

 

Allison Tait

Thank you.

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