It is sometimes said that every person has at least one book in them. English people also have a lot of tea in them.
Last week we had the lovely Najela Cobb, whose serial, It’s All Relative, launched the first of this month.
This week we have another author who’s reposting her work. Please welcome Miladysa, author of Refuge of Delayed Souls, and – correct me if I’m wrong – the first fellow UK national to be hosted here on Café Wednesday!
Miladysa has been kind enough to give me here at the caf a couple exclusive photos. Yep, that’s her there, outed to the internet world. And, if Miladysa’s granddaughter is reading this – hi!
Now, let’s have a nice brew and a chat.
AMH: Let’s start with a tough one. Can you give me a one line plot summary of your serial in 25 words or less?
M: Very tough question and the honest answer (although not the one that you were looking for) is no. Refuge of Delayed Souls – or RoYds as is has become affectionately known by readers – is a combination of numerous interwoven stories which span four centuries and travel back and forth in time.
AMH: Your title, Refuge of Delayed Souls, refers to a place where ghosts (or ‘delayed souls’) gather. How would you explain this place to a new reader?
M: LOL. Again a tricky question without a straight forward answer. There is a RoYds building which houses the Agency where some of the main characters congregate – “a turreted grey building” with a “chink of light radiating from it” as depicted in the header illustration on the website. However, the Refuge of Delayed Souls is suggestive and open to the readers own interpretation.
The Old Lancashire and Yorkshire Bank,
inspiration for the RoYds building.
AMH: What’s striking about your serial is that it is based on real events within your family history. How much is fact, and how much is fiction?
M: Some of the story is based on real life events. My grandfather, like the character Billy Lawrence, was a survivor of the sinking of the RMS Lancastria which claimed more lives than the combined loses of both the Titantic and Lusitania. My grandfather shot his mother-in-law in the circumstances depicted in Part 2 of RoYds – Something Snapped. The events as described are a fictionalised version of the facts outlined in his trial papers.
There is supposed to be a curse in my own family and there is one in the story. I come from a long line of women who believed that they were cursed to die young and who have, as far as I can discover, died before their mid 40s. Apparently, one of my female Irish ancestors fell in love with a man who also had a gypsy lover. When my ancestors married the gypsy girl is supposed to have cursed the bride and all her “daughters’ daughters”. Luckily enough, my paternal Scottish ancestors are famed for their sheer bloody mindedness and I decided to buck the maternal curse. Throw this in with a Welsh witch of a great grandmother and a sprinkling of Lancastrian genes and you have a story which has its roots in both fact and fiction. I’ll leave it up to the readers to work out how much of each is in there. :)
AMH: Did you have any reservations about using your family history in a story? Did you or your family ever feel the story was too personal to share?
M: No, not at all. I believe all writers draw from the well of life in some way or another.
The only members of my family who have read RoYds are my husband and eldest daughter and I have their full blessing. I am sure that would be the case with all my family although my youngest daughter is too young to read RoYds at the moment and my sons (both in their late 20s) have shown no interest in doing so. My eldest granddaughter thinks it is really “neat” having a grandmother who writes fiction and loves to Google me. :)
AMH: But this is not the first time you’re posting RoYds; what you are posting now, in fact, is a revised version. Why did you decide to revise the story, and how much does it differ from the first draft?
M: I wrote a couple of short, fictional posts on my blog, Miladysa, after receiving encouragement from my fellow blogger, Melissa, who happens to be a writer. The comments I received from readers fuelled me to write more and more until there were so many posts that I moved, what had then become RoYds, to a blog of its own. A short while later I submitted the site to the Web Fiction Guide and Muses Success where I was lucky enough to receive a handful of reviews.
There were a number of lessons to be learned from the reviews, the main one being that the story needed a good edit. What happened next was that I edited, edited, edited and stopped writing. On the whole I did more harm than good and also extinguished the joy I had discovered in writing. My husband, seeing the negative effect all this was having on me, suggested I contact a copy editor and I got in touch with Jessica Augustsson, who I had seen advertising on a number of weblit sites.
The edit was not as drastic as I was expecting. On the contrary, it was painless and also a fabulous learning experience which helped to restore my confidence.
The RoYds I am posting now is darker than the first draft. I think it flows better too and is much tighter. It has yet to receive a review so I am waiting with baited breath to see what happens when/if it does.
AMH: Do you think other authors should follow in your footsteps and copy-edit their work, and if so, are there any reasons you would recommend Jessica Augustsson in particular?
M:I think it is important that people write and put their stories out there for people to read. This is what really excites me about weblit, there is far greater opportunity for people from all backgrounds to share with us the stories they want to tell – whether they are autobiographical, poetical or fiction – rather than stories that publishing houses are limited by overheads to sell.
Having said all that, I want to write the best I can. I have always liked to spin a good oral story but my creative writing prior to RoYds, had been limited to school, which I left when I was 16. Although an avid reader, I have always paid far more attention to the story than I ever did to the punctuation and structure employed in constructing it. Not always so lately!
Using the services of a copy-editor really works for me and it also helps to keep my blood pressure where it should be, otherwise the whole point of the exercise is defeated. I think I am becoming a better writer because of it, these days when I send Jessica something there is always the possibility that it may come back with only a couple of red commas and a few question marks or amendments. I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending Jessica; she has been friendly, professional and best of all honest!
AMH: Since you’ve been editing, maybe you’ll have a unique insight to this reader-submitted question. Isa asks: “Name one writing ‘rule’ meant to be broken.”
M: To break any rules you must know them in the first place and I confess to not knowing any – none that I consciously pay any heed to anyway. I don’t necessarily think that is a bad thing. I know some people will be *shocked* by my saying that. So my “one writing ‘rule’ meant to be broken” would be forget worrying about the ‘rules’ and concentrate on enjoying the thrill of writing!
Of course, if you do this, you should expect to get grief from some quarters. I’ll let you into a little secret though, whatever you do in life you are never going to please everyone – it is an impossible task. Once you accept this, and stop trying to please the world, you can start to own what you write, in my humble opinion that is the main thing.
AMH: Right. Is there anything else in particular you’d like to say?
M: Thank you for inviting me on Café Wednesday! Also, a big thank you to all the Refuge of Delayed Souls readers and my weblit/webfiction friends whose priceless encouragement, feedback and support is always very much appreciated.
And don’t forget to come back next week – and I hereby break the trend by announcing the next guest – for an interview with Sharon T. Rose!
If you have any questions of your own for Miladysa, leave them in a comment below, but keep her spooky history in mind, and be careful what you ask for….