Interview with Author Miranda Dickinson

Seaglass Miranda Dickinson

Miranda Dickinson - Seashore CreativeCan you tell us a little bit about how you first started writing?

I always wrote stories as a child. They never got past Chapter One, but in my head they were great epics! In my teens I first started writing longer fiction but shelved it when a bloke I fancied told me it was a childish thing to do… Moral of this story: never listen to guys you fancy when you’re 18. They know nothing! 

I wrote other things at university and into my twenties – scripts, diaries, short stories – and then when I was in my late twenties I was given a very old, very cranky PC and started to write what eventually became my first novel, Fairytale of New York. 

I wrote the kind of story I wanted to read, just for me, so it’s amazing that it was discovered on a website for unpublished authors, was published and went on to be a bestseller in four countries!

Seaglass Miranda DickinsonWe absolutely love Somewhere Beyond the Sea – what gave you the inspiration for the story?

Thank you! I adore Cornwall and St Ives in particular. It’s the place I feel happiest and is incredibly important to my family, too. I’ve always wanted to set a story here but I knew it had to be special to do the place justice. 

Then, two years ago on our wedding anniversary, we were staying in St Ives and my lovely husband, Bob, got up early and made a heart out of seaglass, driftwood, seaweed and shells on Porthgwidden Beach for me to find. That inspired the seaglass stars that Seren and Jack make on Gwithian Beach in the story.

I also wanted to write a proper love story. In my two previous novels, A Parcel for Anna Browne and Searching for a Silver Lining, the love story has been secondary to what my main characters learn about themselves. I love that, but I had a hankering to write a will-they-won’t-they story again. Two people falling (or not falling) in love, surrounded by the sea and the most beautiful place on earth was just too good to resist!

Miranda D BeachYour passion for St Ives shines throughout the book and particularly with Miranda’s Guide to St Ives at the back.  If you could have lived in St Ives at any time in its history when would that have been and what would you like to have been doing?

What a great question! I’d love to live in St Ives right now because it’s such a vibrant, fun community and I love all the independent businesses that make the town such a special place to be. But I would also have loved to live there in the 1930s – 1950s when the St Ives School of artists was established, with Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach and Ben Nicholson all living and working in the town. 

I would love to have studied art alongside them. It’s easy to see why St Ives became such a magnet for artists and creative people – beauty is everywhere you look and it’s such an inspirational location.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers about how to get your manuscript in front of the right people?

Firstly, dare to get your manuscript out there. Sharing your work with other people is terrifying, but the only way you learn to be a better writer. I started a blog for my short stories, joined an online writers’ community (because I didn’t know any writing groups in my area) and looked for any opportunity to get my writing seen. 

Secondly, look for the agents and publishers of authors you admire. You can usually find this in the acknowledgements of their books (I thank everyone who works on my books in mine!) Thirdly – but probably most importantly – make sure your manuscript is ready to be seen. 

The first three chapters – which is usually what agents ask to see – should be as compelling and polished as you can get them. Lastly, make sure you believe wholeheartedly in your book because from the moment you share it with someone else you have to champion your words.

You have been very successful in your chosen careers. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

Lots! I would love to see my books adapted as films or TV series. That’s always been my dream. I’d love to see how someone else interprets the story I’ve created. I’m also a singer-songwriter, so I would love to perform on a really big stage with an orchestra – somewhere like the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, which is my favourite concert venue. And – bit of a daft one – I would love to one day meet someone cosplaying one of my characters at a fan convention!

Then, two years ago on our wedding anniversary, we were staying in St Ives and my lovely husband, Bob, got up early and made a heart out of seaglass, driftwood, seaweed and shells on Porthgwidden Beach for me to find. That inspired the seaglass stars that Seren and Jack make on Gwithian Beach in the story.

I also wanted to write a proper love story. In my two previous novels, A Parcel for Anna Browne and Searching for a Silver Lining, the love story has been secondary to what my main characters learn about themselves. I love that, but I had a hankering to write a will-they-won’t-they story again. Two people falling (or not falling) in love, surrounded by the sea and the most beautiful place on earth was just too good to resist!

Your passion for St Ives shines throughout the book and particularly with Miranda’s Guide to St Ives at the back.  If you could have lived in St Ives at any time in its history when would that have been and what would you like to have been doing?

What a great question! I’d love to live in St Ives right now because it’s such a vibrant, fun community and I love all the independent businesses that make the town such a special place to be. But I would also have loved to live there in the 1930s – 1950s when the St Ives School of artists was established, with Barbara Hepworth, Bernard Leach and Ben Nicholson all living and working in the town. 

I would love to have studied art alongside them. It’s easy to see why St Ives became such a magnet for artists and creative people – beauty is everywhere you look and it’s such an inspirational location.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers about how to get your manuscript in front of the right people?

Firstly, dare to get your manuscript out there. Sharing your work with other people is terrifying, but the only way you learn to be a better writer. I started a blog for my short stories, joined an online writers’ community (because I didn’t know any writing groups in my area) and looked for any opportunity to get my writing seen. 

Secondly, look for the agents and publishers of authors you admire. You can usually find this in the acknowledgements of their books (I thank everyone who works on my books in mine!) Thirdly – but probably most importantly – make sure your manuscript is ready to be seen. 

The first three chapters – which is usually what agents ask to see – should be as compelling and polished as you can get them. Lastly, make sure you believe wholeheartedly in your book because from the moment you share it with someone else you have to champion your words.

You have been very successful in your chosen careers. Do you have any unfulfilled ambitions?

Lots! I would love to see my books adapted as films or TV series. That’s always been my dream. I’d love to see how someone else interprets the story I’ve created. I’m also a singer-songwriter, so I would love to perform on a really big stage with an orchestra – somewhere like the Symphony Hall in Birmingham, which is my favourite concert venue. And – bit of a daft one – I would love to one day meet someone cosplaying one of my characters at a fan convention!

Beyond the Sea - Miranda DickinsonWhen you are not writing what do you do to relax?

I love walking with my family – and if that can be by the sea, so much better! I try to get to St Ives whenever I can, but there are lots of gorgeous places to visit nearer my home. Music is very important to me, so I always have some playing.

And I love losing myself in a great book – I’m an avid reader and love curling up with someone else’s words when I’m not writing my own!

Somewhere Beyond the Sea is available in paperback, eBook and audiobook.

Buy now from www.amazon.co.uk/

Her latest book The Day We Meet Again is published on the 5th September 2019

All images © Miranda Dickinson

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