Dundee rocks! I got my first degree (history) at Manchester Uni in 1984, but 2017-2018 I did a Master’s degree in Writing Practice and Study at Dundee Uni! It was hard, but that’s because I did it in one year whilst running my photography business AND writing my debut romance for Mills & Boon – so it was a heavy load to carry. The course was great though – took me into reading and writing territory that was new and exciting. I particularly enjoyed the lyrical/creative essay form and poetry.
Ella Hayes – Okay, this is sort of tied up with question 3 – path to publication etc. I’d been writing for a while. I wrote a romantic suspense novel, then a coming of age story set in Scotland but getting an agent, getting published seemed so hard. I wanted feedback on my writing, so that’s why I applied to do the M.Litt at Dundee Uni.
At about the same time a friend of mine sent me the link to a Mills and Boon competition in Prima magazine, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure about it… but then I had a story idea, and thought, why not? So I wrote the first chapter and an outline (that was what the competition was asking for) and sent it in. I didn’t give it much thought until I got an email telling me I’d been shortlisted! I was really surprised. Of course, once you know you’re on the shortlist you can’t help wondering about how it would feel to win. Anyway, about three weeks later I got the call! I’d won! I nearly dropped the phone. So, the deal was that I then had to write the rest of the book, working with an editor from M&B. It was a real education, learning the ropes of the romance genre, but it was great. Because the degree was so demanding, I could only work on it during holiday time, so I’d hand in my end of term assignments, take a deep breath and switch into romance mode. I didn’t draw breath for a year.
Ella Hayes. Well… it’s about an artist called Milla O’Brien who’s been jilted by her fiancé – she flees to an off-grid artist’s residence in the wilds of Scotland to lick her wounds and focus on her work but on the way she gets a flat tyre and is helped at the roadside by enigmatic laird’s son, Cormac Buchanan. He’s a troubled hero, a Royal Engineer who’s lost his best friend in a traumatic skirmish in Afghanistan. He’s grief-stricken, weighed down with survivor guilt. He’s only come back to the family estate because his sister is getting married. Neither Milla nor Cormac is looking for love but fate has other ideas…
Ella Hayes.- Being a brand new author myself, I feel unqualified to advise other writers, but what I would say is that it’s important to network and find support in the writing community – writers understand other writers better than anyone. Oh, and I suppose after the experience I’ve had, I would encourage aspiring writers to enter competitions! You’ve got to be in it to win it!
Ella Hayes– I actually live in the countryside a couple of miles out of Kinross, but it’s a lovely little town –
we’ve got Loch Leven and the brilliant Heritage Trail that you can walk, run or cycle around.
There are some decent eating places, some quirky little shops and it’s right on the M90 so easy for getting anywhere. It’s a friendly place, with a good community spirit.
Ella Hayes- At the moment I’m writing another romance for Mills and Boon and there will be another book after that. I also want to push forward with my Scottish coming of age story. It’s a love story rather than a romance, and the writing style is very different. I’ve had really good feedback on the story and the initial part of the manuscript (I submitted that as my degree dissertation) so the plan is to keep revising and polishing the first draft, then I’ll be looking for an agent/publisher!!
A kiss under the Northern Lights…
Running from her broken engagement artist Milla O’Brien retreats to the Scottish Highlands. Only to arrive during a lavish wedding on the estate!
She finds the bride’s brother and brooding heir, Cormac Buchanan. Could they heal each other’s hearts?
Her Brooding Scottish Heir (Harlequin Mills & Boon) is published on 27th December and can be pre-ordered on Amazon:
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