Today I am talking to S. L. Grigg who is hosting a blog tour to celebrate the six month anniversary of the release of Coffee Break Companion. During the tour from 28th August to 3rd September 2018 you can pick up a copy of Coffee Break Companion for just 99p. Sharon Grigg, who writes under the pen name S.L Grigg, made it her new year’s resolution to publish her book ‘Coffee Break Companion’ during 2018. After bouncing back from mental health problems (BPD), following the death of her husband from a brain tumour in 2009, Sharon was struck down with kidney and other health problems, believed to be linked to having the Essure sterilisation device she had implanted back in 2008. In September 2017 she underwent major surgery to have a non-functioning hydronephrotic kidney removed at the same time as a full hysterectomy to remove the essure device.
Could you tell us about yourself?
My full name is Sharon Grigg, and I write under the pen name S.L Grigg. I made it my new year’s resolution to publish my book ‘Coffee Break Companion’ during 2018. After bouncing back from mental health problems (BPD), following the death of my husband from a brain tumour in 2009, I was struck down with kidney and other health problems, believed to be linked to having the Essure sterilisation device I had implanted back in 2008. In September 2017 I underwent major surgery to have a non-functioning hydronephrotic kidney removed at the same time as a full hysterectomy to remove the essure device. Just two months after setting her goal Sharon launched the collection of dark, short stories and poetry on Amazon. Many of the stories were written during Sharon’s battle with mental health. For me publishing was never about, money or fame. I just wanted to be able to hold a copy of my book and say, ‘I wrote this’ and now I can.
Do you plot your stories or do you write and see where it takes you?
I’m definitely more of a panster, especially as I mainly write flash fiction, but if I’m working on something longer I will do a rough outline after an initial burst of pantsing. I will usually just spill out my initial idea which might be the middle of a story, and then decide and outline where I want this to go from there, so a bit more plotting if it’s a longer story.
Do you have any inspirations for you writing?
Other authors / people / events? Much of my inspiration comes from personal experiences. I have written a lot about mental health, and the dark thoughts that can consume you when you are in that ‘bad’ place. But I also find inspiration in music, art and almost anything, anywhere can inspire me at times.
What is the best part about writing, and the worst?
The best part about writing is being able to get the ideas and thoughts of weird and wonderful things out of my head and onto paper. The worst part is editing, it’s such a drag, but a necessary part of the process.
Tell us about one of, or your most recent book?
Coffee Break Companion is my first book, 30 years in the making. The oldest story in there is one I wrote aged 11 called ‘Lost’, it’s about two young girls who are shipwrecked. Most of the 40 short stories and poems were written more recently, in particular during my mental health problems, when I used writing as a form a therapy. The themes in the book are quite dark, covering self-harm, rape, and abuse, with some scenes that might be disturbing for more sensitive people. But there are some fantasy and sci-fi themes too, with mermaids, dragons, and robots.
What are you currently working on? How long before release?
I’m currently working on Coffee Break Companion 2 which I am hoping to release in February 2019, 12 months after the first book. I’m also working on the first book in a romance trilogy set on cruise ship holidays – a new genre for me, but they started writing themselves, so I’m just going along with the characters as they take me on this journey.
What are you currently reading?
I have just finished Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology, which was a bit disappointing to be honest, the stories were quite bland. I’m hoping my next read (starting tonight) will be better – The Final Empire (Mistborn Book One) by Brandon Sanderson.
Which authors and novels would you recommend?
I love so many authors, across many genres but in particular sci-fi, fantasy and thrillers. Anything by Adam Baker, Daniel Suarez, Kelley Armstrong and Kim Harrison, and not forgetting Andy Weir. Then of course some fellow indie authors Kiltie Jackson’s LoveStyle series and Kim Alexander’s ‘Pure’ are just two who I have fallen in love with recently.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Just write, worry about everything else later, but first of all just lets the words run free and finish your story. After that you can get help and advice on development, editing and eventually publishing if you want to go there. But you can’t do anything if you don’t write.
Do you have any favourite fictional characters?
Ahh, too many. For me if I don’t fall in love with the characters then I don’t enjoy the book, but as I read an average of one book a week I fall in love again every week too, so I there are too many characters that I love I couldn’t pick out a favourite.
How important do you think social media is for an author?
For me it has been vital, I have learnt so much from connecting with other authors and being able to connect with readers and potential readers too. Without social media I wouldn’t have sold any books, being self-published social media is the main way to get yourself known.
What would you do differently if you were given the opportunity to begin again?
Start promoting my book earlier, I didn’t do a blog tour when it was released and no big launch or fuss, I just quietly posted about it and then realised I need to reach out further if I was going to sell any books.
What do you feel are the greatest challenges facing any writer at the present time?
Getting your name known, with so many people self-publishing (and unfortunately some very low quality) it’s hard to get people to give you a chance and read your book rather than a big, traditionally published author.
When you have finished writing the book – what do you do next?
By that I mean, do you edit the book yourself? Do you design your own book cover? Do you prepare a project plan to market your book?
If you could invite three people from history to a dinner party. Who would you invite and why?
Corey Haim, movie star, my first love from when I watched The Lost Boys as a pre-teen, because I never got to meet him whilst he was alive. George Orwell, author I’d love to know how much he thinks 1984 has become a reality if he were to see how we live now and where the idea for the story came from. Margaret Thatcher, a controversial one! When I was young she was an inspiration for me because as a female prime minister she showed that girls can achieve anything if you work hard enough, her political decisions may have been off the mark and I’m definitely not a Conservative but it wasn’t her politics that inspired me, it was her achievement to reach that position from a more humble background rather than being a typical Eton boy.
What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing, marketing, or being involved with your book business? Do you have any hobbies?
I enjoy Pilates and have trained as a Pilates instructor, so I am trying to start my own classes for that, which is as challenging as self-publishing! I also enjoy anything creative, at the moment that is mostly crochet.
Any fun facts about you that you would like to share?
I once auditioned for the X-Factor, and got through three rounds, all of which are before you get on the TV show, so I know a few behind the scenes secrets about the process for getting on the show. I’m glad I wasn’t on it in the end though, haha