Laura Wilkinson Interview
Posted on 22 June 2007. © Copyright 2004-2024 WriteWords
WriteWords talks to Laura Wilkinson of hagsharlotsheroines.com
Tell us something about your background.
www.hagsharlotsheroines.com is a worldwide community of writers where you can publish your work and develop your creative writing skills. We accept fiction and non-fiction and can provide feedback and writing tips that are particularly focused on writing about women. It’s important to stress that we do have male members and writers too, though they are in the minority at the moment. Membership is free and provides full access to the website and the opportunity to sign up for our monthly magazine. Our Writer’s toolkit is a wonderful resource from how to use the internet for research to the perils of self-publishing. The toolkit additionally features motivational interviews with writers, like best-selling author Philippa Gregory, who share their creative secrets with hagsharlotsheroines.com.
We also aim to entertain and inspire with our extensive range of hagsharlotsheroines tales. From Lucretia Borgia to Boudica we publish work that unshackles women from stereotype. Inspiration combined with information is also to be found in our Book club area where we offer detailed book reviews across the genres.
Keeping members up-to-date is important to us and we aim to keep members on the trail of the latest competitions, events, and writing workshops. Moreover, being a website we make sure we find users plenty of interesting writing related websites to click through. Like Write Words!
We’ve grown since our original concept of writing about women from history, legend and myth. Though we will always be fascinated by herstory we know how important it is not to let history define us, or importantly, to limit our creativity. So we are now exploring new literary landscapes and actively welcome quality creative writing on all themes, in all genres to explore issues of gender and identity. We still want stories about our pasts but also our futures too.
We’re running a competition at the moment on the theme 21st Century Woman: fast and loose. The judges are an impressive line up and it’s a great opportunity for writers to get their work seen by some big names in the industry, and for the winners to have their work published on a site with a wide readership and network. Virago support hagsharlotsheroines and so there’ll be a fabulous selection of books from their stable for the winners too. There are more details on our Home page.
The history, or as we prefer to call it, the herstory behind the project is quite interesting (I think!) but it’s also rather long. You can read the whole saga in the About us section of the site. In headline terms myself and a couple of other writers started sending each other short stories about famous, and not-so-famous women during a ‘dry’ spell at work. We soon exhausted the well-known heroines and got totally hooked on unearthing the unsung heroines, the stragglers in the long march of history if you like. By this time word had spread amongst our networks and others were involved, and it grew from there…
How do you find writers?
Regular contributors have come from a range of sources. Some are writers that I have worked with on other publications. Others, like Hannah and Anne, I met at creative writing workshops and then there are those who sent in their resumes and asked if they could write for hagsharlotsheroines. I’m always on the look out for new writers with something to say and, of course, style and command of their craft.
I am a big fan of online networks and projects, like MySpace (though you have to be very discerning here), Write Words and Writing in the Margins and I have met people this way too. Organisations like Spread the Word and Pulp.net are also terrific and great ways to meet like minds, dynamic new writers and get inspiration and ideas.
What excites you about a piece of writing-
I like writing like I like my cake – unique, rich, satisfying, fruity, aromatic, unexpected and while not exactly dense, not too light and fluffy either. Like a great passion cake I guess.
Having said this I’m not at all adverse to a bitter after taste – I’m thinking along the lines of Annie Proulx or Alice Munro here. I like to be surprised too, so hooks are very important, whether it comes from character or plot. Clear, lean prose, beautiful imagery, compelling voice and narrative, emotional truth. It’s all in the detail.
A strong, intriguing beginning is essential if I’m to continue reading and given hagsharlotsheroines’ origins it will come as no surprise to hear that unconventional protagonists who turn gender stereotypes on their heads also help to keep me on board. I’m a fan of the hags and the harlots who, either by design or accident, become heroines. Writers like Fay Weldon, Angela Carter, Philippa Gregory and Sarah Waters are brilliant at this. I like to be taken to uncharted emotional landscapes.
and what makes your heart sink?
Anything sloppy… spelling mistakes, bad grammar, lousy punctuation. It demonstrates a complete lack of care. Clichéd characters and plot. Writing that tells rather than shows. Work that smacks of inauthenticity, someone trying to write like ‘a writer’, rather than finding their own voice.
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