Thursday, 21 July 2011

Open House Day 52 - Sandra Norval

Finding my place

Oh my God!!

I can’t help but ask myself what I’m doing here, having read all the other guest blogs. I seem to be surrounded by an array of serious talent, a digital who’s who in speculative fiction and peeking through the legs of the crowd is little ol’ me.

It’s been quite a journey so far and I’m really only just beginning. I started writing when I was a child, hiding away in my bedroom pretending I hadn’t been bullied all day. I would lose myself in a woodland fantasy world where everyone was kind to everyone else and the worst that would happen was a rainstorm at a party.

I wrote through my teens, on and off, by then being inspired by the likes of Alan Garner, CS Lewis and my first reading of The Hobbit. All that time I dreamt of being ‘Someone’ other than who I was right then.

I continued writing in my early twenties, hugely influenced by the suicide of a dear friend. The style had changed, the emotion had become raw but it was powerful stuff according to all those that were allowed to read it.

Then I started studying. My writing ground to a halt, unless you count essays of course.


It was around ten years before I started writing fiction again but it was, for me, like a cork popping from a bottle of bubbly. All of a sudden the ideas were jostling around my head desperately looking for a way out.

Now I’m rarely seen without some way of writing, whether it’s notebooks, laptop, any old scrap of paper those ideas just have to take shape.

I’m starting to find my place, slowly but surely, taking inspiration from other writers and always looking for new opportunities to develop my writing skills.

I do consider myself very lucky. I joined a fantastic writers’ circle back in 2009 and haven’t looked back since. I attended their conference, called Get Writing and attended workshops with John Jarrold, Barry Cunningham and Toby Frost and learnt how much work I needed to do. Now here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter how far down the line you get, there is always scope for improvement.

I’ve met many writers who are convinced they can’t learn anything from anyone, their WIP is the bees knees and nothing will sway their opinion. I think that is such a shame. Sometimes you hear a gem of an idea, all boxed up in writing that needs some work. Sometimes the writer will put that work in and you will see the piece grow and become the story it deserves to be. Sometimes that story will sink without trace.

I never want to be a writer that doesn’t try. I believe in my characters. I believe in the worlds that they live in. I want them to find their way in the world and to do that they must be nurtured, cared for, encouraged and eventually released.

Two years ago I had an article published called Don’t Revere The Peer. It’s been republished in the Verulam Writers’ Circle anthology called ‘The Archangel and The White Hart’ and I read it at the launch party earlier this month.

As I read I couldn’t help but remember just how far I’d come in those two years. My confidence has grown enough to stand up there in front of an audience reading my own work. I’ve had a couple of pieces published, my novel is nearing completion and I write once a month for Fantasy Faction.

To cap it all, I’m now the organiser of Get Writing 2012. I’ve got some great writers, editors and agents pencilled in, several from the speculative genre. There’s a lot of work to do but it’s something I couldn’t have imagined I would be doing back in the early days.

Somewhere inside of me there is still a little girl who shuts herself away in a room. On the outside though, is a strong woman, determined to take a well earned place in publishing and equally determined to help others to find their place too.

I say again, OH MY GOD!!!

Sandra Norval writes fantasy with a dark, supernatural and urban twist, or maybe that should be plait? She has written a selection of short stories and is working on her first novel ‘Libertine’, plus she writes articles for the website Fantasy Faction.

Having started writing as a child her stories and outlandish ideas have often resulted in her being described as ‘odd’. She likes that.

Verulam Writers Circle

Get Writing and @GetWriting2012 on twitter

Sandra Norval’s website (Including the first two chapters of her first novel, Libertine and links to all her Fantasy Faction articles)

You can also follow Sandra on twitter on @sandranorval or @enterthetwixt


  1. I definitely agree about everyone having room to improve further. I have to make myself accept that I've got it good enough, or I'd just spend the rest of my life revising.

    Fascinating article.

  2. Good to see you here Sandra! Look forward to seeing Libertine in it's final version