This blog was featured on 08/27/2018
A Q&A with Pam McGaffin
Written by
She Writes
August 2018
Written by
She Writes
August 2018

Pam McGaffin is the author of The Leaving Year. She Writes had a chance to cath up with her and she shared some insights into her writing routing, publishing experience and some great advice for aspiring writers.

SW: Share your writing routine.

PM: While I was writing the novel, a fairly typical writing day would start about 10 a.m. I’d read over some of what I wrote the day before, edit it a little, and keep going, trying to finish a scene before needing to take a break to snack, get more coffee, walk the dog, do the dishes . . . . I have to be careful, or my “breaks” can become the rest of the day. I really hope to improve this as I get better at writing novels.

SW: Describe your writing style in three words.

PM: Clear, introspective, relatable

SW: What is the first thing you can remember writing?

PM: A story about a girl who could fly. She sails over rooftops and chimneys into a deep blue summer sky filled with stars. Then she wakes up.

SW: When did you start to feel like a writer?

PM: When I got my first journalism job. I was a newspaper reporter for many years, but I’ve always wanted to write fiction. I did manage to write some short stories, but fiction didn’t become a serious pursuit until after my 30th high school reunion. I realized that I was pushing 50 and still hadn’t even tried to write a book. So I did. I’m an author now, but I need to keep writing to hold onto the title “writer.”

SW: Was there something about the publishing experience that surprised you?

PM: The amount of work that goes into getting a book ready for prime time surprised me. My book went through so many readings and edits that I got thoroughly tired of it.

I was also surprised by how hard it is to get an agent to look at you. I tried, but after two years of nibbles and no bites, I decided to, as Brooke Warner says, “green light” my own book and send it to SparkPress. I’m glad I did. 

SW: What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

PM: Keep the faith. You have to believe in yourself and the value of your story. Write your first and second drafts like no one’s watching. Then edit ad nauseam to make your work the very best it can be. Let others read it. Send it out. Be open to criticism and willing and eager to improve. Humility helps. So does a pitbull-like determination. There are many more publishing options out there now. Traditional publication isn’t the be-all and end-all.

SW: What do you do to help develop your craft?

PM: I read and write and listen and watch. I’ll read good books in my genre – YA – as well as outside of it. Right now, I’m reading Boys on the Boat. If I’m really enjoying a book, I’ll start writing like that author, which is great. We learn by imitation. We also learn through practice. I don’t write every day, but I try to write fairly regularly, whether it’s a novel, short story or blog.

SW: What methods are you using to market your book?

PM: I’ve hired BookSparks to promote my book now that I have one, but I really started the build up to my debut more than two years ago, when I created an author’s website and blog. A small, but loyal group of readers has followed me along on this journey, and many of them will be at my book launch Aug. 16 at Third Place Book-Ravenna in Seattle.

About Pam McGaffin

Pam McGaffin is an award-winning former journalist who returned to her original passion of writing fiction after a long career in newspapers and public relations. Her short stories have appeared in online literary journals, and her articles and essays have been featured in newspapers and magazines. She and her family live in Seattle.

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