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How a group of authors became friends and inspired each other #amwriting #authorsontheedge

Sometimes writing can be a lonely business. The only people you meet are the characters inside your head, and the only exciting things that happen are the ones you dream up. You are not friends with these interesting people you’re writing about, and these momentous events aren’t happening to you – you are, in fact, spending the day totally alone in your pyjamas with just a mug of tea, your patient dog, and a packet of digestive biscuits for company. (Well, that’s me, anyway!) After a while of this you can find the ideas that once fizzed away have gone sluggish , and your characters refuse to burst into life on the page like they used to.

helena fairfax, romance editor

Joining a group of other writers is one of the best things I’ve ever done. My first book, The Silk Romance, was published by MuseItUp Publishing in Canada. Most of the authors at MIU live in North America, so getting to meet them wasn’t really an option*, although I have made very many friendships online. One Muse author, though, has since become a great friend in real life. Marie Laval is French but she has lived in Lancashire for 25 years – just across the Pennines from me. Marie is also a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and joining the RNA was another massive spur to my writing.

(*I have to mention that my American author friend from MIU, JQ Rose, is planning to visit me in Yorkshire in June, and Canadian MIU author Chuck Bowie is visiting me in September. I’m massively excited about meeting them after being online friends for years!)

Marie and I met up a few years back in the little town of Hebden Bridge, on the border between Yorkshire and Lancashire. Gradually, from being just the two of us meeting for lunch, more writers began to join us, and now there is quite a large group of us Yorkshire and Lancashire authors who meet ‘on the border’ every couple of months. We call ourselves Authors on the Edge :) It’s great to catch up with gossip, to find out what’s going on elsewhere in the writing world, and to share ups and downs.

There are some talented and creative authors in our group, with a wide range of skills between us, from graphic design to theatre. Last year I began to think how brilliant it would be if we all collaborated on an anthology. We all write romance – or at least, romantic stories – but in very different styles and sub-genres. When I put the question, I was really excited when everyone gave an enthusiastic, ‘Yes!’

Creative collaboration

With nine creative and professional writers around the table, ideas for a theme for our anthology started coming thick and fast. We decided each story had to be set in Hebden Bridge – a lovely old town and the perfect backdrop. But to really tie the stories together we needed more than just the setting. And so we narrowed it down. Each story would be set in the same shop, which we based on a wonderfully romantic building in Hebden Bridge. The Heart Gallery is right next door to where we meet.

helena fairfax, editor and author
The Heart Gallery Building

And the shopkeeper in each story would be the same character – Miss Moonshine. We had to be sure we each described Miss Moonshine in the same way, and Marie Laval came up with the brilliant idea of us all basing her character and appearance on the fabulous Dame Vivienne Westwood – who also happens to have a northern accent. Perfect!

And so off we each went, back home to our solitary laptops and a lot of dreaming and thinking. Coming up with the stories was fun. Working with a creative group was inspiring – from Mary Jayne Baker’s gorgeous artwork for the cover, to Angela Wren’s talents as a theatre director which led to our lovely group photo.

helena fairfax, author and editor
Back row left to right: Helen Pollard, Marie Laval, Mary Jayne Baker, Jacqui Cooper, Angela Wren. Front row left to right: Sophie Claire, Kate Field, Helena Fairfax, Melinda Hammond

We like to say our Miss Moonshine now has a life of her own. She has inspired us and brought us together as a group. Our anthology, Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings, is now on release, and we’ve been blown away by how Miss M has touched other readers.

helena fairfax, romance author and editorHere’s the blurb, written by talented author Kate Field:

Sometimes what you need is right there waiting for you…helena fairfax, miss moonshine, hebden bridge, yorkshire and lancashire romance authors
Miss Moonshine’s Wonderful Emporium has stood in the pretty Yorkshire town of Haven Bridge for as long as anyone can remember. With her ever-changing stock, Miss Moonshine has a rare gift for providing exactly what her customers need: a fire opal necklace that provides a glimpse of a different life; a novel whose phantom doodler casts a spell over the reader; a music box whose song links love affairs across the generations. One thing is for certain: after visiting Miss Moonshine’s quirky shop, life is never the same again…

Miss Moonshine’s Emporium of Happy Endings is out now on Amazon Kindle and in paperback.

Working with a group of other writers has been inspiring – and most of all, fun!

* * *

Have you ever worked together creatively with a group? If so, how did you find it? Was it inspiring? What were the advantages and disadvantages?

And do you enjoy reading collections of short stories? If so, which would you recommend? If you have any comments at all, please let me know. I’d love to hear from you!

 

 

 

 

13 thoughts on “How a group of authors became friends and inspired each other #amwriting #authorsontheedge

  1. What a lovely post, Helena. I am so happy that you had the idea of Miss Moonshine and that we all went through with this wonderful project. I am even happier to read that people are enjoying the stories and love our quirky and mysterious Miss M!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Helena, it’s lovely to learn more about you all and how Miss Moonshine came about! I’ve just started reading the book and loving the stories. It must be amazing to be part of a collaboration such as this … creative freedom with certain boundaries. Btw the cover is delightful, so attractive and welcoming … kudos to Mary.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks so much for reading our stories, Annika. We’ve all been very touched by readers’ responses to something we set out to do for fun. We do really believe it’s the Miss Moonshine effect. She’s come alive into a character of her own! And Mary Jayne is very talented. Her story at the end is great! Thanks for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I would love to have been sitting at the table when you all were brainstorming about this anthology. I know our writer’s group can come up with some fantastic ideas when discussing our stories. Sometimes I wonder what the other patrons think when they hear us figuring out how to kill off someone or what accident could happen or….So much fun! Looking forward to reading this collection. Thanks so much for the background on birthing of this anthology. So looking forward to meeting in person this summer, Helena! I didn’t know Chuck was coming over too. Sounds like fun.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s funny about discussing the murders :D I’m really looking forward to meeting you this summer. Only a few weeks! And Chuck is coming over in the autumn (or “fall”, as he would have it :) )
      Thanks so much for dropping in, JQ, and thank you for buying our anthology. I do hope you enjoy it!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Helena &Friends! I certainly agree that for a writer, belonging to a group of writers is the best thing ever! I joined RWNZ 25 years ago and when I look back, the years before that are just a blur of ho hum! I found my tribe 25 years ago, and never looked back. I have made so many wonderful friends and together we have learned and honed our craft and been there for one another in the good times and bad. Only another writer understands the thrill of writing THE END, of ‘discovering’ the past secrets our characters had been hiding from us, and of finally seeing their work in print. They also understand how it feels to get rejections and bad reviews.
    My sister writers (& the odd brother!) are my inspiration. So glad you found ‘your tribe’. Our tribe speaks our language, and that’s the best thing of all.
    Miss Moonshine & her shop sounds delightful. Great concept.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Jen, you hit the nail on the head with everything you say – the thrills of writing, the difficulties, and the rejections and reviews – it’s so good to be with people who understand exactly what you are talking about. RWNZ sound a great bunch! Thanks so much for dropping in, and for your lovely comment!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It is so good to have other creative people to discuss ideas with and seek advice from. A writer friend and I often meet on our lunch breaks for a ‘writers’ walk and talk’. We must be the only people in the financial part of the city discussing story themes and plots – I don’t know what others think if they overhear us! Looking forward to reading Miss Moonshine on my commute!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That sounds such a great way to spend a lunch break! My first book grew out of my commute to work. I began to look forward to travelling to work on the train, so I could work on my story. It would have been great to have someone to talk it over with at the time. Best wishes for your writing – and thanks so much for reading Miss Moonshine. I hope she provides an entertaining distraction during your own commute!

      Like

  6. It’s wonderful to have other authors as friends and colleagues, Helena. I’ve been lucky in belonging to a writing group for many, many years and now that I’ve moved too far away from them, I’ve joined another! I also meet up with two close writing friends every month where we certainly inspire each other to keep writing. I love the sound of this collection and have it on my kindle – will be starting it very soon (and pushing it up the very long list of books)!

    Liked by 1 person

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