Welcome to Alex Gutteridge

Firstly, a big thank-you to Lizzie for having me on her lovely blog.I think she would agree with me when I say that, for many people, writing is a vocation. It is chosen for you and not by you. Many months or years can pass without you following that dream and it can be interrupted mid flow by unforeseen circumstances but, in your heart, the desire to write will not let go of you, despite whatever life path you may be led down.  Some stories are like that too. They hover at your shoulder, waiting for their moment. They provide valuable lessons in patience and perseverance, amongst many other things.

LastAngelLast Chance Angel was like that. The beginnings of this story go back to when I was living in Oxford and taking my A’levels. I was on my bicycle and involved in a collision with a car. I had a lucky escape and my good fortune was constantly at the back of my mind over the following years. I had no idea that this would be the catalyst for a story which has now been short-listed for five awards including the Romantic Novelists’ Association Award in the young adult category. In some ways I consider it a miracle that this story was completed at all, just as it was a miracle that day that I was not seriously hurt.

Once I actually put pen to paper, (and I do always begin my first drafts in this way) it took many more years before the book was ready for submission. This book was witness to many ups and downs in my life, both personally and professionally. In the middle of it I stopped writing altogether and wondered at times if I would ever find the strength and resilience to once again take up the reins of my writing life. But, little by little I did and it is thanks to this book. This was a story which would not let go of me and for my own self-respect I knew that I could not let go of it.

Moi!2 014I had no idea whether anyone would want to publish it but I promised myself that if no-one did,  I would publish it myself. I had formed a bond with Jess, my main character; I wanted her voice to be heard and I wanted my hours of work to see the light. I hoped that a few people at least might enjoy reading it.  I was incredibly lucky to find a mainstream publisher and not just any publisher, but the right one for this book. Templar have supported me every step of the way. It has been an amazing experience and I cannot thank them enough.

This book will always hold a special place in my heart because it’s the one that got me back into writing. To any writers out there who are sitting at the page and thinking ‘is this really worth it?’ or those of you who say to themselves and others  ‘I’d love to write a book but don’t think I could’ I would say this; it is worth it and yes you can. Do not look back in years to come with regrets; follow your dream; dig deep when times get tough and even if you have to step aside for a while, make yourself a promise not to give up.

You can find out more about my writing life at alex-gutteridge.blogspot.co.uk and follow me on Twitter at alexgutteridge1

About Lizzie Lamb

I write contemporary women's fiction mostly based in Scotland with hot heroes, feisty heroines and always a happy ending. Along with three other authors - Adrienne Vaughan, June Kearns and Margaret Cullingford - I formed the New Romantics Press under which all our books are published.

Posted on March 25, 2014, in First Person Singular and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 32 Comments.

  1. Really enjoyed this interview and couldn’t agree with the message more – follow your dreams, life’s too short not too. And the book looks great, one for my TBR. Thank you ladies.

    • Shani, you are SOOO right. I think we have all followed our dreams to the best of our ability. That’s why we find writing so rewarding.

    • Thanks Shani, sometimes it seems easier at the time to push things to one side doesn’t it but if it’s part of your heart it’s worth the effort to keep going.

  2. There’s a mystical feel to the inspiration for your book, Alex. What a lovely story. A great read, too. I so enjoyed it.

  3. Great interview! I’m looking forward to reading your story soon. 🙂

  4. Great interview, and I definitely agree with the message, even though it’s sometimes a struggle to remember it! Congratulations on your success, Alex. I saw the shortlisting mentioned in Writers’ News, too.🙂

  5. Wow, I really enjoyed reading this interview. Alex, what a story! So inspiring too. Congratulations on believing in your book and never giving up. Big cheer on being shortlisted too. So much of your interview struck a chord with me, especially about the book witnessing so many of life’s ups and downs, stops and starts, etc. I’m so pleased for you and look forward to reading Last Chance Angel. Fab post, ladies!🙂 xx

    • Jan, as we know – the published authors are the ones who have NEVER given up. Not easy sometimes, though.

    • Thanks Jan. It’s hard to keep going sometimes especially when those rejections keep dropping on the mat and the rest of life conspires you to keep from doing the things you love. I know I’m not alone in this and as Lizzie says perseverance (or stubbornness as my parents used to call it!) is a quality worth celebrating.

  6. I love the title of this book and after reading your empathic interview, I’m looking forward to reading it Alex. To be shortlisted for 5 awards is a major achievement in itself.

    • Hi Margaret, I bought it last summer and thoroughly enjoyed it.

    • Thanks Margaret. I have to confess it wasn’t my title. My editor Katie came up with it. The book was originally called Be Careful What You Wish For and I have just seen in W.H.Smith’s window today that Jeffrey Archer’s latest book has this title. I think for my book Last Chance Angel is better though!

  7. An inspirational story, Alex. I have a similar near miss experience from my own childhood which I’m beginning to think….. Cue spooky music!

  8. Margaret Cullingford

    Love the title, Alex and am looking forward to reading Last Chance Angel, especially after reading the fascinating story of how you came to write it, beginning, I’m sure you won’t mind my saying, quite some time ago. Most writers, I believe, can identify with the longing to follow their dream, and the setbacks they may encounter before it can be fulfilled.

  9. Thanks Mags, there were a couple of other incidents too which happened along the way and it was a combination of 3 events (it’s always 3 isn’t it?) which finally helped all of the pieces slot into place. I think the setbacks do make you appreciate the successes all the more.

  10. It’s the setbacks that are often make or break. ‘Make’ in my case hasn’t led to fame and fortune, but stiffened the resolve and the determination. gx

    • That’s what it’s all about, I think, patience, perseverance and practise. It’s often when we overcome setbacks that we leap a level and find our writing is deeper and more satisfying. Your three books may not have led to fame and fortune but they are a tremendous achievement and to be celebrated. As writers I think we often don’t celebrate our achievements enough.

  11. What an inspirational story Alex and congratulations on being short listed for five awards. It’s so encouraging for other writers knowing what can be achieved if we keep pursuing our dreams.🙂

    • Thanks Diane. I don’t have an agent and nearly all of my books have been submitted as unsolicited manuscripts, including Last Chance Angel. If I can do it so can others. Good luck with your dreams. May they all come true.

      • Thanks for your lovely comments Liz and Alex. I haven’t fulfilled my writing dreams yet (still trying to edit and publish my debut novel), but I’m more determined than ever. I haven’t got an agent either, but I received a lovely letter of encouragement from an agent a few years ago, which I’d forgotten about until recently when I was sifting through some old papers. Looking back, his kind words must have stuck in the back of my mind as I’m still writing and publishing books. Thank you for sharing your successes as it helps others to keep going.🙂

  12. Gilli, you are a very determined writer. Three books under your belt to prove it !

  13. Diane, we have to make our dreams come true, don’t we ?

  14. I too loved this book, and was extremely proud to see Alex at the RONAs, in the final lineup with some very well known YA authors, well deserved I say, and totally agree with the sentiments here. People who don’t know today’s authors might think we’re floaty, ethereal creatures, but we’re not, we’re gritty, determined and damn well hard working!
    Well done Alex, and let’s ALL of us, keep at it …live the dream, that’s what I say!

    • Thank-you so much Adrienne and it was lovely to see you at the RONA’s. You’re so right about writers being gritty and determined and hard working. It’s the ideas that can be floaty and ethereal and it’s important to get them down on paper before they waft away. I’ve often thought ‘oh I’ll remember that later’ and then I don’t so I’ve learned my lesson the hard way – almost!

  15. sarahvaforauthors

    What a fascinating article, changing a nasty experience into something so positive and I guess fulfilling when you see your book on bookshelves. I am always amazed to hear how much blood, sweat and tears goes into the books that we booklovers read and how your characters seem to take you over. That is something I find difficult to imagine, but then that’s not my job… mine is to just read and enjoy.

    I think your comments about not looking back with regret, following your dream and digging deep when things get tough is such good advice for all walks of life and professions.

    Thanks for sharing, Alex and congrats on being shortlisted for so many awards.

    • Thanks Sarah. I think this idea that a book gets written, then accepted, then published without arduous re-drafting, editing and input from valued friends or editors is a myth which needs to be put right. I’m sure that the thought that it has to be perfect almost from the beginning is what stops a lot of people from even beginning a book. And although you say that you are ‘just’ a reader, you are the most important person of all!

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