G.C. Blair, the author of The Miss Fitz Agency, shares some details about their life after becoming a new author!
Did you always dream of becoming an author?
I did write ‘Moony From The Moon’ when I was about 7 years old. It was about an alien who’d crash landed on Earth and found himself in all sorts of trouble. As a child I made up stories in my head in which I was always the hero. Growing up and realising what a scaredy-cat I am put a stop to that.
Drawing was always my thing, though. I made some cartoon strips, but I wanted to be an animator. That was after wanting to be a spy, dinosaur expert, astronomer, lawyer and prime minister. My mum told me captured spies had their nails torn out, so that ended that dream.
What was your first job?
I worked in a bank, in the back office. I hated it. It was boring, lots of filing, form filling and stuffing statements into envelopes (which tells you it was a long time ago). When I made it onto the tills I learned I wasn’t good at dealing with awkward customers either.
How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
My first story was not the ‘Miss Fitz Agency.’ It was a rhyming picture-book tale called ‘Alex’s Exploding Dinosaur.’ It was definitely written for fun and I had no intention of writing anything at all when I got up that morning. It was the summer holiday and I was walking in Paris when it happened. I was thinking about our godson and how much loved dinosaurs after seeing a second hand book about them on one of those book stalls along the Seine. That’s when the story took over my brain. It was one of the most bizarre, yet amazing, things that as happened to me. It would not stop flowing – I wrote on paper bags, till receipts, the inside of a guidebook cover, anything my partner could find in his pockets or backpack. It carried on all afternoon.
After that was written, pirates popped into my head – Carlos, Barry and Clayton were the first. They were insistent voices, always speaking in threes. The pirate story became ‘The Miss Fitz Agency’ when I was out for a walk one summer holiday morning in 2015, I think. Fiction writing is always about fun for me but also, it can be very noisy in my head and those voices have to be heard.
What was your life like before you became an author?
I spent a great deal of every day telling amazing stories, except it was reality, not fiction. I taught history for longer than I shall admit to and truth can be much stranger than fiction. The murder of Thomas Becket, assassination plots against Elizabeth I, Louis XVI’s flight to Varennes, Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow, witch trials, Anne Boleyn and the Cuban missile crisis were all on my timetable at various points in the school year, along with countless other fascinating stories. It was a brilliant way to make a living for many years.
I loved teaching because I loved learning, researching and creating new resources for my classes (aka my target audience). That’s how my first ever published book on Henry II for the A level 2015 syllabus came about. There were no ‘A’ level resources when I began teaching the Angevins in 2008, so I wrote my own ‘book’ and gave it to the exam board as a free resource for other teachers. When the new syllabus came in, they asked me to write the textbook.
Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
Not real struggles, only finding the time. Teaching used to take up 60-70 hours a week, on average so by the time I had finished work for the day we’d have an evening meal, watch an hour of TV and that was us.
Paying the bills is the other big issue, but I was lucky that we could afford for me to give up teaching. I also write educational books and resources, which helps.
Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
I feel very lucky. I can’t get used to the idea that I am allowed – need – to spend time making up and writing stories, or researching and writing educational resources on a range of topics like space, deserts and the Mughal Empire.
I am involved in writing educational resources for foreign markets, so I have to meet those deadlines first, but I try to maintain a balance between that and my own stories. Creating materials for an audience (class) when I was teaching has given me a very useful grounding. Working with editors on text books helped me understand the collaborative part of the writing process, as well as writing to a brief. I firmly believe teamwork is an important part of writing.
Writing fiction is scary – it’s a non-captive audience after all. Writing fiction, especially for children, is hugely important and nothing would mean more to me than people enjoying The Miss Fitz Agency, especially as I’m more than halfway through the next one. If I don’t make it it will be a blow to me but I won’t have let anyone else down. It’s important to remember that the one thing worse than not making a go of writing would be to never have tried.
I’m on a new learning journey, which is always exciting. It can be daunting too, so the best thing is to get my head down and plough on.
Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
I can’t function without breakfast, so once I’ve re-fuelled I go for a walk with my partner. It’s often more like a work meeting as we discuss how the writing is going or ideas for Instagram posts, which is my partner’s domain. Social media is a learning curve for both of us. He is definitely having a lot of fun. He’s currently working with a friend’s son, who is a film studies graduate, on some one minute videos about ‘The Miss Fitz Agency.’
I write until lunchtime, then it’s another walk and more writing or researching. After that I do my back exercises and some yoga stretches. This might sound virtuous but I am extremely inelastic and without the exercises and stretches I would be very gnarled and knotted now that I have a sedentary job. I do have a height adjustable desk, though.
After we have eaten we watch TV, chat / message family and friends and usually finish the evening with comfort viewing, which is currently QI.
What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
There are two. One was using my own textbook in class for the first time.
The other was showing Zak and Jack the dedication to them in ‘The Miss Fitz Agency’ when the first copies arrived. Georgie, being 2, is mainly focused on Peppa Pig and asking ’what’s that?’ a lot.
In a few words, how would you review your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
It has been very positive. Vicky and Rudite are always prompt and helpful in replying to emails and answering queries. On the other hand, the work is very much my own and the creative side of things is all mine.
Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
I had offers from Austin Macauley as well as Pegasus. I liked that Suzanne was practical (saying she felt my book stood a good chance in the marketplace) as well as recognising and liking my ‘author voice.’ A contact of mine on FB is author Colin Parsons and I knew from him that he was very happy working with Pegasus.
If you want to get your own copy of the book, click here.
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