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Interview with Georgie Bartlett and her debut fantasy crime novel "Eight"

By Hannah Money

It was a warm summer's day when I met Georgie at a café downtown. To anyone else, we were just two gals grabbing a coffee and having a chat. She’s my boss but I’m glad to say it was two years ago when we first started working together, that we realised our joint passion

for writing and quickly became good friends. So, after a nice catch-up and with our drinks aside, I pulled out my notepad and pressed start on the recording app on my phone. Of course, this was the point where loads of customers came out of nowhere and all the coffee machines blasted into action. I prayed my phone had a good enough microphone to pick up our interview but I started scribbling away just in case. Listening back now, the first thing I can pick up is our laughter. I’m pretty sure there was a hint of nervousness after I had just told Georgie I wrote up a good 17 questions. (Don’t worry I won’t be adding every one here, just the best bits).

Me: So first of all, how are you?

Georgie: I am good thank you, trying to balance everything but yeah I’m alright.

Me: Nice, can you tell me a bit about yourself for the readers of Details like what your writing journey or some more personal bits you’d be happy to talk to us about?

Georgie: Yeah of course. Let’s see, I’m twenty-nine. I always wanted to be an actress when I grew up. If you knew me as Hannah does, you’d be able to tell I’m always dramatic. As I grew up a bit more, I realised that it was more of a dream than a career. So, since I was in primary and secondary I wrote poems and songs. Then I had my teacher Mrs. Reardon who asked me to put in a story for a competition because she always saw me writing and so I did. It was a story about a werewolf who tracks down young girls and ate them. I didn’t win unfortunately but my teacher read it and came back to me and said this is really interesting. Ever since then I’ve been in love with writing and having my story told. I think if I had a chance, I would probably sell a book for free just to know that people would read it. I feel like everyone has a story in themselves. It just depends on how you want to shape it and how it feels to you.

Me: That’s pretty humble, wanting to share your stories for free. I’m not sure your editor would feel the same. (We both laugh) Okay, so let’s talk a little bit about your story Eight. Without giving too much away can you tell us what it’s all about and who you think would be interested in reading it?

Georgie: So, I’d say my target audience is YA fantasy (Young Adult fiction) and a little older. It’s set in the land of Tincture which is full of nature as far as the eye can see, but in the middle sits a place entirely made of stained glass. The story follows four siblings who all have abilities linking to their unique colour and when one of them, Harmony, is murdered, the remaining three, Forrest, Mort and Amour notice that these powers are starting to fade. They go on a journey to find out what is happening to them.

The idea came around after seeing the board game called Red Rising by Jamey Stegmaier. At the time I sort of had an idea for a story I wanted to write but I wasn’t too sure until I saw this cover which inspired me. I had a moment when I was like okay now I know what I’m doing. There were all these colours that stood out to me and made me want to look at the meaning behind them. What also inspired me was the Black Lives Matter movement. I loved the idea of trying to think about what it would be like if people were all kinds of colours like purple or green even.

Me: Colours are an interesting topic when it comes to writing. There are so many ways of interpreting their meaning. I never thought of connecting that with the Black Lives Matter movement. With there being so many in your story it's almost as if there are no distinct races.

Georgie: If there were more colours in the life we live in today, would events like the Black Lives Matter movement even happen? But also, if you look at the colour range you start to associate them with things like how yellows, browns and oranges are seen as simple even boring colours while you have purples that seem more decedent and high standing.

Me: I’ve got to say it’s interesting that you chose to put Eight as your first book because I was lucky enough to have read one of your previous works, Dark Clouds. I’m just wondering what made you want to do that and choose a new idea?

Georgie: I always thought Dark Clouds would be my first published novel. I hoped it would be. That’s all you can do; hope that someone will take it just like rearing a child. You know, ‘I’ve raised you now, get out into the world.’ To be honest with you, when I first started writing Eight, I had no idea that it was going to tie into Dark Clouds. It was just a story that I loved the idea of and when I saw that cover and thought about what I wanted to do it all started flowing out. And then one day I remember I was writing a chapter. My characters were all doing something then all of a sudden I was like wait this is kinda similar to Dark Clouds and that’s when I realised my brain was tying them together because I put so much effort into this other book’s universe so everything was starting to mould together. I feel like Dark Clouds is the story of my soul and was one I wanted to tell so it bled onto paper easily; whereas Eight was quite hard to write. I love it and am proud of the story but it took a lot longer to put down than the first one. Maybe because it’s the second book I’ve written. They always say the second is a bit harder.

Me: I can get that. You start to wonder if you’ve used up all your ideas.

Georgie: That was definitely something I was scared about but the thing with writing is you can plan as much as you want but until you start writing you have no idea where it's going to go. It's as if your characters start to do their own thing. You realise, 'oh, this is new' and that's the fun part. I'll come up with the shortest plan and see how it evolves as it goes along.

Me: I want to raise this next question because I’m aware you hadn’t actually finished a full draft of Eight when Dark Strokes got in contact with you.

Georgie: Hannah why are you throwing me under the bus? (We both laugh)

Me: You want to tell me what happened there Georgie?

Georgie: Oh no! I’m not sure if I should be saying this. Oh God, this is going to come out and my editor Laura will be like what?! Okay, so I was taking part in this writer’s event called Pitmad. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to get published.

Me: What exactly is Pitmad? I’ve only heard of self-publishing or the old method of throwing your manuscript at hundreds of publishers hoping to jump the slush pile and get chosen.

Georgie: So, I only found out about it recently. My friend Sophie told me about it. There’s a group of literary agents and publishers looking for new authors to take on. For one day, you put out a synopsis for your book on Twitter adding the hashtag Pitmad and then later on if you get a like from an agent or publishing company then that means they're interested. You then send them an email and they ask to see more of your work. If they like what they see, then they’ll take you on. It’s important to note you need a full synopsis to submit when they ask to see your work and a letter about yourself and your writing journey. It’s all about selling yourself and the book you want to see published.

When I was taking part in Pitmad I put out three titles earlier in the day. The last one was on a whim. I had about ten chapters of Eight written and I said to my husband, Colin, ‘I don’t know if I should put this one down because it’s not finished.’ He said to me, ‘if you don’t try then you’ll never know’, so I put the synopsis for that out on Twitter not expecting much. I was feeling very anxious at the time so I just closed my laptop and turned off my phone because I didn’t want to stress myself looking at it over and over again. Then I woke up first thing in the morning and I had a message from Sophie saying congratulations I saw you got a like from a publisher. I said, ‘what’, and went online expecting this to be for my book Dark Clouds or My Friend the Serial Killer but I saw it was for Eight. I was so shocked because I wasn’t even going to put it in. It was a last-minute thing. Then I went onto Dark Strokes’ website and saw they wanted the first three chapters. Thankfully I had that all done. While I waited for them to get back to me I wrote the rest of the book in about two weeks.

Me: Wow. That’s pretty impressive. You must have been really going for it saying ‘right, get this done, get this done!’

Georgie: I was extremely lucky. It was all very surreal. Like, ‘wait is this actually happening?’ If my editor does hear about this I am sorry. He’s probably reading this like, ‘oh well this makes sense.’

Me: But hey, it worked.

Georgie: Exactly. There's this quote I heard from Winston Churchill that I love. 'Success is failing again and again but never losing enthusiasm.'

Me: I love that.

Georgie: So many times I was working on my book and I was terrified when they were going to get back to me and say either, ‘can we have the rest of the manuscript or we're going to pass on this one.’ So many times I wanted to email back and say, ‘I’m not ready for this or sorry to have wasted your time,’ but I kept going and it has all paid off. There’s a lot to do now but I am proud of myself.

Me: That all sounds pretty intense. Do you get a lot of support from the people around you?

Georgie: Oh so much. It’s nice because I have a lot of friends around me and people to lean back on when I need to. They’ve all been especially understanding. It’s very strange working on deadlines, you don’t get much time to yourself and there have been times where I’ve had to cancel plans because of it. If it wasn’t for all the support from my friends and my wonderful husband, Colin, I don’t think I could have done this. He has been my absolute rock. Sometimes he will stay up with me until like three or four o’clock in the morning coming up with ideas and getting chapters finished even when he had work at nine the next day. Sometimes I’d be crying after struggling to write something saying, ‘this doesn’t make any sense, it’s stupid, no one’s going to want to read it.’ He would sit me down and say, ‘it’s not crap, this is just your anxiety.’ He has been the number one reason I’ve kept going.

My family has also been so supportive; they always say, ‘you can put your mind to anything you do, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.’ Sometimes I get worked up when writing and I feel like there are no words left in my head. I can message someone saying, ‘I’m struggling to write today,’ and I’ll get a huge response telling me to keep going and you know you can do this. It makes me so grateful for all the people in my life. I feel extremely lucky.

Me: What about role models? Who are the people you look up to?

Georgie: My number one role model would have to be my dad. I know he’s written a book as well but won’t let anyone read it. He’s always been supportive and he never seems to stop working. I’m the only one of my siblings who hasn’t been to university which is quite a big deal. My family always pictured all of us going. At the time it just wasn’t for me. Whenever people say to their parents they want to do something that isn’t to do with further learning they would say ‘no you need to do this’. I said to my parents, ‘I don’t feel like I can fit into a 9-5 job shape right now, trust me, I want to do my own thing for a bit,’ and they said, ‘alright, we believe in you.’

In terms of authors, I'd say J.K Rowling. I only read her books last year in lockdown but I became so hooked and read them all in a week.

Another would be Leigh Bardugo because she’s managed to overcome so many challenges in her life and that means a lot to me as someone who suffers from hypothyroidism. It’s always seen as a disease to people meaning you can’t lose a lot of weight. And it is but it also means I’m constantly tired, my back is always hurting and I get shooting pains down my legs. I’m kinda always in pain but it's fine, you get used to it, which sounds wrong but when you see someone like Leigh Bardugo, who suffers from osteoporosis, she’s also in constant pain but she keeps going.

I think the last one would have to be Matt Haig. He’s a brilliant author and is always doing so much for mental illness, he's so open about how he's feeling which has helped me over the last few months.

Me: Those are some brilliant writers. I absolutely love Matt Haig. I’m wondering if you had any advice for other aspiring authors or even a good piece of life advice for anyone struggling at the moment thinking about taking on a project but aren’t sure yet.

Georgie: The one piece of advice I’d give is just to go for it and seize the day. There is nothing that can go wrong apart from someone saying no. And that is a word that we’re so terrified by, it hits you badly but you also have to think it might not be now but that doesn’t mean never.

Me: That’s so true. Your whole journey into becoming an author has happened because you took that chance. My very last question now is when is Eight coming out and how can we grab a copy?

Georgie: So, it’s out now on Kindle, ebooks and paperback via Amazon. Also, keep an eye on my Instagram @georginabartlett3 for further updates.

Me: Brilliant, I’ll be sure to grab a copy and get you to sign it.

Georgie: That would be great. This has been so much fun.

Me: Same here. Thank you so much for doing this, I can’t wait to see what you write next.

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