Wanda Whiteley, author of The Goldhanger Dog shares things she wishes her readers knew about her
1. In a Georgian museum in Bath, UK, I spotted a model rotisserie dog in a rolling cage attached to the kitchen wall. I discovered that this kitchen slave, a now extinct race, was trained by having embers thrown at his feet to make him run faster. The dog captured my imagination and led to the character of Turnspit, the grumpy, thin-skinned dog from my historical Tudor fantasy, The Goldhanger Dog.
2. In a moment of inexplicable madness three years ago I flew to Transylvania with £10,000 in cash and bought a small cottage and a small property on the same day, without my seeing them. The night I arrived, the male villagers were marching in line with their dogs and guns, heading for the grove a few fields away. The shepherd’s girlfriend had been attacked by a hungry bear. I then asked myself: did I make a very big mistake?
3. I was so captivated by a radio interview with Judy Westwater, who had been a street child in Johannesburg in the 1950s, that I wrote her story down.. The book, Streetkid, spent four months on the Sunday Times (UK) bestseller list in 2005. During her research, she and I managed to track down a lion tamer who had helped Judy fifty years before, after his escape. join the circus. It was an emotional reunion when he showed up at his book launch.
4. I’ve never experienced a glass ceiling in all my years in publishing. Every one of my top bosses was female, and there was never a sense that you couldn’t advance in the industry or that your intellect and skills weren’t properly valued. The industry, however, was very white – and still is – although I hear that steps are being taken at many companies to hire more black and Asian employees, as well as to publish more diverse books.
5. I used to hate to reject an author’s manuscript during those years that I worked as an editor. Crushing someone’s dreams after all their months of hard work was a horribly cruel part of the job. Since launching my own review service (manuscriptdoctor.co.uk), I have found the work of mentoring new writers extremely rewarding. I try to be resolutely honest and constructive.
6. When I wrote The Goldhanger Dog, I discovered that I fell prey to many of the same pitfalls that I have seen in client work. “More haste, less speed” will be inscribed on my tombstone. It is strange how impossible it is to objectively consider one’s own work. I always compare it to the impossibility of psychoanalyzing oneself. You just can’t see the problems, even if they’re obvious to everyone.
7. I write very quickly. Words flow from my brain to my keyboard at lightning speed. One of the best things I did in my twenties was take a two-week typing course. At a precise 80 words per minute, I could lounge about at work and still seem as productive as everyone else.
The Goldhanger Dog by Wanda Whiteley is published by Lammas Publishing on May 26, 2022