Gaby is one of our Love2Learn tutors, teaching Creative Writing (Love2Learn courses are Bath College’s extensive range of Leisure Courses). She’s recently had success with her book, ‘There’s something about Darcy’, which looks at the character of Mr Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, and is inspired by the ‘I *heart* Darcy’ badges sold in the Jane Austen Centre in Bath.
Gaby loves writing, and loves teaching writing during our evening leisure classes. We caught up with her at her book signing to ask about how she got into writing, what we can expect from her book, and what she has planned for her next classes. If you’re interested in a Creative Writing course then you can get a real insight into the lessons, and Gaby’s teaching methods here!
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am a writer with a background in teaching and lecturing. I have worked in a number of universities in different parts of the world before coming to live in the environs of Bath. I have a great passion for theatre and literature and have been able to make that my life’s work.
How did you get into writing?
Through my academic teaching and research career. Once you write a PhD thesis you can safely say ‘I’m a writer’! It was after I had my children that I started to find ways of making it more commercial for me and soon started on scripts and content for web-series and writing for children’s theatre.
What drew you to Jane Austen?
That was all thanks to my mother, right from an early age. We had books everywhere and she was a teacher and a children’s author. We would sit for hours talking about literature and my mother’s appreciation for Austen’s wit and humour really got me into her novels.
What was the inspiration for your book ‘There’s something about Darcy’?
I was stood at a bus-stop in the city, not long after moving here, about ten years ago. I saw a girl carrying an ‘I Heart Darcy’ tote bag and it amused me and made me curious. Why this character for all the marketing and merchandise that was coming out of the tourist sites? Apart from the obvious reasons that he is handsome and rich, of course! There is more to it, and that’s what I chose to explore. Plus, it’s immense fun reading Austen again and watching all the adaptations!
Can you give us any sneaky insights into the content of your book?
A couple… How Darcy is like a superhero, for example. And the connections between a hero like him and an anti-hero like Count Dracula. You also get to read some of the behind-the-scenes stories of the shooting of the 1995 BBC Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth as Darcy (there, I’ve mentioned him now!).
Where can we pick up copies?
It’s available from 11th November, online and in bookshops, and from the publisher (Endeavour Quill) website. Plus, you can get a signed copy from the Jane Austen Centre bookstore online.
How did you get into teaching Creative Writing?
I came onto the Love2Learn programme to teach some leisure literature courses, about Austen and other writers, and as the demand for writing courses grew I stepped in to teach some of the groups and it’s grown from there.
How do you structure your Creative Writing courses?
I’m a nuts and bolts, bread and butter kind of writing tutor. I encourage creativity, but I also support potential writers into publication. I look at what’s right for you, what’s your style or preferred genre, and I help you to develop that and find a route into publication or further study. From Love2Learn I’ve had students successfully complete the MA in Creative Writing at Bath Spa, get agents, and get published. So, it’s really up to you how far you want to take it. Be warned – it’s hard work!
What do you enjoy about teaching Creative Writing?
The students. The characters I get to meet! I have made some great friends over the years and seen them go from strength to strength. The recent winner of the Creative Writing Love2Learn prize, for example, Teresa Fowler. She is now a published poet. Her collection ‘Mixed Rhythms and Shady Rhymes‘ is amazing – I highly recommend it! It’s rare for poets to get into print and she did it with her first collection! It’s published by BLKDog Books, London, and is available online. We’re a talented bunch on the L2L writing stream!
Why do you think Creative Writing and Literature are important?
It’s about communication, the human need for story-telling, and the way that we grow in the world and help to shape it. Literature can open doors, and it offers so much enjoyment and opportunity. There will always be the need for it, to expand our horizons. And, take it from me, print books will never disappear. They are as strong as ever, in tandem with digital tech. There are also more ways of getting published now than at any time in the history of the human race – so be part of it, I am!
When can we enrol on the next course?
Courses are open for January and the rest of 2020. I offer 10 weeks of Creative Writing, and also 5 weeks (intense!) courses on Writing for Children, Writing for Publication, and Writing for Theatre. And my wonderful talented colleague Dr Kate Mattacks teaches alongside me on the 10 week course as well as delivering her own course on Writing for Well-Being. This gives you the therapeutic angle on creativity and self-expression.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Persevere, and believe in what you want to do. Rejection is standard. Most of the time, most people, will not want to read what you write. It only takes ONE acceptance, one person saying ‘Yes’ for you to get an agent or a publisher, so keep going!
What’s in the works for you for the future?
I am planning more non-fiction, entertaining reads. And I’m working on a novel!
We wish Gaby the best of luck with her new book, and we’re looking forward to seeing the next novel!