Hi, my name is Gemma Perfect – and, no I’m not perfect and no it’s not made-up – I get asked both of those questions all the time! It’s my married name. When I first self-published I used a pen name because it does sound made up.
I’ve been writing since I was a little girl, and finally self-published a set of three children’s books in 2012. I started visiting schools and libraries to talk about my books and my writing, but then my third child came along and it all went a bit off track. Once things settled down, I wrote and self-published an erotic romance, which was then published by a Harper Collins imprint.
Then I found The Kingmaker, half finished, in a drawer and found it easy and enjoyable to write.
I wrote the whole Kingmaker trilogy – a young adult, fantasy story – and self-published it on the first of January 2017.
When and why did you start writing?
I can remember writing something when I was nine years old. It was loosely based on a TV programme I watched at the time called Byker Grove – it was a kid’s TV show, set in Newcastle, England about a youth club. I loved it and wrote my own version. I often wrote my own version of Enid Blyton books too. I think my desire to write came from my love of reading.
What inspires your writing?
Lots of different things. I wrote a children’s book that I’ve not published yet, called There’s a Witch at the Bottom of the Garden, because I was in a hot tub with my children and my oldest son described it as a witch’s cauldron. The idea for The Kingmaker came from a TV programme called Junior Apprentice on the BBC. A young girl had to choose which of the two boys in her team would project manage their task, and she said something about being the kingmaker. It just sparked the idea in my head of a princess who is sacrificed, and her magic blood chooses which brother will be King. Ideas come from all over the place and some of them are rubbish!
What has been your worst moment as a writer?
It’s always horrible when agents and publishers turn you down. People will tell you how many times great books were rejected, but there’s only so many times you can reach out and get knocked back. It’s the saddest thing ever. You open the email, with hope in your heart, sure that this time someone will want you and your eyes swim as you read because you’re crying as you see the words: with regret, or sorry, this isn’t for us, or any other polite way they put it.
We are lucky to be able to self-publish these days, and it’s wonderful when a reader contacts you to say they enjoyed your book but those early rejections still sting. Bad reviews aren’t as bad, because anyone can pick up your book once it’s published and logically you know not everyone will like it, but it doesn’t feel as personal as those rejections from agents and publishers.
Do you have any writing rituals to get you in the mood for writing?
I can write anywhere, anytime, for any length of time. I usually sit on my settee with my lap top on my lap and write till I can’t concentrate anymore, but there’s no set way that I do it.
If you could, what would you go back and tell yourself as a writer starting out?
To believe in my wiring. Not every reader will like my books, but some will. There is an audience for me, I just have to find it.
What do you believe make for great writing?
I think there are so many different types of book and styles of writing that it’s hard to say. I love a book that makes me forget I’m reading, where characters seem real and I want it to go on forever.
How do you measure success as a writer?
That’s a hard one. It should be one sale, one review, one email or message from a fan. If you’re a writer, then that’s all you want – one reader, but of course I want more! Financial success would be nice – it would be nice to pay the bills with what I earn. Hearing from readers is brilliant. You’re in a good mood all day if a fan gets in touch – and considering how much I read, I never contact authors to say how much I love their books, which is remiss of me. I should do it.
What’s your biggest fear as a writer?
Failure. Writing book after book and no one ever reading them.
Describe your latest book to our readers
The Kingmaker is a young adult fantasy trilogy, although all ages seem to be enjoying it. It tells the story of Everleigh – the Kingmaker – destined to die at seventeen so that her magical blood can choose which of her brothers will be King of the Realm. She will be sacrificed and her blood will crown one and kill one. But despite accepting her role and her inevitable death, she is told that she will live and rule as the first Queen of the Realm. Not everyone is happy with that idea and so unfolds the story.
What would you like readers to take away from your writing?
I want readers to get lost in my story, feel like the characters are old friends, people they know. I want people to feel like they have to finish the trilogy and tell everyone about it. I want them to turn the last page and feel that strange mix that readers get- satisfaction that a book is finished and they know what happens and regret that it’s over.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Keep on keeping on. Write, even if it’s rubbish, you can always change it. Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s a stupid dream to have. It’s a great dream to have.
What’s next for you?
The Cursed Princess is what I’m currently writing – the story of Everleigh’s sister, set five years after the Kingmaker trilogy ends.
By Gemma Perfect
Everleigh is the Kingmaker and she has one week to live.
She will be sacrificed on her seventeenth birthday and her magical blood will decide which one of her brothers becomes the new King of the Realm.
Her blood will kill one and crown one.
Resigned to her fate, and counting down the days until her death, the wise woman of the castle tells Everleigh that according to a prophecy, not only will she live, but she will rule as the first ever Queen of the Realm.
Overjoyed at the chance to live, and thrilled when previously untapped magical powers come to light, Everleigh is ready to be a great Queen, but not everyone in the Realm feels the same way and more than one will stop at nothing to get the crown.