Valerie Gould: putting pen to paper in Sandwich

Local Sandwich resident Valerie Gould retired from silversmithing after twenty-five years and now runs a gallery and framing service in the town.


Valerie’s writing career began in 2013 when she wrote her first book Catalyst, followed by its sequel Legacy. Val has published 9 novels. A Sense of a Presence is Valerie’s latest book, released last September, and we caught up with Valerie Gould to find out more about her wonderful writing background.


What do you enjoy most about writing and when did you realise you wanted to make that jump and work towards publishing your first book?

I have always enjoyed writing but it wasn’t until my neighbour, the author Jane Gardam, encouraged me and gave me the confidence to publish, that I realised I possessed some talent. My first novel ‘Catalyst’ was a little immature, but read on and I hope you will agree that I have improved a bit!


For those who may not read your work, what type of writer are you and what would be the best way to describe your novels?

I enjoy wit, I empathise with grief and love, insecurity, loneliness and a desire for one’s own personal space. My books are not cosy love stories or whodunnits. They are in a bracket/genre of their own – mine. I write fiction. I take my inspiration from life and nature.

I like to think that my characters are real, that they live for the reader and do not fit into a prototype of man/woman. Some even wear glasses and have a lisp!

For me, nature doesn’t so much reflect the atmosphere I am portraying, as become it: fear, contentment, sadness.

A passage from my book in progress (title yet to be confirmed):

‘Standing in our own Shadow’

‘I realised that I had finally walked through the storm, it was passed, the moon had sought for and found me again and beamed its fractured light through the bare branches of the trees, silhouetting them to appear as grasping hands or malevolent monsters. Twigs twitched and snatched at my hair like predatory spiders as though to spin it into webs. I shivered, the light of the moon was chill, not warming or friendly, pale almost to the point of being white as though the sun had gone out and a single fluorescent bulb had taken its place.’


You have been a writer for over 10 years, what would you say is your proudest piece of work during those 10 years?

My main enjoyment is feeling the book begin to flow. If I have to plan too much the flow has gone.

My books write themselves. A little like life; tomorrow is an unknown. I am often surprised at what springs from nowhere – the path which I had no idea existed. That is fun.

My daughter Ellen maintains that ‘Those Who Lie Beneath’ is her favourite, but I suspect this may now be supplanted by ‘A Sense of a Presence’ and I quote her “that ending will stay with me forever.”

‘Dreams of Loss and Lost Dreams’ was the most disturbing for me to write as it addressed issues which are painful. Getting it out there was in a way cathartic for me.


Can you tell us about your latest novel A Sense of a Presence?

‘A Sense of a Presence’ was inspired by something as simple as two deckchairs which I came across at 6:20am one summer morning. The way the seat of one chair gave the appearance of having been recently vacated immediately gave me the cover and the title.


For those who draw inspiration from you and would like to follow in your footsteps what is the best piece of advice you can give and what are the pros and cons of the writing world?

My advice to other writers is multi-fold. Firstly, don’t force it. This is always obvious to the reader. Planning a book from the last page backwards is fine for a crime novel but even then it’s fun to let the story take you away from your presumed outcome.

Finally, editing. Take your time. Read and re-read, check facts, grammar and spelling. Once it’s in print it’s too late. I still have found a typo in one of my books despite the hours spent.

Getting a literary agent is a long and depressing road. If you’re lucky you may even get a reply. A contact is always useful, as in life in general. I opted to self-publish but wish I had held out for an agent. They are the ones who can put your writing out in the literary world. If you self-publish, the world is very small unless you are prepared to spend a lot on advertising.


How can readers keep up to date with your career and enquire about buying some of your books?

My website is The books are also available in Val Gould Gallery and Framers 35 Harnet Street. All my published books are free to borrow from Sandwich Library.


To stay up to date with Valerie Gould, keep your eyes peeled on your local Sandwich magazine or visit her Facebook page.

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