Guest: Author Penny Mayhew

Welcome, first time author, Penny Mayhew…

Penny Bio photo jpeg 

Can you tell me a little about yourself? [including pen name if you have one]

I’m Penny Mayhew, but I write in the name of Penny Canvin, which is my maiden name.  There’s two reasons for me having a pen name:  firstly, I want to distinguish myself from non-fiction that I write within my job role (I’m a Training Consultant) and secondly, I started writing when I was a Canvin and so it just felt right to keep doing so.  I’m from a village just outside Milton Keynes called Deanshanger, although we’re actually in Northamptonshire, and have been here virtually my whole life, now living with my husband, daughter, one dog, two cats and a couple of frogs in the pond.

What was the first story you wrote?

I wrote a lot as a child, but mostly plays that I’d write for my toys to perform (they were quite reserved and not the best actors…).  But, the first story that I remember writing was when I was at school and, for some reason, it involved a murder and then the victim being cut up and fed to the family dog… I’ve no idea why I would write such a thing, but it caused an interesting conversation with my teacher, and also with my parents!  As an adult, the first piece of serious writing was a script just after I joined a new writer’s group at the Milton Keynes Theatre.  I created a short comedy piece that was performed at an event in the main foyer and involved a character called Bob the First Aider.  He later went on to appear in my next sketch which was called ‘Spleens and Aubergines’…

Were you inspired by someone or something?

I’m lucky to have two creative parents, although neither are writers.  My mother has always ‘made things’, from sewing through to card making whereas my father is probably the best ‘storyteller’ I’ve ever known.  He has so many tales from his past that have an audience completely captivated.  So, they’ve both inspired me.  With my script writing, I’ve been inspired by TV and Film writers such as John Sullivan, Richard Curtis, Jimmy Perry, David Croft, Ray Galton and Alan Simpson.  And with my novel writing, I’m inspired by so many authors, it would be so difficult to name them all.  I’ve been lucky to meet many people within the Milton Keynes creative community and all of them have inspired me.

What do you like about writing a story?

I’m a daydreamer and so, when writing a story, it’s the only time I can actually get away with doing it without being told by someone to stop wasting time and concentrate!  I love making up characters and situations, going into a fictitious world where anything can happen, inventing people that are so different to me so that I can experience new and unfamiliar situations and emotions.  Also, when writing my new book, it was set in a favourite place of mine and so I had months of feeling as though I was there, in the sunshine.  It actually helped me get through last winter – I struggle with winter, more so as each year passes, and it was the first time that the colder and dark months passed for me virtually unnoticed.

Can you tell us about your new book?

This is actually my first novel, and it’s called ‘Friendship, Love and Apple Tea’.  It’s set predominantly in Turkey, around the Marmaris and Içmeler area, and involves a character called Lou who goes over to Turkey to visit her best friend Libby who left to work there as a Holiday Rep over a year before.  Lou is in a bad relationship that she wants to get out of, and so she looks forward to the break so she can sort out her life.  But it doesn’t work out quite as planned.

Penny~cover~friendship love and apple tea

How did you come up with the story?

I knew I wanted to set a story in Turkey, as it’s somewhere that my family and I have visited many times and is a special place for us.  I also knew that I wanted to base it around a close friendship.  As with my script writing, all of my ideas actually come from the characters themselves.  So, I created character profiles for the five main characters and the plot came from that.  It changed quite a bit from the first ideas, but the characters led the story all the way through.

What genre best fits for the book?

The book is a romantic comedy/chick-lit.  I find it hard to write serious ‘stuff’.  In the past, I’ve worked in some very serious jobs which have provided excellent research should I want to write crime fiction, thrillers etc (I was a Coroner’s Officer once…), but I just can’t write seriously at all.  Maybe one day.

Are you working on something new at the moment?

I’m starting my second novel.  This one is set on a cruise and I’m letting the characters create the plot for me at the moment… who knows what will happen?  I also want to write a full-length play that I have the plot in place for.  I’m working on a TV Sitcom which I’ve had in my head for years.  And I’ve been writing for a few years with a co-writer called Ruth McCracken, creating a radio sitcom, and we hope that one day we’ll hear it on Radio 4.

Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

This sounds very obvious but, the only way to write is to write… I talked about becoming a writer for years and years.  I bought the magazines, the nice notepads and pens, a range of books on ‘how to write’.  Yet, each New Years Eve, I’d sit and reflect on the year that had passed and say ‘I still haven’t had anything published’.  Why?  Because I hadn’t actually written a complete piece of anything.  I whinged to a local author about a year ago and said ‘How will I ever write?  I work full time, I’m a mum, I’ve so little spare time, it’s never going to work… etc etc’.  And she basically said, “Stop moaning about it and write.  The book is never going to write itself for you”.  And, she was right, and so I did.  It’s the only way.

I also think that joining a Writer’s Group really changed things for me.  I suddenly had two hours a week where I could put myself first and write and share, surrounded by like-minded people whilst learning the theory behind writing.

What is your writing routine?

I have no routine whatsoever.  Because I work full time (self-employed), I write if and when I have the chance to.  This could be on the train, in bed, sat on the sofa whilst half-watching Casualty… I just take my chances where I can.  Once I’ve researched and got my plot sorted out, I write the first draft with a digital pen.  This means that I can write anywhere, without needing my laptop (which is difficult on a packed commuter train) and then convert it straight into a word document for the editing.  This has helped me a lot.

Do you have an editing process?

I edit, and edit, and edit… it’s an area that I really need to work on as I waste a lot of time doing it, without a proper process.  I edit via track changes and find that, when I go through each, I sometimes change it back to how it was.  And then back again.  And then back again… Part of my problem is that I need to put more planning into my first draft before jumping straight into it.  So, I’m looking forward to trying it differently with my next novel.

Once I’d got the book into a reasonable state, what really helped was that I had a very close friend read it to give me feedback, as I knew she’d be very honest.  This friend is also illustrating the front cover. My husband read it too, which surprised me, as it’s not a genre he would normally read, and he gave me some typo edits to do, which was very useful.

What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?

The bit I enjoy least is editing…!  It’s the reading over and over that I struggle with, as I’m one of those people that gets easily bored and I just want to get onto the next project.  I become a teenager again, having to revise for exams and feeling the need to tell everyone how boring it is, whilst huffing and puffing and sulking!  I give huge woops of joy when I get to the end of editing.

The bit I like most is the first stages, when I’m plotting and suddenly find that the characters are telling me the direction they want to go in, and the story starts to form.

How important is it for you to share your writing?

As this is my first novel, I’m not too sure…I’m excited by the fact that it’s suddenly going to be read, but I’m at a stage where I don’t know how well it’s going to be received, and so I’m quite apprehensive about sharing it.  I do want to write, and to publish books, and so I know that sharing is an essential part of that.  I just haven’t yet reached a position where I know how that feels and can be comfortable with it.  I’m hoping it’s going to be enjoyable…!

Where can people go to read your work?

I’m publishing my book through the Kindle Direct Publishing scheme initially, and so it can be found there for downloading to an e-reader.  And, if someone hasn’t got an e-reader, they can read it on other devices, and also their phones, tablets, a laptop or computer. Links can be found at the bottom of this interview.

Where can people find you on the internet?

I have a website,, and a blog (also shown through the website, but can be viewed directly by going to

And, here are the links to my Twitter and Facebook profiles:                   

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I’m just so grateful at how supportive the writing community is.  So many published authors have offered me support and advice, and have really helped me to keep going when writing this first book.  I’m excited that I’ve a finished product to share with the world and am looking forward to receiving feedback, whatever that may be, and to go on to write my next one, and to work on my other projects.

Is there anything else you would like to share with your readers?

I’m just so grateful at how supportive the writing community is.  So many published authors have offered me support and advice, and have really helped me to keep going when writing this first book.  I’m excited that I’ve a finished product to share with the world and am looking forward to receiving feedback, whatever that may be, and to go on to write my next one, and to work on my other projects.

Where can people buy this lovely book?

Penny~cover~friendship love and apple tea

Thank you for a lovely interview Penny. I have really enjoyed it. Suzan.


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