It’s difficult not to be charmed by Bryony Pearce. Dressed in a faintly sparkling jumper and a simple necklace, she answers the video call with a bright smile and a warmth that is infectious. It doesn’t take long for her motherly nature to ooze through the video call even as she admits just where she’s speaking from.
“I live in a forest,” she says. “I literally have wild boar and deer wandering into the driveway and there’s a lot of mist—could do with more pubs or shops, though!”
It is a surreal setting which suits her writing style nicely—her vast array of dark adult and young adult fiction includes thrillers, horror, science fiction and dystopia. She proudly presents her most recent novel, Raising Hell, and talks about her new one, Little Rumours (out March 2022) as she discusses her successes, including the awards she has won. She makes particular mention of her 2008 win of Undiscovered Voices—a competition run by the SCBWI that takes place every two years. The twelve winners have the openings of their novels compiled into an anthology, which is sent out to every agent and editor in the country. This was what got her an agent.
Surely all of her success has done wonders for her confidence then?
She grimaces, her face pulled into well-humoured embarrassment. “I’m more confident now, but when I won Undiscovered Voices, part of the prize was to go to a party with agents and editors. I should have been selling myself and my book, but I just hid in the corner because I was too terrified to speak to any of them! Now I’ve been doing this for a long time, I know that publishing people are just people.”
It’s this humility and compassion which helped her to become a writing coach.
“I wanted to share what I knew and what I loved. I love bringing people to their potential,” she admits. “It makes me feel like a proud mama!”
Her client history is impressive in itself— people she has helped in the past include Scott Bain, the Bath Novel Award shortlisted author of the YA novel, The God Bullet, and Muhammed Khan, author of I am Thunder. Her pride in her clients is evident in how she talks about them—from her wide grin to the way she gushes over their writing growth.
So, what makes you agree to work with a client? What catches your interest?
“I want to work with people who have lots of potential, even if they’re a little embarrassed or unsure! Though I can’t guarantee that clients will get a book deal, I know that I can help them to improve their writing and brighten that spark again, but they need to be willing to listen and put the work in. We’re working together and I want clients who are excited about the writing journey!”
With her enthusiasm, it would be hard not to be.
As someone with an impressive resume, who’s been a part of the publishing industry for as long as she has, she must have plenty of wisdom to share with clients—especially when it comes to the writing?
“I hope so!”
And if she could give only one piece of advice?
Her brow scrunches as she considers before responding with a firm nod. “Spend time on your character development. A good character can save a bad story, but a good story can’t be saved by a badly-written character.”
Wise words, indeed.
Empathetic, compassionate and fuelled with the patience of raising two teenagers— Bryony Pearce is a pleasure to speak to and leaves a residual warmth long after the video call ends.