Goodreads asked Sharon Kay Penman:

What’s your advice for aspiring writers?

Sharon Kay Penman I would suggest they choose a subject they feel passionate about, because there are days when writing can be sheer drudgery and we need the passion to help get us through those rough patches. It also helps enormously to be able to cultivate a very thick skin, especially in the age of the internet. Writers need to be able to accept the unpalatable fact that there will be people out there who will not enjoy their writing; moreover, sometimes readers will reject a book on the most questionable grounds, reading things into a book that the author knows is not there, and as frustrating as that can be, there is nothing to be done about it. It was easier for writers' egos in the old days when criticism of our books was not popping up all over the web! But I think writers also need to be receptive to editorial criticism. Sometimes a writer becomes so successful that his or her books are no longer edited, and I think everyone is the loser then--the writer, publisher, and the readers. I am convinced that there has never been a writer born who could not have benefited by good editing. Of course I have been blessed with one of the very best at that demanding craft, and she has been my only American editor for my entire career. When I tell that to other writers, their jaws usually drop, for all too often, editorial depts have revolving doors. And for writers of historical fiction, I hope they follow the credo so admirably expressed by Laurel Corona: "Do not defame the dead." Lastly, hang in there, for persistence can benefit a writer almost as much as talent and luck. It is not always an easy profession, but it is also such a rewarding profession that I encourage anyone who has the urge to write to listen to that inner voice and give it a try.

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