Wednesday 25 August 2021

June event - Gytha Lodge discussing her career as a writer and writing for computer games and currently writing her fourth novel.

 Despite being on holiday Gytha was kind enough to give us a talk on her wide ranging career and experiences. From theatre work, to writing her own books and a range of writing for video games both large and small.

As with many people we've met through the CLG you can really tell that Gytha is someone that has been really embedded into what they wanted to go. She quit her job to go and work in the theatre full time, working in various fringes and London's Leicester Square and gaining lots of experience. But bubbling underneath was always the desire to write books.

Feeling the need to focus on writing she did the UEA Creative Writing MA and that really seems to be the place that really allowed her skills to explode with the supportive teaching and continued feedback from other writers.

Especially one of the scriptwriting tutors teaching her how to pitch an idea to agents, something that had not been working up to that point.

It turns out her synopses made no sense whatsoever. As a writer she broke down the story as plot points instead of how a "normal" person would describe a story. Which sounds very sensible but we all know how what we think can seem strange to others. And it obviously worked as after that was changed she managed to get a lot of interest from agents who wanted to want work with her.

But she knew who she wanted to work with who was an agent that she had previously met in the ladies loos at Ely Cathedral! 

Your agent needs to be your mentor, friend but also the person that can say harsh things when they need to when it comes to feedback on your book. They need to be tough as they are going to be the ones going out and trying to sell it in a really intensive market.

But in Gytha's case even with the great agent no publishers were interesting  in taking her on from the first pitch.

So her agents suggested writing the second book and pitching that one instead and the first one will be easier to sell later.

Having a child and needing to actually have  money coming in she took a step back from theatre and moved into copywriting and marketing for a translation form and then slid into writing for video games.

This was working on games that had been moved over from Japan and China and they needed someone that could write good scenes in English and that did lead into actually pitching games.

This ranged from big MMO games to smaller mobile games including one of her favourite games from when she was younger, Heroes of Might and Magic where she got to make up new stories for the characters she loved. Which must be very filling both personally and financially!

But she still needed to finish her book so took a holiday and finished it off.

And 5 years after being signed with her agent she got a contract offer on her book.

But unfortunately the amount offered would not allow her to leave her job and allow her to fulfill the dream of being a full-time writer. But the value of a good agent came out again and as Gytha was now in demand she could prod other publishers to see if anyone else would be interested.

Penguin came with an offer. That was 10 times the size of the first offer. And even then her agent thought they should be paying more for the world rights. And they did.

After 21 years of wanting a publishing contract it didn't feel real but Gytha could now write full time.

Such an amazing journey and story that was amazing to hear.

Unsurprisingly there were a lot of questions from members. People wanting to know more about how to get into writing for video games, how to get an agent (some answers being to summarise your novel in one line, get other people you trust to be honest to read your first three chapters as it's amazing what you might miss). There does seem to be a lot of people in the CLG who have something just waiting to burst out and our talks bring out the opportunity to quiz those who have made it to help them on their way.

We also found out how her main character, their background and the whole detective team came about (clue: it was a suggestion from her agent) and how she has not written the titles of any book. Yet that is!

The online events we have been having have been packed full of great information and wonderful stories. We are very lucky to have people like Gytha happy to talk to us :)

Kevin Symonds

Research Governance and Information Manager - MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences