Five years of international success has taught Roz Nay a thing or two about professional writing.
Prior to releasing her debut novel in 2017, Nay thought the journey from blank pages to book shelves was inscrutable. How do you pitch a novel? Why do you need an agent? How do you write a book people will want to buy, and what do you do with a finished manuscript?
“A lot of people need help with that because they don’t know the industry and it’s quite daunting,” she says.
Nay has written three thrillers — Our Little Secret, Hurry Home and The Hunted — for publishing giant Simon and Schuster, with another on the way. During that time Nay has learned how to make it in a competitive industry, and she wants to pass along her wisdom to Nelson’s next star scribblers.
The Roz Nay School of Writing, which opened earlier this month at 403 Baker St., is where Nay is inviting writers young and old to learn everything from the basics of structure and creating characters to the business of selling a manuscript.
“The world of publishing is a little bit of a jungle out there. I feel like I’ve been in it and done it and seen it and that does give me some credentials. That does give me this kind of expertise that I’ve just realized is a bit of a commodity.”
Typically, writers learn their craft in creative writing programs. Nay considered joining a college or university, but decided she’d rather create a school where she can grow long-term with her writers instead of saying goodbye at the end of every semester.
Nay was a high school English teacher for eight years in England and Australia. Her writing school starts with kids ages 12 and up, who she is looking forward to teaching once again. Kids, she says, are refreshing to work with because they aren’t thinking about the business of writing — they just want to tell a good story.
“There’s a purity to it where you’re just teaching it. Kids who are young, that youthfulness around writing where it’s all discovery and creativity. It’s not an industry, it’s not about the deals you’re getting or the money you’re making.”
Nay’s primary clients, however, are adults on the cusp of publication. For them she offers editing, mentorship and an agent package that helps writers pitch publishers.
But her most unique offering is for the elderly.
Nay wants to either help seniors write memoirs, or ghostwrite them herself, as a way of preserving family stories and history. Her own grandfather was a spy for the British Army who never spoke about his wartime experiences, but she reckons would have had stories to tell.
The finished stories would be packaged into a printed book specially for families, who could then pass them down through generations. Lives lived, Nay has found, can lead to worthwhile writing. “I just like the company of people with these quiet stories.”
Between classes, Nay has also begun writing the opening chapter of what will be her fifth novel. It’s a good place to be in her career, and she’d like more writers to join her.
“I just wanted to set something up that’s quite like, here I am, here’s a writing school, I can help you. I’m available.”