Welcome to my weekly series – Author Interviews.
These posts give me good reason to pester / stalk some of my favourite authors and persuade them to come sit in my red interview chair. I try to find out a little bit more about the person behind the books and glean some valuable writing best practices and tips.
This week I am feeling really blessed as author Terry Tyler is sat in my virtual red chair!
I am currently reading Terry’s book titled Best Seller and I am struggling to put it down. This book is about three female writers looking for literary success. Such a fab idea! This book contains scandal, intrigue and lovable characters. It’s so good I have told my loved one to have his own ‘TV box-set night’ tonight as I need to binge read.
Oh dear – I can feel another author crush coming on and some emotional attachment issues with Terry’s characters.
Hey Terry, welcome! Please make yourself at home on my chair…
Can you tell my readers a little bit about yourself?
Greetings, Lucy and her readers! I live in north east England with my husband, and zero children or animals.
I lived in beautiful, coastal Norfolk during the noughties, then marriage took me to Geordie Land (but he was worth leaving my beach behind, and I like it here now!).
I’ve published 12 books on Amazon and am currently writing the 13th. They’re all character-driven dramas, but I can’t slot them into any definite genre, I’m afraid … Kings and Queens, Last Child and The House of York are modern day family sagas inspired by certain periods in history (namely the Tudors and the Wars of the Roses), Dream On and its sequel Full Circle are about musicians, Best Seller is about three writers, while Round and Round has a touch of the paranormal, as the heroine gets to see the lives she might have led if she’d made different decisions many years before. Yes, it would be much easier if I could just say “I write YA Fantasy”, or “I write 18th Century historical romance”! I’ll sum up by saying they’re all contemporary dramas, some darker than others.
When did you write your first book?
Ahhh—in 1993. On a cranky old typewriter. I actually wrote it all out in longhand first. Perhaps you’d rather I talked about the first one I published, instead! I wrote You Wish in 2009/2010, having written practically nothing for the nine years I lived in Norfolk.
How long did it take to write your first book?
I wrote You Wish in about six or eight months, I think. I write fairly intensively once I start, and spend most of my time at my desk; I hate leaving it!
What was your motivation to write your first book?
My husband encouraged me to start writing again after he read an earlier version of Dream On that I wrote in 1995. I’m so glad he did! With You Wish, I had a concept in my head about whether we are the authors of our own destiny and if we change our fates by force of will, all bound up in the idea of being careful what you wish for. I just needed a story to illustrate it. I worked the plot out as I often do, by thinking about it on long walks (then forgetting half of it because I never remember to take a notepad with me…!).
What writing issues did you encounter along the way and how did you overcome them?
I always come through lots of plot problems and sticky areas that won’t work, or ideas that seem a bit unconvincing when I write them down. It’s just a matter of thinking them through and finding a way round them. Sometimes I discuss plot problems with my husband and/or sister.
Did you go through any bad writing patches during writing your book – what kept you going?
Bad patches are the norm, alas. I think all writers go through phases of thinking ‘I have just written 30,000 words of complete crap’. Now, I know that they will pass. However, I also know that the bits that really are rubbish will have to be sorted out! If I can’t face a certain problem area I don’t give myself grief over it, but attack it in the next redraft. Then again, when I’m in ‘everything I write is rubbish’ mode, I don’t believe I will ever be able to sort it out!
Are you a plotter or do you just write / see what happens?
Definitely a plotter. I don’t understand how you can make a book work any other way, because every event, every character illustration, every piece of dialogue, has to fit in with the whole; continuity must be a nightmare if you keep darting off at tangents. As for ‘seeing what happens’: what happens is what you make happen. I don’t buy into all this ‘my characters make up their own stories’ baloney; it’s your imagination and fingers on the keypad that direct the story, not a mystical process. You can always make Alexander a bit more polite if you want, or decide he wasn’t in the army, after all; you’re the one in charge.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
Being able to release that creative frustration inside! And when someone tells you that they love something you’ve written, and want to read more books by you, that’s the best thing ever (huge thanks to everyone who buys and enjoys my books – I appreciate it more than you know!).
What is the worst thing about being a writer?
Worrying that I won’t live long enough to write everything I want to; wishing I had three heads and three pairs of hands so I could write several books simultaneously. The worst thing that ever happened, on the other hand, was when I co-wrote a book with someone related to me by marriage, who submitted it to a literary agent under the pretence that she had written it herself. She’d given me nothing more than messy notes which I rewrote as the first seven chapters of a publishable novel. No, we’re still not speaking!
Have you ever considered quitting writing, and if so how have you worked through this?
No, never. I feel irritable if I can’t write. When it’s not going well I think, shall I just give up and be a book blogger, instead (because I read at least two books a week and review them on my book blog, which I love doing), but I know I couldn’t bear not to be creating my own stuff too.
What does a typical writing day look like for you?
There isn’t one, not really. If I do not have other commitments I write once I’ve answered my emails and done my social media stuff, and stop when I have had enough. I hate it when I want to carry on but my eyes are too tired and I’ve got back ache!
Do you suffer from procrastination and if so how do you handle it?
Yes, I think most writers do, which is weird, isn’t it? Considering the fact that we love/need to do it! Much of getting a novel written is about sitting down and opening the laptop, though; it’s your choice whether you do that or watch telly/go shopping/sit in the garden, etc. My best tip is to get things like Spider Solitaire taken off your computer – that used to be my downfall! I’d stop whenever I reached a hard bit, and have at least two games.
Which is more important – plot or characters and why?
I used to think it was the characters, because if the reader doesn’t care about the characters they won’t care what happens to them, but reading alot for the purpose of reviewing has taught me that plot is just as important. I don’t like books with not enough events. I want to be surprised, and hate the ‘is that it?’ feeling. On the whole, though, I’d say the characters are slightly more important, because it doesn’t matter how good a plot is if the characters are cardboard, whereas if the plot is a bit commonplace it can be saved by brilliant characterisation and dialogue.
What have been your 3 biggest learnings during your writing career?
That’s a hard one, there have been so many! Hmm. Okay…
- Always give your MS that final redraft, even when you think it’s as good as you can make it. I really do need to give my first three books another go-through, but it never happens; your editing/redrafting process improves as you work on more books. Even if you use a professional editor for the final polish (and the market viewpoint, perhaps), you need to be able to redraft your own work. If you rely on someone else to make the book worth reading, you’re not an author, you’re someone who makes up stories.
- Make sure the ending of your book is as good as the beginning ~ that’s the last bit people read before they review, and an anti-climatic or predictable ending can be such a disappointment.
- No matter how clever your promotion, how expensive your book covers, how great your online presence and how many 5* review quotes you tweet, what matters most is the words on the page. If they’re not that good, readers will abandon your book and won’t buy another one.
- Can I sneak a fourth one in??? Always use a proper, experienced proofreader. EVERY writer needs one. I didn’t, for the first three, and paid the price.
How do you manage social media as a writer?
With difficulty, at times! I ‘do’ Twitter first thing in the morning (put new tweets out, RT, share friends’ posts, catch up on chat, do my follow backs), and may nip on and off at other times during the day. Twitter is the only site I do much on. I have a Facebook author page but I mostly use FB just for personal stuff. When I post book reviews on Goodreads I might have a quick look to see if I have any new reviews for my own books, and ‘like’ them, so that they appear in the news feed! That’s about it, really; you can only do so much.
Do you have any tips or advice for budding aspiring authors?
Tons! Rather than summarise them, I’ll provide a link for a post I wrote entitled ‘Dos and
Here’s another one, too, that I wrote after a year or so of reviewing for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team, and noticing that so many debut novels contained similar weak points (some that I was guilty of, too!).
Do you suffer from writer’s block and if so how do you overcome?
If the words really, really aren’t coming, I give up and do something else. We feel more creative/imaginative/productive on some days than others.
Do you ever think of the next book whilst writing?
Every time! I have a ‘to be written’ list in my head; there are currently four on it. I always hope I won’t get the next idea until I’m at least on the rewrites for the current work in progress, but the idea arrives when it arrives. I’m on the first redraft for The Devil You Know, which I hope will be out in October, but I’m already planning the next project in my head, which will be a series of post apocalyptic novellas – that’s if I don’t decide to do the contemporary gangster drama based on the lives of Henry II and his sons, or the histfic about the Battle of Culloden and its aftermath…. but then there’s the 14th century one about the Black Death…. I refer to my comment about worrying I won’t live long enough to write them all.
What do you wear to write?
Oh my goodness, you don’t want to know! Awful but comfortable trousers – I have some in black velour, and various pairs of patterned cotton ones. Comfortably loose tops, old cardigans, slippers, socks (I am currently wearing thick red fluffy ones with pale pink, old lady style bedroom slippers), hair in a variety of hair bands and bulldog clips… no, picture not included!
If readers want to get in touch how do they contact you?
Mostly via Twitter or comments on my blog, these are the sites I use the most often; I might go a week or longer without logging onto Facebook. The link to my book review blog is on my Twitter bio, but I don’t take requests.
Many thanks for inviting me to your blog, Lucy, and I hope my answers have been of some interest/use to your readers!
Wow Terry, what a fab interview! Here is what I took from this:
- I love your approach to working through writing issues. Just letting your mind think through them and discussing with those around you. Much better than my approach which is to have a complete emotional breakdown.
- Love your learnings. I think the proof reader tip is priceless. I also agree with you on the end of a novel. I finished the end of my first draft far too quickly this week, mainly because I was exhausted, but this is something I will be tackling second draft.
- Love your blog posts! Very useful for first timers like myself.
- I must try out your writer hair fashion – hair piled up in bulldogs, hair bands and clips 🙂
Thanks again Terry!
Your book is amazing and I am now a huge Terry Tyler fan.
To read other interviews with some amazing authors please click here.
If you are an author and fancy taking a seat in my red chair please leave me some contact details in the comments box – thanks!