My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today With Clare Flynn #MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

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Welcome Clare, thank you for being here today.

 Good to be here, Judith

Firstly, could you tell us what made you decide to write in your genre?

It was not a conscious decision. The story of my first novel, A Greater World, came first and just happened to be set in 1920 and then I decided I liked the distance and perspective history gave to me and so stuck with the genre for the next books. I won’t guarantee that I will always stick to historical though!

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

I have many author friends across many genres. I’m a member of ALLi, the Historical Novel Society and The Romantic Novelists Association and I have made some wonderful supportive friendships through all of these. Since moving to the south coast from London last year I have co-founded a critique group with three other authors and an editor and we meet fortnightly to share extracts from our works in progress and give each other feedback. I have found this absolutely invaluable. I hope my editor and beta readers will agree when they get the new book shortly!

A Greater World: A woman's journey

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

I think that might be quite a handicap as empathy seems to me to be a critical asset for a writer. I struggle to imagine how you would write about strong emotions of you have never experienced them. That said, you don’t need to have experienced the same emotions if you can empathise and imagine your way into them. Whether or not you feel the emotions it’s absolutely crucial that you are able to convey them vividly on the page. Fortunately I’ve not experienced some of the terrible misfortunes that befall my characters – but I hope that hasn’t prevented me bringing them to life in my books. As crime writers always say – you don’t have to commit murder to write about it.

Do you want each book to stand alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I like your description of creating a body of work with connections between each book. I definitely don’t write series – each of my books is a standalone with different characters, locations, periods and so on. But there are themes that connect the books – particularly the idea of displacement – many of my characters are uprooted from a comfortable life and circumstances and plunged into a new world and life – often with a big geographical shift. I also think there are connections n my style of writing and my way of telling a story that makes a book a Clare Flynn book.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Somewhere on an inaccessible floppy disc in a box in my study is a draft of the opening chapters of a thriller I started to write in 1992. I think it’s probably best that it stays there! I also have the first draft of my next book which I am polishing now, ready to get it out to my beta readers. I spend a lot of time “mulling” before I start to write and now if I start a book, I finish it!

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I don’t find it particularly difficult. I’ve always been in the company of men – especially at work. I’ll leave it to my readers to judge how well I write them!

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I do some preliminary research before I begin – but very light touch. Most of my serious research is done during the writing process. I find reading around the subject helps balance my time and interest relative to writing. I read a lot of general background – for example about the era or the setting. I also do specific fact checking – mostly online – to check for anachronisms etc, to look for added colour – e.g. a song or a movie out in the year I am writing about. Place is very important. I have visited everywhere I write about and some instances revisited many times. For my second book, Kurinji Flowers, I returned to India to work on the final draft and stayed for a fortnight on a tea plantation living in a 1930s bungalow in the location where the book is set – basically reliving the life and walking in the footsteps of my main character. She was an artist so I also did a lot of painting and sketching of the kind of things she would have drawn. I based the Club in the book on a real one and assumed I would be able to visit it and look around, and so I didn’t write to them in advance – I had to practically prostrate myself at the feet of the Club Manager in order to grovel my way inside – and he wouldn’t allow me to take any photos nor to bring my driver with me (“He must wait outside”). Snobbery didn’t die out with the departure of the British! It was well worth the grovelling as it was a time capsule and I was able to use what I saw there directly in the book.

How do you select the names of your characters?

With a lot of brain-aching! I sometimes change the names as I go along as I find they don’t fit. I like going to graveyards and poking around to find unusual names. My last book The Green Ribbons had a lot of unusual and interesting names – Hephzibah WIldman, Merritt Nightingale, Abigail Cake, Mercy Loveless… but my next book has ordinary sounding names like Roger, Brenda, Jim and Pauline. It’s “horses for courses”.

 

The Green Ribbons

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

It definitely energises me.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

Make the time to write. Keep at it. Just do it!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

£75 to join the Alliance of Independent Authors – ALLi. The most brilliant source of knowledge, advice, camaraderie, encouragement and writerly friendship. I can’t imagine how I’d have got by without them.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I’m done with work now! I had a very fulfilling career as a Marketing director – and then as a consultant. I’ve travelled widely with my work, met some amazing and interesting people, and been privileged to work with some of the greatest companies in the world.

Have you ever had reader’s block?

No. I am lost if I’m without a book. A terrible night in my life was being stuck in a German hotel the night before a business meeting without anything to read – I’d left my book on the plane!

I couldn’t begin to write if I hadn’t got decades of wonderful books behind me. I think the most important asset for a writer is to be a reader.

What do you think is the best way to market your books?

If I can get in front of people I can sell my books – especially if I do a reading. Sadly that’s not very efficient in either time or money! I’m still figuring out the best way to market my books. People think as a career marketer it must be easy for me. Well it isn’t!

Kurinji Flowers

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

Yes I do read them. I rejoice in the good ones and move on from the bad ones. No one wants to read a bad review but every author gets them occasionally. You just have to get over it. It takes all sorts. Take a look on GoodReads at some of the one-star hammering that great authors receive!

Would you like to talk about your latest book here.?

My latest book will be coming out later this year. It’s set in WW2 in Eastbourne, the seaside town I moved to last year. The town was subject to extraordinarily heavy bombardment by the Germans – firstly to soften it up before the planned invasion that Hitler cancelled, and later as it was easy for planes to zip across the Channel and dump bombs without having to cross the radar and anti-aircraft fire – then zip straight back. The book is the story of Gwen, a buttoned-up Englishwoman and Jim a young Canadian soldier. The town was the base for thousands of Canadians during the War. I like to put people together who in normal circumstances would never have met. This is a key element of A Greater World and Kurinji Flowers and to some extent Letters from a Patchwork Quilt.

9780993332418

My most recently published book is The Green Ribbons (2016). It is set in a Berkshire village in 1900. Many readers have said it reminds them of Jane Eyre – the main character is orphaned and compelled to earn a living as a governess – but I think the resemblance stops there.

Please supply links to all your social media including websites.

Twitter – https://twitter.com/clarefly

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authorclareflynn/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/clarefly/

My website – http://www.clareflynn.co.uk/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Jenny Lloyd #MondayBlogs

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Hi, Jenny, Lovely to see you here today

Thank you for inviting me to this interview, Judith. The questions you’ve asked have given me reason to reflect upon my writing life and the why and how I write what I do. It has been a challenging and enlightening exercise which I have thoroughly enjoyed!

What made you decide to write in your genre?

When I began researching my family history and discovered the real-life stories of my ancestors. Discovering the tragedies in the lives of my grandmother, and her grandmother, set me on a journey to find out why and how such things could happen. Researching the religious and social norms of the times made me realise just how absent were the rights of women and how entrenched were the inequalities and double standards. There were no support systems, no safety nets, and society and its institutions served to reinforce traditional attitudes and beliefs that women were both a dangerous temptation to men and inferior to men. Women were always to blame in cases of sexual assault and rape, and women had to be controlled and contained within a life constrained by familial and marital duty. Across Britain, women who attempted to see their assailants prosecuted were openly jeered, mocked and humiliated by courtrooms of men. It is a disgrace that women were ever treated thus. I remember that time, back in the eighties, when they were closing all the old mental asylums. Aged women were coming out who had spent their entire adult lives in mental institutions. Some had been sent there in their teens for having got themselves pregnant out of wedlock. It was shocking. Inequalities applied to all women, but in isolated, rural communities such as in Wales, influenced by the rigid, non-conformist, hell-fire preachers of the time, the expectations placed on women to uphold ideals of purity were equal to the punishment if they were discovered to have fallen short. I have no doubt that many grew up in loving families, married loving husbands and lived contented lives in these idyllic surroundings; but for those who were failed by families, lovers, or husbands, it was a very different outcome. My grandmother had a terrible life, just terrible.

What other authors of your genre are you connected/friends with, and do they help you become a better writer in any way?

I do read a lot of books by other historical authors, regardless of whether I am socially connected with them. Some are awesome, are the most excellent of writers, and fill me with aspiration and ambition to improve.

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

I think that to sustain the amount of energy needed to write a full-length novel you must feel passionate about your subject. Personally, I write from a sense of outrage at the cruelties and injustices which have sprung from socially sanctioned inequality. Wherever there is inequality, there will always be those who will use that imbalance of power to their own ends, whether that be in a marriage, a community, or society as a whole. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to feel that strongly – it fuels the fire and underlies my feeling that I must write to the best of my ability to do the subject justice. If I thought I failed to do that, I would give up writing and leave the job to someone else.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I don’t write in a particular style for the sake of originality. As a reader, I am slightly put off if I feel the author is trying to be original either in their choice of subject matter or in the portrayal of their characters. Originality, in that sense, can be at the expense of authenticity, I think. I don’t know about originality, but I am quite particular in how I like to tell a story, i.e. I tend towards more than one point of view because that gives a more rounded, unbiased story, I hope. As in Leap the Wild Water, I thought it essential to know Morgan’s side of things, too; that was all part of illuminating the ‘how and why’ such things can happen. And I like to twist things up, not for the sake of it, but for instance, though Megan has her own voice in the narrative, we learn a great deal about Megan through Morgan’s eyes, and vice versa – their private thoughts and feelings about each other are particularly revealing. I put a great deal of thought into viewpoint and who will be telling which aspect of the story, before I begin. I think if someone told me I must write in a different style to that which is very much my own in order to ‘deliver to readers what they want’, I would be totally gutted. Too many novels are written to a ‘formula’ which has obviously proved, at some point in the past, to have made for a ‘popular’ novel. There has been a noticeable increase in this type of novel in recent years, so I guess agents and publishers believe it is what the reading public wants but it isn’t what this reader wants, and it isn’t the kind of novel I want to write.

 

leap-the-wild-water

I have to say here, this is the first book I read of yours; I loved it.http://amzn.to/2lkjDFg

How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?

Let’s face it, I do take my readers on an emotional roller-coaster. They’re going to love some characters, despise others. They’re going to feel angry, exasperated, and outraged at the things some of these characters get up to. They’re going to cry. They’re going to laugh too, I hope; in short, all the emotions I feel when I’m writing. I do make demands on my readers but I am always careful not to depict anything in a gratuitous or graphic way.

Do you want each book to stand-alone or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I’ll bow to the judgement of one of my readers on this one, who told me he’d read the last one, Anywhere the Wind Blows, without having read the first two books and though he really enjoyed it, he went on to say he’d now read all three and felt they should definitely be read in the order they were written!

wind-blows

http://amzn.to/2lkDG6J

 

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

A trunkful of my earlier attempts. Until Leap the Wild Water I hadn’t managed to complete a single full-length novel.

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I grew up with six brothers. Although not one of the characters in my books is remotely like any of my brothers, I do feel that growing up with them has offered me some valuable insights into the male psyche. Morgan, the main male character in Leap the Wild Water, is very much Welsh and very much a man of his time and place. I found his character easier to write than Megan’s, at times.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

Right now, I am coming to the end of a few months of research in preparation for the next book. The next one will have a whole new set of characters and will be set in an earlier time, and across a wider social stratum, so I’m beginning again from scratch. I did a lot of research before I began writing the Megan Jones trilogy. A vast amount doesn’t get used but it all adds to my understanding and portrayal of the domestic, social and geographical contexts in which those people had to live out their lives. I research anything and everything which helps me do that. There are so many old documents, journals etc., available online now, it is a social historian’s dream.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes, they may be given the name of an ancestor – Morgan is an old Welsh family name going back many generations. Often, though, a character’s name will have a deeper meaning. Megan’s mother, Esther, gives Megan’s baby the name of Fortune. Not only did she rob Megan of her child but of the opportunity to name her. That one act alone said so much about Esther and her attitude to and relationship with her daughter. Esther named the child Fortune ‘because that is what she will cost us, one way or another’. That was all Esther could see. Fear of public shame and loss of reputation blinded her to everything else. She quite literally throws away a fortune in the form of her own beautiful granddaughter.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Without a doubt, the scene when Megan realises her baby has been taken. To do that justice, I had to ‘become’ Megan while writing it, get right there inside her head and heart. Even now, recalling it, it still has the power to move me to tears. A young mother who read Leap the Wild Water asked me if what happened to Megan had happened to me because the scene seemed so real she felt I must have experienced the same. I haven’t, except through Megan.

Does writing energise or exhaust you?

Both. When I am writing the first draft I’m flying. It is the most exhilarating experience, ever. It is only after finishing subsequent drafts and publication that exhaustion sets in and I honestly have to walk away from writing for a few months.

What would be the advice you would give to your younger writing self?

Believe in yourself, write for the love of it, and don’t allow your self-belief, hopes and dreams to be undermined or destroyed by selfish, insecure people. People who really care about you would not place obstacles in your way.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

john-waterhouse

I have this reproduction of ‘Boreas’ by John William Waterhouse hanging above my writing desk. I first came across it not long after I’d finished the first draft of Leap the Wild Water. I was astounded when I saw it because it was so close to my vision of Megan picking the wild daffodils on the hill above Carregwyn. It was as if the painter had had the same vision as me, but a hundred years before me. I had to buy it. Only when I’d finished the last book in the trilogy did I realise that the painting represents the entire trilogy – there is Megan amid the daffodils (Leap the Wild Water) and in the back-ground there is a raven flying (The Calling of the Raven) and of course, the subject of the painting is the north wind (Anywhere the Wind Blows). Every time I look at this picture it reminds me of the power of the subconscious, and in my moments of self-doubt it serves to remind me that I once thought myself incapable of writing just one novel, let alone three.

raven

http://amzn.to/2lRQH4z

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Every book, text book or fiction, that I have read. My text-books have educated me and through reading novels I have learned how to go about writing one.

If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?

I didn’t write Leap the Wild Water until I was in my fifties so I’ve always had to do other work and fit my writing around that. I left home, and school, within a month of my fifteenth birthday. I was desperately unhappy and thought running away would fix things. It didn’t. My first job was with Laura Ashley, making those beautiful, Edwardian style dresses and blouses with all the pin-tucks and lace. I was a ‘mother’s help’ for a wealthy couple in London, for a time. We lived in an enormous, luxurious flat over the King’s Road. That introduced me to a very different life from that of growing up on a farm in Wales! It was great while it lasted but when the job ended, I decided to leave London as the ‘hiraeth’ for my beloved Wales had become overwhelming. For most of my life, my work has involved textiles, making clothes or furnishings. I trained as an upholsterer, too. None of it, really, what I most wanted to do but drifted into and did to pay the mortgage and the bills, as we do. As the years went by, my frustration grew until I twigged that my hopes and dreams were as important as anyone else’s. From that day on, I began to dedicate every spare moment I could to writing. Even while working, I’d be writing. I’d keep a notebook beside me all the time, hand-stitching curtains while pausing to write the stories unreeling in my head. And I began to try to make up for all those years of education lost through leaving school so young, reading everything I could lay my hands on and discovering those subjects which most fascinated me – social history and social psychology, subjects which have greatly informed my writing.

Have you ever had reader’s block?

What’s that?! Did you mean writer’s block? If the latter, only when I am in between novels. I am capable of devoting vast quantities of energy into not beginning a new novel, to the point where I must begin or go insane. Once begun, the main reasons I don’t get writer’s block are that the characters are more in charge than I am, and I always end a writing session with an unfinished scene so I’m always looking forward to what happens next.

Has there been any author’s work you disliked at first but grew into?

Nope. For me, reading fiction is an escape. I know within the first chapter of a book whether I’m going to love it. It works for me from the off or it doesn’t work at all. There are so many books I want to read, so many things I have still to learn, life is too short to spend it reading anything which does not transport, inspire or instruct me.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Tess of the D’Urbervilles.

What do you think is the best way to market your books?

Somebody tell me the answer to that one, please!

 (Laughing! Yes, please do, someone.)

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I am incredibly lucky in that I have never had a bad review (not when I last looked, anyway!) and I am eternally grateful for every one of the reviews I’ve received. I don’t ask for them or expect them, so it is an absolute delight when I get one. I regard it as an act of pure generosity when people take the time and thought to write one. Those reviews have encouraged me more than anything else to keep putting my stories out there.

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

I most enjoy portraying the darker side of human nature. The worst characters fascinate and horrify me in equal measure, and none more so than the malicious gossip, Mary Williams, who really comes into her own in Anywhere the Wind Blows. Generally, most of my characters redeem themselves at some point but Mary wholly fails to do so. She is an envious and bitter woman without boundaries or conscience when spreading scandal and rumour, and breath-taking in her ability to say anything, regardless of truth, to destroy those she envies and resents. And isn’t it always the best people, the nicest people, who are the targets of the Marys of this world? Unfortunately for Megan and her brother Morgan, they find themselves the targets of Mary’s vindictive spleen during the aftermath of Eli’s shocking death. Mary has made trouble for Megan in the past but in Anywhere the Wind Blows, when love and a chance of lasting happiness arrives with Cai Traherne, Megan is to discover just how dangerous an adversary Mary is. I won’t say how it turns out!

Please supply links to all your social media including websites.

Twitter; https://twitter.com/jennyoldhouse

Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/jennylloydauthor

Pinterest; http://www.pinterest.com/jennyoldhouse

https://jennylloydwriter.wordpress.com/

 

 

 

 

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today with Terry Tyler #author

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

Today I’m with Terry Tyler. I first met Terry through Twitter after I’d read and reviewed Kings and Queens for RBRT.  Since then I’m always waiting for her next book… and the next. Good job she’s such a prolific author.

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Hi, Terry, good to see you here, I’m looking forward to our chat. 

Thanks for inviting me, Judith. 

 Tell us why you chose to write in your particular field or genre?  If you write more than one, how do you balance them?

I’m not sure I have ever chosen a genre, as such; I just choose a story I want to write from the few currently in my head, and worry about what category it fits into afterwards.  Yes, I’m a book marketing nightmare!  But they’re always based around the connections between people.  Interactions within families are often the most complex and interesting of relationships, with the most potential for love, jealousy, resentment, etc, so the family saga aspect of my novels evolved of its own accord, and I think reached its zenith with The House of York, though I am not finished with it yet!  Sometimes my books fall into different genres, such as psychological drama/thriller, or my current WIP which has a post-apocalyptic setting; I suppose I write in more than one genre, yes, but those might all occur within one book.  I know I ought to think about balancing it better *holds hand out for slapped wrist*.

(Laughing!!! – not slapping wrist)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Nine or ten unpublished, that I wrote in the days before Amazon Kindle, and about three that I’ve started since, but given up because my heart was not in them.

What was the first book that made you cry?

The Snow Goose by Paul Gallico, I think.  I read it when I was about sixteen, after seeing the TV dramatization with Jenny Agutter and Richard Harris, and cried buckets at both.  Later, in my early twenties, there was Mirage by Andrea Newman.  It’s about a woman with an unfaithful husband, who leaves him when she can’t stand it anymore.  She tries so hard to build up a new life but, some time later, accepts that she will never be happy without him.  She contacts him and begs to be able to see him, just sometimes, even though he has married again; she ends up as his mistress.  It’s heartbreaking.  I found the thought of not being able to move on from a broken relationship quite terrifying; maybe the book influenced my own ‘recovery rate’ later in life!  Most sinisterly, the dedication in the Penguin paperback reads simply, ‘For Terry’.  How about that, eh?

 How about that! And sinisterly- great word – wonder if you can copyright a word?

You Wish...

What do you think is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

Judging by some of the books I’ve read in which it’s been done badly, I’d say it’s understanding that there is more to writing someone of the opposite sex than giving them an appropriate name, describing their lustrous auburn tresses/strong broad shoulders, then writing them out of your own head.  You’ve got to understand what makes the opposite sex tick, the differences between the sexes, how men talk to each other when there are no women around, and vice versa.

Good answer! In that case how do you select the names of your characters?

Sometimes they arrive in my head with their name attached.  If they don’t, I try out lots of different names according to social class, generation and my own preferences, until I find one that ‘sits’ right.  I am careful not to have any main and secondary characters with similar names, or those starting with the same letter, as this can be confusing for the reader.

Best Seller: A Tale Of Three Writers

What are some ways in which you promote your work?  Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?

I am a bit lazy/not dedicated enough about promotion.  I detest Facebook, have never used Google +, Pinterest or most of the other sites that we’re ‘meant’ to use for spreading the word.  I don’t do paperbacks because I would rather watch ten solid hours of Celebrity Big Brother than do literary festivals and signing sessions, which is, I believe, one of the main ways in which ‘indie’ authors sell them.  I can’t see myself hawking them round independent bookshops, either; sales is not my forté.  I rely solely on Twitter, book blogs, Amazon visibility and word of mouth.  This detracts from my writing time in that I do all my Twitterly and blog stuff first thing, and it often takes more time than I intend, because I enjoy it.  On the other hand, I turn on my laptop as soon as I get up, while I’m letting my first coffee of the morning do its stuff, so in a way it ‘warms me up’ for the writing day!

 

What do you like to read in your free time?

Historical fiction is a great favourite, if it’s very well researched and teaches me about the era.  I like my histfic quite heavy: battles, feuds, struggles against authority, the settling of old scores, the dark and desperate.  My other favourite genre is post apocalyptic; I love to read anything about survival in adverse circumstances, so I also like polar and seafaring adventures, as long as they go horribly wrong.  I love good zombie fiction, and some general contemporary dramas, if they’re edgy and realistic.  I’ll read horror type thrillers, too (I do love a good psychopath), but not paranormal/supernatural.  Not interested in things that go bump in the night.  Apart from zombies.

 An eclectic mix then, Terry.  But zombies!  (shivering) Your enthusiasm almost makes me want to give the genre a go… almost. 

So, what projects are you working on at the present?

I’m currently editing the first book in my post apocalyptic series.  It’s about a targeted depopulation plot that goes wrong.  As touched upon in your first question, it’s still very much a character-orientated drama, and centres around my 34 year old protagonist, Vicky, her boyfriend and 16 year old daughter, and various friends.  As soon as I’ve sent it off for test/proofreading I shall start the next one; I plan to have the first two books ready to go before I publish the first, so the second can be released very soon afterwards, because I hate waiting six months for the next instalment when I’m reading a series.  I am not quite sure how the whole thing ends yet; I’m trying not to worry about this too much…  it might end prematurely if no one likes it!

What do your plans for future projects include?

Three of my books are contemporary family sagas based on events from history: Kings and Queens and Last Child, which is my updated story of Henry VIII, his wives and children, and The House of York, which was inspired by the Wars of the Roses.  I want to write another one, based on the life of Henry II and his four sons.  That’ll be next, after the current series.  I think.   Depends what else pops into my head, really.  I’ve been semi-planning a book set during the 14th century for a while, but am scared about writing histfic in case I can’t do it well enough.

Kings And Queens by [Tyler, Terry]Last Child by [Tyler, Terry]The House Of York by [Tyler, Terry]

Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?

That’s an interesting question, and one I’ve sat here and thought about for a while.  My answer is this: I think that those who have the urge to create, be it novels, poetry, music or painting, tend to feel emotions strongly, per se.  The two go hand in hand.  I’ve read novels in which the writer clearly has no idea about the emotion they aim to portray; out come the clichés and stock reactions.  On the other hand, feeling emotions deeply doesn’t necessarily mean you will be a good writer.  It’s all about whether or not you can get what’s in your head onto the paper, in such a way that others want to read it.

Round And Round

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

About 75%-25%, I think.  I can only write a book if I’m madly enthusiastic about it, and, alas, that book may or may not appeal to the people who liked the previous one.  However, once I start writing I do try to write as a reader, if you like, and remain aware of what makes me enjoy a book.  For instance, in my current WIP, I originally had the chapters alternating between the past and the present.  Half the story was about the build up to the virus to end all viruses, the other half taking place in the post-pandemic world.  Ten chapters in, I realised that every time I moved forward to ‘afterwards’, I was taking the reader away from build up to the disaster.  So I moved it all around and put it in straight chronological order.

 

How do you feel about ebooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I read almost everything on ebook, it’s my choice every time.  I love the convenience, the price, the facilities on the Kindle app, everything.  The only downside is that I also love rooms filled with books, and 95% of those I’ve bought in the last five years are hidden away on my tablet.

As for alternative vs conventional publishing, all that matters is the words on the page, not who published them.  If a book is great, it’s great, and if it’s mediocre, it doesn’t matter how it’s dressed up.  I think self-publishing will only lose its stigma when everyone thinks like this, and realises that, in these days when anyone can set themselves up as a publisher, with independents and vanity presses popping up everywhere, ‘getting published’ is no longer necessarily an indication of quality.  A few months ago, a book blogger expressed surprise that I had not been ‘snapped up’ by a publisher; she meant it as a compliment, most kindly, but (after I’d thanked her!) I took the opportunity to explain to her that writers who self-publish usually do so by choice (by which I mean that we don’t submit our books to publishers), because we want to have control over every aspect of our work.  I know that some writers go with a publisher simply to give their books more credibility, and, indeed, it will take a long time before all book bloggers, reviewers and readers understand that self-published doesn’t mean substandard, and that there is a world of difference between a book deal from Simon & Schuster, a contract with a decent independent, and one with Joe Bloggs Publishing who doesn’t even recognise slack editing.

 

How do you find or make time to write?

Writing is what I do; it’s all the other stuff I have to make time for.  I haven’t done the ironing since 2014.  I think my husband’s been waiting for his dinner since around then, too.  (I did the ironing this afternoon, really; I’m having a ‘doing all the other stuff’ day!)

(Laughing!)  I call it ‘domestic trivia’. That puts it in its place.

Nobody's Fault

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I always read them.  Good ones are lovely, of course, absolutely make my day, but all reviews are helpful.  Obviously, nobody wants a bad one, and sometimes they can be irritating (like, when someone who usually reads crime thrillers complains that a light contemporary drama isn’t thrilling enough, which would be a bit like me reading a vampire book and giving it one star because I don’t like stories about vampires), but there are a hundred different ways to read everything, and some people will love what you do, some will like it, some will think it’s okay, and some will think it’s rubbish/boring.  I don’t agonise over bad ones.  I admit to reading them by peeping through my fingers like I do with scary films, though.

What It Takes

Would you like to talk about your latest book here?

My most recent publication is The Devil You Know.

The Devil You Know by [Tyler, Terry]

It’s a psychological drama about five people who suspect that a local serial killer might be someone close to them.  There’s a mother who thinks it’s her son, an abused wife who thinks it’s her husband, a young chap who suspects the worst about his friend, etc etc.  It’s not a police procedural type crime thriller, as the actual detection of the killer plays only a small part in the whole novel.  I’m very pleased that the reviews have been some of the best I’ve ever received, and it appeared on four book bloggers’ ‘Best of 2016’ lists.  Yes, I know I should capitalise on that by writing something else in the same vein, but….I refer you back to Question One!

Thank you for inviting me to take part in your author interview feature, Judith.

Thank you for being here, Terry. It’s been fascinating listening to you.

 Connect with Terry here:

https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4

http://terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/

http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821157.Terry_Tyl

My Series of #FamilySaga Authors. Today With Jan Ruth #authors

Over the next few months I’ll be chatting with authors who, like me, write Family Sagas, (#familysaga) a genre that can cover many countries, years  and cultures.I am thrilled that so many excellent writers have agreed to meet here with me. I’m sure you’ll find them as fascinating as I do. All I can say is watch this space. Your TBR list of books will be toppling over!!

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Hi Jan, lovely to chat with you today.

 Good to be here, Judith

May I start with asking you what process did you go through to get your books published?

This is an enormous question but a good one to start with! My first novel – written in 1986 – attracted the attention of an agent working for Andrew Mann Ltd. Anne Dewe was trying to set up her own company, Love Stories Ltd. It was a project aiming to champion those books of substance which contained a romantic element but were perhaps directed towards the more mature reader and consistently fell through the net in traditional publishing. Sadly, the project failed to get the right financial backing. Many years later my second novel, Wild Water, was taken on by Jane Judd, literary agent. Judd was a huge inspiration, but the book failed to find the right niche with a publisher. It didn’t fall into a specific category and narrated mostly from the male viewpoint, it was considered out of genre for most publishers and too much of a risk.

Amazon changed the face of the industry with the advent of self-publishing; opening up the market for readers to decide the fate of those previously spurned novels. I went on to successfully publish several works of fiction and short story collections myself, along with the professional services of a freelance editor, and a bespoke cover designer. Then in 2014, I received an offer to re-publish all of my material, which at the time consisted of 7 novels. I signed these to Accent Press, thinking a small publisher with a good reputation would hopefully increase sales and visibility for me. This didn’t happen and I was very disappointed in the quality of material produced and the lack of sales and marketing. Unfortunately, 2015 was a negative time for me, but with help from the Alliance of Independent Authors – who negotiated full global rights to be reinstated – I’ve happily returned to the freedom of independent publishing.

My books are available globally through Amazon as ebooks or paperbacks and locally, across all North Wales libraries and at Hinton’s of Conwy bookshop. I’m happier keeping the whole process in my control and since all my material is based in North Wales, concentration on the local aspect suits me very well.

 

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What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your genre, that isn’t so?

I probably write closest to the romance genre, but there are huge misconceptions about this type of novel. I think it possibly stems from memories of the old fashioned type of Mills & Boon to the other extreme, that of Fifty Shades. The presumption that the romance genre is either hearts and flowers or a dirty book with handcuffs featuring every other page, is common. There’s also a certain amount of disdain.

Fiction which does not fall neatly into a pigeon hole has always been the most difficult to define. In the old days such books wouldn’t be allowed shelf space if they didn’t slot immediately into a commercial list. But genre has become blurred and blended. Publishers hate this, but as an independent it’s possible to write the book that begs to be written without the restrictions placed on authors by agents and publishers.

I’ve been described as a combination of literary-contemporary-romantic-comedy-rural-realism-family-saga; oh, and with an occasional criminal twist and a lot of the time, written from the male viewpoint. No question my books are Contemporary. Family and Realism; these two must surely go hand-in-hand. So, although you’ll discover plenty of escapism, I hope you’ll also be able to relate to my characters as they stumble through a minefield of relationships. This is why I hesitate to use the word romance. It’s a misunderstood and mistreated genre in the literary world. If romance says young, fluffy and something to avoid, maybe my novels will change your mind since many of my central characters are in their forties and fifties. Grown-up love is rather different, and this is where I try to bring that sense of realism into play without compromising the escapism.

Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two?  Summarise your writing process.

I used to make a crazy amount of notes and generally feel stressed about the process. Now, I find it develops better by instinct and intuition. I always know how it want it to end and how I want the characters to develop. If I over-plot, the writing becomes too stilted. I like to discover emotions and motivations along with the character, and I can’t do that if it’s all predetermined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What inspires you?

Landscapes, music, horses, history, the complexities of people’s lives and how the future is shaped by what’s gone before.

The only historical event I can remember with any accuracy is good old 1066 and The Battle of Hastings. At school I was hopeless at dates, in fact anything to do with numbers, but I used to love history because sooner or later it usually involved writing essays. Now though, I suspect there may be more to it. The longer I live and the more places I visit in the world, the more connected I feel to my roots, or more specifically my spiritual home, Snowdonia.

Twenty years ago we moved from Cheshire to North Wales. Although Cheshire has its history and pretty rural surroundings aplenty, Wales is far more extreme in both aspects. The castles and the rugged hillsides strewn with stone settlements, druid circles and Roman roads bring out the historical muse in me. To think that I am treading the same path as someone who lived in the Iron Age, is both fascinating and humbling. Snowdonia kick-started my stalled obsession with writing in a very positive way.

 

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I love the way ancient history here is often blurred by myths and legends, shape-shifters and superstitions. Rich then, in history and romance and easy enough to blend both, with a touch of fantasy and suspense. Especially so when the winter sun is low in the sky, sending out early shadows to creep across the crooked stones of derelict homesteads and graves. And late sunsets in summer, when the scudding clouds floating in a fiery sky take on the shape of dragons and rearing horses. Or maybe, when the druid’s circle is shrouded in mist and… can you hear something? Like the clink of marching armour and the clash of swords…there’s something moving out there, or is it just my imagination?

So although I write contemporary fiction, I’m very much inspired by a historical landscape.

What are some day jobs that you have held?  If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.

Every single job I’ve ever had has been useful from a writerly or research point of view. Two well known high street stores in particular (both of which I loathed working in), supplied endless fodder for Kate’s despised job in Silver Rain. I loved being able to get my own back and behave as I’d really wanted to do all those years ago – through the character!

The most influential has to be estate agency. I worked for many years in property, and this knowledge formed the base for my central character in the Wild Water series, Jack Redman. I wanted to create a main character who didn’t have an especially glamorous job, an anti-hero, a lovable hapless male who kept getting it wrong.

I worked in a pharmacy for a while (I’m saving that one!) and then a short stint at home caring, which gave me valuable insight into a tough job, something I discovered I couldn’t do… but the character of Linda in White Horizon, took on these memories in her own way, warts and all. This area of personal knowledge created a believable background for her leap into nursing.

And then the horses. A lifetime of being around horses and once upon a long time ago – a pony trek leader – has allowed me to develop an equine series which is very much rooted in over forty years worth of experience around riding schools. The characters I’ve met along the way in this industry have been the most incredible mix of extremes, from gypsies to rich racehorse owners – collectively, a wonderful example of English diversity and eccentricity.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?

I do read them. I think there’s sometimes rather too much emphasis placed on them, and then they become too powerful. Some new authors use them as validation or a yardstick to see if they’ve got something right, but the best place to seek this sort of advice is well before the book is published. Reviews on Amazon or Goodreads represent opinions of the general public and it’s as well to be prepared for rejection, or simply the fact that not all readers will connect to your novel, no matter how technically perfect it may be. I think overall, it’s a poor system, open to much manipulation and best taken with a big pinch of salt.

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What do your plans for future projects include?

I’m currently half-way through Strawberry Sky, which is the third part of the equine series. After this I do have a Christmas novella partly planned out in as much as it documents my year with a publisher. It follows the story of an accountant who is sacked for writing a novel at work. It will be mostly funny but there is a dark thread in there as well, which is my trademark! I do like to mix dark humour with drama. And I’d like to move into non-fiction – I have a real hankering to write a book of local walks with lots of historical detail and photography.   

Thank you for being here today, Jan. Please let us know how we can discover more about you and your books.

website: including all book links & blog: http://janruth.com/

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JanRuthAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanRuthAuthor

amazon author page: http://Author.to/Ruth 

That’s all for now, folks. Next week I’ll be chatting to Terry Tyler: http://amzn.to/2jTfp3i. , a prolific Indie writer and one of my favourite authors.

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!#MondayBlogs

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Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It  brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the Sports Fanatic.

Before I go any further I think I should mention that although we live along a quiet lane we are only a five minute walk to the village. In the centre is the local Co-op. The frontage is very old fashioned; it’s an old building. For years there’s has been talk of building a new store on the outskirts  (actually about five hundred metres behind the existing one, on the edge of common land) but nothing has come of it. In winter the place trundles sleepily along; goods not available because of snow somewhere up country.  the odd garbled message over the tannoy that everyone ignores, staff huddled in corners exchanging local gossip, wandering around, trying not to make eye contact in case you want to ask them something. It’s a place to meet up with local people who haven’t been visible all summer due to being too busy keeping holiday visitors entertained.

Which, as an aside, reminds me of a time I asked Husband to go and buy a red cabbage from the Co-op.

After half an hour he returns, empty handed and looking stunned.

No red cabbage?’ I enquire.

‘No, couldn’t find one. Asked an assistant. She said cabbages were on the veg stall and there  was red food colouring in the baking section.’ He shook his head. ‘You couldn’t make it up!’

In summer the place comes alive: more than one assistant on the tills, lots of bustle, filling up shelves,assistants eager to help. Lots of happy visitors always glad for a natter, which inevitable ends with the comment,”you are so lucky to live here.’

I don’t argue… we are.

The visitors! (Should add here there is a sign asking customers not to shop in their nightwear) Apparently beach wear is acceptable. Nowhere else have I seen people shop half undressed: men in shorts (even Speedos … don’t think too long on that image; not nice mostly), bare chests and nothing on their feet, accompanied by shoals of similarly dressed and bare-footed children.  All very  jolly… until someone runs over toes with a trolley. Or they step in something.

None of this, by the way, has anything at all to do with the Sports Fanatic.

The couple arrived late one Saturday evening. The man struggled out of the car and walked, wincing, slowly along the drive, using two sticks, irritated-looking wife marching in front of him.

‘He’s sprained his ankle,’ she said, tilting her head towards him and without introducing herself. ‘happened yesterday. I came home from work and there he was, lying on the settee, bandaged up. Apparently,’ she stressed the word, ‘apparently our neighbour took him to hospital.’

‘Good of him,’ her husband said. ‘Nice chap.’

Wife snorted. ‘Fine start to our week,’ she said.

‘Mrs Morris?’ I asked. I knew they were down for a family reunion. Her family reunion.

She ignored me. ‘This way, is it?’ Pointing towards the apartment door and stomping off.

‘She’s a bit cross,’ her husband offered. Struggling with sticks he held his hand out to Husband and shook it. ‘I’m Simon,’he said, ‘you got Sky Sports in there?’

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The following day it was the the reunion. The husband apparently had hardly moved from the settee in the living room of the apartment. 

Mrs Morris was no less cross than before. ‘He’ll have to stay here,’ she said. ‘he says he’s in a lot of pain and can hardly stand.’ She stared at Husband. ‘I’ll be out all day. Would  you go in and see if he’s okay every now and then, perhaps give him a cup of tea. I’ve left sandwiches on the coffee table for his lunch.It really is a nuisance.’

Husband was clenching jaw, the ears were giving off warning signs..

‘It’s fine,’I said, hurriedly. ‘Don’t worry.’

Half an hour after she’d driven off Husband went in to the apartment ‘ I can’t find him, he said.

‘In the loo?’I offered.

‘No! Anyhow, he’s not supposed to be able to move around at all.’

The implications of that suddenly struck us.

‘I’m not bloody clearing up after him if anything happens,’ Husband says.

I don’t answer but I knew it wouldn’t be me, either.

We searched around the apartment, then the garden.

‘He won’t be out here,’I said. ‘He can’t walk.

Just then Mr Morris came running around the corner of the house, a pack of six cans of pale ale in his arms.

We stood and looked at one another

Then, without an ounce of shame, he  said, ‘can’t stand her family. Anyway, there’s loads of sport on the telly I don’t want to miss.’

sports-fanatic

And with that he grinned, walked past us and into the apartment.

Not quite sure what happened the rest of the week but Mrs Morris left on the Friday and the last we saw of Mr Morris was him trudging off the drive, carrying his suitcase, to make his way to the railway station on the Saturday morning

 

 

 

 

Tales of Our Holiday Lets. Or … Is it Really Worth it? Or … Tales of the Unexpected!#MondayBlogs

Well, yes.looking back down the years and now we no longer let the holiday apartment attached to our house, I know it was worth it. We loved letting, despite the unexpected. It  brought us many friends; visitors who returned year after year in the summer to enjoy the lovely Pembrokeshire coastline and all the other attractions this part of West Wales offers. We loved seeing them again. And we were fortunate to meet many new people as well. But there were downsides. Or should I say, occasions that made us think again about sharing our home.

Such as the  Tai Chi Naturists.

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 They looked a fit couple in their seventies; Mr and Mrs Wilson from Wigan, (actually not a made up name but it’s so long ago they really wouldn’t remember their holiday here… would they?) when they sprang from their dilapidated Ford Anglia.

 ‘Would you mind if we practised our Tai Chi on the lawn?’ the wife asked right away.

 I sensed Husband’s tension and alarm. When I glanced at him I saw he was breathing rapidly and his eyes were bulging a bit. But his ears were still their usual pink; bright red is the ominous signal of him being overly upset.

‘Not at all,’ I said, intrigued. I’m a great people watcher and we’ve had some fascinating visitors over the years. Many have had picnics and parties on the lawn. Husband has accepted this… mainly. And we haven’t had any complaints from neighbours about noise; in fact some have joined in with the parties. We live off a small lane; there are only three more houses further along. A large bed filled with shrubs and a lilac tree and hedges all around the garden shelter the house from view. Which, sometimes has been a good thing!

We’d had many who’d stayed with us before and did various keep fit exercises on the front lawn. and even a couple who practised their judo . This latter was quite entertaining until the man did his back in (or should I say his wife did his back in for him with a particular enthusiastic throw). They’d had to leave early with the man lying across the lowered back seat with his feet pointing towards the boot and surrounded by suitcases.  ‘Good job it’s an estate car’ Husband said in a casual way turning back to tend to his lawn where the husband had made a large dent.

 I digress.

‘Tai Chi links deep breathing and relaxation with slow and gentle movements. See… ‘ the wife explained, taking in one long breath that made her nostrils flare alarmingly as, at the same time, she stretched out both arms. She felled Mr Wilson with one blow. I remember thinking at the time when her husband was smacked on the nose, that he should have known better than to stand so close. After all, from the way her nose whistled when she was taking in all that air, he must have realised she was going to demonstrate. ‘It’s a health-promoting form of exercise,’ Mrs Wilson said, cheerfully, as we all helped her husband back on his feet. ‘Sorry, love.’ She dusted him down. ‘It’s like a form of meditation, you know, exercises the whole of you, not just your body. Helps you to stay calm and gives you peace of mind, like.’

‘You didn’t do it right,’ Mr Wilson muttered.

 She ignored him. ‘We only took it up a month or two back,’ she said to us.

Husband carried their two small suitcases into the apartment, his shoulders shaking.

I clamped my teeth together. When I spoke I knew my voice was a couple of pitches higher than normal but there was nothing I could do about that.  ‘Is that all you’ve brought?’ I peered into the boot of the car, hiding the grin.

‘Oh, yes, just the two bags. ‘Mrs Wilson linked her husband’s arm. ‘We travel light, don’t we Sidney?’

He nodded but said nothing.

There are two things I should mention at this point.

One, my mother was staying with us that week and her bedroom window looked out onto the front lawn.

 And two, we quickly discovered that this elderly couple were Naturists.

 On the second morning after they’d arrived I drew back the curtains of my mother’s bedroom to see the two of them on the lawn, practising their Tai Chi.  Despite their years their movements were graceful, there was no doubt about that. They moved forward in one continuous action, their hands held out in front of them.  But it wasn’t with admiration but in alarm that I watched them; both because they were completely naked, and because I was standing side by side with my mother. And Mum had a wicked sense of inappropriate humour and ‘foot in mouth’ syndrome. She’d be sure to offend them by one of her ‘funny’ jokes. I wasn’t looking forward to trying to keep her away Mr and Mrs Wilson for the next seven days.

 It was when he turned towards the house, bent his knees and squatted that my mother made a choking noise and fell back onto the bed. Laughing!

 Now I know this is totally out of context and misquoted (and I do apologise wholeheartedly to Shakespeare and Cleopatra) … but the words that sprang to mind when I gazed at him, were “Age cannot wither……”

Well it was a very warm morning.

My Review of Dead Dog Floating by Simon Kettlewell

 

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The Blurb:

Derek Jackson, 12 years old, promises his bedridden mother to find his father, Colin, who has absconded from the family home. Mam, his gran and Aunt Mavis all believe that Colin is mentally ill and should be put in a home for his own protection.

Colin had promised Derek to take him on a big adventure to the South Pole but he knew that his father had no intention or the courage to embark on such a journey despite having built a boat with a steel hull to crack the ice. Derek knows the truth of what his father is doing but this is just one more secret he has to keep. He begins to buckle under the increasing responsibility to keep the family secrets and the web of untruths he is expected to tell. He confronts his father living in a back street with Louise Draper and is side-tracked when he sees the object of his dreams – a colour telly as big as the flicks! He is quickly disarmed by his father with two cans of Double Diamond.

Derek returns home, sure that his discovery will kill his mam, and wonders if he should tell just one more lie.

A down-to-earth story of a young boy weighed down with lies to cover family secrets; of a feckless father and a mother unable to confront the truth and the shame that in 1972, ordinary people struggling to make a better life, simply can’t have ‘the man of the house sneaking away like a thief in the night’.

 

My Review:

I was lucky enough to win Dead Dog Floating by Simon Kettlewell in a competition run by http://www.oapschat.co.uk/

After I’d read the book I gave it to my husband to read. Like me he laughed out loud over certain sections of the first few chapters. Like me he became absorbed into the tragic tale of twelve years old, Derek Jackson and his dysfunctional family. But this is by no means one of those ‘misery memoirs’; rather an all too familiar story of a marriage breaking up and the results that ripple from the situation. The difference here is the way it is told.

As the young protagonist, Derek relates what is happening in the first person point of view. His take on life is quirky and funny. But there is also poignancy, a sadness that becomes obvious to the reader through his words, even though it seems Derek accepts and treats the actions of those around him as normal.

 The characters are well drawn and rounded. The dialogue is believable, filled with colloquial phrases and slang and places the book in the era of the nineteen seventies in a Northern England setting.

 It is a character driven book rather than plot driven and these suits the anecdotal way Dead Dog Floating is written.

 And the poem and illustration towards the ending of the tale, which give the book the title, is stark and brings Derek’s life into dreadful perspective

 If I had any problem with the novel it would be the repetition of some phrases, some similar scenes. It slightly irritated me. But I also understood that this is the way the author is portraying this rather obsessive and preoccupied character’s look on life. So I would recommend this novel. Just be prepared for the sadness that lies beneath the humour and enjoy those laugh-out-loud moments.

Links to buy:

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/2gLAFux

Amazon.com: http://amzn.to/2fnhLtR