Today I’m interviewing Terry Tyler, one of my favourite authors.
Please Introduce yourself
My name is Terry Tyler, and I am a self-published writer (which sounded a bit like “Hi, I’m Terry and I’m an alcoholic”, didn’t it?). I write contemporary/family drama/saga mixed with romantic suspense and the odd bit of twisty mystery. Yes, choosing my Amazon categories on publication is somewhat ‘challenging’…! I’ve been writing novels for over 20 years (on and off), self-publishing since 2011 and have 10 books on Amazon.
What do you think it takes to stand out from the indie author crowd?
Two main things. The first one being talent, though one would be forgiven for thinking that’s a dirty word these days. There’s a whole industry built around books and courses telling you how to write, blog articles declaring that hard work is all, that as long as you never give up you’ll eventually ‘make it’, giving the impression that all you need is a laptop and a fair dose of tenacity and anyone can write a great novel. Sure, they can if they like, but if the writer hasn’t got a genuine gift for the written word it won’t stand out. As Zadie Smith said, you can either write good sentences or you can’t. The second way that you’ll rise above the crowd is by understanding what catches the public’s eye. This may mean fabulous titles and book covers, blog posts with something original to say, using social media intelligently and understanding about headlines/how to make the links you post appear click-worthy. A huge subject; in short, it comes down to writing really good books and presenting them in such a way that people want to read to the end, review, tell others and carry on reading.
What is the ultimate goal you hope to achieve with your writing?
To to improve all the time and obtain a bigger readership. That’s a rather flat and boring answer – sorry! It’s what it’s all about, for me, though.
Do you only write one specific genre or are you multi-talented?
Ah – as I said, my books don’t fall into one specific genre. For instance, two of them (Dream On and Full Circle) are light ‘rock’ romances (about a group of people trying to make it in the music industry, and their relationships), wheras Kings and Queens and Last Child are longer, family dramas about romantic complexity and big business. I do hope to make a foray into historical fiction, because I’ve had a great idea rolling around my head for the past 15 years for a book based on past lives, and I want to write a post apocalyptic drama, too. Two others on the ‘to be written’ list are a drama loosely based on the life of Kurt Cobain, and a novella on the theme of townie-girl-moves-to-the-country, which sounds a bit chick lit but it’s not. Not that there’s anything wrong with chick lit, I hasten to add – I just can’t write it!
What facets of your life, both personal and professional, are woven into your book, if any?
Some. Personal: I have put a few actual experiences in my books, but usually I tend to write fictional situations through insight gained by my own experience, or that which I have observed. For instance, I don’t have children, but I’ve been a stepmother, am an aunt, and was around when many of my friends’ children were small; luckily, I have a good memory and am fascinated by human relationships! Professionally, I only write about what I know, either from my own experience or that of people to whom I am or have been close. I’ve had lots of jobs, and my social life over the past 40 years has taken me down many paths; there is much material! Obviously I do have to do some research too, but I don’t put characters in situations about which I know nothing.
Did you have any surprises or hiccups along the way during the book writing and/or publishing process?
Anyone who says they haven’t is not doing it properly! Writing presents difficulties and hiccups all the time, some of which are indeed suprising – I’ve just had to rewrite the first 30K of my new book because it wasn’t working, and I have a couple of abandoned novellas begun over the past couple of years, that I thought would be a breeze to write. The publishing and marketing side is fraught with obstacles, and I learn new things every single day.
You’re a fly on the wall when readers are discussing your book. What would you hope to hear them say about it?
Let me just sit back and smile to myself while I fantasise…! Well, of course I’d love to hear them say that my books are some of the best they’ve read in ages, that they’ve thoroughly enjoyed them and can’t wait to read another – that’ll do for me!
What single piece of advice would you give new authors?
Your aim should be ‘to write a really fabulous book’, not ‘to be a published author’.
Describe where you do most of your writing. What would I see if I was sitting beside you?
I sit in a corner of the living room facing a wall, with a window to one side. If you were sitting beside me you would see a pile of a4 paper with stuff scribbled all over it, an open dictionary, a cheap plastic fan balanced on a pile of books, a coffee stained coaster and – oh, thank you, the maid just came in and put a cup of coffee there! It’s #contemporarydrama blend, freshly ground.
What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The first draft. I find it very hard to get the ideas from my head to the page, as so often they don’t end up as I have imagined them. I am also aware that this is the bare bones, the basis for the (I hope) publishable novel, something I find quite daunting.
What are you working on now?
A dark-ish suspense-ish family/romantic/psychological drama based on the story of the Wars of the Roses
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t skimp on the editing and proofreading. Spend as much time on and give as much attention to the re-drafts as you do the first one. Make sure your plot is feasible, and that your characters don’t suddenly metamorphose into someone entirely different just to make the story work.
Who is your favourite author and what is it that you love about their work?
I can’t pick just one; can I name a few?
Deborah Swift – because she has the gift, in her historical fiction, of making the past come alive so vividly that I want to be IN the books.
Mark Barry – because he doesn’t do experimental for experimental’s sake, he does it because he knows what he’s doing, and is the most innovative and compelling ‘indie’ author I’ve come across.
Norah Lofts – what I said about Deborah Swift!
Dylan Morgan – because he’s one of the most gifted writers I’ve found when it comes to characterisation and dramatic impact.
Douglas Kennedy – because he is king of the cracking good yarn!
Okay, I’ll stop—I could go on forever on this one!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us in closing such as your website, an imminent book launch or what you’re working on presently?
Alas, I have no imminent book launch and have already told you what I’m working on! But I’ll give you the link for my blog, on which I write posts on anything from reading, writing and relationships, to my favourite TV programmes (I’m a Netflix addict), to all sorts of other miscellaneous rubbish: http://www.terrytyler59.blogspot.co.uk/. I also have a book review blog http://terrytylerbookreviews.blogspot.co.uk/ and I write articles about self-publishing for the UK Arts Directory http://ukartsdirectory.com/category/ukad-blogs/terry-tyler/. I’m very active on Twitter https://twitter.com/TerryTyler4, and can be found on Goodreads, too, but not very often, and Facebook, but only when I think “oh God, I suppose I’d better go and do Facebook.”
Many thanks, Judith, for featuring me on your blog; I do hope it’s of some interest to your readers – and thank you for reading!
And many thanks to you, Terry. And, because I can’t resist the covers of your books, here they are: