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INTERVIEW: AUTHOR TERRY TYLER

AUTHOR TERRY TYLER

Author Terry Tyler is a writer living the north of England. Her most recent output is a post apocalyptic series, and she intends to write more in this genre over the next few years. One day she might write a zombie book, if she can find a new angle…

As part of my Creating Awesome series, this interview examines the experiences, events, locations and other influences that may have contributed to Terry’s creativity as a writer.

By discussing these issues with creative people such as Artists, Writers, Filmmakers and Business People, and exploring their background, work history, influences and interests, we attempt to peel back the layers of the creative process.

Early Life Experiences

Where did you grow up?

In Northamptonshire, in England

What era was your “coming of age” years?

I was a teenager all through the 1970s, a good time to be that age! I’m glad I lived through that time, and am very glad I’m not a teenager now; I think life must be a hell of a lot more complicated.

What was your first job and how did it influence your decision to become a writer?

My first full time job was as a secretary in a solicitors’ office. I felt as though I was in prison. It didn’t influence my decision to become a writer (I never actually made such a decision, and didn’t start writing seriously until much later), but it made me realise that 9-5 office jobs weren’t really ‘me’. Alas, a lack of confidence to step outside the box and a need to pay the bills meant that I kept doing them, off and on, for many years. The experiences and people I met have been useful in my writing, though.

Interests and Influences

What music do you listen to?

I like rock (stuff like Aerosmith, Hendrix, AC/DC, Led Zep, and southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd), and also Miles Davis type jazz, Billie Holiday ditto, some classical. I don’t listen to music very much, though, because I have to have silence when I write.

What is your favorite movie? Why?

I couldn’t possibly name just one. I like dark stuff: post apocalyptic, violence, prisons, wars, battles, mafia-related, murders, people fighting oppression. Anything that involves dangerous journeys. And musician/band/actor biopics.

Who are your favorite authors?

Jack London, Blake Crouch, Yuval Noah Harari, Douglas Kennedy, John Boyne, Deborah Swift, Keith C Blackmore, Kate L Mary, Gemma Lawrence, Phillipa Gregory, Jackie Collins, Somerset Maugham, P J O’Rourke, Susan Howatch, Bill Bryson, Dylan Morgan, Stephen King, R A Hakok, Carol Hedges, Evelyn Waugh, Zeb Haradon…. I could go on!

Who would you consider your biggest inspiration?

Probably Susan Howatch; my five favourite of her books feature multiple first person POVs, written long before such a style was fashionable. I adore this structure, and adopted it myself. In the last few years, it has become more and more popular.

What first got you interested in becoming a writer?

I never actually thought, ‘I’d like to become a writer’. I wrote stories a lot as a child, then tried a few more in my 20s, then, one day when I was about 34, I thought, I wonder if I could write a novel. I sat down and tried, and found that I could. I wrote 9 or 10 over the next few years – this was before Amazon Kindle, and I never did much with them. I then had a gap of about 10 years, when life got in the way, but then I met my husband, and he encouraged me to start again. I thought up a story, wrote it, someone told me about Kindle, and the rest, as they say…

Who is your favorite character, written by you or any other writer, from a book or movie? Please explain how you relate to that character and why they are important to you.

It’s impossible to just pick one character. But some I love are: Gino Santangelo, a gangster from Jackie Collins’s ‘Chances’ and other books; Rick, Daryl, Michonne and Carol from ‘The Walking Dead’; Jack Bauer from ’24’; the dog in Jack London’s ‘The Call of the Wild’; Gemma Lawrence’s Anne Boleyn. They’re not necessarily people I relate to; maybe they possess characteristics I wish I had.

My own characters: Lottie from my post apocalyptic series, who is only 16 when it starts but contains a lot of ‘me’. I also love Doyle and Silas, both lone wanderers from that series. And Lita from my new book, Hope, a blogger living in the UK ten years from now.

What do you fear most?

Dying before I am ready to go.

Why is that your greatest fear?

Because I have so much yet to do!

World Building – Your Creative Process

Where do you get your ideas for your stories?

They just pop into my head. Might be something I see on telly, or a simple remark/scenario. The other day I saw a woman being taken ill on a train I was on, and it gave me the opening and one of the main characters for another vague idea I’ve had. The day before, I was in Boots with my sister; I couldn’t find her and I started to think what would happen if she just disappeared. That might become the beginning of another story, too. One of my books, The Devil You Know, is about five separate individuals who all suspect that an as yet unidentified local serial killer might be someone they love. I got the idea simply from seeing the title of another book: The Serial Killer’s Wife. The title arrived in my head with the idea.

Do you write anything outside of the post-apocalyptic fiction genre? Poetry, romance, comedy etc.

Yes, I’m quite new to it – I published 13 books before my post apoc series. They were contemporary dramas, and two psychological thrillers.

Why did you choose this genre?

I’m post apocalyptic obsessed, and fascinated by the speed/way in which society breaks down after a tragedy, or during a pandemic, in the case of my series. I am also fascinated by how man adapts afterwards – some thrive and become stronger, better people, some collapse, some follow their base instincts, etc. Also, I love the idea of sorting the wheat from the chaff, once the internet, running water, enough food, etc, is stripped away.

Many writers use pieces of their own life in the creation of their characters and the stories they tell. How do you feel about this practice?

I think we all do this, to a certain extent, whatever the genre. It’s important, though, to understand what will be of interest to readers. Some time ago I read a dark comedy set in a hospital. The characters’ many private jokes came from the authors’ own experience of the environment, and whereas they might have been hilarious to him and his colleagues, it was all a bit ‘you had to be there’, and they didn’t translate well to the fiction.

How much real life do you put into your stories?

Bits and bobs here and there, if relevant. Most of us write what we know, much of the time. Not necessarily actual occurrences, but observations, emotions, hopes and fears.

How do you achieve the transition from working a day job, generating the necessary creative energy needed to string hundreds or thousands of words together to tell a story?

Writing is my day job. Before I reached this happy place, the hardest thing was finding the time. As for the transition, I think if you’re a creative person it just comes naturally; I worked at a Jobcentre for a while, and used to spend downtime writing in-joke related plays and articles to amuse my colleagues. Even my manager liked them; he took one to an area management meeting. I wrote two books when I had a physical energy-sapping job in a restaurant; as long as I wasn’t too tired, I would still write in my spare time. It requires a different sort of energy.

What do you consider to be the greatest threat to human life on planet Earth?

The animal agriculture industry.

How do you think the world will end?

By the hands of those in power, either by destroying our entire ecosystem (see above), or creating a virus that they can’t control―though an as-yet-undiscovered virus is more likely to manifest itself naturally, as the aforementioned ecosystem is played with fast and loose.

Connecting With Readers

How do you feel about social media? You and I first met on Twitter and have had a few interactions there, but do you use any other platforms to connect with your audience?

Yes, Pinterest. I think you have to find the site that is right for you, and do it well; trying to maintain a presence on all social media sites is far too time-consuming. I don’t have an account on Facebook anymore; I used to use it for personal socialising only, but came to detest everything about it, and resent the fact that its AI was recording my every emoji. I like Pinterest (I have some great boards for abandoned places and post apocalyptic worlds!), and I review books on BookBub and Goodreads, but my ‘home’ is Twitter, which I love.

Please talk about any experience you might have with writing for other platforms, websites, publications etc, and does it help your writing ability or your career as a writer. If so, how?

I don’t have much. I’ve been asked to do author interviews and guest posts for several years now, and I enjoy doing them, and, yes, I suppose it must bring me to the notice of the blogger’s audience, which can only be good. I used to have a regular column on a now defunct internet publication called the UK Arts Directory, and I wrote articles for a Walking Dead fansite, but then I decided to post them on my own blog instead, because it gives me greater freedom. I guess this must all help my career as a writer in either a direct or indirect fashion, but I don’t keep track of it.

If you could write for any website or print publication, paid or not, which one would it be and why?

Anything Walking Dead orientated, as I am a total obsessive. I watch new episodes as soon as I can, make notes and review them straight away, and produce blog posts about the show between seasons; I do this because I love it, and the pieces get hundreds or sometimes thousands of views, so I’m delighted that others like them, too. I’d love my observations to be considered worthy of the occasional official site!

I think it’s fantastic that you’re willing to engage with your readers and hear what they have to say. How long have you been doing this and how did you start? How has it helped grow your audience?

Thank you, but it wasn’t an active decision and I haven’t a clue how or if it helps grow my audience! If someone tells me they’ve enjoyed a book of mine, then of course I am delighted to hear about it and discuss it with them, and often, in this way, readers have become online friends. It’s fair enough if they want to tell me about stuff they didn’t like, too (as long as they’re not too brutal!); I’m not precious about my work, and understand that not everything will please everyone.

What other methods of connecting with people do you engage in, to help increase your readership?

To be honest, it’s mostly Twitter and my blog, which we’ve already discussed. I will thank reviewers on Goodreads, too, if a review has been particularly pleasing. Mostly, though, my readership is increased by Amazon algorithms and BookBub – and through word of mouth. That’s the best of all – when someone has recommended your book to a friend, and they love it, too. You can’t beat that!

How can people find out more about you, and if they want to how can they connect with you?

Via my blog, and on Twitter, Pinterest, Amazon and BookBub

What are you currently working on that readers might be interested in learning more about, and when can we expect to see it released?

As I write, Hope has yet to be released, but I’m working on a release day of May 28th, so it might be out by the time this is on your blog! I’m currently writing a novel called Blackthorn, about a city of the same name that featured in Book #4 of my post apocalyptic series, Legacy. It takes places a decade or so after Legacy, and it’s also a stand alone; you do not have to read the series first, and it will not feature on Amazon as part of the series. I hope it will be ready for release around October.

Blackthorn is a new city that grew up in the post apocalyptic north of England, and has since expanded. It’s a city divided into three – a small circle of those in power, a larger section of the skilled workers (teachers, nurses, carpenters, builders, etc), but by far the largest sector of the community is those who live in shacks, and do all the work on the land, on the drainage systems, the cleaning, etc. In Legacy I wrote from the POV of some of the privileged, and visitors to the city; now, my main character is Evie, who has known nothing else but life in the shacks. After The Fall, religion as we know it was all but abandoned; now, a traveller claims to have had a divine vision, and that The Light has given him the task of re-educating the new world.

Many thanks for inviting me to your blog, Andrew, and I hope this has been of interest to your readers.