Terry Tyler is the author of 23 books — in this interview I chat to Terry about her writing journey and inspiration.
I first met Terry Tyler last year after reviewing her amazing dystopian novel, Wasteland. I absolutely loved it and also featured the book in my YouTube channel last summer. As well as being a talented writer, Terry is a huge supporter of the writing community, especially on Twitter, where she regularly shares other people’s work. Ever since we met she has supported my blog and has been a joy to chat to!
I have read and enjoyed her series Operation Galton, a dystopian trilogy set in our near future. The population of the UK were forced to move into ‘megacities’ during the 2030s and 2040s. Most businesses are now under the control of the government and a corporation called Nutricorp, including apartment blocks that everyone now lives in, known as ‘stacks’. But there are rebels — those who don’t want to comply with the strict regime, who live outside the walls of the megacities. As part of ‘Operation Galton’, all the country’s unemployed and unemployable reside in group housing known as Hope Villages. You can read my review of Wasteland here — and my review of the latest book in the series, Megacity, will be going live later this month!
I spoke to Terry about her life, her writing process and her writing journey so far in this interview — read below to learn more!
Tell me about yourself.
First of all, thank you for inviting me to your blog, Claire! I live in North East England with my husband. The jobs I’ve had in the past (offices, Jobcentres, a psychiatric hospital, bars and cafés) are not that relevant to my life now, aside from providing material for novels; I haven’t been out to work for some years, and I had jobs rather than a career. Now, the writing…
Can you tell me about your latest series, Operation Galton?
The first book, Hope, was intended to be a stand-alone – I wanted to create a version of the world in the near future, when lots more jobs have been lost to automation and the homeless are rounded up to live in group housing called Hope Villages — which doesn’t sound like a very fun read, does it?! It’s far from as grim as it sounds, though; there’s a lot about social media trends, online life, triumph over adversity, a poke in the eye for the baddies, etc.
Later, I started to think again about my Hope world a few decades on, and decided to make it a series; parts of Wasteland and Megacity are based on what I’ve read and watched about the World Economic Forum’s vision of the future (you might have seen the ‘We own nothing and we’re happy’ videos!).
Where do your ideas and inspiration come from?
All around me. Things I watch, hear, read. It might be something someone says, a conversation, anything.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I don’t think I’ve ever thought, ‘I want to be a writer’. I just wrote. Then I suppose I became one, when the books started to sell. It’s not something I think about, though; I didn’t refer to myself as ‘a writer’ until quite recently.
Did you write many books or stories before your first book, You Wish, was published?
Yes, as a child, and a few dreadful short stories in my twenties. Then, from 1993 to 2000, I wrote nine or ten novels. Most of them were only read by my sister and a few friends. One I don’t think was ever read by anyone. I didn’t begin to feel they were good enough to submit to an agent for some time – back in the 90s, there was no Kindle and no endless array of indie publishers. You had to submit the hard copy to an agent, with a view to traditional publishing. I did find one who liked how I wrote, but, as is normal with agents when dealing with a new writer, she wanted me to revise A LOT. I had a very busy life at the time and it just didn’t happen.
You have written and published 23 books — an amazing achievement! How has your writing changed since your first novel compared to now? Any lessons you’ve learned that you’d like to share?
I hope it’s more concise, better edited, that the pacing and structure is better… but it’s so hard for me to comment on this, as I’m too close to it.
Lessons? Redraft, redraft, and redraft again, even when you think there is nothing else you can improve upon. Get someone to read it who will tell you the truth about it, not what you want to hear. Criticism is hard, but it’s the only way to improve.
And what’s next on your list — do you have plans for your next book?
I’m currently writing a book based around a conman who charms ladies out of their savings, and naïve authors out of their entire budget! As I write I am nearing the very scrappy first draft — boy, was Terry Pratchett right about ‘the first draft is you telling yourself the story’. It’s called Where There’s Doubt, and it’s turned out so differently from how I’d originally imagined. I thought it was going to be the story of just one of the women, Kate, with occasional reference to the others, but it’s become a much bigger story, with far more sub-plots and characters.
After this, which I hope to publish in February next year, I would like to write a zombie apocalypse series. I’ve wanted to write one for ages, and I have the basic character situations sitting in my head.
What is your writing desk like?
It’s in the corner of the living room. I spend most of my life there!
Do you have a writing routine?
I can’t say I have a routine, exactly, because stuff happens to make each day different, but generally I get up, do all my twittering and emails, etc, then any domestic stuff, then I write — always at my desk, and on most days. I plan the plot of each book during walks around the park; when I think I’m good to go, I write a basic plan for the first few chapters, then some notes for the rest. I don’t consider a story a ‘goer’ until I know how it will finishes, because everything you write leads to the end. However, I change my mind about loads of elements all the way along.
Why did you decide to go self-published? What was the process like?
I submitted You Wish to an established agency in early 2011. They read the whole thing, then told me I would have to rewrite it from one point of view before they would consider it — it was from three POVs, and that wasn’t a fashionable structure ten years ago. I didn’t want to; then my sister sent me an article about self-publishing on Kindle, so I decided to do that instead. Since then, I can’t imagine not having complete control over every aspect of my work — I don’t think I would be suited to having a publisher. I have only submitted one other book in the ten years since I published You Wish, and the same thing happened — they read the whole MS then told me how they would like me to re-write it so it could be sold to a publisher. I’ve probably shot myself in the foot on all three occasions, and, who knows, my writing life might have been very different, but I have never reacted very well to organisation by others.
What have people’s reactions been when you tell them that you are an author?
I hardly ever do. Only if they ask. Mostly they say ‘oh really?’, and ask me what I write. I usually find they expect the answer to be romance or girly dramas.
What is your favourite thing about being an author?
Satisfying the creative need in me that would otherwise be frustrated!
What have been your favourite or more proud moments?
I can’t name any particular moments — well, it’s been 10 years, there have been rather a lot! But every time someone tells me on social media that they’ve loved one of my books, or when I get a great review, it makes my day.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received? (Either about writing or just life in general!)
Life in general: Always give your hair one more rinse than you think it needs.
Writing: Always read your new novel through one last time, even if you’re sick of the sight of it.
They are, of course, the same piece of advice, and can be applied to almost anything!
Who are some of your favourite indie authors?
Indie writers (they may be self-published, published by an independent or a bit of either or both!): Gemma Lawrence, Deborah Swift, Judith Arnopp, Carol Hedges, Val Poore, Jo Carroll, Dylan Morgan, Kate L Mary, Keith Blackmore, John Privilege, Zeb Haradon, Mark Barry.
They’re the authors about whom I can say that I’ve read all or a great deal of their work and thoroughly enjoyed most with a few real gems that I’d happily add to a list of all time favourites.
I’ve also loved books by: Carl Rackman, Bjørn Larssen, Judith Barrow, Tom Williams, Catherine McCarthy, Susan Kuchinskas, Harald Johnson, Thorne Moore, Ben Lyle Bedard, Ailish Sinclair, Annie Whitehead, Anna Legat, Robin Storey and others whose names escape me at the moment – I read a lot, and mostly indie stuff.
The problem with questions like this is that you can end up listing every single author who ever wrote a book that you enjoyed, so I’ll leave it there, with those who sprang immediately to mind. Ditto bloggers, below…
And who are some of your favourite bloggers?
Your good self, of course… also:
- Rosie Amber (whose book review team I read for)
- Cathy Ryan’s Between The Lines and Picture This (books, photography)
- Sally Cronin’s Smorgasbord Blog Magazine (books, health and more)
- Liz Lloyd (books and history)
- Barb Taub (books and humour)
- Stephanie Jane’s Literary Flits (books, indie art and vegan stuff)
- Mairéad Hearne’s Swirl and Thread (books and writing)
- Shaz Goodwin’s Jera’s Jamboree (book, lifestyle, crafts)
- Anne R Allen (writing advice)
- Obsidian Urbex (photographs of abandoned places)
- Lisette Brodey (author interviews)
- Ant Lavisher (TV and book reviews, author interviews)
And so, so many more that have influenced my book purchases over the years, or those that feature helpful or informative articles. Or gorgeous pictures. Or fascinating historical info. Or who have reviewed my books or hosted me in an interview. I look at lots of blogs every day — which is why my morning Twitter session is always three times as long as I intend it to be. I’m not exaggerating!
Can you share one of your favourite quotes from one of your books?
I’ve always liked this, from UK2, which is one of my favourite of my own books:
“I walked through that grey afternoon, past fields that nobody had tended for nearly three years, past broken down, rusty old vehicles, buildings with smashed windows. I was walking alone at the end of the world, but I was a happy man. I was free, at last.”
I like it because I am one of those weirdos who fantasises about living in a post apocalyptic world; I imagine myself planting vegetables and purifying rainwater in a really cool community with people like those on The Walking Dead, and conveniently forget about stuff like no flushing loos and no running water!
Many thanks, Claire, and I hope my answers have been of interest to your readers.
Terry Tyler is the author of twenty-two books available from Amazon, the latest being Megacity, the final book in the dystopian Operation Galton trilogy. Also published recently is The Visitor, a post-apocalyptic murder mystery set in the same world as her popular Project Renova series. She is currently at work on a psychological thriller that centres around a romance scammer, but has not yet finished with devastated societies, catastrophe and destruction. Proud to be independently published, she is an avid reader and book reviewer, and a member of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
Terry is a Walking Dead addict, and has a great interest in history (on the cultural/anthropological side). She loves observational humour, the sea and places with lots of trees, and used to be a wildly sociable rock chick, but since she gave up smoking and drinking she has become mega boring and now gets her kicks from online shopping, Twitter, and snuggling down with her husband and Amazon Prime Video.
You can find all of Terry’s links and info on her Link.tree page!
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