T. C. Southwell was born in Sri Lanka and moved to the Seychelles when she was a baby. She spent her formative years exploring the islands – mostly alone. Naturally, her imagination flourished and she developed a keen love of other worlds. The family travelled through Europe and Africa and, after the death of her father, settled in South Africa.
T. C. Southwell has written over thirty novels, ranging from fantasy and science-fiction to romance and space opera, as well as five screenplays. Her hobbies include motorcycling, horse riding and art, and she is now a full-time writer.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by my wish to escape my humdrum life and spend time in fantasy or futuristic worlds where I share in the marvelous adventures of my heroes and heroines. It’s even better than enjoying a good film, since, when I ‘channel’, I also experience the sensations of touch and smell, and my characters’ emotions. It’s like I’m really there, witnessing their travails and triumphs.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m a ‘channeller’, which means the story appears in my mind much like an internal film, but with all the real-life sensations. I suppose that’s what’s known as a ‘seat of the pants’ writer, since I have no clue, from one paragraph to the next, what’s going to happen. That makes it just as much fun for me to write the story as it is for those who enjoy reading it, and the process is easy, requiring no research or planning to make the storyline work; it just comes to me as I write, and it always works. I don’t know how one becomes a channeller. Perhaps it’s a talent honed by years of daydreaming to stave off boredom. Growing up on an island with no friends or TV, I had little else but my imagination to entertain me. After a while, I started writing down the stories in my head so I could enjoy them again, and book after book just poured out of me.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I certainly listen to them while I’m channelling, that’s how I know what they say, but I don’t speak to them when I’m writing. I have found that I can channel them with questions, however, for character interviews, so I suppose in that case I speak to them, or they wouldn’t know what the questions were.
What advice would you give other writers?
Be true to your vision and write the way you enjoy the most. Don’t be influenced by others’ opinions; everybody has one, and they’re all different, so if you try to please everyone, you won’t get anywhere. If you enjoy your story, and can read it multiple times without ever becoming bored, you’re on the right track. If any part of your story bores you, cut it out or, if it’s necessary, sum it up. Ensure your characters are well-rounded, with history to explain their foibles, and describe your settings and characters thoroughly. There’s nothing worse than reading a book that’s like a dark tunnel populated by stick figures.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
After numerous rejections from mainstream publishers, I gave up on that route. Then, I read a blog post about a successful indie author, and decided it was better to try that than never see the books published at all. Now, I have absolutely no regrets. I would encourage all new authors to go the indie route. You keep up to 80% of your profits, as opposed to about 10% going the traditional publisher route, and you also have complete artistic control – no editors to ruin your work with opinionated criterion.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think indie authors are going to take over. More and more hitherto unheard-of authors are coming out of the woodwork to publish their masterpieces, and most have probably been slapped down by publishers in the past. The public is devouring these exciting new offerings with relish, enjoying the originality of books that haven’t been sliced, diced and served up to fit a particular genre or editor’s closed-minded way of thinking. It’s refreshing.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
My genres are epic high fantasy and science-fiction, sometimes a mixture of the two, and space opera.
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print