About T L Blake:
I was was born in Gloucestershire, England, but spent most of my formative years in Cornwall, looking out over the sea where very little changes over time.
I’ve had a wide and varied career in Chemistry, both in research and in education, but after starting my family (to whom I am devoted), I now use my spare time to write fantasy novels that share both the dark intrigue and hot passion that I myself like to read in books.
I was always driven by an avid interest in the occult, after all it’s hard to avoid the rich tales and fantastical myths of Cornwall, but my firm background in science balances the fantasy and I find myself prone to looking for answers to occult stories as if they were mysteries to be solved. With that thought I mind, I write novels that attempt to bring new insight into both myth and legend and perhaps make my readers think a little differently about the tales that they have been hearing since their own childhoods..
What inspires you to write?
Believe it or not, this story actually started many years ago as homework. Tasked with writing a story over the summer, I got out my pencil and ended up filling three notebooks. I will never forget the look on my teacher’s face when he told me that I must finish it!
Of course life, and boyfriends, then husbands and children got in the way, but I revisited the story when my firstborn was having his naps.
You could say that the writing was terrible, but the general idea was still relevant, if not in need of some major tweaking.
I began rewriting the tale in those small sections of the day when I had a little peace (believe me they were very small sections) but I didn’t really get into the story properly until my father became ill. Perhaps it was the idea of making him proud (not that he wasn’t already) or perhaps, and more likely, it was my way of coping, or avoiding what was happening to my best friend in the world. Whatever the reason, I started to write in earnest and as wrote, the story and the characters took on a life of their own.
My only regret is that my Dad never go to see the book published.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I was a child I was fortunate enough to not only meet Dick King Smith at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, but to ask him a question. I asked him, “How do you know what to write about?” (I was 9). His reply was simple. He said, “Write about what you know.” and that is where I begin any story.
I set CARVED IN STONE in Cornwall because I’ve lived there. I set it in a school, because I’ve worked in them. I also did all of my research before I even started in the story. There is absolutely no point in writing half of your book and then discovering that a major plot twist just doesn’t work. My biggest bugbear as a reader (and Television viewer) is when aspects of the plot, particularly technological ones, just aren’t true. For instance, Tasers do not render the victim unconscious in real life.
Once I have the major twists and plot lines all thoroughly checked out, I set out a general outline of where I’m going with the book. This I do as a timeline on a long piece of paper (I find wallpaper lining great for this). I am a very visual person and I put this timeline above my desk so that I can see exactly where each plot twist needs to be going even as I type. Small things, which come into my head as I write, I add to the timeline with post-it notes. By the time I have finished a book, my timeline is usually and wonderful array of colourful post-its.
With my characters, again I am a visual person and although I can draw, I’m no artist. Instead, I am a great fan of Google images! I type in the general features that I want my character to have and then download the image that best suits that picture I had in my head. If I’m writing something simple, with few characters, like the MONOCHROME DESTINY TRILOGY I leave the images on the laptop and have the main characters in each scene running through a sequence on the laptop scene on the right whilst I type on the left. If there are two many characters to make this workable, as with my new fantasy series, I print the images, list the main features and characteristics of each character, and add this to my timeline.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t just listen to my characters, I love them! When CARVED IN STONE was but an outline, the plot was focussed entirely on Robyn and her struggle to find Kat. But when I started writing the book there was something missing. That’s when I brought in Andrew, and he simply took on a life of his own.
My characters are living and breathing inside my head. When they speak in the book it is with the nuances and accents that I have for them in my head. My stories play out like films in my mind and I simply write them down.
Some people are accused of living in a fantasy world-well I really do.
What advice would you give other writers?
It is said that everyone has a story inside them. I cannot say that this is true, a story I something very personal and if the imaginer of the tale wants to write it down then they should. But writing the story is the easiest part of getting a book into reader’s hands.
The best advice I can give any budding writer is to do your research. I didn’t. I thought writing a good story was all I needed and that is so far from the truth I cannot even put it into words.
Before you even consider publishing a book you need to decide exactly what you want to get out of it and if that answer is to get rich, drop the idea now. For every Steven King or E L James out there, there are thousands of perfectly good authors who will never make a living from what they do.
If you are more realistic then you need to look very closely into how you plan on publishing and marketing your book. There are lots of great websites and blogs out there and I suggest you read them all.
I fell into some major traps with my first novel, particularly because the story really doesn’t sit fully in any particular genre. You can avoid many mistakes by reading about other peoples experiences and planning well from the start.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I didn’t really decide. I wrote a book, sent it to fifteen agents, got four rejections and heard nothing from the rest. I then looked at what British agents and publishers were currently bringing to the market and decided immediately that my book simply didn’t fit. I wrote a dark thriller with steamy romance and a sinister plot, not what is currently being pushed. Okay, so perhaps I should have looked at the American marketplace, but in my defence I avoided it because I am beyond terrified of flying and I couldn’t see me being able to meet an agent or anything else if I was published over the pond.
Desperate to see my book out there and get some feedback from people other than my friends, I uploaded the book to Kindle without really thinking about it first.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I myself will always prefer a paperback, but I have my own kindle and it does have it’s place in the market, even for me. I think that ebooks will outsell traditionally published books for many years to come, but I can’t see the paperback dying out, ever.
I do think that there is going to have to be a change in ebook publishing though. There is already some discontent within the writing community about the sheer number of free books now available. The view is that if you can literally read a book a day for nothing then why would anyone ever pay for a book? I can see their point. But for me, at the present time its all about building a reader base. I simply want people to read what I write and get enjoyment out of it. If they want to give me a good review afterwards then all the better.
What genres do you write?: Thriller, romance, fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy
What formats are your books in?: eBook
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.