Please tell me about yourself and your book(s).
I’m a hybrid author, writing for publishers but also self-publishing in a different genre, and two series are having their third and final (?!) books out this year. The Oaklands Manor saga is set in the years 1912-1917 and each features a different girl, linked by friendship and circumstance, but each with their own story to tell. The Lynher Mill Chronicles are mythic fiction; Cornish folklore all mixed up with contemporary life. Lots of fun!
Please describe your daily writing habits.
I work full-time, so unfortunately I have to confine my main writing to weekends and days off, and I have to start early or I can’t start at all, and end up faffing about, or editing instead! After a bit of social media catching-up, I play a couple of rounds of Bejeweled Blitz to settle my mind, while thinking about what I need to do next (try it, it works!) and then go to it. I will write for as long as I can, no scheduled breaks or ‘time to stop now.’ I don’t have the luxury of a schedule, so I stop when I reach a good place… or when I fall asleep at the keyboard!
What tips would you give to a writer who is just starting out?
Just do it! Press on, no matter what. Don’t worry about making it faultless, or even brilliant. Not on the first draft. You can’t polish what isn’t there, so just get the story down and worry about the spelling/grammar/sentence-structure stuff later. And don’t spend too long reading ‘how to’ guides online before you start, you’ll come away baffled, and with conflicting advice making you dizzy. Those are great for cleaning up later, but the story has to come from you.
What are some things that have surprised you as an author?
The support of other authors has come as a very pleasant surprise. People are so happy to re-tweet news, cover reveals and other promotional things, and to lend an ear when things aren’t going so well and the ranty side of me comes out to play! Also surprising, but in a less positive way, is the lack of control we have over some of the things that matter most, like the cover and, usually, the blurb.
What would you say has been your biggest challenge as an author?
Selling myself. I’m absolutely rubbish at it, although I do try because I know it’s necessary and important. But I really don’t like it!
What would you say has been your biggest success as an author?
Having had the first two books in the Oaklands series shortlisted in the Best Historical Read category at the Festival of Romance in consecutive years. Wow! For a debut and its sequel, I don’t think it gets much better than that!
What books and/or authors would you say have been your biggest influence?
Diana Gabaldon for relationships, Stephen King for his ‘anything goes’ attitude, and George Eliot for her many-shaded characters. Oh, and John Buchan, for his male characters in particular. A little collection of pure genius there!
What genre would you like to write for that you’ve not tried yet?
I suppose the only thing I haven’t tried yet, but have an interest in, would be steampunk. I’ve written horror, romance, thrillers and others, and steampunk seems to be tugging me towards it at the moment, but I’d have to read a lot more of it before I felt I could do the genre justice.
If you could have lunch with three famous authors, living or dead, whom would you pick and why?
Leading on from my influences, I’d pick Diana Gabaldon – I’ve been a massive Outlander fan for well over ten years now. John Buchan – his writing is so sharp, yet humorous. And George Eliot – I’ve never read such brilliantly drawn characters; even the ones you like have deeply unlikeable personality traits, and that makes them addictive.
If you could have written any bestselling book today, which would it be?
Probably The Help. Amazing story, filled with strong characters, humour, pathos and tension.
Do you plan your books out from start to finish in advance or do you let the story and characters take you where it will?
I have to have a rough ‘shape’ in my head, of where I want it to go. This often changes, because once I get cracking, the characters keep dictating the direction, but as long they more or less behave, I’m happy for that to happen!
Where do you get the inspiration for your characters and books?
For the purposes of this question I’ll concentrate on the Oaklands Manor books. Originally the plan was to write something based on the (quite lively and fascinating) stories my grandmother told me of her time in domestic service. But when I sat down to write, Lizzy Parker just fell out of my head and onto the page, and what’s more she did it in the first person, which threw me completely! So I went with it, and she emerged as someone who has been described as “a heroine to fall in love with.” (one of my favourite quotes from a review, ever!) In researching for this book during 2010, I read Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain, and from there came aristocrat Evie’s dangerous and difficult life on the Western Front in book two. The third girl, Kitty, had been a ‘bit player’ in that story, but it turned out that her story deserved its own book, which is the final part of the trilogy and brings her to my own home county of Devon.
Music or no music when writing?
No music! I’m too easily distract… oh look, a butterfly!
Favorite snacks/drinks while writing?
I always have a bottle of water nearby, but drink far too much coffee, especially in cold weather! Snacks: Twiglets! Or dry roasties, or Skips, or… yeah, too many of those, too. Oh, and Floral Gums.
Do you prefer physical books or ebooks?
I like both – e-books for convenience and ease of carrying my favourite books to work (which usually end up being the biggest ones, like The Stand, or the Outlander series.) But not all books work well as e-books. Especially those with a massive cast, like the Song of Ice and Fire books by George RR Martin. And those with maps and glossaries etc. Plus, you know, the whisper of pages… There’s room for both, though.
What are your thoughts on the current trend of making books into movies?
I don’t see many of them, so I don’t know if they’re doing a good job or not, but it does seem to be a bit like a natural follow-on now, for any book that’s grabbed the imagination of the majority of readers. It seems a shame somehow though, as there are so many that they’re in danger of swamping each other. I confess I’m a bit reluctant to watch them if the books have affected me deeply, which is why I haven’t yet seen Testament of Youth.
Favorite genre that you like to read?
All kinds! Everything from Jilly Cooper to Stephen King, covering Pratchett, Koontz and Austen along the way.
Who is your all time favorite book character?
Possibly the Vampire Lestat from Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles. Although he’s undeniably wicked, hedonistic and selfish, he’s also quite unapologetic about these traits, which makes him honest, charming and, in a weird way, the ‘good guy.’
What three things must you have with you if you were stranded on a desert island?
Since there’s probably no electricity, I’d have to say notebook and pen (although no-one would be able to decipher what I’d written!) and for my third thing, I should probably say a photo album, but instead I’m going to say: a jar of Marmite!
About Daughter of Dark River Farm:
One, a charming rogue, proves both a temptation and a mystery – Kitty is still trying to push her hopeless love for Scottish army captain Archie Buchanan out of her mind, and this stranger might be just what she needs. But she soon discovers he’s not a stranger to everyone.
The other newcomer, a young woman with a past linked to the farm, sows seeds of discontent and mistrust. Between the two of them, and the choices Kitty herself has to make, Dark River becomes a place of fear, suspicion and danger. Can it ever return to the haven it once was?
About the Author:
Since publishing in paperback for the first time in 2002, Terri has appeared in both print and online fiction collections, and is proud to have contributed to the Shirley Jackson award-nominated hardback collection: Bound for Evil, by Dead Letter Press. As a Hybrid author, her first commercially published novel was Maid of Oaklands Manor, published by Piatkus Entice (a digital-first imprint of Little, Brown,) and short-listed in the "Best Historical Read" category at the Festival of Romance 2013. The sequel, A Rose in Flanders Fields, was published by Carina UK (a digital-first imprint of HarperCollins) and was short-listed in the same category in 2014.
The third in the series, Daughter of Dark River Farm, is scheduled for release January 28 2015.
Terri's self-published Mythic Fiction series set in Cornwall, The Lynher Mill Chronicles, has now been launched. Books one and two are available in print and e-book, and the third book in the series is due for release in June 2015.
Terri now lives in Plymouth with her youngest son, and works in the Faculty of Arts and Humanities at Plymouth University, where she is constantly baffled by the number of students who don't possess pens.
Terri also writes under the name T Nixon, and has contributed to anthologies under the names Terri Pine and Teresa Nixon. She is represented by the Kate Nash Literary Agency.