WRITER/AUTHOR: ELEVEN INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Author name: Vivienne Tuffnell
Latest titles: Away with the Fairies, Strangers and Pilgrims
1. I’m always interested in the writer’s process. How often do you write? Do you have a daily word count goal? Give me an overview (or detailed if you really want to go there) of your writing life.
I write something or other daily, almost every day, even if it is just comments or whatnot. If I go more than a few days without writing something meatier, I get restless. It’s something that is deeply within me, to communicate with the written word. When I am working on a full length novel, I aim to write daily, and I have a daily goal of sometimes five hundred or a thousand words. Usually I exceed my target but I find having that target oils the gears on days when it’s not flowing the moment I turn on my computer.
2. Do you also work a full-time non-writer job or career?
I have two part-time jobs. One I work as a teacher of English as a foreign language and also as tour guide for the students during their stay. I take them to such destinations as London and Cambridge, give a guided tour and escort them back again. My second job takes me further afield into Europe where I work as a tour guide and courier for a small company that runs educational tours in Northern Europe. For that I am away several days or up to a week.
3. How supportive has your family been of your writing time? Have you ever had to fight for your right to write?
My husband and daughter support me every inch of the way.
4. How long did it take to write (from start to finish) your novel? It varies.
I completed one novel in seventeen days. Another took over a year. I can complete a novel in three months or less when it’s flowing well; after all a thousand words a day adds up to a fair sized book quite quickly.
5. What route to publishing did you take (agent, traditional, self-pub), and how long did it take from finish to publication?
For many years I pursued the traditional route, got to the starting line several times, being up for committee reviews and always finally turned down because of doubts about taking on an unknown with a quirky approach that doesn’t fit neatly into an existing genre. I had a great deal of extremely positive feedback from publishers, and agents.
For about a year, I had an agent but when he failed to place the book quickly, he stopped trying and eventually stopped answering letters. Two years ago, I began to explore the independent route and with some trepidation published Strangers and Pilgrims.
A few months ago, I put it onto Kindle and that was when I realised what a boon the e-book would be to independent authors. It’s a very effective medium for books that have a niche market, and as you can keep selling forever, sales just keep coming in.
6. Is there a theme, or premise you’d really like readers to connect with in your latest book?
In Away With the Fairies, which is the most recent title, there are several themes that I think people may find they connect with. The first and most obvious is quite how hard it can be to combine a creative career with raising a family. There really is only so much creative energy a person can hold and if it’s used on inventing foods a fussy kid will eat, or on keeping the house orderly, then there’s little left for art or writing. It’s important for someone with a creative career to carve out both time and space for their work. The main character Isobel starts to find that not having the mental and emotional space to both process her thoughts and put them onto canvas is undermining her sense of personal identity and mental well being. The second is how much we owe our ancestors, in so many ways, for who we are; this ranges from our parents to our distant ancestors whose names we will never know.
7. Where are you going now, are you working on a sequel, or something entirely different?
I’m working on several projects at once, a sequel to Strangers and Pilgrims that is fighting me every inch of the way, and a novel that features the Selkies, the mythical seal people that legends speak of. I’m also preparing a collection of short stories and a volume of poetry, as well as working towards releasing a few other novels. That said, it’s not unusual for me to just be struck by something out of the blue and start working on it at high speed, and go off at a tangent to anything I’ve previously written about.
I have also been working on a book of guided meditations using aromatics which is available as a free download and also as a rather pretty paperback. This will be updated from time to time as I write more meditations and begin to compile the book more. The idea was that people might suggest their favourite fragrances for me to write a meditation for but so far I have had only a few requests!
8. Where do you find inspiration for your stories and novels?
Everywhere. Ideas come from dreams, from chance comments, music, images and sometimes from my travels.
9. With all the focus lately on authors providing a lot of their own self-promotion, what are you doing in this respect?
Twitter and Facebook, obviously, and my blog Zen and the Art of Tightrope Walking. Twitter is enormously good fun, and I’m there primarily to enjoy just hanging out with people but when you have built up a following and have spent time with people, then it flows much more naturally that people are curious about your writing and follow links. Self-promotion is far from easy and I find it hard to shout about what I have done.
10. Who or what would you say has been the biggest influence on you as a writer?
I really don’t know. Waking up and deciding that I will write what comes and not what fits a genre or category or template is sometimes hard; it’d be easier sometimes to just conform and produce something that is easier to pigeonhole.
11. Where can we find your book? Is it available in e-format as well?
My books are found on my author pages on Amazon UK http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&search-alias=books-uk&field-author=Vivienne%20Tuffnell or Amazon USA http://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_17?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=vivienne+tuffnell&sprefix=vivienne+tuffnell or you can keep in touch by looking at my blog http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com. Away with the Fairies will be available as a paperback via Amazon but this may be a few weeks; in the meantime, if you want a hard copy, follow the link to Lulu on my blog if you just can’t wait!