Vivienne Tuffnell kindly agreed to an interview for my blog. Vivienne has written several books.
When did you first start writing?
I began creating stories before I could read or write. My father had a typewriter that I was sometimes allowed to use and I used to bash out strings of letters on that. I somehow believed that the story in my head would appear on the paper. I was about three or four years of age, and one of life’s optimists.
I wrote my first novel when I was ten. I burned it about three years later because my brother gave me such a hard time over it, telling me it was rubbish. I’d begun another one by then which I do still have somewhere, buried deep in a packing crate in the loft.
Where do you get your ideas from?
That’s the question most writers dread because there’s no simple easy answer. Story ideas can pop up from almost anywhere, from a conversation overheard in a station to a musical phrase without words that sets off a feeling. Many of mine come through a process of letting impressions and thoughts sink in, and then I incubate them using active dreaming. I write down vivid scenes from dreams, and some of those start to grow into new concepts, characters and even plots for novels. I also draw a lot of inspiration from poetry.
Can we expect more books from you soon?
I’m in the final stages of getting a new book ready to publish. It’s called Square Peg, and I’m waiting on final edits before the proofreader gets her hands on it. I’m also waiting on news about a cover. The hope is to have it on the market for Easter but as I have a major operation between now and then, I’m not convinced I’ll manage it all. Here’s the blurb so far:
“Chloe is a square peg in an increasingly uncomfortable round hole. Brought up by her wildly unconventional grandmother, she’s a true free spirit and has never learned to pull her punches. She’s just married trainee Church of England clergyman Clifford, and is living at the theological college and trying to figure out what’s going on around her. She’s had very little connection with formal religion, and has a talent for stepping on all sorts of emotional land-mines with the wives of the other ordinands. That would probably be fine if it wasn’t for the fact that her grandmother has inconsiderately died, and left her a house full of exotic souvenirs of her days as a travelling doctor, instructions to track down her father and sister, and what everyone else regards as a really bad attitude. She’s also lost her job, her temper, but not the will to live.
Chloe’s life begins to unravel in ways she could never have imagined as she tries to understand her own background by setting out to find out what became of her sister and father. But trying to integrate her uncompromising approach to life brings her into escalating conflict with the other women of the college, leaving her isolated and friendless. In Clifford’s final year of training, Chloe meets the arty, anarchic Isobel and together they concoct a plan whereby the irrepressible Isobel becomes the mole amid the college wives and they start to undermine and sabotage the status quo with a series of practical jokes and psychological warfare that has terrible consequences for Chloe when things go horribly wrong.”
Have you got any advice for people wishing to write their first novel?
Yes, start about twenty years ago! Seriously, most strong story-lines have been brewing in the unconscious for many years.
I’d also say to read more than you write, in every genre, including ones you don’t like. When you come to write, though, just write. Don’t worry about getting it perfect. Get a draft down on paper, shove it in a drawer and forget about it for a good six months, preferably longer. Then you can take a long cold look at it and begin to work with it. Don’t slam it up onto Amazon three days after writing The End. Let it settle first, and then work with what you have. The more expertise you develop, the more likely it is you’ll be able to produce a decent enough first draft that doesn’t need a total rewrite. The figure often quoted is a million words and I suspect that’s not far off. The more you’ve absorbed unconsciously from reading books by respected authors, the more readily your own unconscious learns to shape your work. If a million words sounds daunting, remember a reasonable length of novel is perhaps one hundred thousand words. That means around ten novels is a fair apprenticeship. The ones you write before then will often be reworked much later; it’s probably only your execution of the ideas that’s been at fault, not the ideas themselves. Don’t expect perfection of yourself; that way lies madness. Also, don’t model yourself on a favourite author. Fan fiction is all very well but it’s self-defeating if you want to achieve something truly your own.
Describe a day in your life
I lead a very dull life at present. Most of the excitement and interest goes on in my head.
Who are your favourite authors and have any of them influenced your work?
I did a degree in English and Latin so I have a lot of authors I’ve loved. I’m not sure if any one in particular has influenced me that much; it’s more a general thing. When I graduated, I’d told the careers’ advisor that I wanted to be a writer and she laughed at me. It was several years after I graduated that I read again for pleasure and it was the same for writing. I couldn’t write because my soul was still in such awe of the superb authors I’d spent three years studying. It seemed the height of hubris to start writing after that.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
Watching the fish in my pond. I’ve had some serious health issues so what I like doing and what I’m able to do are rather different things. I used to love long walks in the countryside away from the hurly-burly. I love museums and art galleries and I do enjoy drawing and painting too.
If you had to stay on a desert island and were only allowed to take one book, which would it be?
It’d be a nice big plain journal so I could write down my account of life on the island. Preferably a leather-bound one; I have a thing about lovely leather covered journals.
If I had to say an actual book, it’d be the S.A.S Survival Guide. I have the pocket version of it. I don’t think I’d need anything fictional; I’d stay sane by telling myself stories.
For more information about Vivienne, visit her blog – http://zenandtheartoftightropewalking.wordpress.com
Vivienne’s Amazon pages:-
Facebook fan page – https://www.facebook.com/VivienneTuffnellAuthor
Twitter – @guineapig66
3 lucky people have the chance to win a paperback copy of Vivienne Tuffnell’s latest book ‘The Moth’s Kiss’, which is a collection of ten short spooky and creepy stories.
To enter just leave a comment telling me why you love reading.
Terms and Conditions
This competition is open to UK residents only.
The closing date is 11:59 p.m. on the 13th April 2014.
Winners will be notified within 7 days and their details will be passed on to Vivienne Tuffnell who will send out the prizes.
Good luck! 🙂