Two months ago, I interviewed my wonderful proofreader, Julia Gibbs. Now I’d like to introduce you to the woman who first put me in touch with Julia—her sister. She is a prolific author of contemporary novels described by her fans as a mix of drama and romantic suspense with the occasional bit of rock fiction. She is also a book reviewer, blogger and originator of the highly amusing Zodiac files. This month, I am chatting to Terry Tyler.
Hi Terry; welcome to my blog. Let’s start with my standard question: what is your earliest memory — and how old were you at the time?
Aha—I was just three. We were on holiday with my Uncle Geoff’s family, and my sister (@ProofreadJulia!) and I were sharing a bedroom (two sets of bunk beds) with my cousins, Gerry and Susan. I was sitting on my bunk when Gerry walked past, without his shorts on. I wondered why he had a funny piece of skin hanging down where I didn’t have one, and thought there must be something wrong with him. I believe my little three year old head was quite concerned about this! No, I can’t remember how I discovered what it actually was—perhaps a couple of years later when my brother was born!
Now, I really must go on Facebook and send this article to my (now 58 year old) cousin Gerry…!
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
Oh dear, is it terribly predictable of me to say I loved English best? I adored writing (what I thought at the time were) funny essays. One time the class was given the subject ‘Odd Habits’ to write about. I was very proud of myself for finding out about different sorts of habits worn by different orders of nuns and monks; happily, the teacher was amused… I liked the language part better than the literature; alas, I was too immature to appreciate the classics until I was older. Avoid? PE. I thought netball and hockey were stupid, and I was useless at them. And maths: when I was nine we had a sadistic teacher called Mr Woodward who gave us verbal arithmetic tests. He would build up speed as the test went on, getting faster and faster until some children collapsed in tears because they couldn’t keep up. I can still remember his face, getting sweaty and excited as his questioning gained momentum. Bit of a worry, really…
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?
I tried to think of a more unusual answer (some of my fave Plantagenet kings like Henry II, for instance), but I’m afraid I’m coming back to a favourite of many… Anne Boleyn. She fascinates me, I never tire of reading about her. I’d love to find out how she felt about being pushed into the seduction of Henry VIII by her uncle, the Duke of Norfolk, and her father, and if she really did love Henry. I wonder if, when she looked out of the window and saw her beloved brother executed while she waited for her own death for crimes of which she was innocent, she would have been comforted to know that, nearly 500 years later, people still talk and read and write about her—and that her daughter became one of the greatest monarchs in history.
If you had to escape from a fire, what three things would you take with you?
I actually imagined doing this, and semi-acted it out, so I could give an honest answer! My handbag, my laptop and as many of my photo albums as I could carry. Before everyone kept their photos on computers, I took photos of everything and everyone. I have 32 albums, from 1976 to 2007 (when I got my first computer!). Years ago, people used to say, “oh, Terry and that wretched camera.” Now, they’re all glad I took them. I used the albums with black pages, so I could stick them in with corners and write underneath them.
If you knew you only had 24 hours left, how would you spend them?
Right, this is serious stuff! First, I would put all my family and favourite people onto a plane and get them delivered to somewhere wonderful, with beautiful trees and mountains and lakes and stuff. Then, I would get actor Josh Holloway on his mobile and arrange to meet him in a hotel of his choice. I shall not detail the activities of the next two-three hours, but after I’d waved him goodbye I’d nip up to the roof and get into the waiting helicopter, which would take me to join my friends and family at the arranged beauty spot. My sister would, of course, have arranged for Aerosmith to be there, too. Just to socialise and do a little bluesy unplugged stuff, it wouldn’t be a day for loud rock. I would spend my final hour by the lake with my husband, who would, of course, totally understand about the Josh Holloway interlude.
Incidentally, if Josh really couldn’t get away, I’d accept similar arrangements with either Bryan Cranston, Norman Reedus, Matthew McConnaughey, Damian Lewis, Jon Hamm, Michael Kenneth Williams or the bloke who plays Ragnar Lothbrook in Vikings.
Now I come to think of it, having only 24 hours left on earth doesn’t sound so bad…..
Describe your ideal menu — and where would you like to eat it?
Being a total pig, I leapt on this question! This allows for time between courses, I trust? Like, an all day affair? Okay…
* Two martinis, avec olives* Starters: Mozarella, avocado, vine tomatoes and fresh basil salad, made by Luigi of La Strada, Towcester, Northants. I always want to eat it forever.(Sorry, chaps, the restaurant closed last year, and he’s gone to France!)* Fish Course: lemon sole with tarragon, on rocket, spinach and fresh basil.* Main Course: Rare fillet steak, with a whole bunch of steamed vegetables: broccoli, carrots, butternut squash, parsnips, mange tout, peas.
All accompanied by bottles and bottles of super cold Chablis, and a full bodied claret for the steak.
* Pudding: Something with a ton of meringue and ice cream and cream and toffee sauce. Yum.Miscellaneous Liqueurs (ie, loads of them)
To be eaten on a high terrace, looking out onto mountains, lakes, etc (Switzerland? Colorado? Capri?), in the company of husband, sister and selected friends. Sorted!
There is a saying: to make the punishment fit the crime. Which character from fiction would you like to punish — and how?
I’ve chosen a fictional character not from a book, but from television. I did toy with the idea of Joffrey Lannister from Game of Thrones (ahem, I’d just like to add that of course I’ve read the books too!), mostly because he had Ned Stark killed (no, Terry, he didn’t have Sean Bean killed…), but lately I’ve been re-watching Breaking Bad, and I’ve decided that my most-hated is Skyler White, played by Anna Gunn. I’ll be brief, so as not to bore those who haven’t seen it, but for those who have—what a bitch! Kicked Walt out when he’d done all he did for his family, shoved her affair in his face, tried to stop him seeing his children, but didn’t mind once she knew how much money was involved in his illegal enterprise. The punishment? The Walk of Atonement, as undertaken by Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. That’s a headshave, and a naked walk through town whilst being pelted with rotten veg, etc, by the populace.
What would be in your ‘Room 101’?
Over-use of the following words: mindfulness, exponential, eclectic. The use of nouns: gift, task and source as verbs. ‘Uni’ instead of ‘university’. TV Talent Shows in which the contestants have been selected from those already in the industry. The ‘celeb’ culture. The Bedroom Tax. Eammon Holmes. Loose Women. People being sick on television. The use of the ‘preneur’ bit of ‘entrepreneur’ as a suffix: mediapreneur, mompreneur. The way in which Christmas has become a celebration of the retail trade. I’ll stop now, or I’ll carry on too long!
Would you describe yourself as left-brain (analytical), right-brain (intuitive) or a mix of both?
I suppose that, being a creative type, I should claim right-brain, but I’m probably a mix of the two, with a leaning towards left. Intuition wise, I’ve always found that my very first impression of a person or place turns out to be the right one—you know, the one that’s so immediate it’s often subconscious. But I’m essentially a practical person, I think, and a great one for analysing just about everything.
What do you think is your biggest strength, as a writer?
It’s very hard to look at your own work objectively so I’ll have to go by the reviews, which often say that the characters are my strength; if this is so, I think it’s because people’s motivations and relationships have long been a fascination of mine. Although I love creating a good unguessable plot twist or two, my books are very ‘character driven’ and, as I write them from multiple points of view, it’s essential that every voice is distinct.
In Kings and Queens, I wrote six women—a bit of a challenge! My new book, The House of York (published in late October), is written from the POV of several people, chopping and changing, so it was even more important to make sure each character was ‘alive’ in my head before I started to write him/her. From Lisa, the working class single mum who marries into money, to compulsive gambler Gabriel, to Richard—the bondage fetishist with a dark secret or two—and his downtrodden wife, Phoebe. They’re not all particularly likable, though; I do love writing the less positive traits. Not sure what that says about me!
Many thanks, Elizabeth, for inviting me onto your blog, and I do hope this has been of interest to your readers.
If you would like to find out more about Terry, her books and her other writing, you can find her here:
Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.
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