This week I had the pleasure of speaking to fellow Book Blogger/ Author Terry Tyler about her work, her background and her approach to creating great psychological novels.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you towards darker fiction?
I’ve always varied between light and dark; lately it’s veered more towards the latter, though. I’ve written so much about family and love relationships, and found that I most enjoyed writing the characters who have deep and scary secrets, so I suppose it was inevitable that I would end up writing about a psychopath or two!
What is your background in writing and how did you get in to writing psychological fiction?
I have no formal training. I first wrote a novel in 1993 after wondering if I could, and sitting down to make a start (I actually remember sitting down at the kitchen table with a pad of paper and a biro, and thinking, ‘Right. How do I do this, then?). My books have always dealt with the psychological aspect of relationships because it’s something that interests me greatly. I’m forever analysing people’s motives and motivations!
How does your fascination with personal relationships affect your characterisation?
I hope it makes them more rounded and realistic. I don’t consciously work out my characters, or write lists of traits to which their development must adhere; they just form in my head. As I write from many points of view, often in the first person, I just ‘become’ that person in my mind as I write them. I try the dialogue on for size, too. Out loud, I mean. I must look really silly.
Are there any other features that you believe are essential to writing good psychological fiction?
I think you need to have a basic understanding of people’s motivations, insecurities, prejudices, and the criminal or psychopathic mind, if necessary. Although a good course can always teach you something, a course in itself will not enable you to write convincing characters unless you already have that understanding. It also helps if you plan the plot alongside the characters, rather than try to shoehorn someone into a story. You know when you read reviews that say things like ‘I thought it was highly unlikely that Joe would have just abandoned Suzy’, or ‘How come a confident, assertive woman like Jane would allow her husband to demean her like that?”? That’s what I mean!
Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?
No, I just sit down at the laptop and start. Sometimes I don’t feel like it, so I read through what I’ve already written to get me back into the story, particularly if I’ve had an enforced break for a few days- I suppose that could be called a ritual, yes! As for inspiration: I don’t know, it just happens!
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
I detest collaborating, but if I had to, I reckon I might allow Bill Bryson to collaborate with me on a travel book (lucky you, Bill!), because there are so many places in the world that I’d love to see, and I think he’d be a great person to go with. He views events and people in the same way I do, often; I’m sure we’d have a great laugh.
Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
I always start the next book before the current one is published (when it’s gone off for beta and proofreading!), and I fluctuate between being excited about and loathing whatever I’m writing. The current project is a post apocalyptic series, set in England 8 years in the future. It’s about cyber surveillance by the government and targeted depopulation, followed by a pandemic. It’s still very much a ‘me’ book, though, as the story centres around one family and their friends, is written from several first and third person points of view, and is character driven. And there are a couple of seriously nasty characters. The outbreak happens during the first book, and most of the story is about survival in the new world. My plan is to finish parts one and two before publishing the first. That way, if the first one is a total flop, I won’t be put off finishing it!
As a fellow book reviewer tell me, what new books or writers are you looking forward to later in the year and beyond?
I am continually looking forward to more of Gemma Lawrence’s two series, about Elizabeth I and Anne Boleyn. Also the next part of Kate Mary’s new post-zombie-apocalypse series, Twisted World. And travel writer Jo Carroll’s first novel. Travel writer Val Poore’s novel about a couple that settle in South Africa, based on her own experience. I always have a long to-read list, as do most of us!
Anything you’d like to add?
Just to say thank you very much for inviting me to your blog.
Massive thanks to Terry for taking this time- it’s been really enlightening. Check out Terry’s work HERE.