I’ve got something quite exciting planned for this year. I’ll be hosting regular interviews with some of my favourite authors, giving a little insight into their worlds, novels, and inspiration.
First up is the hilarious T.A Williams, author of Dirty Minds, The Room on the Second Floor, When Alice met Danny and now What Happens in Tuscany, I really enjoyed interviewing him, even as I’m wildly jealous that he gets to live in the beautiful south west …
I’m a bald old man. I haven’t always been old, but I’ve been bald since getting married almost 40 years ago. My wedding photos show me with a fringe. That didn’t last long. Still, if you’ve got to have a handicap, baldness is about as good as it gets. Anyway… I studied languages, went to live and work for 8 years in Italy and then spent the rest of my working life in Exeter, down in the south west of England. I ran a big English language school until I retired ten years ago and became a property developer/full time writer. I live in a village outside Exeter which has featured in various of my books under various pseudonyms. I am married to an Italian artist. I spend most of my time in my study or out on the bike while my wife spends most of her time in her studio or at exhibitions, and we meet up at mealtimes and bedtime. It’s a good system and the secret of a happy marriage. Keep the hell away from each other as much as possible. It works for us…
Now tell us something about yourself that someone would be surprised about, grin.
I am a man who writes chicklit. And, if that’s not surprising enough, I am a fully paid up member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. Somehow I think I’m going to stand out at meetings. Oh yes, and my wife and I always speak Italian together. I’m counting on that to help stave off the onset of Alzheimers.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Yes. Ever since I first wrote a 40 page rip-off of “Swallows and Amazons” at the age of 12 (in pencil). The day job was necessary to keep the wolf from the door, but I’ve been writing thrillers and historical novels since I was 20.
It’s so refreshing to see a man who enjoys writing and reading romantic comedy, what prompted you to write in the genre?
To be totally honest, it went like this: I had just finished writing a trilogy of “serious” historical novels set in the Middle Ages and I wanted a change. I saw an article in the paper saying that erotica was going to be big in 2014 so I thought I’d give it a try. I soon realised I didn’t have the experience or the inclination for serious erotica, but I did enjoy writing humour. I soon worked out that you girls buy more books than men so it seemed logical to move into chicklit/romcoms. That’s why I write under the androgynous name TA Williams, rather than Trevor Williams. I wouldn’t want to frighten any prospective readers off.
Your latest book What Happens in Tuscany sounds lovely, what inspired you to write it?
The setting, just outside Florence in an old villa on a hillside, was inspired by the place we used to live when I was working in Florence. And, in fact, I had a whale of a time basking in nostalgia as I wrote it. I went for a cycling tour of Tuscany in September last year that refreshed my memory and whetted my appetite. There’s a lot about food and drink in the book! As for the origin of the main premise of the book, I really don’t know. For those who haven’t read it, it’s all about a girl of 25 who has been kept cooped up in a magnificent stately home all her life by an over-protective father. After his death, she engages the services of Katie to help ease her into the 21st century. She’s never used a computer, never had a mobile phone, never been out with a man… How the idea came to me I really can’t say. I know I was out on a long bike ride and by the time I came home the idea had crystallised, but what sparked it off, I really don’t know.
Do you ever miss your characters when you finish a novel?
Yes. I keep wondering if I should write a sequel to one or more of them. In fact, a number of people have asked me to, but I’m still making up my mind. Mind you, there are probably some fairly easily identified similarities between most of my main characters, so, even though I’m writing about Katie, it could just as well be Alice. I like writing from the point of view of genuine, kind, determined characters. There are a few baddies around, but I don’t seem to relate to them as easily. Strangely, I don’t carry any physical image of any of my lead characters in my head. I often can’t remember what colour eyes I have allocated, or what colour hair.
Do you have a favourite leading man or lady from your novels. Or would that be like having a favourite child?
As I said above, they are all vaguely similar so there’s a process of amalgamation going on. There is one thing about me, however; I always like my most recent creation more than its predecessors. This applies to my other life as a property developer. I always like the one I’ve just finished. And with houses as with books, you learn stuff as you go along so, hopefully, they should get better and better as I go on. So my favourite is currently a girl called Samantha who is studying for a PhD in archaeology. She stars in book 5 which I have just finished.
What is your writing process – do you write every day? Where do you write?
The easy one first: I always write in my study on a desktop computer. As for when, I find that I binge write. I can go days, even weeks without doing more than scribble a few ideas on a pad and then, when I set off, I can find myself glued to the screen for ten hours a day.
What’s the biggest lessons you’ve learnt in your career as a author?
Never give up. The writing is the easy part. Finding a publisher and then finding people who enjoy your work is the hard part. It took me 40 years before a publisher (Carina UK) took me on. There were long periods in that time when I despaired of finding a publisher and almost gave up. So stick at it.
30 second T.A
- Champagne and canapés or tea and scones? It would have to be champagne. If I ever win the lottery, I could easily develop a series habit for the stuff.
- Sea or country? I live in the country, near the sea. I love the sea and used to do a lot of windsurfing but, recently, I’ve taken to the country more. So, now, country.
- Dogs or cats? There’s a black Labrador in all my books. I just love them. I love cats as well, but you can’t beat the companionship of a dog.
- Plot or free form? I’m a seat of the pants man. Some books I have started, knowing only the main character and where it is going to be set. What is wonderful is when it suddenly starts writing itself and the characters lead me off in directions I wasn’t expecting. My editor likes to have a synopsis of each new book, but I inevitably end up writing the book first and then creating a synopsis after the event.
Thanks so much T.A!