Interview with TJ

1. Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written

I have spent most of my life trying to reconcile not taking it too seriously with taking it seriously by being an academic. This tense oxymoron has taken some skilful negotiation. But the fact is that I love Maths and being a lecturer was the best way to get to do it. I finally left university a while back and now do some private tutoring. I’m in my late 50’s and love to try and keep fit by cycling, hiking and running, and keep undoing it all by eating cake and ice cream. I discovered writing about 12 years ago quite by accident and was surprised to find (a) I had an imagination and (b) what an emotional release it was. But I was not surprised to find out I can write from a child’s perspective.

I have written several shorter stories for younger children – some for 3- 5 year olds, some for say 5-8 year olds. And I have written a novel for middle readers, Which Way Switch, and its sequel with a title to be located. It’s out there somewhere!

2. What is the theme of your latest book and what inspired it?

Right, really pedantic answer here. My latest book is the untitled sequel, with the same, but more developed, theme as the first book and was inspired by it. This was the answer of a mathematician.

So, let’s go then to Which Way Switch, and its theme. It appears as if this a supernatural adventure about a boy, Lucas, whose life is pants, who gets to alter it by flicking a light switch he finds in his garage. And so it is. But underneath this, using the switch as a metaphor almost for life’s vicissitudes, Lucas is on a voyage of self-discovery as he is coming to terms with his own insecurities and feelings. Inspiration? Purely autobiographical!

In the sequel just finished, the supernatural element takes over (literally!) but the same underlying emotional self-development feature is there.

3. Do you have any unusual writing habits?

I wish I could say I like to write backwards eating jammie dodgers whilst swimming breaststroke at the local baths – it frees up the inner creative juices of my mind. Oh I just did say it! So that’s good. But it ain’t true. But I might have a jammie dodger or two.

4. What authors or books have influenced you?

Another mathematician’s answer here. All of them. All the authors/books I have read have had their say – each one being an indeterminate component in a complex interactive gestalt of influence. Yawn!

Maybe a little more enlightening, I do have a leaning towards reading the classics, and the light they shine on the world has undoubtedly influenced me. That and living 50 odd years in it.

5. What are you working on now?

I’m currently working on the editing process for the sequel to Which Way Switch. That and being on a wild goose chase egg hunt for the title, a book cover idea and a cool name for the amorphous globby beings that rule the multiverse (well almost they do).

6. What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?

I’m still learning! There seem to be plenty of people prepared to offer advice. It’s still early days so my Facebook page & website are most used. Twitter has given me lots of followers but doesn’t seem to promote much interest in the book currently & I don’t think anyone is hanging on my every word yet.
Face to face, schools, independent bookshops & radio are avenues to be explored as soon as I have finished editing my second book.

7. Do you have any advice for new authors?

1) Follow your own imagination in creating stories. If you don’t have any, don’t write.

2) Sometimes a title idea can lead to a story. You can get these just by listening – certainly brightens things up when someone is droning on and on and you get a story idea out of it. Kind of like the tail wagging the dog. Hey that’s a good idea for a kid’s story right there!

8. What is the best advice you have ever heard?

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

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