Interview with Tammy Robinson about one of my favourite reads of 2013

Tammy, a writer from NZ, and I met through a book reviewers blog.(See Fiona’s review link at the end of the interview) We instantly connected and began reading each others books. I was absolutely bowled over by the first book of Tammy’s I read called Charlie and Pearl. It’s one of those books that will stay with me forever. As I read, enjoying all the luscious descriptions of people and place, I thought I had it sussed out, but I was wrong! Just when you think you know what’s happening – BAM – she throws a spanner in the works. For me, this makes a great book. A urgency to find out what happens next. And the ending… oh geez. I can’t say anymore, but please do buy it, it’s a beautifully written book. And how can you not love Charlie? He’s not the usual cliche hero and I found that refreshing.

Welcome Tammy to the blog…

Can you tell us how your writing career started?

Probably the wheels were set in motion the moment I learnt to read. I’ve always lived in books and dreamt of being an author. The timing fell into place when I become a stay at home mum to Holly (14 months) and I managed to write while she napped. 

 What was the inspiration behind Charlie and Pearl?

I dreamt about a girl falling asleep in a bookshop and a guy falling in love with her, and the story evolved from there. The more emotional story lines that come into it were parallel to something that was going on in my real life at the time.

 Bec- Gotta love dream ideas!

Can you share the blurb for it?

Charlie is slightly chubby and an occasional reader of women’s lifestyle magazines. He lives with his mum in the same small coastal town where he was born and works in the local bookshop with a boss suffering from the early onslaught of dementia and who wears a pot on his head for a helmet, as he thinks the country is at war.

Pearl has fled to her grandmother’s beach house for some time out and to heal after the end of a relationship left her with a life altering revelation.

Their paths collide and Charlie falls instantly in love, although Pearl takes some convincing. She has a secret; one she knows will prevent them from living their happy ever after.

Charlie and Pearl is a quirky love story in the tradition of One Day. It’s a story of unconventional love; of finding that spare part you never knew you were missing, and of what happens when love is simply not enough.

 

Which is your favourite book out of Charlie and Pearl, When Stars Collide and A Roast on Sunday, or is that an impossible ask?

Ooh tough one! I think Charlie and Pearl will always be my favorite as it was the first book I completed and the characters were very dear to me. But usually whichever book I’m currently working on is generally my favourite. 

 

Which authors inspire you?

At the moment, Greg Fowler, a fellow New Zealand author. I love his beautiful style and method of storytelling. Also Fannie Flagg, Sarah Addison-Allen, Marina Lewycka to name a few. There are so many others I read, enjoy and admire.

 

Why did you choose self publishing over traditional publishers?

In New Zealand the publishing industry is tiny (as to be almost non-existent!) and once I’d exhausted the big three I was left with trawling through hundreds of thousands of overseas agents and publishers to try and figure out who might be interested and where my books might fit. I just didn’t have the time. I didn’t give up; I just put it on hold. Then I lost a dear friend to cancer and I decided it was up to me to make my dreams happen. My husband had given me a kindle for Christmas and I realised that if so many others could self publish, then so could I. So I did.

 

What has been the toughest part of self publishing?

Hands down the marketing. At times it almost feels like you’re begging friends/family/blog followers to buy your book, and it’s a horrible feeling. You need time to devote to spreading the word about your books, and at the moment I just don’t have any to spare! With a 14 month old baby, another one on the way and trying to complete my forth book, all my time is pretty much spoken for.

 

What has been the best part of self publishing?

Getting reviews and feedback from people all over the world. Finding out that my writing and characters touch and affect people. A good review will leave me with a happy feeling and a smile on my face for days.

 

What is next for you book wise?

I’m currently working on my forth book, ‘Lessons from Ducks’. I don’t have a proper blurb yet (as I’m still in the writing process and for me the story and ending reveal themselves as I write) but I’ll try and explain it. The main character, Anna, lives a solitary life, though not by choice. She has been through something traumatic that no one should ever have to go through, which is slowly revealed throughout the book. She has pet ducks and it’s through them she learns to embrace life again. She meets a man and his son at the local playground and slowly lets them into her life. It’s my usual mix of contemporary fiction/romance/humour. 

 

You write the scenery, and culture of New Zealand so atmospherically, I felt like I was right there experiencing it too, does this come naturally to you, or is something you have to work at?

It just seems to come naturally. I always picture a place when I’m writing (for Charlie and Pearl it was a hash up of Maketu and Pukehina, and for When Stars Collide it was Tairua) and the descriptions come naturally when I think of those places. I also think of my own experiences and memories, the sights/sounds/scents of those times and the way they left me feeling.

What is a typical day like for you?

A typical day for me is taken up by my gorgeous daughter Holly (14 months). She is super demanding attention wise (luckily for her she’s so darn cute). We read the same books (over and over and over…) and play outside. Most days we go for walks (well I walk, she hangs out in her stroller and picks flowers and leaves as we walk past bushes). If I’m lucky enough to be able to get her to take a nap I immediately hit the laptop and start writing (after I check Facebook/emails/Amazon sales of course) and I write until she wakes up. It’s the only time I get to write so I make the most of it. I aim for around 1000 words a day and most days I achieve it. Some nights I might tell my husband he’s cooking and get a little bit more writing done but usually I’m too tired by then. I’m currently pregnant with our second child so I’m in bed by 9pm most nights! Yawn.  

 

I think it’s really hard to get the balance right when you tackle tough subjects like you do in Charlie and Pearl, but you did it seamlessly, was that something you worried about?

Not so much with Charlie and Pearl, it just all seemed to come together perfectly. With my second book I was worried about doing justice to a certain event that actually happened in real life and affected a lot of people, but I made sure to research it properly.

 

And the ending, it was one of the best I have ever read, and took me completely by surprise, without giving anything away, did you always know that’s how you would end it, or did you play around with other ideas?

No I had no idea that’s how it would end until I was about five pages away from it happening! I know there are authors who have the whole story mapped out before they even begin writing, but for me it always starts with one scene and builds from there. The best way I can describe it as that I write like I am reading a book. Often I have no idea what’s about to happen until my fingers type it. Dialogue etc just spews forth (sorry for the icky description). I’ve been very lucky that way and so far (fingers crossed) haven’t become stuck at any points. I knew the ending would be controversial, but it was the only ending that came to me and I felt it was perfect.  

 

Where can we find your books?

All are available in both e-book format and paperback on Amazon. Here are the links:

Charlie and Pearl – http://www.amazon.com/Charlie-and-Pearl-ebook/dp/B00B0JOZV0

When Stars Collide – http://www.amazon.com/When-Stars-Collide-Tammy-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00ER8DO7M/ref=pd_sim_kstore_1

A Roast on Sunday – http://www.amazon.com/A-Roast-Sunday-Tammy-Robinson-ebook/dp/B00GSE5TG2/ref=pd_sim_kstore_4

 Where can we connect with you?

I love connecting with readers and other writers so please do look me up!

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Tammy-Robinson-Author/214658285251830

Twitter – @TammyRobinson76

My blog – http://charlieandpearl.wordpress.com/

And here is a gorgeous review by Fiona, a book reviewer, about Charlie and Pearl http://nannyfi71.wordpress.com/2014/01/15/review-charlie-and-pearl-by-tammy-robinson/

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