A New Year, Another Author Questionnaire…

I found these great questions for writers on Twitter and I answered them in a couple of threads over there (you can find me at @Tabatha_Writes if you want to follow me) but I thought it would be cool to pop them on my blog too.

Part One

1. I started writing as soon as I could hold a pencil. ? Seriously though, my first published work was in 2006, education nonfiction with Bloomsbury Press (or Continuum as they were then) and fiction in 2019 with my first collection DARK WINDS OVER WELLINGTON.

2. The first story I wrote and submitted was what “Heat Pump” (in DARK WINDS…) became, and was a vampire story, a metaphor for being an outsider and a bit of a feminist revenge tale. It received an honourable mention from the NZ Writers College.

3. My most recent story is a WIP which focuses on two lady detectives in the 1920s investigating a missing persons case in Whitby, North Yorkshire.

4. What is my author dream? I think to see one of my works make it onto big or small screen. But in the meantime I’ll settle for fanart of any of my stories.

5. All my WIPs are in Courier New because it’s a monospaced font and I find it easier to pick up mistakes and typos when I’m editing. I don’t publish in that font though. ?

6. What program do I write in? If I can type in it, I’ll write in it. I’ve written entire stories in Notepad on the bus and others in Word on my laptop. I’ve got some pieces handwritten in multiple notebooks and I wrote my first (unpublished) novel in Scrivener. I’m not fussy. ?

7. I don’t have a favourite book store, but I do prefer to buy from indie bookshops or from authors direct rather than give my cash to the ‘Zon. ?‍♀️

8. The best time of day for me to write is usually after breakfast and coffee number two. I’m probably the most productive between 11 and 4. But with two kids and a day job, I mostly write whenever I get chance to.

9. Authors I know and would love to co-write with include Laurel Hightower and S.H.Cooper, but I think the dream would be J.Michael Straczynski.

10. I don’t think there is a book that I wish I’d written. Mostly because I don’t want to write like anyone else, I want to write like *me*. Whenever I read an amazing book I always ask myself what I can learn from it so my writing can be that good too.

11. I am fuelled by coffee and jelly beans when I’m working. And salt and vinegar chips. I also have a bad habit of chewing lollipop sticks when I’m really deep in the story mines. I suspect it’s some strange psychological urge left over from when I used to smoke while writing.

12. Handwritten or typing? Different stories require different methods of being brought to fruition. It really depends on my mood.

13. A genre I’ve never written but would like to try is a Western. I’ve never written one, despite being quite a fan of them in movies, and I suspect my current novel WIP is going to have some similar themes.

14. A genre I doubt I’ll ever write in is crime thriller as I just don’t think I’m clever enough to do all the twisty plot stuff. The same applies to hard sci-fi.

15. I can honestly say I’ve never had a crush on any of my characters ? but I have written some that were partially based on people/friends I knew IRL so I’ve felt a connection of sorts?

16. When I’m writing characters, personality usually comes first, and I’ll generally have a clear idea of how they look. Sometimes they start off with one name (and gender) and I realise as I’m writing that it just doesn’t fit them.

17. I prefer writing characters that you might *think* are heroes but are a little bit villainous too. I like writing characters who thrive despite their flaws, survivors with complicated pasts.

28. Three writers on Twitter I admire are: Penny Jones: @pennyqotu Kev Harrison: @LisboetaIngles and Lor Gislason: @lorelli_ They all write extremely different things but everything I’ve read of them, I’ve loved.

Part Two

1. My most favourite of my own characters has to be Marian from the story of the same name. A badass menopausal wife and mother with a very hairy secret…

2. It’s really hard to say which book which had the biggest influence on my writing, but definitely Barker’s BOOKS OF BLOOD, King’s DIFFERENT SEASONS and anything by Sir Terry Pratchett are strong contenders.

3. The character that’s most like me is… hmmm. Well, all of them in a way. I put a lot of myself in my writing, the good parts and bad parts. I wish I was as fearless as the mom in “Long Drop”.

4. The character least like me is Jensen in ALL THE LAIRD’S MEN who is basically a closeted, misogynist, sadistic asshole. And yet, you can’t fully hate him? Weird.

5. My Big Author Dream is simple… to keep doing this writing gig for as long as I can and keep entertaining my readers, and myself, with my crazy imagination.

6. What I like best about writing is when it surprises me. I plot more than I pants, but the real fun is when the characters take over and do things that are unexpected. In that moment, I’m just the conduit for the story, not the conductor.

7. My current WIP is a speculative memoir gothic fantasy: 4 novellas in one focusing on 4 generations of the same family. It explores the immigrant experience, finding our roots, catastrophic climate change and a little bit of supernatural mysticism.

8. The genre of my first (eventually published) WIP was urban horror meets feminist revenge. I’m not sure that’s what I set out for it to be originally, but that’s what it became.

9. Whenever I get stuck with my work, I walk. Nothing clears out the plot sawdust faster than getting up high and deliberately not thinking about the story for a while. The answers always come when you’re not pushing for them so hard.

10. My ideal writing environment would be a small hilltop cabin with an ocean view, an espresso machine and excellent WiFi. And a couple of cats.

11. Which author’s style I most admire I think is a cross between Philip K. Dick, Ray Bradbury, Daphne du Maurier, John Wyndham and Ursula K. le Guin. All authors I read at a formative age and loved intensely. (Impossible to just choose one.)

12. I assume this means can I read someone else’s book while I’m writing my own? And yes, of course. Not at the same time, obviously, but reading is a writer’s fuel and helps us go faster, harder, better. ?

13. Do I write every day? Nope. I don’t equate writing with a habit like making my bed, or a chore like washing dishes it’s something I do because I enjoy it and I don’t enjoy pressuring myself into “shoulds”. So I write when I want to and when I feel I need to.

14. My average word count is somewhere between “I had a spare hour to get some words down” and “I’m spending this weekend working on my WIP” ? I haven’t a clue about the numbers and I don’t particularly care. ?‍♀️

15. The time of day I like to write is the time when I have no distractions. As this varies depending on multiple factors, there is no Golden Hour of writing time for me, but ideally late morning/early afternoon.

16. The hardest part of starting a new project is the time between getting the ideas and inspiration and having the time to actually sit down and write the words. I have an abundance of ideas and a limited pool of time. Also, ADHD and executive dysfunction kick my ass. ?

17. My creative well is never dry. Seriously. My most depressing realisation was that I will never have the time I want to finish all the stories I’ve made notes on, or read the books I want to read. This is probably why I want to be Eve from ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE. ?

18. Tag three people to do the prompt… nah, I don’t tag. But I do invite my friends to copy and paste this on their social media or blogs if they want, as I’m always interested in reading others’ answers.