Welcome to this week's A Cup of Conversation with the wonderfully talented author Tina-Marie Miller. I first came across her writing when I read Everything Happens for A Reason back in October 2017 and since then we have become frequent tweeters supporting each other and sharing our writing journey. Tina-Marie is set to release her next book Fame and Fortune in a few days and so this is a super exciting time to have her join us. So let's see what she has to say about reading, writing and everything in between!
1. When did you start writing creatively?
As a child, if I wasn’t daydreaming I was busy creating stories or making up songs. Instead of cards I used to create mini books for family birthdays. I’d draw cartoons depicting vignettes from our family life - which was never dull! I began writing full time about nine years ago. I started several books – which are yet to be completed – before concentrating on my debut novel, Everything Happens For A Reason.
2. You were brought up in the historic village of Sutton Courtenay, near Abingdon in Oxfordshire. Can you tell us how this has influenced your writing.
I was blessed to have been born in this beautiful, picturesque village which has hugely influenced my work.
As a child, I used to spend a lot of time at All Saints Church which sits on the edge of the village green and is the influence behind the creation of St. Michael’s Church in my books.
I had an amazing childhood growing up in such glorious surroundings and relished exploring every aspect of village life with my friends. Long, hot summers were spent down by the river or walking through green, leafy lanes that lead onto one of the two Brookes that can be found in the village. We’d share a picnic, or various treats that we’d snaffled from our homes and sit with our bare feet in the water, trying to catch tadpoles in empty glass jam-jars. And in later years, when I took my own children to all these favoured spots, I’d sit daydreaming whilst they played happily nearby, conjuring up some of the stories that I’ve woven into The Hamptons series.
3. What was the last book you read and what lasting message did it leave?
The last book I read was The Soul Keeper by Bibiana Krall. She has the ability to weave a magical supernatural tale and her latest short story is exceptional.
The story is set in the late 60s ‘Summer of Love’ era. It's a haunting tale that will leave you gasping with a cleverly crafted ending.
The lasting message for me? Don’t mess with things you don’t understand!
4. I'm quoting now, "you enjoy nothing more than curling up with a good book and a cup of tea, and losing yourself in tales of love, life and laughter." What does this actually look like?
When I want to read, I take myself to the corner of the dining room where my reading chair is situated. It is a huge, cosy swivel chair covered in bright pink fabric with a matching foot stool. There are several cushions – in varying shades of pink – which I snuggle into, akin to settling myself on a wonderful, soft fluffy cloud, before losing myself in a book.
5. Tell us a little about your imminent book release, Fame and Fortune.
Whilst we return to the light-heartedness of village life, Fame and Fortune explores the phenomenon of Ghosting – the practice of suddenly ending all contact with a person without explanation. I have attempted to tackle this serious issue from different perspectives.
We welcome back many favoured characters such as Diana Fortune who has become quite the celebrity. Diana puts the newly formed Fortunettes through their paces in preparation for the Cotswolds County Majorette of the Year competition – which of course comes with its challenges!
We are introduced to a few new characters too, including the glamorous Georgina Fame, a popular weight loss guru.
It’s a tale of family conflict, deceit, broken hearts and redemption... Well... this is the Hamptons after all!
6. Are any of the characters in your novels based on yourself and/or your own experiences?
Absolutely; I write about what I know. I have been fortunate to have enjoyed a fabulous career so far where I have met an abundance of wonderful people from all walks of life. Often the characters that I create are influenced by more than one person.
7. Which of your characters is your favourite and why would your readers like them?
One of my favourite characters is Rita Denby. She’s a nosey, busybody who likes to have a finger in every pie. In my forthcoming release, Fame and Fortune we see a completely different side to Rita and I think my readers will warm to her immensely.
8. How do you organise your writing process and how do you prepare your books for release?
I tend to write between the hours of 10 – 4 during the week and afternoons/early evening at weekends. I have my own office in the quietest room of the house. I try and keep social media activity to first thing in the morning / last thing in the day. I found that this works much better for me and that I don’t get as easily distracted throughout the day!
When I get to the proof reading/editing process I tend to spend as much time as possible polishing my work before sending it to my editor. Once I send it off I usually then concentrate on getting the cover artwork designed and take time to think about marketing activities for the new book as well as ideas for refreshing the marketing for my others.
9. Is there any aspect of the writer’s life you least enjoy? Why?
No. Not at all. I love every single moment and am blessed to be on this journey doing what I truly love – each and every day!
10. If you were able to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you choose and why?
If you take a look at my bookcase, there is one author who stands out far amongst the rest because I have every one of his books – and this may surprise you.
I would love to meet Paul McKenna, the UK’s most successful non-fiction author.
I first came across Paul when he worked as a presenter on Capital Radio – my favoured station at the time – and later when he presented The Hypnotic World of Paul McKenna. Through his studies, he not only mastered hypnotism but also neuro-linguistic programming and has helped a wealth of people overcome some of the most challenging problems.
11. Are you a planner or a pantser?
I am a planner! I create a storyboard for each book and develop the characters before I begin writing. For my series, The Hamptons, I have created a whole fictional county! I have a map of Hampton Waters and Hampton Ash showing where each of my character’s live that I continually refer to. I create extensive notes that detail the plot and story outline so that by the time I begin writing I am completely focused. However, with each of my books thus far, there are some storylines that have just naturally developed – and no amount of planning can prepare for those!
12. What's on your current to-do list?
Create an audio version of Everything Happens For A Reason.
Record a vlog for The Curious Miss Fortune.
Prepare for the release of Fame and Fortune.
Carry on with Book 4!
Thank you dear Soulla for giving me the opportunity to feature on your blog. Sending you much love and hugs xoxo
Thank you Tina-Marie too for sharing your world of writing with us and I wish you a path filled with Fame and Fortune as you release your next novel on 31st October 2018. Thank you too my dear readers for joining us and see you again next week. Until then, Keep smiling, keep shining x
Amazon link to books: https://amzn.to/2Cy3aqm