AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Cally Taylor
Now I know I use the phrase "I'm so excited..." quite a lot here on Trashionista. In my defence it is with good reason as I do get incredibly excited about good books. However, today, with this post, I have something that I think is extra special. An interview with newly signed author Cally Taylor. And it isn't because I know her (as I do, just a little bit) but because I think she has a fantastic career ahead of her as a writer. Her book, Haunting For Beginners, is out in October this year and this is her first ever interview.
Please describe your book in 15 words or fewer:
Lucy is dead and desperately trying to be reunited with the man she loves.
How were you ‘discovered’?
I bought a copy of the Writers and Artists Yearbook and wrote a list of all the agents who accepted chick-lit and women's fiction. The first one on my list was Darley Anderson (I really liked his name. I also thought he was a woman!) so I sent him my synopsis and first three chapters. That was on a Friday morning. The next Monday afternoon he rang me up and asked me for the whole manuscript. I was so excited I thought I might pass out but managed to get myself together enough to print it off, read it through (again) for typos and send it off. Six weeks later he rang me back. He liked it and it had a lot of potential, he said, but it needed some more work. I was absolutely gutted (I’d convinced myself that he'd send me a letter if he hated it and only ring if he wanted to sign me!) but, after a couple of weeks of sulking, I started to make the changes he’d requested and sent it back five months after his second phone call. Three months after that I received a phone call from Madeleine Buston. She told me that Darley had given her my revised manuscript to read on the train to Scotland and that she’d fallen in love with it. We talked about the book and her plans for it for a while and then I (tentatively) asked, “So are you my agent then?” and she said yes!
Have you always been a writer?
Yes, I guess so. As child I loved writing stories and making up plays and sent my first ‘book’ (an ‘illustrated’ story about The Evil Weed and his flower friends) to Penguin Publishers when I was eight. I even bound it myself – in pink wool! It was rejected, of course, but I wasn’t deterred.
Where do you like to write your books (in bed, a coffee shop, an office)?
Before I start writing my books I scribble down lots of notes in the notebooks that I carry around with me everywhere. Ideas for characters and plot developments pop into my head while I’m on the train, walking to town and even in the pub and I always have to stop to write them down otherwise they’re lost forever. When I actually start writing a book I type straight onto the laptop which is on my very messy desk in my tiny, cluttered bedroom.
Your favourite chick-lit book?
Tough one! It’s a toss-up between Ralph’s Party by Lisa Jewell and Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner. Those were the first two chick-lit books I ever read and they opened up a whole new world of literature to me. I realised that yes, you could write books about modern women with flaws and dreams and complicated love lives, and that other women wanted to read about them too.
Your favourite female heroine (if different from above!), and why?
My favourite female heroine ever or my favourite chick-lit heroine? My favourite female heroine ever would have to be Offred in The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. My favourite female chick-lit heroine is Cannie in Jennifer Weiner’s Good in Bed.
What tips would you give to any of our readers who want to become writers?
Read a lot, write a lot, get your novel critiqued by people you aren’t related to or friends with, and then polish it until it gleams before sending it out to agents.
Develop a thick skin. Criticism and rejection sting like hell but you have to learn from them, bounce back and keep writing.
One more thing - put your novel to one side for at least 3 weeks before you start editing it and then read it aloud – it will sound very different to the way it did in your head when you wrote it, and you’ll find it easier to spot the mistakes.
What are you reading at the moment?
I’m reading Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen. I think it was a Trashionista review that made me buy it in the first place and I’m loving it. I’ve only just started it and it’s already wonderfully magical and compelling.
What are you working on now? (If you can give us a hint!)
I’m working on my second book, currently titled “Dead Romantic”. It’s about two single people in Brighton and what happens when a couple of hapless guardian angels are tasked with making them happy.
What question have you never been asked in an interview, but think you should have been? (Tell us the question and answer it too, if you like!)
If you died how long would you want your partner to wait before he moved on?
Well I’d probably tell him that two years would be just about acceptable but secretly I’d want him to mourn me forever and never love anyone as much as he’d loved me!
To find out more visit her website at www.callytaylor.co.uk
The following is the blurb for Haunting For Beginners,
'"What would I do without you, Lucy Brown?" he said, and kissed me softly. I held his face in my hands and kissed him back. I felt that life just couldn't get any more perfect. And I was right, it wouldn't. By the end of the next day, I'd be dead. Lucy is about to marry the man of her dreams - kind, handsome, funny Dan - when she breaks her neck the night before their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime's separation from her soulmate, Lucy decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan. But it turns out things aren't quite as easy as that. When Lucy discovers that Limbo is a grotty student-style house in North London she's less than thrilled. Especially after meeting her new flatmates: grumpy, cider-swilling EMO-kid Claire; and Brian, a train-spotter with a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet and a big BO problem. But Lucy has a more major problem on her hands - if she wants to become a ghost and be with Dan she has to complete an almost impossible task. How the hell does a girl like Lucy find a girlfriend for the dorkiest man in England? IT geek Archie's only passions are multi-player computer games and his Grandma. But Lucy only has twenty-one days to find him love. And when she discovers that her so-called friend Anna is determined to make a move on the heart-broken, vulnerable Dan, the pressure is really on ...