Hello everyone, and welcome back to The Bookworm’s Fantasy! I hope you’re all well. Today I’m really excited to be posting an exclusive interview with C.L. Taylor! Those of you who read my blog regularly will know that I love Taylor’s books, so I was delighted that she agreed to answer some questions for me! You can find my review for ‘THE LIE’ here, ‘THE ACCIDENT’ here, ‘THE ESCAPE’ here and ‘THE FEAR’ here. Thanks so much to C.L. Taylor for answering my questions! So, here goes…
About the Author.
C.L. Taylor is the author of five adult psychological thrillers: ‘THE ACCIDENT’ (2014), ‘THE LIE’ (2015), ‘THE MISSING’ (2016), ‘THE ESCAPE’ (2017) and ‘THE FEAR’ (2018). She has also written a teenage psychological thriller, ‘THE TREATMENT’ (2017). In the past, she has written various short stories and romantic comedy novels (as Cally Taylor). Taylor lives in Bristol with her partner and son.
1. How would you describe your psychological thriller novels using only three words (The Accident, The Lie, The Missing, The Escape and The Treatment)?
The Accident – Terrifying ex returns
The Lie – Friends turn bad
The Missing – Son disappears overnight
The Escape – Agoraphobic mother flees
The Treatment – Errant teens brainwashed
2. Could you tell us a bit about your latest book, The Fear, and the inspiration behind it?
The Fear is about a 32 year old woman called Lou who, as a fourteen year old, made headline news when she ran away to France with thirty-one year old Mike, her karate teacher. When she returns to her home town as an adult she discovers that Mike has lured another teenager into his evil web and resolves to stop him. The inspiration behind the novel was largely me wanting to write a story involving a very proactive, rather than reactive woman, who takes back control. And obviously some of the inspiration came from the very real news story about Jeremy Forrest running off to France with one of his pupils.
3. There’s a big market out there currently for Crime/Thriller novels. What would you say sets you apart from other writers of the genre? Is there anything particular you try to achieve in your writing?
My aim as a writer is for my books to be so gripping that a reader NEEDS to read them in one sitting to find out what happened. I aim to keep my readers awake long after they should have gone to sleep! As well as creating page-turners I hope my books take readers on an emotional journey so they feel despair, worry, fear, anger and ultimately hope.
4. Could you tell us a bit about your writing journey and how you managed to get published? Did you receive rejections and how did you overcome these?
I was rejected by five agents before an agent requested the full manuscript. But it wasn’t a straight forward case of ‘yes, I’ll sign you.’ I was told to go away, study the bestsellers in my genre, rewrite my novel and resubmit it. Only then was I signed. There were a lot of rejections from publishers for my first psychological thriller THE ACCIDENT. Editors either had similar books in their catalogue or they didn’t like the main character or they ‘just didn’t’ love it enough’. But eventually an editor at Avon HarperCollins did fall in love with the book and offered me a two book deal. It’s all about finding the right fit for your work in this business and sometimes that can mean a lot of nos before you get a yes.
5. How would you describe your writing process, from start to finish? How long does it usually take you to write a novel?
I start my brainstorming the idea and jotting down notes. I then write a very short, maybe 500 word summary of my idea, and run it past my agent and editor. If it gets the thumbs up from them I’ll properly get to work on the plot, using the 4 Act structure as a guide. I make sure I know what my main character’s goal (want) is and what their need is (not the same thing as their ‘want’), also what their flaw is that will make it harder for them to achieve their goal. I then look to their past to see why they are the way they are. That process can take anywhere from one to two months.
When all that’s done I sit down and start writing. It takes me about four to five months to write a first draft and typically 4 to 6 weeks to redraft it after I’ve received my editorial notes. After that I receive my line edits which typically take one to two weeks, then the copyeditors (same time span), then I receive the proofs which I read over to check for final typos or errors. So, for my next book Sleep (out on 21st March) I started plotting it at the beginning of January and I’ll receive the proofs in mid-October. So the whole process takes around ten months.
6. Are there times when you struggle with finding inspiration or generating ideas for your writing? What do you do when this happens?
I don’t struggle to find ideas but I do sometimes struggle to find ideas that are strong enough to a) interest me for a whole book b) have a strong enough hook c) are commercial enough. When that happens I take a break and read non-fiction. Invariably I’ll stumble across something that interests me and an idea will pop into my head.
7. What have you been working on recently?
All this year I’ve been working on Sleep, my next book. It’s about a woman called Anna who’s involved in a car crash then starts receiving creepy messages telling her to ‘sleep’. She decides to leave London and take a job as a hotel receptionist on the Scottish isle of Rum. For a while she feels happy and relaxed, but then seven guests arrive and the ‘sleep’ messages start appearing again and they get more and more threatening…
8. Which books have you read recently that you’d recommend to others?
I absolutely loved The Man Who Didn’t Call by Rosie Walsh which is more romantic than my normal type of read but has a gripping mystery at its heart and some unguessable twists. It’s also very emotional and the ending made me cry. For psych thriller fans I recently read and loved Open Your Eyes by Paula Daly and I Let You In by Lucy Clarke. Interestingly both books feature authors as their main characters but they’re very different books, utterly gripping though.
9. Tell me a bit more about yourself! What do you like to do in your spare time?
People laugh when I tell them I watch reality TV to unwind but writing psychological thrillers can be very tiring and stressful emotionally as I feel all the emotions my characters feel. Reality TV is light and silly and entertaining and I can totally turn off my head. I’m also quite a crafty person and I got to pottery classes, love to crochet and knit and recently went on a watercolour painting class.
10. And finally, what writing tips would you give to other budding authors?
As well as creating a gripping plot you need to take your reader on an emotional journey. Unless you’re writing a Bond type series your main character needs to change over the course of a novel. They need to overcome whatever flaw they had that initially stopped them from achieving their goal and they need to be well rounded. It’s very easy to create clichéd characters by accident. When you’re thinking about your characters don’t use the first character traits that pop into your head. Write a list. The further down the list you get the more unusual your ideas will become.
This is true of plot too. If your character is locked in a room and needs to escape your first thought might be ‘break a window’. That’s too easy. Is there a more clever/interesting way for them to get out? Maybe have them try to break a window but they fail. What next? Your readers will be trying to stay one step ahead of you, keep them on their toes and bend the plot in a direction they’re not expecting. To be a successful writer you need to be talented but you also need to be determined and resilient. If your first novel fails to find an agent, write another. Study the bestsellers – how did the author make it gripping or moving? Keep trying, keep learning and don’t give up.
Happy reading 🙂