Thursday 10 April 2014

A Chat With Cally Taylor

Can you tell us about your new book?
‘The Accident’ is a psychological thriller about a woman called Susan whose teenaged daughter Charlotte steps in front of a bus and falls into a coma. Susan’s husband Brian thinks it was an accident but Sue isn’t convinced and when she finds an entry in Charlotte’s diary that says ‘keeping this secret is killing me’ she sets out to discover exactly what that secret is. 

What was your inspiration for The Accident?
I was pregnant with my son when the idea first came to me. I wanted to write a novel about ‘keeping secrets’ but I had no idea who would be keeping the secrets or what those secrets would be. Then one day, when I was walking back from the supermarket – waddling along under the weight of my groceries – the first three lines popped into my head. I heard Susan’s voice as clear as day and I knew immediately that she was the mother of a teenaged girl who’d stepped in front of a bus. I kept repeating those three lines over and over again as I walked home so I wouldn’t forget them, then frantically scribbled them down. I kept writing and, less than two hours later, I had the first chapter.

I didn’t write any more until a couple of months after my son’s birth. As a new mum in a new town I was lonely, and very sleep deprived, and I missed writing so, in his naps, I started plotting the rest of the story. I finished the first draft in five months.

What has been your greatest experience of being a published writer?
That’s such a hard question to answer because so many wonderful things have happened to me but, if you twisted my arm, I’d chose the moment the postman gave me a box contained copies of my first novel. It was such a magical moment. I couldn’t stop stroking the cover and flicking through the pages because I couldn’t quite believe that it was really happening, that I was a ‘real life’ published author. It was something I’d dreamed of since I was eight years old.

I cried. A lot.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
If you’re reading this and you’re an aspiring author the chances are that you already read a lot, you already write a lot and you’ve already studied the craft of writing. Hopefully you’ve also joined a writing or critique group (in person or on line) so you’ve got some impartial feedback on your book. If you haven’t then I hugely recommend it. Getting feedback that something in your novel isn’t working can really hurt but you need to take that criticism on board and learn from it because the criticism won’t end when you get an agent or publishing deal. You’ll receive editorial feedback from your agent and editor and reviews – good and bad - from book bloggers, reviewers and readers. Grow a thick skin now and use the critiques you receive to become the best writer you can be before you send your manuscript to an agent. You only get one chance to impress them.

What was the first book you ever bought yourself?
Woah. That’s a tough one. I remember being at school and using my pocket money to buy little owl stamps that I stuck in a paper wallet. When the wallet was full I could then swap it for a book. But what did I buy? I honestly have no idea but the chances are it was probably something by Enid Blyton. My favourite childhood book is ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ and I’m pretty sure I read everything else she wrote after I’d read that.

What was the last book you read?
I’ve been told it’s a bit odd but I’m currently reading three books. I’ve got Rowan Coleman’s ‘The Memory Book’ in the living room. I read that in the evenings or when my toddler is happily playing on his own. I’ve got Mel Sherratt’s ‘Watching Over You’ in the bathroom and I read that when my toddler is having his bath. And ‘Apple Tree Yard’ by Louise Dougherty is on my bedside table.

Finally, what are you working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on my second psychological thriller. It’s very different from ‘The Accident’ as it’s set in Nepal and it’s about four girls in their twenties going on what they think will be the holiday of a lifetime. And it will be – but not for the reasons they think. 

The Accident is available now

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