Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Interview with Talli Roland

Born and raised in Canada, Talli Roland now lives in London where she is able to enjoy the three loves in her life: rom-coms, cupcakes and Starbucks. Despite training as a journalist, she prefers making up her own stories – complete with happy endings. I think most of us can empathise with that one, Talli, so tell us what made you want to write and how you got your first break?

I don’t even remember starting to write – I just did! I was always scribbling something . . . a poem, a short story, a make-believe newspaper article. When I was nine, I wrote my first travelogue, a non-fiction piece called ‘Disasters in Florida’, based on a family trip to Orlando. My real piece de rĂ©sistance, though, was my novel called ‘Glint off the Gold’, which I completed on the Commodore 64 at age thirteen and sent off to various publishers. And thus began my long love affair with rejections!

My first big break was when a small publisher contracted me to write a London travel guide. Although non-fiction was never really my dream, I figured being published in any genre was a good first step. It taught me a lot about how the process works.

Some writers need silence, others prefer the bustle of a coffee shop, TV, or music playing. Or you may need your cat on your lap. What is your favourite mode of working?
I need to be at my desk in my office, and it needs to be silent. I get distracted very easily, and my attempts to write in coffee shops have been disastrous. Usually, I end up spilling sugar on my keyboard, or eavesdropping. My office is a ‘safe zone’, where the only distraction is Twitter.

How do you relax? What interests do you have other than writing? Do you think it important for a writer to take time off?
I drink a lot of wine! I must admit that for the past four years, I’ve been very focused on building up my writing career, and I haven’t taken much time off. When I do feel the urge to get out of the flat, I go for a run through Hyde Park to clear my head. I also enjoy travelling with my family in Egypt and Canada.

Do you have a critique partner, or share your work with anyone before you submit to an editor?
I have a fantastic critique partner. We met through our blogs a few years ago, and she’s been invaluable. I also have several beta readers I use to give me feedback and help tailor the story once it’s at a more readable stage.

Do you edit and revise as you write, or after you have completed the first draft? What method works best for you? 
I power straight through to the end. My first drafts are always rubbish, but there’s no way I could edit as I go – usually because while I know the main turning points, I have no idea how the characters will get there. It’s only once I have everything on paper that I can begin to shape it all into a narrative that makes sense.

Are you involved in social networking and blogs? Any tips for other writers? Social networking has been a great way for me to meet other writers and get the word out about my novels. Being published with a small publisher means that I do all my own promotion and marketing (with a very low budget!). By taking the time to build up a network on Twitter and in the blogosphere, I was able to get a small army of supporters behind the launch of my first two novels, which drove them into the top 100 on Amazon Kindle on release day. One of the most important things in social media is interaction, and I spend at least an hour each day reciprocating comments – if someone comments on my blog, I visit theirs and comment, too. It’s only by building relationships that people will be eager to help when it comes to spreading the word about your novel.

In what way has the RNA helped you or your career?

I joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme a few years ago as an unpublished writer, and I received very detailed and helpful feedback that definitely helped me become a better writer. Although that manuscript was never published, I rejoined the next year as a full, published member. Before I heard about the RNA, I felt very isolated – like I was writing in a cave, groping around in the dark and unsure which way to turn. Meeting members of the RNA made me realise there’s a very supportive community of people who want you to succeed.

With the increasing popularity of ebooks, how do you think digitisation might change your own career as a writer? 
Ebooks have helped my career enormously. My first two novels were published by a small publisher, and distribution was an issue. However, with ebooks, there are no distribution issues – you have equal shelf space – and this was definitely a factor that helped my debut novel succeed. Ebooks and the ability to self-publish have also provided authors with options other than hopping on the query-go-around, and I’m taking advantage of that. I recently made the decision to leave my publisher and self-publish BUILD A MAN, my latest novel. It was a scary step to take, but for me, it was the right one.

Tell us what inspired you to write it. 
BUILD A MAN follows an ambitious tabloid reporter who goes undercover to construct the nation’s perfect man. It’s set in a cosmetic surgery clinic, and it was inspired by my time working in a five-star spa in one of London’s wealthiest boroughs. I had so much fun writing it, because my main character gets to express many of the things I would have liked to!

Thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Talli, and we wish you every success with your new book. Talli’s debut novel, THE HATING GAME, published by Prospera Publishing, was an Amazon Top 100 bestseller and shortlisted for Best Romantic Read at the UK’s Festival of Romance. Her second, WATCHING WILLOW WATTS, was selected as a 2011 Amazon Customer Favourite. BUILD A MAN is her latest release. You can find out more about Talli on her blog here. http://talliroland.blogspot.com/

Interviews on the RNA Blog are conducted by Freda Lightfoot and Kate Jackson. If you would like an interview, please contact me at:freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk


Liz Harris said...

An enjoyable interview. Thank you, Talli and Freda.

Liz X

Talli Roland said...

Thank you so much for hosting me today!

Liz, thanks for popping by. :)

Tonya Kappes said...

Fun interview! I love getting to know the in's and out's of authors and their pushes that get them to the end of the book. I love that you know you boundaries when it comes to coffee shops, and the comfort of your own office.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm sure you get more happy endings as a writer than a journalist - more control over the material!

I love the picture of you in front of the pyramids, Talli.

Talli Roland said...

Tonya, yes! I always wanted to be that cool writer tapping away in the cafe. Sigh. That's not going to happen! :)

Thanks, Theresa. That was taken last year on New Year's Day. Pyramids at the start of a new year -- what could be better?

Thanks for coming by, ladies!

Jan Brigden said...

What a thoroughly enjoyable read! Thanks for sharing your personal story with us, Talli, as well as offering such valuable advice and tips. Very inspiring. Great interview, Freda.

Talli Roland said...

Thank you, Jan! And thanks again to Freda for the interview.

Rachel said...

I like that pic of you in front of the pyramids too, Talli, and I've just remembered that Build a man is sat patiently waiting on my brand new Kindle! I can't wait to get stuck into those spa secrets ...

Talli Roland said...

Thanks so much, Rachel! And thanks loads for downloading BUILD A MAN. Enjoy the secrets! :)

Glynis said...

Talli,I smiled at the spilled sugar scenario, you would not be alone!

Enjoyed the interview, thanks for sharing.

Debs Carr said...

Thanks for the enjoyable interview.

I've thoroughly enjoyed Talli's first two books and look forward to reading Build A Man soon.

Pj Schott said...

Terrific interview with one of my favorite writers!!

Sibel Hodge said...

I've got Talli's books on my Kindle right now TBR! Fab interview :)

Talli Roland said...

Glynis, and I didn't even mention the spilled latte incident... :)

Debs, thank you so much! I hope you enjoy Build A Man, too.

PJ, thank loads for dropping by.

Sibel, yay! Thank you! xx

Angela Britnell said...

Always interesting to read about how other writers work. I can't work anywhere outside my quiet office either. Good to know I'm not the only one.Best of luck with the new book - it sounds great.

Sheryl said...

The pyramids were pretty hard to 'Build', too, Talli. Great interview. :) xx

Rosemary Gemmell said...

Lovely interview, Talli - what a greta photo of the pyramids. And you're so right about building relationships online - makes a big difference these days!

Talli Roland said...

Angela, I'm very glad to hear I'm not the only one who needs a quiet place to work!

Sheryl, yes! :) Thanks for dropping by.

Hi Rosemary! I love the Pyramids. I'll be there again in a few weeks, and I can't wait.

Rachel Morgan said...

Ooh, I like that photo of you in Egypt, Talli! Sounds like it's great to belong to a writing association like the RNA. Must help a lot not to have to "grope around in the dark"! That's a little bit how I felt before I discovered the blogging world. At least now I know lots of people who can help me out if I need it :-)

D.J. Kirkby said...

Great interview as always Talli! I have to have quiet space and time to write also which is why I get up at 5am to do it! I enjoyed Build a Man and am looking forward to your next novel.

Talli Roland said...

Rachel, the RNA has been such a great help. As has the blogging community!

Thank you, as always, DJ!

Laura said...

Fab interview!