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 résistance, 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.
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?
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:firstname.lastname@example.org