Sunday, 26 February 2017

Fab Firsts - Q&A with T.A. Williams - Rome Week

Fab Firsts is my new regular Sunday feature, that is going to be highlighting books that are firsts. When interviewing authors, it will be about their first book, as well as other firsts in their lives. When reviewing books for this feature, there will be a mix of debuts, first books in a series, the first time I read an author, and possibly other firsts depending on what I can think of!

If you are an author wanting to take part in Fab Firsts then please do email on gilbster at gmail dot com and I'll whizz the questions over to you.

I hope you enjoy this look at a variety of hopefully fabulous firsts, while making some sort of dent in my review and paperback TBRs which are my current main focus!

Today on Fab Firsts, I’ve got TA Williams, otherwise known as Trevor Williams. You may already know his What Happens… series, romantic comedies set in all sorts of lovely parts of the world. This month sees the publication of Trevor’s tenth book, To Rome with Love and, as the title implies, it’s set in sunny Italy. This book marks the start of a new series of To ??? with Love and he’s going to tell us a bit more about it here.

1. Can you tell us a bit about this first book in the new series?

First of all thanks, as ever, to you, Rachel for the support you have given me throughout my writing career. I really appreciate it. One of the nicest things about being a writer is that I’ve been able to make friends with a whole host of like-minded people from all over the world. 

Anyway… the new book: To Rome with Love. The What Happens… series has been pretty successful so, after five of them, the idea is to make this the start of a new series of romantic comedies. The book opens with Sarah receiving a body blow – just one week before getting married, her husband-to-be gets cold feet. The wedding’s off and her heart is broken. Sarah works for a big tour operator and she finds herself sent off almost immediately to look after a bunch of people doing a charity bike ride from Venice to Rome. She’s a fit girl so the cycling doesn’t frighten her. It’s having to be charming and cheerful for two weeks without a break, when all she feels like doing is locking herself away and crying her eyes out. She finds herself in the company of brooding, serious Miles but, to her surprise, she finds herself getting drawn closer and closer to him, even if she can’t quite make him out. And with still 600 miles of beautiful scenery, mouthwatering food and delicious wine yet to cover, anything could happen (and it does…).

2. What was your original inspiration to become a writer, and to write your debut?

I started writing when I was 13 (that’s over half a century ago now). That 44 page book, written in pencil with more spelling mistakes than I care to admit to, was the start of a life-long obsession with the written word. I’ve always loved telling stories, so I suppose it was a natural progression. As for this new series of romcoms and To Rome with Love, the inspiration was easy. I do a lot of cycling and over the past twenty years I’ve cycled with a bunch of friends just about all over western Europe, crossing France, Spain and Italy from west to east and then from north to south. The bike ride in To Rome with Love is one we did a few years back from Venice to Rome, riding through some fabulous countryside, visiting amazing historic places and swimming in the warm Mediterranean. I just knew I had to write a book about it.

3. How long did it take you to write?

I’m a binge writer. Once I’ve made up my mind about the story, I just sit down and get on with it. I gave up my day job a few years back so I can blast on, almost without a break. Correction – I do take breaks, and frequent ones, because I knackered my back windsurfing year ago and if I sit for too long at the computer I tend to set solid. So I am constantly getting up, walking round the village, and making far too many mugs of tea. So the honest answer is that I wrote the first draft of the book in about 6 weeks. It then took another 6 weeks of edits and rewrites to get it to its final form.

4. If you could do anything differently in retrospect, what would you change about the book or how you went about it?

Not a lot, I’m pleased to say. I quite like this one. I just hope the readers do too.

5. Was your first book self or traditionally published, and how did you go about making that decision?

I have the utmost respect for people who choose to go down the self-publishing route. There’s no doubt that gives you so much freedom. I’m pretty rubbish at anything to do with computers so I did my best to find somebody who would look after that side of things for me. I was lucky enough to find a good publisher, formerly Carina, now HQ, both part of the colossus that is Harper Collins, and they take all the decisions out of my hands and this frees me up to do what I really want to do – to write.

6. Do you have any tips for other first time authors?

Tip one – persevere. There will come a time, maybe even after just a few pages, but more probably when you’re about halfway through, when you decide that what you’re writing is rubbish and should be shredded. Don’t give up. Just keep writing.

Tip two – don’t imagine that when you finally write the words, The End, that you have finished. Open a bottle of booze, celebrate what is a fantastic achievement and then start reading and rewriting. To give you a rough idea, my previous book, Chasing Shadows, came to 120,000 words the first time I wrote it. After numerous rewrites, some radical pruning and a number of fairly major changes of direction, the finished book that came out in January was just under 90,000 words.

Tip Three – don’t do it for the money. There’s a wonderful line in that excellent movie, Get Shorty, where Gene Hackman advises a client, “The only kind of writing that makes money is ransom notes”. You might be very lucky and strike it rich, but most writers don’t. So, write because you want to write, not for the fame or fortune.

Other firsts in my life:

First book I bought – For Whom the Bell Tolls, Hemingway. Great book.

First holiday – Really showing my age here. We went on a family holiday when I was little in my parents’ Morris Minor. The holiday was in France and, to get there, we flew with the car. That’s right, I can still remember getting into the big old ex-RAF transport aircraft while my dad drove the car up a ramp into the bowels of the plane. Next time Easyjet try to charge you £20 for a suitcase in the hold, try to work out how much they’d charge for a car.

First Sport – no question, rugby. I love the game.

First pet – a black cat called Mephistopheles.

Thank you so much Trevor for taking the time to talk to us today about your new series, starting with To Rome, With Love, which I have also reviewed today.

Author bio:
   My name is Trevor Williams. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...

      I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. 

   I’m originally from Exeter, and I’ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away down here in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.
   My most recent books, published by Harper Collins, are the What happens… series. What happens in Tuscany reached #1 in the Romantic Comedy chart recently and What Happens on the Beach, the last in the series, came out in July. I’ve just finished writing two more romcoms, the first one, To Rome with Love, coming out next February and I also have a timeslip romantic thriller, Chasing Shadows, that came out in January.

Amazon UK:

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