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Monday, 1 September 2014

K. Elaine Taff

AUTHOR INTERVIEW
 

 
PLEASE WELCOME NEW AUTHOR, THE BRILLIANT AND TALENTED, ELAINE TAFF

 
Hello Elaine,Tell us a little about yourself?
 
 
I am a teacher of Health and Social Care in a busy secondary school. I am also a wife and mother to 3 grown children. I have had several false starts at writing novels and Sadie's House; The Key is my first completed and published work.
 
 
   How would you discribe your books?
 
 
Light contemporary fantasy / supernatural trilogy, complete novels of around 100000 words which reflect the loves in my life. There are elements of mystery, action, secrets, revelations, suspense and drama in each of the books in the trilogy.
 
 
What genre is your work mainly? Do you tend to stay in the same vein or are you hoping ( if not already ) to explore new ventures?
 
 
Fantasy and supernatural are my main interests.
I have ideas for further books in this genre
 and one YA book so far.
 
 
Share with us a quote from one of your favourite characters in your book?
 
 
‘I don’t think I picked the house,’ I said, looking suddenly fondly at the old place. ‘I know I can’t explain it, and I know you don’t believe me.” I paused. “But I’m beginning to think the house has picked me.’ 
 
 
Is it hard to come up with new idea's and / or plot's?
 
 
Not really, I started to see if I could complete just one book by ideas came tumbling out so fast that before I knew it there was enough material for the trilogy. Its like I turned a tap on that I can't turn off!
 
 
What inspired you to write your book?
 
 
we have done some property renovations over the years and I always said that I could feel the house's gratitude as we restored and repaired it. I had the idea that this could be mutual - someone being restored as they completed the restoration of a house. I knew though that just writing 100000 words about property development would not make a novel, and as the character of Sadie developed, the story built and became something of a supernatural/fantasy drama. There is quite a bit of suspense built up in the second part.
 
 
 Who is the easiest character to write for and Why? Hardest and why?
 
 
Sadie was the easiest as everything was written from her perspective. The hardest was her friend and manager, Colin, who I could not set firmly in my mind. He is not in the story a great deal though.
 
 
Without giving anything away, what is / are your favourite scenes in your book ( s )?
 
 
I enjoyed the parts where the house tries to help or protect Sadie. The scenes regarding the missing child was also an enjoyable part to write and good experience in building tension.
 
 
Do you have any hobbies?
 
 
yes - too many - writing, reading, crafting, DIY and decorating and I am a keen cake and cupcake maker.
 
 
 Do you have a specific writing style?
 
 
My writing style is quite conversational, descriptive and quite easy to read. I don't go in for a lot of complicated and pretentions language or try to be anything other than myself in style.
 
 
How did you come up with the title?
 
 
The name is borrowed from someone I knew years ago who had some difficulties but was really strong and fought her way through them. The Key is not necessarily what you might expect.
 
 
How much of the book is realistic? Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
 
 
The book is based in a fictional village set in the countryside that surrounds the city in which I live. Like most writers there are bits of people I know in different characters, but no one in the book is based on any one particular person. I  have borrowed professions, occasional characteristics and so on and of course my own experiences in renovating a house. All the events in the book are fictional.
 
 
 
 What books have most influenced your life most?
 
 
I have eclectic taste.  I loved the magic of Enid Blyton's Enchanted Forest series and the mysteries of Nancy Drew. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier was a haunting book that left a big impression on me from the age of 13. Jules Verne's Journey to the Centre of the Earth taught me that long complicated words and difficult scientific language can be quite off putting. I
loved the Bronte's books from quite a young age too and was enthralled by the idea of their tiny little hand written books. I have also very much enjoyed Dan Brown's books in the last few years.
 
 
 If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
 
 
James Herbert because of hi
s commercial success, even though I feel some of his books are a bit predictable and have themes that are similar to other books.
 
 
What book are you reading now?
 
 
Ash, by James Herbert. I am interested in what makes these books so commercially successful, but to be honest I am finding this one rather difficult to get into.
 
 
 What are your current projects? If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your books?
 
 

I am writing the second book in the Sadie series, which is a prequel to The Key and tells the history of the house in the twentieth century. It explains how Sadie comes to be drawn to the house and is full of secrets, lies, action, suspense, drama and a huge plot twist.
I had to rush through the publication of the first book for personal reasons, so yes I would change something. There are several technical errors in the first book so I would spend much more time going over it with a fine tooth comb to correct them. However I am using this as a promotion and will have a draw for people who bring them to my attention to win a signed book.

 
 
  Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I used to write stories for my dolls as far back as I can remember. I had an active imagination and loved to pretend. I loved to emulate the little books that the Bronte sisters wrote.
 

 
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
 
“Please help me to have a baby,” she begged the house, and sat weeping, finding little solace in the place where she had been born. “I will never leave you,” she found herself promising. “I will stay here forever, and even when I die, I will always be here. I will leave my children with you, and my children’s children.
You will never be alone.”
She felt the house’s heartbeat, always rhythmically pulsing, but now became more audible. Sadie closed her eyes. The room flooded with light, as if the sun had risen directly outside the window and bathed Sadie and the whole room in a golden glow. She could hear the breeze in the trees, and feel the sensation on her skin. Sadie stood, keeping her back to the wall, and watched as two little boys appeared in the gardens, running around and hiding from each other. An elderly couple, watching from the distance and calling to them, and a young woman, standing in the doorway of the house. She knew that the house was revealing something to here.

 
 
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
 
 
Finding time to write, then making myself stop - I have marathon writing sessions sometimes.
 
 

 Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
 
 
Daphne Du Maurier is my all time favourite author - I love the way the stories are built and in particular Rebecca which thrilled me, and still does, as a haunting story.
 
 
 Who designed the covers?
of my books?
Authorhouse, with whom I am published.
 
 
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
 
 

Editing. The book seemed to write itself but getting it formatted, checking spellings, and preparing it for publication in a time limit was quite hard.
 
 
 Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Lots! How to construct a story, plant seeds for later, use conversation to drive a story forward, don't tell the reader what is obvious, don't reveal secrets too soon, how to build tension, when to know something needs culling - I could go on and on! It has been a whole education!
Do you have any advice for other writers?
 
 

Seek advice from others. I am now in lots of writers groups that I didn't know about before I started this and I have lots of people to ask for advice. This has been invaluable and very reassuring. You also have to market and promote your book quite aggressively and if this isn't for you, the book is unlikely to sell itself.

 
 
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

 
I love my book. I saw a quote that sums it up. "This is my book. It may not be a "great classic" and it may not make me rich and famous,  but it is mine and I like it." But the fact is that I have had lots of positive feedback and am using faults to my advantage for promotions. It is available on Kindle and I am sure you will enjoy it.

 
 
What is your favourite genre to write?
 
 

contemporary fantasy/supernatural and drama
 
 
 What is your favourite genre to read?
 
 
As above, although I will pretty
much read anything.
 
 

How long have you been writing for?
Since about the age of eight
 
 
What is your favourite  movie?
 
 

Star Trek Four is my all time favourite, although I am not a "Trekkie" or even a big SciFi fan. I love the idea of travelling back in time an dI love the humour and the way the film is directed. I also loved The Lake House.
 
 
How  difficult is it to come up with one of your
amazing plots?

 
 
The books seem to be writing themselves and I haven't found this hard at all. That probably sounds a bit arrogant, but that's how it is.

 
 
How about characters?  Are they easily born and developed?
 
 
Most of them. I have struggled with one or two secondary characters and have even found it hard to give them names. I have argued with myself whether or not they even need names, and if they are important enough. but if they are not important, do they need to be there at all? You can see how I argue with myself!


 
How long does it take you to complete a novel from concept to completion?
 
 

The first took about nine months but sat unpublished for 18 months.

 
 
What was your first published piece? And how was it to publish your first book?
 
 
Sadie’s House: The Key is my first published work. I found the process exciting, intruiging and educational!
 
 
Have  you ever trashed a novel or story before or after finishing it, feeling it wasn't turning out as you planned?
 
 
Several times. I got half way through a novel about a naughty dog – then Marley and Me was published. Then another in a Bridget Jones style with letters between two friends, which I co-wrote with a friend – we didn’t trash this, just never really considered it for publication. I have had about a dozen false starts on novels.
 out of all your brilliant  characters  Which ones were you favourite?
 
 

Sadie, because of her strength and loyalty.
 Do you have a special time or place to write?
 
 

No, just whenever and wherever I can.
 
 
 

Any funny experiences or quirks you'd like to share with your readers?
 
 
I have several notebooks in which I jot down ideas for future storylines. As I am writing I have ideas that I will want to include in the edit so I write those too as I am going. My note books are full of scribble and rather untidy, which is not like me at all!
 
 
Which one of your awsome  books would you like to see be made in to a movie?
 
 
Definitely the first two – there is so much to offer – magic, fantasy, drama, action, suspense, - they would make the kind of film I would absolutely love!
Sadie’s House;The Key
Sadie’s House – Albie’s Story
 
 
What was the worse job you ever done?
 
 

I had a brief spell working in an office directing assistance vans to cars that had broken down. My geography was terrible and I was sending them all over the place. I told them I would be rubbish, but they were desperate. It didn’t last  long, as you can imagine!!!
 
 
Do you ever get any ideas at random moments, and if so how do you hand on to them?


 
Yes – they go in my note book, or dictated into my phone or even on post its or anything I have to hand. I have got up in the middle of the night many times to do this.

Can you write on demand and under pressure, or do you need time and space before the creativity starts to flow and how do you over come writers block?

Not had much in the way of block so far but having done a degree with excellent results I know I can write on demand and under pressure.

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