I’m starting a new venture in my blog, where I’ll invite a fellow writer for an aperitivo and a chat. My first guest is the lovely and talented Tina K Burton. She’s a short story, article, and novel writer, and a quilling artist, which is the technique of making designs and pictures from rolled up strips of paper.
Tina’s first novel, Chapters of Life, is available in paperback and e-book, and has received a wealth of rave reviews on Amazon. When she’s not writing or quilling, Tina likes reading, running, cooking, and going for walks across the beautiful moorland where she lives in Devon, UK.
Welcome, Tina, and what can I offer you? A glass of prosecco? A spritzer? A bellini? Or perhaps some Pinot Grigio or Valpolicalla (as we’re in Italy)?
Ooh, I’d love a spritzer, please 🙂
I’ll have one too. Nice and refreshing on a warm summer’s day.
Okay, make yourself comfortable, Tina. We’ve known each other just over a year now since we met on Twitter. Thanks for agreeing to the interview. I’d like to start by asking, ‘What made you decide to become a writer?’
Well, I’ve always had a good imagination – I was constantly berated at school for staring out of the window rather than concentrating on my lessons – but the stories I made up in my head were infinitely more interesting than real life. Then, when I had my daughter, I made up stories for her. Once she was older and I went back to work, I had lots of ideas for articles and short stories, and started writing more seriously.
So you started making up stories when you were a child. Which authors inspired you at that time?
This is going to sound so twee, but my favourite author then was Enid Blyton. I couldn’t get enough of her books, and read almost every one. I still have some of my originals.
We studied various authors at school and, apart from the obvious, one of my other favourites was Thomas Hardy.
I, too, loved Enid Blyton and Thomas Hardy when I was younger. What books do you enjoy reading today?
I read a variety of genres. I can’t be doing with books that are too descriptive, though. I don’t care what the surroundings are like. I want to get on with the story. I read books by Erica James, Debbie Macomber, Simon Kernick – a brilliant London-based author, his books are edge of your seat stuff – John Connolly, Daphne Du Maurier, M C Beaton. I’ll read anything that looks interesting.
You’re like me then. We both have eclectic tastes. What was the inspiration behind your debut novel, Chapters of Life?
We lived in Sussex. I was in our local bookshop, wishing they had a cafe so I could sit with a cup of tea and a book. Suddenly this whole bookshop appeared in my mind, and the characters started to evolve around it. In a matter of days, I had the whole story in my head and just had to write it down.
Sounds wonderful. I’ve downloaded it onto my Kindle and will read it as soon as possible. You’ve just completed a second novel, The Love Shack. Please tell us about it!
Ah, it’s a humorous contemporary romance, set around a dating agency. The main character is Daisy Dorson, a rather sweet, but naive girl who’s only aim in life is to be happy and find a man she adores. We meet a selection of quirky characters who sign on looking for love, and there’s plenty of emotion and drama.
Sounds just my cuppa. What genre of romance would you say you write in, and have you thought about trying any other genres, either of romance or something else?
For my novels, I mainly write women’s fiction, but my short stories are a variety of genres, from tales with a twist to horror, crime, romance, flash fiction and adult fairy-tales. I’m always open to trying different genres, both in reading and in writing. I think it’s good to stretch yourself and try new things – it helps us become better writers.
Indeed, Tina. I know you are signed by a publisher for Chapters of Life, but would you ever consider self-publishing?
Yes, I would. There are pros and cons to both in my opinion. Whilst I feel there’s some kudos to having a publisher, I like the idea of being in control of my own book – and getting the majority of the profit. But, you have to know what you’re doing, or pay someone else who knows what to do.
Being in control and getting the majority of the profit is certainly a plus, I agree. What has been your greatest writing challenge and how have you overcome it, if you have?
I’m not a disciplined writer and I still haven’t overcome this problem. How I envy those writers who can sit at their desk at 9 am and work until 5 pm every day. I have to be in the right frame of mind to write, so I make the most of it when I am as I know it may be short lived. When I’m “in the zone”, I’ll start writing at 8 am, and still be there at 6 pm, having skipped lunch. I need to get the words down whilst they are flowing. I’ll work like this for a week or two, but then I can go for a month without writing another word. It’s very frustrating.
Well, we all have different ways of “getting the words down”. You’ve got two novels under your belt, and have had several short stories published, so obviously your method works for you. What are your plans, hopes, dreams and aspirations for the next state in your writing career?
I’d love to see my novels in bookshops, that would be wonderful, and after that, I’d really like to write for television. Gritty serial dramas, that sort of thing. But that’s a whole new ball game!
I wish you every success, Tina. It’s been great chatting with you. Thanks for dropping by! Before you go, please can you leave readers with three facts that may surprise them about you?
Hmm, okay. I smacked a camel on the nose because it spat on me. I married my next door neighbour, and, once, I spent my lunchtime watching a cremation.
Ha, ha, ha! I’m dying to know more. Good thing I’m following your blog. Readers, if you’d like to know more about Tina, you can find her on Facebook, where she also has her own quilling page – Quillina – Twitter, and Pinterest. Details are on her website here.