Interview With Author TC Southwell
TC Southwell is vibrant and has a certain personality about her to which people are drawn. Like many authors, there is a certain amount of introvertedness about her. However, like many great authors, she also has the ability to present herself well and captivate an audience. Her mind is always working and it is as if there are many different worlds playing out in her imagination at any given time.
Conducting this interview was very quick and simple. TC provided everything very quickly and I’m excited for you guys to read about her life. She’s written several books, many of which are free so take advantage of that! You can learn more about her on her website and see more books on her Amazon Author Profile. In addition, you can become her friend on Facebook as well as follow her on Twitter. She also writes blog posts that you may be interested in reading.
What prompted you to become an author?
After writing the Slave Empire and Broken World series, as well as the first two books of Demon Lord and most of The Cyber Chronicles, I thought it might be interesting to see if a publisher liked them, so I found an agent. Several rejections convinced me I was barking up the wrong tree, and they’d have remained my private collection, if not for the advent of online self-publishing. They’d been stored on various PCs for over twenty years by then, and a large chunk of The Cyber Chronicles got lost along the way. I dusted them off, gave them a quick polish and published more than twenty books. So, I reckon, my becoming an author was mostly due to dumb luck and cool technology.
What is your writing process?
I start a book with a scene that pops into my head and from then on the story ‘downloads’ as I write it. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the next paragraph, never mind the next chapter. If I try to change the storyline, my mind goes blank, and I have to go back to the place where I left the ‘channel’ and follow it again. I sometimes write about things that seem unimportant and wonder what purpose they serve, only to find out several chapters, or even books, later that they are actually vital to the story. It’s effortless, as long as I have a channel. When I don’t have one, it’s extremely frustrating, but that’s rare, and usually happens only when real life interferes. Once I have a channel, I’ll only pause for coffee-making and potty breaks. My longest stint was 14 hours.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Exploring fantastic worlds and interacting with the characters who populate them. I love my heroes and heroines, so sharing in their trials and tribulations is a wonderful adventure. As I’m a ‘channeller’, writing is effortless. The stories just take form as I write. It’s like watching a film in my head. I started writing stories in school, so I could read them again. I wrote my first series – Slave Empire – when I was in my mid-twenties. When I’m writing, I’m transported into the other world, so it’s the best form of escapism.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans are incredibly important. They helped to make my dreams come true, and their enjoyment of the books lifts my spirits. Whenever I’m feeling a bit down in the dumps, all I have to do is read some good reviews. I’m forever grateful to each and every one who made positive comments or wrote glowing reviews that contributed so much to the books’ success. They inspire me to write more, because I want to give back some of the joy they’ve given me. When they tell me they’ve read a series over 30 times and they’re reading the books again and still enjoying them, I’m gobsmacked!
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen R. Donaldson, J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant series totally immersed me in his world, Tolkien’s amazing flare for creating all aspects of a fantasy world – even his own language – blew me away, and C. S. Lewis is responsible for introducing me to fantasy as a child with his Narnia series.
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I spend a lot of time creating book covers, and, of course, editing. That’s a job that never ends, but it’s a pleasure, so it’s my second favorite thing to do after writing. I get caught up in the stories, though, and forget to edit! Other than that, I ride my superbike, watch a bit of TV and create digital art on my PC. Sometimes I play computer games.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was Charlotte’s Web, and it instilled a deep compassion for animals in me. I wish I could do more to help the poor creatures that suffer so much at the hands of mankind. I have rescued several, and had many beloved pets. I’ve always loved animals, but Charlotte’s Web deepened my empathy for the suffering of innocent creatures. Many of my feelings on the subject found a voice in Broken World.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
First and foremost would be Lord of the Rings, for its superlative – if a trifle long-winded – rendering of a complex and engrossing high fantasy world.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe introduced me to the wonders of fantasy.
I, Robot made me ponder the ramifications of cybernetics and AIs.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to draw a scene from the book, or, failing that, the hero or heroine. Being a perfectionist, I’m never satisfied with my efforts. I often spend days or even weeks trying to perfect a cover art, and the process becomes extremely frustrating. Once I have an image with which I’m reasonably happy, I choose a font and experiment with colors until I find a combination that ‘pops’, so the title is legible even on a thumbnail. Fortunately, my first career was commercial art, and I have a natural talent for it, which runs in the family. Digital art has its pros and cons, but I’m getting better at it.
What is your best, most effective, book marketing tactic?
Without a doubt, it’s making the first book of each series permanently free. This allows readers to discover the series with just a quick download, and, if they like the first books, they’re pretty much guaranteed to enjoy the rest. I think it’s had a hugely positive effect on my sales, and I like the fact that no one feels they wasted money on books they didn’t enjoy. It also allows me to post the books on free book sites, thereby increasing their exposure to the market.
As you can see, TC Southwell has a very unique mind. She is able to simply sit and write as long as the story is flowing through her mind and she doesn’t try to change what is naturally occurring. This is an important thing to realize. If you try to force an issue or make something happen, then it is never as easy as if you allow it to happen. Authors who let their writing flow through them often have a much better experience.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and learned more about TC Southwell. Hopefully, you’ll be able to check out some of her books and at least get started on the free books. Remember that you can read her blog, check out her website, and see all her books on Amazon. You can also become her friend on Facebook and follow her on Twitter!