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Author of the Week

An Interview with Author of the Week – Tilly Tennant
 
1) As the Author, which character in the story was your personal favorite? 
(Come on now, we all have 1 character we fall in love with more than the others, 
they’re not like children, they’re fictional)
 
It depends which book we’re talking about! If I could choose from all the books I’ve 
written so far then it would have to be Max from Hopelessly Devoted to Holden Finn. I 
also have rather a soft spot for Holden himself, even though he can be a naughty boy!  
From the Mishaps in Millrise series, it probably has to be Midnight, who seems to be 
everyone’s favourite, but I do rather love Phoebe’s dad, Hugh, as well. 
 
2) Realistically, how long did your story take you to brainstorm, write, rewrite, and edit?
 
An idea usually comes to me fairly quickly, along with a basic plot, which can be 
scribbled down in twenty minutes or so. It’s just a shame that it changes beyond 
recognition once I start to write the book! I’d say probably about 8 months from start to 
finish but sometimes longer if there are a lot of changes from my editor. 
 

3) Why a writer? There are so many exciting careers in the world, how did you know that writing was the one for you?
 
I don’t know why. It’s like asking me why I breathe! I have actually done quite a lot of 
jobs, trying to figure out which one was the one for me, but although I enjoyed many of 
them, I never quite felt like it was something I wanted to do forever. I had always made 
up stories and I loved to read, but writing seemed like a career that wasn’t open to 
working class people like me. It wasn’t until I started an English degree, aged 35, that I 
began to consider it seriously. I had a wonderful creative writing teacher who really 
encouraged me and made me believe that a future in writing was possible for anyone, 
even me! 
 
4) So the question every aspiring Author wants to know: How many times did 
you submit your manuscript before you were accepted? Did you, or did you not, use a literary agent? Thoughts on the process?
 
I actually wrote my first proper novel in 2007, and it took me until 2013 to get an agent, 
after writing a lot more books. I have lost count of the times I submitted that first one to 
various agents, but after a year or so of trying with little success, I confess that I gave up. 
I never gave up on the book, and I submitted it to publishers and eventually got a deal for 
it. But I shied away from agents believing that I just wasn’t going to get one and I couldn’t 
deal with the constant rejection! It’s hard to stay focused and motivated when the ‘no 
thank you’ letters are piling up on the doormat. When Amazon launched their KDP 
platform for authors to self-publish it seemed like a good idea to try it out, and I had 
some modest success, but I didn’t know the business well enough to really make the 
most of its potential. It wasn’t until I went to a self-publisher conference to try and learn 
more about the process that I met the lovely lady who is now my agent, quite by chance.  
Since then things have definitely been easier and more enjoyable, and it’s nice to have 
someone in your corner to help get your work out to readers. Not only that but she’s 
usually my first reader now, and she makes brilliant suggestions on drafts. She’ll also 
very usefully tell me when it’s rubbish too (in the nicest way, of course!).
 
5) Has the becoming an author experience been what you had expected? And why?
 
It’s actually better than I thought! I didn’t expect readers to be so positive about my books 
and that’s a real buzz. I’m still constantly amazed and I feel so lucky to have the opportunity 
to do what I love and have an audience for it. I also feel that I’ve found a wonderful friend in 
my agent, as well as someone who guides my career, and that was something I never 
expected either. I’ve made fantastic author and blogger friends and the social life is also 
something of a surprise. I always assumed that I’d spend my days sitting in a darkened room bashing out stories on a laptop in solitude, or something like that! 
 
6) Your top 3 books/authors?
 
You can’t ask me this! I can never choose authors; there are just too many brilliant ones. 
There also a lot of brilliant books out there right now and to choose three of the best would 
be too hard, but I can choose three that mean a lot to me.
The first of those is The Princess 
Bride, by William Goldman, just because it’s my favourite film of all time and I expected to read the book and be disappointed, but I found that it’s also a fantastic book.  
The second is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, because it’s the first Harry Potter book I read (I know, try and work that out!). 
The third is The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly, which is a book that I read and then persuaded my teenage daughter to read, (her first real grownup book). It made me very happy that she loved it as much as I did and it felt like a real milestone in our relationship. Now I bombard her with books I think she should read, and I’m so happy she’s turned into a little bookworm too!
 
7) If there was an event in your life that triggered this book, or even a scene in the book, what was that?
 
I don’t think there is a particular event that triggered the latest series, but I do take inspiration from things that have happened to me for scenes, and even stories that other people tell me about things that have happened to them. If you’ve recently told me a story, beware, you could end up in one of mine! 
 
8) Tell me about your favorite TV shows?
 
At the moment we’re obsessed with Netflix in our house and are catching up on all the series that we’ve missed over the years! We’re currently watching Once Upon a Time and loving it.  I don’t get chance to watch all that much TV usually. 
 
9) If you could choose 3 foods to live on the rest of your life, what would they be and why?
 
Crusty bread and my Nana’s chicken soup for meals – that’s all I’d need forever. I would 
have to add chocolate (has to be Cadbury’s) as my final choice, just in case I have a sugar 
craving from time to time! 
 
10) What is your favorite life memory?
 
It has to be holding my daughter in my arms for the first time. I’ve never been so in love with someone as I was with her in that moment. 
 
11) If you could give an aspiring author 1 piece of advice, what would it be?
 
Don’t do it!  Seriously, I don’t tend to give advice because I think most people find their own 
way eventually and I’m far too silly to give decent advice. However, I do think that the one 
thing I would tell myself if I could time travel to the version of me just starting out is grow a 
thicker skin and do it quickly! 
 
12) Have you already started on your next book? Give us a tiny pitch…
 
I have started a new series. The first book is called The Accidental Guest. It’s set in a remote 
cottage on Christmas day owned by Hannah Meadows, a single woman having lunch with 
her sister and niece.  All is perfectly normal, until there is an unexpected knock on the 
door… 
 
That’s all I’m giving you for now!
 
 
Thank you Tilly!  I too started an English degree in my 30’s and learned I love to write (and read).
 
Check back tomorrow for a spotlight of ALL of Tilly’s fabulous Books!
-Aimee
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