Recently I met the wonderful Talli Roland, in London, for a coffee, some cake and a lovely chat. I have been meaning to put this interview up for 2 weeks now, but due to my daughter falling ill it has delayed me a little. So my apologies to Talli, and also those who knew it was coming and noticed it never materialised! It is finally here now!
Talli and I chatted for 2 hours, but you can have the edited version – the rest is history…as they say…
So, how did it all begin? What inspired you to write?
I always wrote. I think if you ask any writer that question, they will say that writing has always been a part of their lives. But you don’t really consider about writing as a career – it’s always something you think about doing. I wrote a novel when I was around 12 years old, and I sent it off and got a load of rejections. I trained as a journalist, went into teaching, and got sidetracked by life. My day job was very draining and I was finding it hard to do a full day’s work, to then come home and do some writing. Eventually, I was writing a novel alongside my job, and my husband said: ‘Why don’t you write full time?’ I was very lucky to be in the position where I could give up work. There are others out there who have very successful day jobs and still do their writing, and I have all the admiration in the world for those people who can juggle the two – I just couldn’t do it.
My jobs within the writing industry, both as a journalist and an English teacher, have been both a help and a hindrance to me. Journalism taught me the basics of writing, but it also taught me to write quick, precise pieces; which is not what you need for a novel. I can write quite quickly – a first draft at 80-90k in 4/5 weeks – but I will then need to go back and put in the description and detail.
Your non-fiction books ’24 Hours London’ and ’24 Hours Paris’ are published under your real name, Marsha Moore, how did you come to writing those?
(Talli very kindly gave me a signed copy of her London book – which will come in very helpful to me as I am a total tourist in London!)
I started looking around for a writing group in my area and I came across upon a newly formed group, which just happened to be spearheaded by a publisher who was looking for new ideas. We had a brainstorming session for a non fiction project, and because I love London and I love travelling, we started talking about a London travel guide. With so many guides out there, so we needed to find a way to make it different and we came up with the 24 hours concept – what to do in London at any given moment in time. I wrote the first couple of chapters and sent it over to give her an idea of what it would look like, and she liked my writing style and idea’s and we signed a contract! 24 Hours Paris came out last year and I have just done 24 Hours Sydney, which will probably be released as an e-book.
The Hating Game got its publishing contract, and you set about doing a BlogSplash to launch it. How did that all come about?
I had been following a UK author called Fiona Robyn, and she had done something similar, by which she let everyone post the first chapter of her book. So that gave me the initial idea. I wanted to do something like that, to help drive sales, but I didn’t want to simply ask people to buy my book. So I asked everyone to help me out and become a part of it all, by just spreading the word. I couldn’t believe Twitter and the amount of support from everyone. I was really nervous on the morning of the BlogSplash, thinking ‘what if no one does it,’ but it the amount of support I got was overwhelming.
What was the highest rank The Hating Game got to in the Amazon chart?
24! It totally exceeded all my expectations. And that’s all from online; it shows the power of the online community.
Do you think you will do it again for your next book, Watching Willow Watts?
I think it’s the kind of thing you can only do once! It probably wouldn’t have the same impact if I did it again. Plus, Amazon do a lot of the work for you once your next novel comes out, by sending emails and recommendations to their customers.
When is Watching Willow Watts due for release? November, this year.
In terms of writing, do you have a schedule you work to?
I write about 3000 words a day. So, I am usually at my desk for 8am and I write until I hit around the 3000 word mark. Then I will spend the afternoon doing promotional work. I think, in a way, the writing gets ever so slightly easier as you go along because you learn how to plot. I am not saying I am an expert, but you get to learn where your conflict should be, what you want your characters to be. You can answer a lot of your questions before you start writing. When I wrote my first 3 / 4 books, I didn’t know any of that. So obviously it took me longer to write those novels.
How do you structure writing your books?
My first question is always, what do I want my main character to learn? For example, in The Hating Game, I wanted Mattie to learn that she could trust people, that was the main objective. She didn’t have to always be the bitch; she could let people in and learn to love.
So then I ask myself, who or what is going to stop her? And with each main character, I will always have subplots that will tie into the main characters story and either be a part of it or push the story along in some way.
And then you pretty much figure your plot around these things.
What made you decide to go with your pen name of Talli Roland?
Since my non-fiction is with the same publisher, they suggested I have a pen name to differentiate my work. I didn’t mind at all, although there was a downside in that I had to create a whole new platform, blog etc, under the name Talli Roland!
How did you come up with Talli Roland?
We wanted something that was modern, playful and fun and a little bit different. And we also Googled it and nothing else really came up with Talli. Roland is my mother’s maiden name.
Well, thank you so much for talking to me today, Talli. I know I speak for everyone when I say we hope that
The Hating Game continues to be the success that it is, and that Watching Willow Watts follows in the same footsteps.
I had a fantastic time meeting Talli. She is so friendly and really easy to talk to; it was quite a chore cutting down the interview so that it didn’t go on for pages and pages!
The Hating Game comes out in paperback on the 9th March. You can purchase it here. Talli also has her blog, Twitter and Website if you want to follow her progress.
I’ll leave you with a few quotes from my afternoon with Talli, which stuck in my mind.
‘The only person that can not make it continue – is you!’
‘You have to write because you love it’
‘Characters need to be there for a reason. If they don’t do anything, or don’t push the story forward, get rid of them.’
And my personal favourite (directed to me):
‘You should be proud of yourself; you have achieved so much in just one year.’
Thanks Talli! Was such a pleasure to meet you !