Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Interview with Tamsyn Murray

Tamsyn Murray currently writes the Stunt Bunny series for Simon and Schuster and the YA Afterlife series for Piccadilly Press. Her most recent YA novel, My So-Called Phantom Lovelife, was shortlisted for the YA Romantic Novel of the Year RoNA and her books have been translated into five languages. She lives in London with five rabbits, one cat, one dog, one husband, one daughter and one very small son. When she isn't writing, she likes to sing. Her family wishes she didn't. Do tell us what made you want to write and how you got your first break? 

I actually owe my success in part to another RNA member - Jane Wenham-Jones. It was reading her book, Wannabe A Writer?, that kicked my writing into life. I'd toyed with it for years, starting things and never finishing them, and Jane's book suggested trying to write short stories for the women's magazine market. I wrote a couple and struck gold with My Weekly. That gave me the confidence to branch out into YA fiction and my first novel (My So-Called Afterlife, Piccadilly Press Ltd) was published less than two years after that first hit.

Do you juggle writing with the day job? What is your work schedule?

I still work full-time, although I'm currently on maternity leave. At the moment, I squeeze in snatches of writing here and there while the baby is napping but I'm hoping one day to be able to make writing my full time job.

Teenagers are notoriously picky, what do you find are the particular challenges in writing for young adults?

For me, getting an authentic teen voice is critical and one of the hardest things to achieve. I'm not necessarily talking about the language used, more the tone you adopt as an author. There's nothing more cringe-inducing than reading a book where it's obvious it has been a long time since the author was a teenager.

I also think it's important to ensure that romantic encounters are age appropriate - it's unreasonable to think that sixteen year old characters would be content with chaste little kisses but I know that my YA books are read by a younger audience than I intended so I'm careful about what I write. It helps that a lot of my characters are ghosts. However, I do think YA fiction should reflect the realities of teenage life and sex is a reality for many teens so I wouldn't shy away from it if the story demanded it.

You also write for younger children, what is the inspiration behind these books?

I have five rabbits, so no prizes for guessing where the ideas for the STUNT BUNNY series come from! One of my rabbits escaped and it took me forever to catch her again. I started to think about an escapologist bunny and the character of Harriet Houdini was born. The plot for my forthcoming picture book, SNUG AS A BUG (Simon and Schuster, Feb 2013), came to me in a dream - always keep a pen and paper next to the bed!

What do you enjoy most about being a writer? And which is the hardest part of the job for you?

I love letting my imagination run away with itself and seeing where we end up. And I especially enjoy the sense of achievement when I finish a first draft, knowing I've got a story I can polish and hone to become something a bit special. The hardest part of being a writer for me at the moment is finding the time to do it - anyone got a cloning machine they can lend me?

Have you ever won or been short-listed in any competitions or awards, and do you think they help with a writer’s success?

Being nominated for awards is something which gave me a real buzz - when I found out I'd been short-listed for the Romantic Novel of the Year YA RoNA this year, I was utterly delighted. Even though I didn't win the prize, I was in great company and really enjoyed the glam award ceremony last month.

What is your craziest ambition?
To appear on a TV talent show like Britain's Got Talent!

What was your favourite book as a child?
The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner

If you could know the future, what would you wish for? 
To have no regrets.

My So-Called Phantom Lovelife

I knew the boy was different when I saw him walk on water… When fourteen-year-old Skye Thackery meets Owen Wicks, it’s not exactly love at first sight. She’s getting over a broken heart and he’s – well – a ghost. But as Skye gets to know him, she can’t help wondering what it would be like to kiss him. Dating a ghost isn’t easy, and things get worse when Owen declares he’s found a way to stay with Skye forever. His plans make her uneasy – the shadowy organisation which claims to be able to help him is bad news, and it seems Nico, her ex, is involved too. As Owen prepares to risk everything, Skye begins to wonder if she really has a future with him, or if his desire to be more than just a ghost will cost them everything. 
Third in the Afterlife series.
Published by Piccadilly Press Ltd. 

Thank you Tamsyn for finding time to talk to us today, it’s been fascinating and I hope your rabbits don’t escape again. We wish you continuing success with your books.
Best wishes,

You can find out more about Tamsyn and her books here: http://www.tamsynmurray.co.uk 
Twitter: @TamsynTweetie 

Interviews on the RNA Blog are for full RNA members, although we do occasionally take guests. If you are interested in an interview, please contact me: freda@fredalightfoot.co.uk

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