It’s been a while again, but here is another interview with a talented independent author. This time I fired my questions at Tabitha Ormiston-Smith.
What is the reason that you started writing? When did you start writing?
I started writing some years ago, quite by accident. My boyfriend had built me a computer out of spare parts and I wanted to test it to see if it was working properly, so I fired it up, opened Word and started typing random stuff. 31/2 hours later, I realised a) that I had written the first several chapters of a novel, and b) that my electric jug was ruined and I had been lucky not to set the house on fire.
Are you writing under a pen-name, do you use your own, or is your work out in both ways?
Just my own name.
What is your best book so far, and why do you feel that way?
Gift of Continence will always be my favourite, I think, but I am not really sure why. It’s the only novel I have published, so this may change.
Naturally, after the best book, what is your worst, if there is one? And why do you feel that way?
I haven’t published it yet, but I believe my book Dance of Chaos, shortly to be released, will prove to be my worst. Probably because it is actually the first one that I wrote, and I learned a bit in the process, and also because it may not have quite as tight a focus as perhaps it should have.
And can you say that writing has changed you?
Oh yes indeed. If nothing else, I know that I can always be revenged.
What is the most daring thing you ever did or tried in your writing? In which book did that happen?
That work is still in progress, and I am not ready to reveal it, sorry! But it involves major impossibility and medical things.
And, if your feel up to it, what is the most daring thing you ever did in your life? Feel free to skip this one, not everybody is up to revealing much about themselves…
Getting married for sure! What is more scary than giving up total autonomy?
Is there something you still want to have a go at, in your writing life? Is there a challenge you envision that’s worth pursuing?
Yes! I’m working on an historical novel; this is an entirely new departure for me, and the research requirements were staggering.
Has your writing ever been compared to the writing of another (perhaps even famous) writer/author? And do you like that?
I am delighted to be able to say that a reviewer once remarked that anyone who liked Jane Austen would like my work. Words fail me, I still feel faint when I think about it. Miss Austen is my idol.
Do you have one or two favourite books (written by someone else)? If so, what are they, and why do they appeal to you so much?
Drinking Sapphire Wine by Tanith Lee
Little, Big by John Crowley
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
I think the common theme in all these books is how they light up the landscape, how the world depicted becomes alive, becomes for a time the only world for the reader, displacing reality, Few writers have this ability.
Which book you ever read would you label as least readable book, so far? Feel free to comment as liberally as you want to the why.
The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle, by Tobias Smollett. This tedious book contains nothing, literally nothing, but events. Reading it is sufficient notice to anyone that events are just not enough.
Is there a book that you know of that should never have been published, in your opinion?
I’m not a believer in censorship. There’s a lot out there that’s silly, badly written, pornographic or just plain trash. But every writer finds a reader, and if they don’t well bad luck for them. One of the things I love about living in this century is the plethora of writers that I might never have discovered if they’d had to convince a traditional publishing house that they could fit within the narrow parameters of one of their lists. Let them all be published, I say. It does no harm.
Is there a writer that you would love to co-write a book with? And what genre would you like to write in then? Something you’re familiar with?
I cannot envisage co-writing with anyone. Writing for me (in fact, any work!) is a solitary business. I wouldn’t like someone else messing in my work. I have the greatest respect for writers who do work in teams though. The Erin Hunter team springs to mind. I love their books. I’m just not a team player myself.
Let’s see… is there something in the realm of ‘wise words’ you once picked up that you would like to share? This does not have to be limited to writing, there is more to life than writing. At least, I heard there is. 😉
Just what my Dad used to say to me when things were tough. Fuck ‘em all, Princess.
And as a last question, what is cooking with you? What’s your work in progress? Is there a tip of a veil that you can lift for us?
I have a number of things on the go, to wit:
Dance of Chaos, a prequel to my published novel, Gift of Continence. Now in review.
User Pays, a short story with a political theme. Partly written. It was too hard so I put it on the back burner to stew for a while.
Miss Hepsibah Jenkins Gets A Puppy. This is a new departure for me, and I’m very, very excited about it. I originally envisaged it as a short story but I’m in the very early stages and it may stretch to a novella. Eventually, if it is a success, I envisage further stories to be gathered into a novel (much as Alexander McCall Smith did with Portugese Irregular Verbs).
King’s Ransom (provisional title) – an historical novel about King John.
Grammar Without Tears (non-fiction) – an humourous book on English grammar for the total idiot.
If there is anything else you would like to share, for example a thought, some promotion for your book(s), then here’s your chance!
Oh, dear, I never know what to say in these situations. Thank you for listening, and please try my books! Cheers.
Thank you, Tabitha, for your time, and for sharing your words with us! If you, dear reader, want to learn more about Tabitha, have a look at her book “Gift of Continence” on Smashwords,