Today I have the lovely and talented British author, Tara Lyons as my guest. Tara is not only a fabulously fun person, but also has a relatively new book on the market, No Safe Home, published by Bloodhound Books in January of 2017. For all you book lovers, Tara’s book is currently on sale through March 15th. Buy links are below. Check out this video! All I can say is WOW!
LP: Good morning Tara, and thank you for being my guest today.
TL: Hi, Linda. Thanks so much for having me today.
LP: Let’s jump right in. Tell us a little about yourself. Where do you live now, and where did you grow up?
TL: I live in England. I was born in London and have always lived here.
LP: I love British accents, and have become a huge fan of both British authors and British TV Dramas like Luther and River. Do you feel that the environment you were raised in has any effect on your choice of genre?
TL: Subconsciously, it may be why I write the novels I do. It’s probably no surprise that London can be littered with crime, as well as the tourist landmarks and beautiful cultures. Just watching the news the other day I knew the locations where a murder, rape and World War II bomb was found. They were all within thirty minutes driving distance from my house.
LP: Well, I’m a little twisted so I notice crime scenes more often than others too. When and why did you begin writing?
TL: I’ve loved writing and telling stories from a young age. In 2015, I finally made the jump – after tremendous help from some amazing friends – and began writing.
LP: Share with us what inspired your first book.
TL: My first book, In The Shadows, came from a place of grief after my own Grandad lost his battle with cancer. I was also reading a lot of crime novels at the time and I’ve always enjoyed watching those kinds of programmes on TV. I combined all those elements together and told my own story.
LP: I love it when an author does that. I personally love book titles, and I’m often amazed at how well a title fits the book. How do you come up with your titles?
TL: I played around with the title for In The Shadows for a little while. I was using different words to see what images they invoked in my mind. Ultimately, the simplest is what worked. With No Safe Home, the title was there before I wrote the first word. I wasn’t certain where the story would go, or who the secondary characters were, but I knew it would focus on the center place for families, the place we should feel the safest.
LP: I hear comments all the time that readers “just didn’t get it” when describing certain books that attempted to convey a message. Is there a specific message in your novels that you’d like the reader to grasp?
TL: For me, this is more evident for In The Shadows than No Safe Home. From the reviews, readers seem to connect with the themes and characters in my current book a lot more. What I was trying to portray with In The Shadows was that a person’s grief, born from a death of natural causes, can be as traumatic and life-changing as any other loss.
LP: How much of your book is realistic or based on real life issues?
TL: No Safe Home isn’t based on a real-life event, but I used what I know and what I see to write it. I too am a single mother to a young boy living in London, so I took inspiration from the fact that sometimes there is a strange noise, or extra creak of the floorboard and I reach for the baseball bat behind my bed.
LP: Wow, us thriller/suspense writers do have to fight our imagination quite often. I often think I hear footsteps in the kitchen or hallway. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
TL: When I signed with Bloodhound Books, I think I was in a bubble for a while. I felt like I had made it. By this point I had co-authored with the formidable M.A. Comley and self-published In The Shadows. But, to receive the recognition and support of an amazing publishing company, I truly believed in myself.
LP: Do you have a specific writing style?
TL: Although I write crime novels, and my main character is a Detective Inspector, I like to include another voice to my stories. Therefore, alongside the main DI, I also have another lead character – always female – who is somehow caught up in the story. I want my readers to enjoy the police chase element, but also how a normal, everyday person is affected by the perils of crime. I write short, snappy chapters because, as a reader, I enjoy that pace.
LP: Exactly the type of pace I love, and I’ve always felt a touch of reality lends credence to fiction, especially crime stories. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
TL: M.A. Comley – and I didn’t even have to think about that answer. She is a power-house Indie author who has built her business, her brand, her readership and her talent. She always strives for the best and I’m constantly in awe of her. I’m also privileged to call her a dear friend.
LP: Mel is truly an inspiration to all those who know her. Not only does she write amazing stories, she’s always there to lend a hand to a new author. We could literally talk about her all day. I picked up on the fact that like me, you’re an avid reader yourself. What book are you reading now?
TL: My list is never ending! But, last night I started The Abattoir of Dreams by Mark Tilbury and I have In Plain Sight, M.A. Comley’s new one, lined up next.
LP: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
TL: Nicky Black – her book, The Prodigal, is dark and gritty and I cannot wait to read more from here. Likewise, Ross Greenwood’s powerful The Boy Inside, really made me think young people in this world and the decisions they make; can’t wait for his new one. I am also looking forward to David McCaffrey’s new novel, Nameless.
LP: If you had it to do all over again, would you change anything in your first book?
TL: Yes. I think I would have given more explanation to the ‘why’
LP: Are you currently working on a new book, and if so, can you share some of it with us?
TL: I am working on book 3 in the DI Hamilton series, which will be published later this year. I can’t give too much away, but so far I have focused on families and the home, this time I’m delving into the relationships we have with our friends.
LP: You’ll have to keep us updated on your progress. What has been the most challenging part of writing your current work in progress?
TL: I want more time. I work around my son, as he attends part-time pre-school and therefore my schedule is dictated a lot around him.
LP: Who are your favorite authors and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
TL: This is the hardest question. Obviously, M.A. Comley is up at the top of the list because I admire the skill she has. Likewise, in the past 12 months I’ve read a lot of indie authors, or authors that I don’t think enough people know about. And the authors who strike a chord with me are because they makes me feel something, the story stays with me and, to me, that’s the sign of a great writer – Barbara Copperthwaite, Betsy Reavley, Ross Greenwood, Netta Newbound, Tammy Robinson, Sue Watson, Jojo Moyes, JK Rowling, Truman Capote.
LP: Our lists are quite similar, which may be why I enjoyed your book so much. Do you actually travel to the places you write about?
TL: The majority of my scenes are located in places I know – it’s not a case of travelling to them to research them, I know them because they are the places I’ve grown up and visited many times over the years.
LP: Do you design your own covers?
TL: No, I’m very lucky to have had all my covers expertly designed by some very talented people.
LP: You did a great job. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
TL: I think the editing process. Of course, I wanted to make No Safe Home the very best it can be, but I always worry at the editing stage that I’ve become too close to it, I can’t see what needs to be changed.
LP: I hear you there. I’m getting ready to start the first rewrite of my current WIP. Do you feel that you learned something from writing your book, and if so, what?
TL: I take the time to read all the Amazon reviews and I use those as my teachings for writing. I feel very humbled that No Safe Home has received some awesome feedback, but they’ve also been pointers on making the next one even better. Hopefully.
LP: I’m sure it will be great. Do you have any advice for other writers?
TL: The advice I was once given – Don’t get it right, get it written. And, although the editing stage of the process isn’t my favourite part, that line always stays with me. Don’t keep the ideas in your head, thinking they’re not good enough. Don’t agonise over the first sentence, or first paragraph, trying to make it on point straight away. Write down all the words, all the characters, all the dialogue and themes. Then, you have something to work with.
LP: Is there anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
TL: The first anniversary of publishing my solo debut novel is close approaching (March 17th) and it’s been the most fantastic year of my life. I’ve achieved so much, met so many fantastic people and been given great opportunities. To my readers, I thank you for that. Without you, none of that would have been possible – your support and encouraging is what spurs me on.
LP: Thank you, Tara, for sharing with us today. I look forward to reading and reviewing your next book in the near future. Please drop me a line and stop by to update us.
TL: Thank you, Linda. As someone who has read and loved your books, I’m honoured to have had this chat with you.
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I've had the pleasure of reading No Safe Home and a book review will follow shortly. If you haven’t read No Safe Home, what are you waiting for? Grab a copy now and sit back with a nice cup of coffee or tea and hours of great entertainment.
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