Hi Tina Marie, Welcome to Café Cala.
Huge congratulations on your debut novel. I can’t wait to read it. I’ve been making an apple and spice cake for you this morning. Would you like tea or coffee with yours?
I’d love a slice of apple and spice cake – yummy…. never can say no to sweet things… just making sure they have no egg in them as I have an awful allergy. And hot chocolate is my poison if you have – if not – I started drinking this honey and cinnamon in hot water when I saw a thing on the internet saying it was a healthy drink, so I tried it and it was good. Thank you!
Hot chocolate coming up and there’s no egg in the cake
1 Where did you get the idea for My Brother but One?
I worked on MBBO for about 10 years on and off, but it was one of those books that evolved, rather than had a single idea driving the book.
In 2000 I had just moved to Australia, and I was devastated to learn that our family had lost the family ranch in Zimbabwe to the governments land grab. And I knew that my Uncle had done everything to try and keep at least one of the farms that made up the big ranch, including giving them one of the ranches as a compromise, but they still took it all. Everything.
That thread played a big part in the book, the destruction of the whole farming family unit. The men and women and children who had been there for years having to leave their home too, not only the white farmer. The idea still weighs heavy in my heart, and I guess it was natural to write about it. I became fascinated to hear all the stories coming of out Africa of farmers who had relocated, and how they had done it, and where they were accepted and how the other governments in Zambia and Mozambique were welcoming the white Zimbabwe farmers and their expertise in. And I started email correspondence with some total strangers to find out how they were doing, and how they had gone about their relocations. Every story was different. Each unique.
Having relocated countries myself 3 times now, I knew how it had effected me each time, and I was interested in the changes to the dynamics of the African family unit forced into change, so I guess my upbringing also had a big influence on this story.
2 What have you found most rewarding about your writing?
My son when he was a bit younger saying at school, his mum was a ‘real author’. LOL
I would have to say the most rewarding thing about my own writing is that someone actually bought this story, as it is a book of the heart, and wanted to let others read it. I had been at this for a good few years, and that when I sold at last, I sold to Harlequin, who are such a great publishing company, was really rewarding. (Yes, the Australian office do send you a box of heart shaped chocolate with your contract, it’s awesome!)
I still haven’t found peace within myself for the destruction of so many lives devastated by the land redistribution program in Zimbabwe. But I have found peace in writing about characters who’s futures I can make better in my own fictional place and time.
3 How did you start writing?
Writing of Technical Quality Manuals was my job for a few years before fiction writing…so you can say it was practice for later in life.
But even before that, I was a big reader just after school, and I had once written the first three chapters of a category romance by hand on an A4 pad when I was out of school and at the beach on holiday with my sister. I have no idea what happened to it over the years…
Seriously writing and actively trying to achieve publication… We were on holiday in Paris in 1998, and I was reading a ‘male-magazine’ that was in the hotel room. It paid GBP50 for 200 word letters To The Editor. I was commenting that they couldn’t even write proper English and some of them didn’t make sense. My hubby asked me why I didn’t write one if I thought I could do better. So I tore the details out of the magazine, and I wrote one when we got home. It sold. And I was caught like a fish on a hook
4 What would you say has helped you most?
Being a member of Romance Writers Australia and having the support of great critique partners.
I started a writing correspondence course when I was in England, and one of the things it said was not to let your spouse read your work. For many years Shaun (my hubby) only read my work once it was published. But in 2011 when I was in desperate need of a proof read, and all my crit partners where on deadlines, he said he would read my book, for spelling and glaring errors only.
And he got it.
He realized what I meant when I said that something was wrong with my book, to me it still read like it was written as two parts, and needed to blend together better. He is a reader (fantasy) so it was a little different from what he was used to, but he helped pull the threads together, remove all the traces of learning along the way and made my men speak man talk not what women wanted him to speak… But I do need to clarify, he is treated like a normal critique partner, he only reads my work when I email it to him, and we don’t talk about the changes, only by email if I don’t understand anything. I don’t always do what he thinks, and often leave my words, saying that an editor can change that if she isn’t happy… so we don’t get into arguments about it.
But my book was sooooo much better for having him part of my process, I have to say Shaun helped my writing lift to a different level. This book still went through one my normal critique partner Robyn Grady (www.robyngrady.com) after that, but I know that her job was easier than if he hadn’t been part of the process.
And yes, we do now talk about plots etc before I write a book so that the editing doesn’t take so long and so that the story has all the elements I want, and I’m not going and doing huge edits again. I bounce ideas off him all the time. Often when travelling in the car if I’m bouncing ideas and talking, it becomes a family affair with my sons giving their 5c’s on who should die and how I should kill them, guess I should be called T.M. Clark Inc…
For me writing is the easy part, editing is the nightmare. I’m a terrible speller and I often use double negative in my sentences like you do in Afrikaans when I write. I was taught not to abbreviate, so everything is written ‘old fashioned’ and is changed later. I’m famous for using the wrong word in a sentence. Defiantly and definitely are my favourite ones to muddle up – even though I do know the difference in meaning Honest! I also affirm things in the negative. So, on answer to a question I will type, ‘No, that’s fine.’ Meaning Yes.
Also a great help was networking with publishers, and agents and other writers. I don’t think that my book would ever have gone to Mira at Harlequin if I didn’t already know Haylee Nash before my elevator talk at the RWA Conference in 2012, but I do know now that if I hadn’t done my infamous anti-pitch it wouldn’t have been the right book, on the right desk, at the right time.
5 What are you working on at the moment?
Working title: Shooting Butterflies. This book is also set mostly in Africa. I wrote this story as a Young Adult book a few years back, but Leonie Tyle (then editor at Random House) read it and said that the love story between the parents overshadowed the YA element of the story and I should think about rewriting it. So now I am. But again, it falls into the general fiction genre, because my books are never simply just a romance, they have all the other cross genres thrown in, thriller, adventure, history and of course multi-cultures.
6 What advice would you offer aspiring writers?
Three things… I know I’m full of words…
1. Just write the book that you want to. Put your bum in your chair and type it, then find where in the market that ‘book of your heart’ sits. And take it from there…
2. So many people tell me that they would one day love to write a book, so the first step is to get it written, prove you can get it done, and finished. It takes dedication but you can always fix a dirty draft; you can’t fix a page if there are no words on it to begin with.
3. Network – get to meet other authors, meet editors, attend conferences and festivals and writing center function. This helps you keep on top of what’s happening in the industry and also within your genre.
7 Which authors do you enjoy reading?
Because I was published in children’s writing first and run a conference to help writers and illustrators of children’s literature get published, (www.cyaconference.com ) I tend to still read a lot of picture books, middle grade novels and young adult works. I read every success story books because I’m so proud of those book babies too, that come about because of CYA Conference, they don’t have my name on the cover but I know I have helped them in some way come into being, and that’s a wonderful feeling.
Adult writing: Obviously I grew up reading Wilbur Smith and I still believe he is THE word master in my genre. And the other African storywriters Beverley Harper, Bryce Courtney, Frank Coats and Katherine Scholes. Any story on Africa I find I generally read.
I totally love Tony Park (www.tonypark.net). He is such a fantastic person as well as writer, totally unaware just how fabulous complex his mind is. And of course he gave me such a wonderful quote for the front of my book, which I just adore!
Nickolas Sparks – totally love his books, they are romantic, yet they have substance to them and are often unpredictable to – which I like. He often makes me cry, which I don’t like, but it’s the proof of a powerful writer.
Jean M Auel and her Earth Children Series… ahhh just beautiful, this series hooked me in years ago and I loved this whole ancient world that Jean created.
I love fantasy, George RR Martin, Robin Hobb, Paul Collins, David Eddings, Kate Forsyth, Raymond E Feist.
I still devour category romance, and love the hotter range of the books (Blaze and into Spice range from Harlequin). Because I have been in RWA so long, I read most of the Australian and NZ author I know, no matter their genre, have even been known to read historicals because they are written by friends, although I wouldn’t usually pick them up, if I have a link to the author – I’ll look at it. There are so many people in that organization who I have been on Bootcamp, 5 Day Intensive or just online friends, that I celebrate with every time their books come out, because we have travelled the long road together! (And did you see I didn’t name any because I’ll get into trouble from those I inadvertently leave out, so it’s safer to not list them…)
If I meet an author, I generally try hard to actively read their work, because of time restraints, I sometimes don’t manage it fast, but eventually they do get read.
Thanks, Tina. Can’t wait to read it and looking forward to your launch on Saturday.
To find My Brother But One
E-book – Apple App Store – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/my-brother-but-one/id730800670?mt=11
E- book from Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Brother-But-One-T-M-Clark-ebook/dp/B00G2V5PRY/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1385345864&sr=1-1&keywords=my+brother+but+one
Ebook – Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-brother-but-one
Ebook – Harlequin Books – http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781743564660
Target, Big W, Kmart
Book from Booktopia – http://www.booktopia.com.au/my-brother-but-one-t-m-clark/prod9781743564660.html
Book from Harlequin Books – http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781743564660
You can find Tina on:
Face book : http://www.facebook.com/pages/TMClark-Author/130010083845439?ref=hl ( I chatter here the most rather than Twitter….)
Set against a magnificent backdrop of Africa across the decades, T.M. Clark explores and challenges the traditions between the white and black families of rural Africa.
Scott Decker and Zol Ndhlovu are partners in a private game ranch in Zimbabwe. They have a friendship borne from Africa — a brotherhood that endures the generation gap — and crosses the colour barrier.
Australian Ashley Twine is a thirty-something dynamic achiever and a confident businesswoman. When a gender mix-up secures her a position on a volunteer program in the Hwange National Park, Ashley gets a chance to take stock of her life and reassess her situation. But the chauvinistic Scott — who runs the operation — is adamant she isn’t cut out for the job.
After Ashley witnesses firsthand the devastation left behind by poachers, Scott finds himself torn between wanting to protect Ashley or force her to leave Africa for her own safety…and his sanity. However, nothing can prepare her for being ambushed and held captive by the psychopathic Rodney — an old enemy of Zol’s — from a war fought years ago. But now that their world has been threatened, circumstances take hold of their lives and begin to shape and change them forever.
Thank you so much for having me over to the Café Cala Maggie, its been a blast sharing with you!