Welcome to author of Thrillers ~ TME Walsh

T. M. E WALSHI would like to welcome back TME Walsh who has kindly agreed to be interviewed today.

Hello Tania, what originally inspired you to write thrillers?

It’s the genre I read and love the most, so it felt natural for me to write crime thrillers. I like writing novels that are gritty. I want to wince when someone meets a ‘sticky end’, and I want to feel unnerved. I want to be able to feel the sense of impending danger and the fear, and that’s what I try to convey in my novels. I guess I write a novel that I’d like to read.

DCI Claire Winters is a complex character. Do you like her and do you think she shares any traits with yourself?

Excellent question and one I get asked a lot. I think every author puts a little of themselves into their main characters, whether it be a conscious decision or otherwise.

There are definitely traits of myself in Claire. Personality-wise, like Claire, I’m feisty. I have no trouble speaking my mind and fighting my corner, but I would never dream of being as rude as Claire can be (unless someone gives me cause to be!). I don’t always take things  at face value. Sometimes I see things in others that someone else would miss, and nine times out of ten my intuition turns out to be right, and that is one of Claire’s traits that can be an asset.

I’m not a push-over, and I never wanted my main character to be either, and that’s something I admire in people, so I do like Claire. She’s driven, but this can come across as arrogant and ruthless. (I’m neither, by the way!) Yes, she can rub people the wrong way, but I try to balance it. She has her reasons for being the way she is and more will become clear as the series progresses. She has a good heart and for the most part, she’s loyal once her trust is earned.  Like me, she’ll fight your corner and could be your most trusted friend. Equally, she’s not someone you’d want as an enemy that’s for sure. Don’t cross her!

Your novels keep the readers on their toes. How do you achieve a good pace in your plot?

With crime you have to remind yourself that the central investigation is the backbone of the novel.  All the ‘flesh’ around that ‘backbone’ has to be relevant. Once I’ve written the first draft I look to see what could be cut. If any scenes fail to offer real character development, or add colour to the story, it needs to be cut. With police procedurals in particular, pace is so important. The reader has to be completely immersed in the story to want to keep turning the pages until they find out who the killer is. As an author you hope the reader won’t be able to put the book down until they do. If I feel like the manuscript is flagging at any point whilst reading it through, then I know it needs addressing and I won’t send anything out until I know I’ve (hopefully) got it right.

With my second novel, ‘The Principle of Evil’, I had some excellent advice from Keshini Naidoo, the crime/thriller reader at Darley Anderson Literary Agency. She used to be an editor at HarperCollins. She read the original MS when it was a (huge) 145,000 words. She offered me some sound advice about trimming the novel because 145k words would greatly impact whether a publisher would take it on, and said the pace suffered as a result of the overall length, and she was right.

Keshini offered to read the full MS again after it had been trimmed to around 100,000 words, and despite not taking the submission to the next stage, she was very complementary. I then went on to receive four more full manuscript requests from different agents.

tania walsh The covers for your books are fantastic. I gather you designed them yourself. How did you come up with the design and can you recommend any software to do this successfully as advice for an aspiring author?

Thank you. The covers are testament to what can be achieved using Photoshop. I started using Photoshop in 2006 and spent hours teaching myself how to use it.  It wasn’t easy but I did enjoy it.

With both my novels I started making a list of the themes and anything symbolic that would best represent the novel.

‘For All Our Sins’, for instance, had to feature a priest since the death of a priest is integral to the story. And blood. I have to have blood somewhere! My Dad was kind enough to let me photograph him in my husband’s hooded winter coat. What started off as a ‘stock’ image was then manipulated in Photoshop. It’s a powerful piece of software. Playing around with the colour tones, lighting and layering techniques finally created the image on the cover today.

Similarly with the second novel, ‘The Principe of Evil’, I used my husband’s face in the woman’s hair. The dark grass and ice effect at the bottom of the image, which is supposed to be frozen water, very relevant to the novel, was painted in using the various brushes in Photoshop and a texture layer using a photograph of real ice.

Designing your own cover is not always possible, (or wise, if you can’t even draw stick men!) My advice would be to seek a professional if needed. The cover is so important as it’s the first thing a reader will see, and in the self-publishing world you have to stand out. A quality professional looking cover is a must if you can afford it. If your budget is limited, you could look at the artists on Deviant Art. There might be a student very willing to take on a commission for a fair price.

Many thanks for the excellent advice. Best of luck with your writing Tania!

 Tania, I know you have recently obtained the rights back of your debut novel, ‘For all our Sins’ and have published both this and your recent novel, ‘The Principle of Evil’, yourself and have been successful in this venture. Have you any advice you can pass on here?

I’m still learning what works in terms of marketing etc, but there are a few things that people can take on board.

Never rush to publish your novel. Whatever you publish is representative of you and your skills and your career as an author. Take your time to get it right. Mistakes are OK so long as you learn from them.

Get to know your potential readership. Social media can be a great tool, but I have authors who have followed me on Twitter and if I follow them back, they then send me a generic impersonal direct message purely advertising their own work.

Sorry, but that’s just irritating and I tend to swiftly unfollow them. I don’t believe aggressive marketing campaigns are the key to more sales. Word of mouth is probably the best way for people to get to know you and your novel. The last thing you want is a reputation of being full of yourself. Take an interest in other peoples work and support each other. Even a simple retweet is supporting another author.

Finally, don’t expect overnight success. Be realistic and concentrate on honing your craft. As an author you are always learning.

Finally, I know one day your dream, rightfully so, is to be published mainstream. Like myself you have been through highs and lows. How have you kept motivated, focussed and chosen your current path.

My family keep me motivated, but I’d say my proof reader, Willow, definitely gives me that extra boost I need. Yes, my family are fantastic with their support but I always find I need that extra ‘kick up the bum’ by someone who isn’t so close to me on a personal level. Willow provides an ‘outsider’s’ point of view.

I’m stubborn. I will keep going. I’m not saying rejection doesn’t hurt – it does – but you need to become tough. Grow that thick skin. There have been times that I have nearly given up, but I have to remind myself that I have come close several times to signing with an agent.

I decided to self-publish because I hoped I had a readership. Seeing that my books are selling on Kindle and I’m earning money from that is better than having a finished MS sitting collecting dust in a bottom draw. Besides, you never know who may be reading your work and what doors that could open.

Many thanks Tania for joining us today. You can find out more about Tania and keep up to date with her work at:

http://tmewalsh.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/tmewalsh

https://twitter.com/tmewalsh

 

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17 Comments

Filed under Book reading, Events, Marketing your novel, Murder, Writing a novel

17 responses to “Welcome to author of Thrillers ~ TME Walsh

  1. Thanks for having me, Diana. It was a pleasure 🙂

  2. Reblogged this on T. M. E. WALSH and commented:
    Today I am a featured author over on Diana Jackson’s blog. Find out how I came to self-publish my novels, advice I had from literary agents, how I designed my covers…and whether I am anything like DCI Claire Winters!

  3. Hi Diana, I haven’t forgotten you asked if I wanted to do a guest post here. I have put thought into what I wanted to say and why I wanted to say it that would beneficial to me as a writer and a good post for your site, too. I didn’t to just to want a post about the book, but about why I wanted to write it, and about who I am.

    Also this post has been very helpful. As I write I go back and forth in my mind about how to publish when it is finally ready. When I started writing it I knew as little about the making of a book as most people know about prisons when they have begun to read what I write. This process of learning has been very interesting. I will be in touch with you soon.

    • Ye Sonniq. All of the paths we walk along are different. For some getting an agent and main stream publisher is their main goal and I admire them for their determination. My aim is to build my audience – get to know readers and the public in any way I can – produce professionally made novels – and one day hopefully a main stream publisher will come knocking on my door with an offer I can’t refuse. Last night I gave a talk locally and it was a heart-warming reception. What is success?
      You Sonniq have a story to tell which is developing as you learn more about writing and publishing. Enjoy the walk and I look forward to hearing from you when the time is right for you 🙂

      • You are so right. As long as I take a step in the right direction every day and keep chipping away on the “to do” list it will get there. It means working every day to make new friends, bring them to my writing and stay in touch. I don’t rely on WordPress for my readers. I constantly leave the nest and post on articles and draw them in. I work constantly on keywords and work to raise my Google ranking. There are simple things I want doing – like having the right tags in the alt section of a picture I use. People have to be able to find you if they search on your topic. I’ve thought about switching to WordPress.org because we can’t get into the source code for the themes here. We can with what we write but not to alter the design. Enough on that.

        Gave a talk where? I’ve been wondering about that. Anytime you can get in front of the public it opens doors. What I have done is contact someone in mediation services in Md for prisoners getting out. I want some hands on experience if I can get it.

      • I try to write my blog for readers not only for bloggers, although it is lovely to hear from people – it’s getting a balance – tags and categories are vital but I’m not as technical as you by the sound of it. I’t is great actually meeting people – that’s where I feel most comfortable although it is time consuming. Enjoy it – that’s the main thing.

      • You are right. It takes a balance. I love meeting and talking to different people and reading their posts. Some are so great to find and others you don’t have anything in common with. I won’t follow someone if I don’t think I would want to read anything else, but I try to never just like and leave. Comments are so needed for the writer. An appreciation for writing, especially when you are new and need to know other people are reading it. As for my being technical. It’s my “A” personality, or is it called OCD, or addictive personality, that constantly looks for ways to take it better. lol . I like to know how and why things work.

      • I love finding time to have meaningful conversations with bloggers too and getting to know wordpress better but I’m sure there’s loads more I could do. Great to connect with people all over the world and so many surprises too

      • 50 -70% of my views come from sources other than WordPress and the drawback from that is page likes and comments. One woman i know emailed me and told me she was unable to comment. It wouldn’t let her so I’m trying to use the comment form more but other readers can’t read those comments so it looks like there’s not a lot of activity.

        Last week online someone recommended this book ” Creative Nonfiction” researching and crafting stories of real life. Just got it. That is where my story fits. It’s by Philip Gerard. Can’t wait to read it.

      • Sonniq – I’m not sure why I missed this when you wrote it but I quite agree – many of the readers on my blog are traffic from searches rather than other bloggers and it does seem quite difficult to write a comment if you are not a wordpress blogger. Having said that I do often put my email address at the end of the post – not recently – I’ve slipped – and I’ve received some lovely emails. I try not to get hooked on how many comments I have (although it’s a thrill if you do) Your potential readers will not necessarily be bloggers – your aim – to reach to people and offer them something they are interested to read or that they are looking for.
        The book you mentioned looks good. I will mention it to a friend of mine if you think it is good. all the best D

      • Diana I wrote a post today. Took my entire day ( and night) I wanted for you read if and see if it would make a good guest post. We have different readers so that shouldn’t be a problem . let me know what you think.

      • Sonniq – did you send it to diana@dianamaryjackson.co.uk? I did not receive it I’m sorry – although I have had a few important emails go into junk recently so I’ll check – please please please can you send it again – I’ll look out for it D

      • I’m not sure – I don;t even remember what it was, but I think I’ll send a different one anyway. My stuff gets pretty heavy, especially on the prisons. I have some other things I’ve written, I think I’ll send you that. I understand about emails. Sometimes I can’t get to it every day and things get pushed down the line too far and ends up in neverneverland.

      • Whenever you have some spare time Sonniq – no rush 🙂

      • And thank you for your encouragement. You know what I’m going through. Overall it’s been such a satisfying journey.

    • Hi Sonniq I’ve also mentioned you on my blog page in a 5 Secrets Blog Hop. No pressure but it would be great if you could find the time to join in https://selectionsofreflections.wordpress.com/about/

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