And my last post of today is an interview on Meet the Author with the gorgeous Theresa Talbot. Read on to hear all about her books and why they are close to her heart, working in radio, Charlie Chaplin’s wife and why, if she had a time machine, she’d be travelling all over the place….and hopefully not being burned for being a witch!!
Crime/ Sociological Thriller
Tell us a bit about yourself:
Oh where to start. I was born at a very young age in Glasgow and the locals quickly took me under their wing so I decided to stay – or that’s what it felt like. Despite being a big city, Glasgow has a village feel about it. I studied Economic History at Glasgow Uni, and after graduating tried numerous careers, including library assistant, bank clerk and Pepsi Challenge Girl (and yes most people really did prefer it to the other one). Eventually an eaves dropped conversation on the 66 bus led me to a career in radio where I found my tribe & spiritual home. I now work part-time as a freelance broadcast journalist for BBC Radio Scotland; my main role is the traffic & travel presenter, but I’ve had a varied career in broadcasting including comedy writer, producer and newsreader. I used to keep rescue hens and had five cats (yes in Glasgow!) I now live animal free in relative peace married to a lovely bloke with a beard. When I’m not eating or drinking I make a lot of soup and attend writing festivals.
What inspired you to start writing?
As a journalist I’ve written every day of my professional life for the past 25 years, so taking the leap into fiction was a natural progression. Although in truth I’d been tinkering about with stories since I was a teenager (with a second hand typewriter and a gallon of Tippex.) but never had the courage or the tenacity to finish anything.
How many books have you written and published?
My first book was an anecdotal account of working in Radio – but as a crime author I have two books under my belt. ‘The Lost Children’ and ‘Keep Her Silent’ with the 3rdin the series, ‘The Quiet Ones’ coming out on 12thSep 2019.
Which book, out of all the books you have written, is your favourite and why?
That’s a hard one. Perhaps ‘Keep Her Silent’ is closest to my heart as it deals with the horror of the contaminated blood scandal. If you’re unfamiliar with the tragedy Google it – you’ll be led down a worm hole that beggars belief. The victims are still fighting for justice and I was humbled that they shared their story with me and I wove a crime novel around it. Because it’s based on truth and I was in contact with the victims I knew I had to get it right. It’s the first time in my career (as a journalist or writer) that I’ve let an interviewee read my story first for approval. Thankfully it was given the thumbs up and I’m still in touch with them and have been asked to speak at meetings.
How do you choose the names of your characters?
My main character is Oonagh (Oo-nah) O’Neil. I wanted something with alliteration – it also needed to be of Irish descent. One of my favourite film stars/director is Charlie Chaplin. He was a genius and so ahead of his time. Married several times, his last wife and ‘true love’ was called Oona O’Neill – she was the daughter of playwright Eugene O’Neill – so that’s how my Oonagh was born (with different spelling).
Which of your characters would you want to be stranded on an island with, and why?
Not Oonagh! She’s a bit erratic and would drink all the gin. Probably D.I. Alec Davies, her sparring partner. He’s solid and dependable and on a good day can be a bit of a laugh. But grumpy enough to make sure he’d have an escape plan as he’d hate being stuck there with me.
Who is your favourite author and which of their books is your favourite, and why?
Can I have 2 please? John Fowles ‘The Magus’ is such a complex and wonderful story. I first read it 25 years ago when a friend gave it to me as a holiday read. I was going to Greece the next day and had no idea Fowles had used the Greek Island of Spetses as the basis of his fictional island Phraxos. I’d never intended to visit Spetses – but ended up there for a day. I was reading a chapter where he described a particular spot on the island and I looked up and everything was exactly as he’d written – it was all such a coincidence that I was reading that exact passage on that day on the very same spot that he’d been. It resonated with me and I felt a real connection with it.
My second would be Charlotte Bronte with Jane Eyre. It’s the one book I can read and re-read. I love it. Bronte wrote with such passion and Jane’s character is a great example (in my opinion) of early feminism. It also has a precocious child, a mad woman in the attic and a dog called Pilot. What’s not to like?
What is the first thing you can remember writing?
Outwith school projects, I tried writing articles and short stories as a late teenager but I was hopeless.
What other jobs have you done other than being an author?
See above – I’ve done too many to list, honestly – waitress for a day, medical rep, childrens’ care-home assistant, chauffeur for 4 days, post-lady (Christmas student job)…. I could go on.
If you could get in a time machine and had one chance to travel, where would you go? (Backwards or forwards!)
Oh why must you torture me! There are so many – I’d love to go back to biblical times just to see what really went on – I’d also like to go back and be a fly on the wall with my early ancestors to see if I recognised any family traits, meeting the early Suffragettes would be an inspiration and it would be essential to go back to 1891 when my cottage was built to find out where they put the drains in the back garden – an army of builders have never quite worked them out and I live in fear of flooding! I have to add I couldn’t stay too long in the past – I’m sure I’d be burned as a witch.
If you could have one conversation with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?
My first instinct is to say my Dad & Mum whom I lost in 2008 and 2011 respectively – but to be honest as wonderful as that would be it would be too painful to say goodbye again twice. I’d like to speak to Jesus. I’m not religious, but studying history I know that so much of our social conventions/customs/laws are entrenched in our early religious belief. If I could just have a quick word I’d like to ask him what he thinks of those far-right Christian fundamentalists who use their religion as a weapon against others. I’ve probably just committed professional suicide in the States here haven’t I?
What are your favourite things to do?
I like being happy. Does that sound ridiculous? I love gardening which fills my heart and soul with so much joy. I try to get outside everyday – living in Glasgow that often involves being cold and wet. I make soup, I love to travel, hillwalk, more gardening and eating and drinking – and yoga.
What is the strangest thing that has ever happened to you?
Crikey – how long have you got? I’m going to have to think about this one. I don’t have many ‘strange’ events – but lots of coincidences.
If you could give your younger writing self any advice what would it be?
Comparison is the thief of joy. Never compare yourself to other writers – also learn your craft. Don’t be in a rush – take the time to get it right. And it’s ok for your fist draft to be terrible.
Name one book you think everyone should read?!
George Orwell Animal Farm – perhaps 1984 would be more fitting for today’s world. Just read George Orwell. As many of his books as you can get your hands on.
And finally, tell us about your most recent book and where we can find it?
Keep Her Silent is officially my latest book which I’ve described above. It was published last August by Aria. My next one ‘The Quiet Ones’ is about abuse of power and the lengths some people will go to protect their own wee empire – no matter how much it hurts others. All of my crime books involve abuse by the establishment in some way – mostly crimes where there will never be any justice.
Thanks so much Theresa for your wonderful and insightful interview. It’s really interesting to read about your books, and how much of a challenge it must have been to write ‘Keep Her Silent’. I absolutely love that you’d want to have a chat with Jesus – that’s a great answer; it would be interesting to hear what he thinks of things these days!
Thanks so much for taking part Theresa, and if you guys have any questions then give her a shout!
Enjoy your day my lovelies!