1 February 2016

Author Spotlight: Sophie Tanner

Today I have a lovely author's spotlight for you from Sophie Tanner. Her new book, Happily, has a brilliant positive theme of basically being happy with who you are, and I'm sure a lot of us could be doing with hearing that every now and again. I've personally met Sophie in the flesh and I can tell you that she is a vibrant lady who's full of energy and sparkle so please read on to hear more about her book, Happily, and her journey in the book writing world so far.

So first things first, tell me a little bit about yourself?
So, I grew up in the West Country, went to Uni in London and, after a few graduate jobs, went travelling around Africa and Mexico. When I returned, I was drawn to the colourful beach of Brighton and I have now been living here for 10 years! It’s hard to leave because it’s such a chilled out, entertaining place and is surrounded by the beautiful Sussex Downs.  I work at a buzzing digital agency, Propellernet, in the centre of town which has some really wonderful talented people. I’m massively into theatre, music and reading and am also a big fan of nature and the outdoor life - Ella and I love going for country walks followed by country pubs.

What made you decide to write a book?
Ever since I was a young girl, reading under the covers at bedtime with a torch, I have loved books, they’re a portal to entirely different worlds. I also love the English language and the way words can make you feel. I have always wanted to write a book of my own and was writing poetry and prose throughout my childhood. I was a bit of a late-starter in terms of actually dedicating the time to writing a novel, I had several aborted attempts which were frustrating, mainly because the story wasn’t keeping me engaged!

Why self-marriage, what drew you to this topic?
The idea initially popped into my head when I was recovering from a bad break up, I was trying to write a book about a depressing subject at the time and thought, why not write about something that makes you happy? The more I explored self-marriage, the more I liked the concept. I think the landscape of dating and relationships has changed dramatically in the last decade; self-marriage is an interesting expression of self-respect as well as an important coming-of-age ceremony. I realise it may sound a little ‘out there’ but it is my way of commenting on a cultural shift.

Were there any struggles along the way?
When I was writing the book, the main barriers were motivation and self-doubt! I would wonder if it was all just a big waste of time. As I was also working full time, sometimes progress would be slow and I’d almost resent giving up my evenings. But then I’d always come back to the reason I was writing in the first place – to enjoy it, and developing the characters and plot really helped me through.

Do you have any inspirational quotes which you feel have helped you on your book writing journey?
Well, Roald Dahl features quite heavily in the book; he’s a big favourite - “those who don’t believe in magic will never find it”.’

Also, I turned to the poetry essays in The Prophet by Kahil Gibran as inspiring philosophy – it’s a wonderful book on how to manage the human condition.

For example:

‘Love one another, but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.’

Looking back is there anything you wish you could have done differently?
It was quite the journey; I think anything you create takes you on a unique and ultimately rewarding journey and the lessons you learn from your failures are just as important as realising how you do something well. In this respect I wouldn’t change anything.

Are there any new books in the pipeline?
Yes I have started the next book, it’s a dark thriller! I didn’t really want to stick to a genre and had an interesting plot idea. I will probably have to write under a pen name for this next one as it’s pretty different subject matter!

Lots of people would love to write their own book, do you have any handy tips for them?
Yes, I would say – trust yourself and your instinct. You already know what makes up a good story, humans are natural storytellers. Sit down to write as often as you can, even if it’s only a couple of hundred words, you will feel much better for having put something down ‘on paper’ even if you edit it out later. Often I think a lot of creating goes on in your head, when you’re doing other things, so it’s good to keep in close, frequent contact with your book so it is fresh at the forefront of your mind. For the first draft, forget other people’s eyes on what you’re writing; write for joy, to bring to life your inner world. And don’t think you’re not good enough; there wouldn’t be any books at all if every author thought like that. If someone else can come up with a story other people want to hear, then so can you – go for it!

Happily is now available to buy on Amazon

Website: www.sophietanner.co.uk

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