This evening I welcome author Tara Lyons to my blog to talk about A Life in Books. Details of Tara’s books and how to contact and follow her are at the end of the interview.
Can you tell me a bit about yourself?
Hi Juliet, thanks for having me on your blog today. I’m Tara and I write crime/thriller books. I’ve always loved writing and I would have been the kid in the corner of the room with my nose in a book – either making up my own stories or reading them. After my son was born and I was made redundant, I realised I had some extra time and rekindled my love of reading. When I turned 30 in 2015, some very awesome friends gifted me with a laptop – so I now had the time and the tools to follow my dreams and started writing again. I self-published my debut solo novel, In The Shadows, in March 2016 and have co-written with M.A. Comley (The Caller and Web of Deceit: A DI Sally Parker novella). I was delighted when, in August 2016, I signed a book contract with the formidable Bloodhound Books, who published No Safe Home in January of this year. I’m currently working on the third book in the DI Hamilton Series (although both In The Shadows and No Safe Home can be read as standalones) and it will be published later this year.
When I’m not writing, my time is spent with my family – namely my very energetic four-year-old son, my less energetic eighty-year-old nan and my extremely supportive mum (we’ll leave her age out of it, as she’ll probably read this).
1. What was your favourite book from childhood
I was a huge Roald Dahl fan. I loved the imagery and characters and funny words. While I read all of them, The Witches always sticks out in my mind – I don’t know if it was because of the sheer magic of these beings existing or because maybe it was a bit scary… maybe we should have known back then that I had a darker side. What’s lovely is that I’m getting a chance to re-read them now when my son. We’ve just finished The BFG (which he loved and wanted me to read again as soon as I’d finished) and we’ve just started Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.
2. What type of books did you read as a teenager?
I moved on to Point Horror, Goosebumps and Sweet Valley High – which was probably early teenage years. Thinking about it, this actually says a lot about my reading habits now – I love a crime, thriller story that’s going to shock and scare me, but, every now and then, I have to break it up with something lighter. Looks like I’m the same kind of reader as teenage me.
3. When you were at school what was your favourite book you studied?
This is an interesting one… and I’ll have to go with Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet. I got “told off” by my form tutor because each morning before lessons started, we were expected to read a book of our choice and she caught me reading this book. However, she was soon shut down when the rest of the class backed me up and explained we hadn’t actually started this book in English class yet, I was reading it because I wanted to. It wasn’t on the reading syllabus until the following year – and I read it again. So, it’s always been a firm school favourite read. Perhaps it’s the mix of love and death and family that appeals to me.
4. What is your favourite classic book?
Has to be Jane Eyre – another book I’ve read more than once. But, if I’m honest, I can’t quite put my finger on why I’ve read it more than once, (other than Romeo and Juliet, it’s not something I’m in the habit of doing), but, I’ve just always enjoyed it. Also, it is another mixed tale, with the foundations of a love story cloaked in darkness… I see a theme here in my reading habits!
5. What would you consider to be one of the best books you have had over the last 5 years?
That is such a difficult question! I’ve read books that have scared me, enlightened me and made me cry… how do I choose? Okay, I can’t and I have to cheat… sorry!
Flowers For The Dead, Barbara Copperthwaite – when an author can make you feel sorry for a serial killer, that is some real talent! I almost stopped reading this book early on, because I didn’t like one of the scenes, but I’m so glad I pushed passed the horror it invoked because it was information that was needed. The style of writing, language, imagery and emotions it made me feel, has stuck with me.
Charlie & Peal, Tammy Robinson – just when I thought my tear-ducts had completely dried up, Tammy’s books were introduced into my life. They have become my light-relief stories, my palette cleanser from the many crime and thriller reads. Tammy has a way with words and I am scooped up into her beautiful world – seeing the endless ocean and star-filled night skies.
The Justice Series, M.A Comley – when you need a strong female character in your life, this is the kick-arse crime series to turn to. I’ve just finished reading the 14th book in the series and it always feels like a treat have DI Lorne Warner back in my life. It has an explosive start to the series – I read them in a matter of days, which is very fast for me, and I can’t recommend the series enough. It would make an awesome crime TV series.
6. What book to you think you should read but never get around to?
I should read A Clockwork Orange because it’s been on my TBR list since I started university. I was told that a scene of the film was filmed at Brunel University, where I attended, and bought the book. When I went through my nesting stage of pregnancy all my books were taken to a charity shop (I know, blasphemy) so, I’ve been working to get some of those back – this book is one of them. Perhaps I’ll make it happen this year.
7. What do you consider to be your favourite book?
I think the one that really encouraged my reading (and maybe even writing) in a certain genre was In Cold Blood by Truman Capote. I used it for my university dissertation – though that was about journalism in books – and I took so much more from it. Capote had researched a real-life murder case that happened in Kansas in 1959 and reconstructed it in this book. Capote didn’t just focus on the crime, but the events leading up to it, how their lives came together and the effect it had on all those involved. Last week I ordered myself a paperback copy from Amazon and I’m really looking forward to re-reading this one.
8. Is there a book that you have started but been unable to finish?
Unfortunately, yes. The Truth and Other Lies by Sascha Arango, which had been translated by Imogen Taylor. Perhaps I just got a bit lost in translation, but I just couldn’t get to grips with it, which is a shame because it’s described as a witty and dark crime thriller. I’m sure loads of people will love it, but it just wasn’t for me.
9. If you were stranded on a desert Island which 2 books would you want to have with you?
Oh… so, so hard! I’m sure I should be clever and say a book by Bear Grylls, but I know I wouldn’t be able to eat fish and creepy crawlies, so I might as well have some good books to take my mind off the hunger. My answer will probably change each time I’m asked it but, right now I’m choosing: Peter Kay’s autobiography to give me some laughs on those lonely nights (I’ve assumed I’m alone on this stranded island) and I’ll take In Cold Blood, so I get some uninterrupted time to actually re-read it!
10. Kindle or Book?
Both… I have mountains of paperbacks and some are very special to me as they have been signed. However, I will admit to using my kindle much more for reading and lately the books have taken a backseat.
Tara’s books are available to buy now.