*Book Cover images used from author’s website*
I had the privilege of getting an interview with one of my favorite authors TC Southwell. Southwell has an extensive collection writings and she shows no sign of stopping. My thanks again to Southwell for taking the time to answering my questions. Enjoy!
Michael Alexander: You have an impressive collection of novels from The Queen’s Blade series to the Demon Lord series and the Slave Empire series, all highly acclaimed from your readers. Did you ever think that when you published your novels they would ever be so well received?
TC Southwell: No, the series’ popularity has come as a wonderful surprise. I never thought the books would do as well as they have. The positive reaction I’ve had from readers has been wonderful and extremely gratifying. Some readers have said they enjoyed a particular series so much they’ve read it five or six times, while others said they could not put the books down, even to eat or sleep!
MA: You have a knack for creating complex characters and long plots that extend past the pages of a single novel. Do you plan these stories and plots out before hand or does inspiration hit you as you write?
TC: I’m a ‘channeller’, so I’ve been told. I start a book with a scene that pops into my head, and then the characters take over and do their own thing. I have no idea what’s going to happen in the next paragraph or even, sometimes, the next line. It’s like a film in my mind, and I simply write what I see and hear, which makes it really easy and fun. All the details come to me as I write, and oftentimes I don’t even stop to put in chapters. The only thing that slows me down is my typing speed, and I’m pretty fast these days. It’s like being in the other world, and I have to write until the ‘channel’ fades or I forget the story that’s already ‘downloaded’ into my mind. If I try to change it, my mind goes blank. When I reach a point where I can stop for a while, I add in the chapters during my first edit, then chop up what is essentially one long story into book-sized portions. I had no idea the stories would end up as series, and I still don’t know when they’ll end.
MA: Which series was the most difficult to write? What was the easiest?
TC: Slave Empire took the most effort, since that was the first series I wrote and it has required a great deal of editing and re-writing over the years. The Cyber Chronicles was the easiest, apart from Cyborg, as that story just flowed through my mind like a river. I struggled with Cyborg because I lost the original draft when my laptop crashed. All my backups were corrupt, but I asked the laptop repair company for my hard drive, which I kept safe for six years, until I could afford to recover it. Then, however, I discovered that they had given me the wrong HD, so I had to re-write Cyborg, but I couldn’t remember most of it and the ‘channel’ was gone. Struggling to cobble it together from the few scenes I remembered was a truly frustrating experience. I lost about 50 pages of that story.
MA: Is there any overall theme to your novels that you hope your readers will take to heart?
TC: All the books have a love story in them, and I certainly think love is important; the world would be a better place if there was more of it around. I also think true love drives people to do heroic deeds in order to save the one they love; or, in the case of Demon Lord, even try to give up evil. In The Broken World, there is the premise that it’s a really bad idea to stuff up the world in which you live, and I do hope readers take that message to heart and do whatever they can to save our world.
MA: What are some of your favorite authors and books?
TC: My favourite authors are C. S. Lewis, whose Narnia series introduced me to fantasy books as a child, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Stephen R. Donaldson, in particular his The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant series, which transported me into his world completely.
MA: What has been the toughest criticism you have received as an author?
TC: One reviewer said my characters were shallow and the books badly written, full of typos and spelling mistakes. I’ve spent years editing the books, and a number of fellow writers and beta readers have proofread them, so that surprised me somewhat. When I checked the books, I could not find the plethora of errors the reviewer claimed. Sure, there were a few. There are always a few; I don’t think it’s possible to make a book 100% error-free, but I’ve done my best. The characters drive the stories, and I don’t find them in the least bit shallow, but you can’t please everyone.
MA: What are some of your pet peeves in regards to writing?
TC: I wish it didn’t make me nocturnal, as that can be really inconvenient, but I find writing at night, when it’s quiet and there are no interruptions, suits me best. As a perfectionist, not being able to get my writing as good as I would like is frustrating. No matter how many times I edit, I always find sentences I wish I could write better, and descriptions that just don’t quite cut it. I’ll spend ages mulling over those things, trying various alternatives, until eventually I give up and move on. I’ve been writing, on and off, for more than twenty years, but about six years ago I joined a writing guild and that improved my writing a lot – then I had to edit all the books again! Every now and then I’ll discover a new way to improve my prose, and it’s back to editing once more. At some point I’ve got to say enough is enough and stop editing so I can concentrate on writing new books. My next project is to publish all the books as paperbacks, so of course I need to edit them again before I do that.
MA: Do you have any advice for inspiring indie authors? Any lessons you have learned along the way that really stuck with you?
TC: If you’re writing a series, giving away the first book is an excellent marketing strategy. Marketing is the toughest aspect of being an indie author. Introducing your series to readers with a free book pretty much guarantees sales of subsequent books if the readers enjoy them, and ensures only people who enjoy the books buy them. Make your prices reasonable. My philosophy is I’d rather sell more for less than less for more; that way, more people discover your books and spread the word. Word of mouth marketing is the best. Polish and fine-tune your writing until it’s as good as you can make it. Find some beta readers and ask them to proofread and critique. Don’t take criticism to heart, though; everyone has a different opinion about what’s good and what’s bad. Write for your own enjoyment, not what you think your readers want. Write with passion; it will come through in your books.
MA: What project are you currently working on? Any details you would like to share?
TC: At the moment I’m writing book 8 of the Demon Lord series, as yet untitled. Bane becomes separated from his companions when he goes to rescue an archangel from the Underworld and is snared in a black trap that casts him and the archangel into a strange realm where some of Bane’s powers don’t work. There, he must face dangers with only the crippled Majelin for backup, a novel and somewhat irritating situation for Bane, who’s not fond of angels, and he discovers that archangels are especially annoying.
MA: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
TC: I’d like to thank my readers for their support and the wonderful emails they send me. It makes my day when someone writes to tell me how much they enjoyed the books, and especially if they have added me to their list of favourite authors. I always reply to emails and love receiving them, so keep them coming! A question I am asked a lot is whether I intend to continue a particular series. Yes, I will be continuing all of them. There are lots of adventures still to come.
TC Southwell’s novels are available at all major retailers including Smashwords, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Sony eBooks, and the Diesel eBook store to name a few.
Visit TC Southwell’s website here: