IN THIS BRAND NEW SERIES I’LL BE INTRODUCING YOU TO SOME OF THE FINEST AUTHORS AROUND. YOU’LL GET A PEEK INSIDE THEIR MIND AND THEIR PROCESS. WELCOME TO J.B.’S AUTHOR INTERVIEW SERIES.
J.B. Taylor – What inspires you?
Lilian Surgeson – People – nearly always. Watching the different ways they tackle the world, the great things they do, how they move, the funny or profound things they say – and imagining what would happen if… What if you weren’t such a nice guy, what if your wife really did have a terrible secret, what if you’d won instead of lost, what if you’d never got caught.
A lot of characters I write have some anchor in someone I know, or have traits I’ve picked up from people. That’s why my Black River Chronicles are dedicated to characters in the books – because each of them has a real person behind them somewhere.
J.B. Taylor – What’s your favorite book?
Lilian Surgeson – Only one? That’s a tall order. Um…. I suppose if I’m only allowed one it had better be ‘Hatful of Sky’ by the late, great Sir Terry Pratchett. Could easily have picked several more of his.
J.B. Taylor – If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?
Lilian Surgeson – Ask how much I was being paid, I don’t like jelly beans.
J.B. Taylor – Where do you like to write?
Lilian Surgeson – I often write sitting on my bed in my bedroom, I suppose it’s the one place I can guarantee peace and quiet and it’s quite comfy.
J.B. Taylor – Which Harry Potter house would you belong to?
Lilian Surgeson – Slytherin – hands down. I’m not evil, I’m not even particularly ambitious but I do have a ruthless streak and believe in a certain amount of natural justice.
J.B. Taylor – What is your favorite word?
Lilian Surgeson – I love old-fashioned words such as poodlefaking, popinjay, vacillation, and antediluvian. Possibly my favourite word however is quixotic.
J.B. Taylor – What is your least favorite word?
Lilian Surgeson – I’ve racked my brains about this. There aren’t any particular words I don’t like. What I don’t like are certain linguistic traits people use. The one that perhaps irritates me more the most is when people chop the end or beginning off a word: whateves, obvs, ‘rents…. ‘puter –you get the idea. The other one (and I think this is a purely British irritation) is when people as ‘is all’ instead of ‘that’s all’.
J.B. Taylor – What was the first story you ever wrote, and what happened to that story?
Lilian Surgeson – The first story I can remember writing was about a cat (I forget the name) that had some kind of adventure. My mother illustrated it for me.
J.B. Taylor – Tell us about your process: Pen, paper, word processor, human sacrifice … how do you write?
Lilian Surgeson – I prefer word-processor. I’m an exceptionally fast type, and can type without looking (even at the screen). I like not having to scribble things out. However, in some situations, when I can’t have my laptop or other electronic substitute I write in notebooks in pencil (not pen), or on scrap paper. Usually writing like this means I’ve been caught by an idea somewhere not conducive to laptops (pubs, staff meetings, campsites) and therefore will write on anything I can get my hands on.
J.B. Taylor – What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as a writer?
Lilian Surgeson – Not backing up properly. Over the years, I have lost probably hundreds of thousands of words due to having a knack for losing files, crashing laptops and forgetting where I’ve saved things. I try to be good, I use cloud storage, but somehow I still seem to lose chunks.
J.B. Taylor – What else are you working on?
Lilian Surgeson – I’m working on 3 novels at the moment (I never do anything by halves). Predominantly, I’m working on the next installment of the Black River Chronicles called ‘The Fireborn Road’. On the back burner are two fiction novels about teachers in various different schools, based partly on my own professional experience.
J.B. Taylor – In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
Lilian Surgeson – Two of the main character in my novels are Iona Pringle and Derek Peterson. They make a great double act. If I could have any actors from any time for this pair I’d have Janeane Garofalo (she’s got the tough edge, the looks and the comic timing) and Alan Tudyk (Wash from Firefly) for Derek. Lord knows if that would make a good combo on screen though…
J.B. Taylor – When you complete a story, do you let it go? Or do you like to stop and think about what your characters might be up to, what they might be doing?
Lilian Surgeson – I’m always wondering what happens to my more established characters – perhaps that’s why I write a series? If I like a character, I always want to know what they’re up to, almost like long lost friends.
J.B. Taylor – Are you a panster or an outliner?
Lilian Surgeson – I have a list of key plot points, sort of a beginning middle end set up and if I dream up any set pieces or humorous scenes or whatever I slot them in on the list but otherwise, I just write.
You can check out the work of Lilian Surgeson by following the link below