I’m really excited to say I have the wonderfully talented and incredibly interesting, T.M Clark as a guest on my blog tonight.
T.M and I met a number of years ago when we were both part of the inaugural Romance Writers of Australia’s 5 Day Intensive workshop where we worked with multi published authors on our WIPs. It was an exciting time, and T.M was one of those people who while holed up in their rooms typing away studiously to get through their work (while she was busily running a writing competition at the same time to boot!) was always keen for a chat and to work through issues with other writers – her door was always open.
I was super impressed at how, even though she was insanely busy, she managed to find time to write at all, let alone write the sweeping, panoramic, epics that were in her heart to write. And nothing has changed. T.M is just as busy, but she has followed her dream and her first novel, a sweeping epic romance set in Africa, has hit the shelves just the other week.
LL: Hi Tina. Thanks for being a guest on my blog. Tell us a bit about your new novel, My Brother But One.
T.M: Thanks for having me here Leisl, I’m excited because we do have that history together, and it’s so great to visit blogs of people I know and have known for a while on our journeys.
My Brother But One is about the everyday life and struggle of two families to stay alive, and simply eek out an existence in an ever-changing world. A world where the everyday people can do nothing against corrupt governments who force them into situations they don’t want, and don’t like, but they find the only path for survival, is to remain together and to love each other and love the African continent, believing that it will provide for them…
LL: It sounds wonderful. You are from Africa. How long have you lived in Australia? What brought you here? What makes you set your novels there?
TM: I lived in Zimbabwe until I was 12 years old, then moved to South Africa. I moved countries again when I was 27 years old, to England but it was too cold… so in 2000 I moved to Australia and I have found it to be just right ( said Goldylocks sitting in the comfy chair…) My husband and I didn’t leave South Africa because of the violence, in fact both times I’ve moved from an African country it’s been after all the major political changes etc have taken place. But we needed to be our own people. We wanted to travel, and live the life we wanted to, not the life that everyone was expecting us to.
Why set my novels in Africa: I guess it’s where I grew up, where I spent my childhood running around the bushveld, and having that sense of wide openness around me. I write in Africa because I love the place, and I love the people and the animals. Just because you leave a place, doesn’t mean your heart doesn’t still hear those drums beat, or those birds sing and the quietness of the night. I write it because it’s what I know best.
LL: Wonderful reasons. Many authors (myself included) talk about where their story ideas come from (I dream mine.) What inspires you to write? Where do your ideas come from?
TM: You dream yours… wow that sounds so great and inspirational and arty …sorry mine is boring compared to that…. The initial ideas come from life and then I just ‘cook’ them in my head, build characters around people and places and let it run in there. I collect pictures and articles along the way to help make me remember things, but essentially they are just stories.
LL: Certainly not ‘just’ stories, TM!
I love your call story – can you please share it with us.
TM: At the RWA Conference on the Gold Coast in August 2012, I pitched this book to an overseas editor. She asked me for three chapters, but I wasn’t sure if she liked the book or was just asking everyone for this amount of work. On exiting the pitching rooms, I was in the lift with Haylee Kerans, Publishing Manager from Harlequin Mills and Boon Australia. (We actually know each other from attending previous conferences, and because of CYA Conference.)
Haylee asked me how the pitch went and I responded not so well – her eyes glazed over – but she asked for 3 chapters. Haylee asked what it was about and I gave her the worst pitch in recorded history. Being a nice person, she showed interest and asked to see a full. At least that is why I thought she asked to see it. I went home, got busy, a few months later began to send out my conference submissions but decide not to send to Haylee as I was pretty certain she’d just asked to see it because she was nice.
However, I had to email her about a conference happening up in Tropical North Qld. We chatter on email, and then she says: ( this one is quoted from her email)
“On another note, will I be receiving your African Saga soon?”
OMG she wasn’t just being nice…and she remembered our chatter during a really busy conference! Even I know not to argue at that stage with an editor! So I sent it. Emailed all 4.8MB of books, maps, glossary (being an African setting there are many words that needed translations etc), and then waited. Christmas and New Year are a huge family time in this house, and I had edits to work on from Entangled for a different book (also with an African setting), so I plod on…
12th February 2013. I have something ridiculous like 1,850 emails in my inbox, and I go on a major deleting spree to try get everything back under control. One of my emails is from Haylee Nash, and is titled: Offer. I click on it to add it to the others spam emails behind about to hit the trash can – but my eye runs over the first line, and I stop. There is the word submission is in there… this could be writing related and not spam.
I read her email and realise not only is Haylee Kerans now Haylee Nash ( CONGRATULATIONS Haylee on your marriage!), but she is offering me a contract on the book from the worst elevator pitch in history!
And so the screaming began, and the long awaited 2nd book contract in my life actually happened.
LL: I just love that story. Thanks for sharing it. I know My Brother But One isn’t just a normal, contemporary romance. Can you tell us what makes it special to you? What do you think will make readers fall in love with this story?
TM: No it’s not a traditional contemporary romance at all. In fact, they labelled the back as General Fiction. It’s an adventure/saga really with a little sprinkle of a romantic element.
I think each reader takes away what they want to from this book. It’s not about a single person but a family, and it’s not about the colour of that family’s skin tones, but what is in each of those characters hearts, and what they can do, and what boundaries they are willing to push and the size of the sacrifices made for them all to survive in an environment that has changed.
This was a book of the heart when I wrote it. The first novel I had ever completed, then completed again when I expanded it to tell the whole story and evolve it into what it is today. It’s also a book I wasn’t willing to compromise on, so I never shielded away from the nastiness and violence that made up part of my story, as violence is a real life factor in living in most of Africa.
I think I am lucky that although I once lived surrounded by this type of environment, I somehow managed to not be a victim of this violence, and for that I am eternally grateful!
LL: I love your cover. What about it do you think expresses something essential to the reader?
TM: Thank you again to the team at Harlequin Australia for not listening to one of my ideas and for knowing what they had up their sleeve was better and just perfect for the book. Every time I see my cover I start singing, ‘He an’t heavy, he’s my brother…’ It just fits for me. Those elephants captured my heart. I love my cover too!
LL: What’s been the most surprising aspect of your journey from unpublished author to published author so far?
TM: Taking so long from my first published children’s book in 2005 to publishing a novel in 2013. I thought once the first one happened, I would get another and another book published, but it just didn’t happen that way. Guess some things just take how long they need to take and there is no short cut.
LL: What’s up next for you? Any projects on the boil that you’re particularly excited about?
TM: I have been offered a new, two book deal from Harlequin, Australia, and I’m still finishing off the next book. Hope it’s next on the shelf…working title: Shooting Butterflies, but that’s up to my editor. Again it’s mainly set in Southern Africa, and has a multicultural cast of characters whom I just adore!
LL: Sounds fascinating.
Thank you so much for being a guest on my blog today, T.M. It was fun finding out a little bit more about you and your writing.
You can buy T.M Clark’s new novel, My Brother But One from:
E-book – Apple App Store – https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/my-brother-but-one/id730800670?mt=11
Ebook – Kobo – http://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/my-brother-but-one
E- Book – Harlequin Books Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781743564660
Books from: Target, Big W, Kmart, any good book store.
Book from Booktopia – http://www.booktopia.com.au/my-brother-but-one-t-m-clark/prod9781743564660.html
Book from: Harlequin Books Australia: http://www.harlequinbooks.com.au/product/9781743564660
TINA MARIE CLARK
Born in Zimbabwe, Tina Marie completed her primary school years at boarding school in Bulawayo, but on weekends and holidays, her time was spent exploring their family ranch in Nyamandhlovu, normally on the back of her horse. Her teenage years were totally different to her idyllic childhood. After her father died, the family of 5 women moved to Kokstad, a rural town at the foot of the Drakensberg Mountains in South Africa, where she lived in the boarding school hostel as her home. In winter she walked to school in the snow and could never get warm, and in summer she sweated having to wear an impractical, but smart, blazer on the same trail.
She began writing fiction when she moved to the UK while being a stay at home mum to her two sons, following a suggestion from her husband Shaun during a trip to Paris, and she hasn’t looked back.
Now living on a small island near Brisbane in Queensland, Australia, Tina Marie combines her passion for story telling with her love for Africa. When not running around after the men in her life, she gets to enjoy her hobbies, which include boating, reading, sewing, travel, gardening, and lunching with her friends. (Not necessarily in that order!)
Passionate about Africa, different cultures and wildlife, most of Tina Marie’s books are set somewhere on that ancient continent.
Readers are welcome to find Tina on social media:
Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/TMClark- Author/130010083845439
Find me on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7223082.T_M_Clark
Or visit on her website: www.tmclark.com.au
Or email her on: firstname.lastname@example.org