Saturday, 14 April 2012

Interrogating Rosen Trevithick

This is my 13th interview which should have been posted yesterday on Friday 13th.
Rosen is one of my new favourite authors as she takes you on a rollercoaster ride of highs and lows

How much of you is in your characters?

Most (but not all!) of my protagonists are based on some aspect of me. Sophie Sweet (Straight Out of University) is particularly similar to me – a thirty(ish!), left-wing, stubborn, drama queen. We have very similar perspectives on the world because we both grew up in a small Cornish village, went away to University and then came back – an interesting experience to say the least!

Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be?

I would like to be Steph (London, the Doggy and Me) at the end of the book (not throughout, when a situation involving a giant dog is escalating out of control!). I chose her because she's just about to realise her life's ambition, which is something we'd all like to do, (even if her exact dream – playing a whore in a West End show – isn't quite my cup of tea!).

The other character I'd like to be would be Ellie Hart (Straight Out of University) because, as Sophie keeps reminding us, she's arguably the most impressive woman who ever lived.

How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?

I used to write for me, but after publishing a few titles I've learnt that I need to develop ideas that I'm both passionate about and know other people will be interested to read. I often have several ideas that I would like to write so I've learn that I need to prioritise the most marketable ones.

Recently, I let popular opinion select which of two novels I would write! They were both comedies, one was about a couple who get more than they bargain for when their dying sperm donor makes a sudden recovery, the other was about a group of ambitious indie writers, who suddenly find that the plots of their stories are coming true. Friends voted for the first but Kindle owners voted for the book about writers, so that's the one I'm working on now.

What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.

It's easier to be a comedy writer than train to become a doctor, even though it's widely accepted that laughter is the best medicine. One day I'll save a life, and the lucky patient will say to me, "Yeah, the paramedics stopped the bleeding, but you were the one who made me laugh!"

I also write some more serious books which I'm told can be a little tear-jerking. Whilst I'd never say that I enjoy making people cry, it is very satisfying to hear from somebody who has been moved by my work. I like being able to use fiction to add weight to causes I feel strongly about, such as changing attitudes towards mental illness.

Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them? 

Usually ideas get written on the backs of envelopes, because they are the closest thing to hand at 3am when thoughts pop, uninvited, into my head. However, my entire flat is covered in vandalised paper goods – receipts, napkins, bank statements, tissue boxes … When visitors pop in, I have to check what's lying around. Once a partner found a piece of paper with scribbles that read, "Befuddled" "Trying to leave partner" "Different dog" – that took some explaining.

What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?

My reading tastes are similar to my writing tastes but not quite the same. I love to read comedies and serious whodunits. However, whilst I do write humorous books, I will never ever have the patience to tackle writing a factually accurate, police novel.

At the moment, I'm reading a lot of indie books and working my way through those that come highly recommended, so I've been straying outside my usual reading genres. It's been a very enjoyable ride so far. When I started sharing my work I was a little embarrassed about being a self-published writer, but having read books by really talented indies, I'm now very proud to be part of the indie scene.

What lengths do you go to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?

To be honest, the battle for most indies is not convincing readers that our books are good, but getting readers in the first place. Some people like my work, some people don't. I'm more interested in finding my audience, than convincing the masses that I have an undeniable yet universally undefinable, talent.

I have been known to go to considerable lengths to attract new readers, including accosting Kindle readers at the dentists, 'accidentally' dropping business cards on the train, and making liberal use of the phrase, "Would you mind awfully copying exactly what you just said into a review?"

I also wear garish white boots, radically-feathered hair and copious amounts of eye makeup when out and about, because I like to believe they make me look like a genuine artiste. In actual fact, I end up looking like a waddling 80s chicken.

How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?

I always welcome constructive ways to improve my work so I'm grateful when people draw my attention to specific errors. I have a proof-reader now, so mistakes don't happen very often. Before I had an editor, a fair few typos sneaked in but the books were priced accordingly. On a couple of occasions, people left unfocussed, sarcastic feedback about typos in free content, which didn't strike me as very reasonable. Even then, after sulking for a few hours, I thanked them for taking the trouble to review my books. At the end of the day, readers' opinions are valuable to writers even when we don't necessarily agree with them.

What do you like most about visiting KUF?

The sense of community. Writing is a solitary pastime and it's great to be able to find an aspect of being a writer, that's actually sociable. Using KUF feels a bit like having colleagues! They might not make me coffee and bring in biscuits, but they do share ideas and gossip with me. I wonder if I could persuade to mods to install a cappuccino machine …

Have you written any humorous, knicker-related number one bestsellers that are now available as part of a five-star short story collection Rosen?

Well, funny you should mention that Joo, because my short story, Lipstick and Knickers made it to number 1 in Amazon's humorous fiction chart earlier this year, and stayed there for a few weeks. It forms part of the short story collection Seesaw which  is now available for Kindle and to pre-order in paperback!

The Kindle version of Seesaw has received some very pleasing feedback – as well you know Joo (thanks again!) For the benefit of your blog readers, the stories alternate between humorous and very serious psychological tales, hence the name Seesaw.

I'm very excited about the paperback launch, it's the first time one of my books has been released in a physical format. However, the report that I sleep with a copy under my pillow was a vicious rumour! (I'd never deprive my baby of fresh air.)

What is on your near horizon?

I'm working on the new novel that I mentioned, about indie writers, provisionally called Pompomberry House. A group of seriously flawed characters meet on an island for a writers' retreat, and end up thrown into the centre of a murder plot when their storylines begin to come true. Of course, we all know that there are some thoroughly wonderful, ludicrously talented indie writers – but you won't find them at Pompomberry House.

Where can we find you for more information?

I keep a website about my books and indie writing in general, which can be found at:

Or, if you would prefer, you can view Seesaw for Kindle on Amazon:


  1. I'm going to confess to being a Rosen fan. Not because I know her personally (I don't) or I like her (I really don't) or because she knows my secrets (she absolutely does not, so don't believe anything she tells you). It's because I gave one of her books a try and the quality of the writing just drew me in. She's so good she makes me want to pretend she doesn't exist.

    Seriously, another brilliant interview, thanks Joo! And thanks Rosen, for making it as entertaining as it is insightful. And I agree the KUF mods need to be bringing us all coffee and biscuits while we're on the forums!

  2. I am glad you have also turned into a proud indie, Rosen. We are just like other writers; some are good, some are bad, some are brilliant. And I like the idea of being judged by my readers, not some editor who may not even like my genre.

    My laugh-out-loud moment:
    "I also wear garish white boots, radically-feathered hair and copious amounts of eye makeup when out and about, because I like to believe they make me look like a genuine artiste. In actual fact, I end up looking like a waddling 80s chicken."

  3. I agree - indies are diverse, so are traditionally published writers.

    Proud to have made you laugh.