Welcome to this Wednesday's Wordy author! And she has warned me she really is wordy! Today it's the turn of Emma Tofi. First I asked Emma to tell us about herself and the books she writes...
I'm 33, single and I live in sunny Cornwall (well, it's sunny at the moment, anyway - fingers crossed it stays...). I'm an unashamed nerd - I have a Doctor Who tattoo and everything - and a lover of music, food and roller coasters (although I don't recommend indulging a love of food before a love of roller coasters :-P).
For as long as I can remember, I've written children's stories (since I was a child, myself!). In 2011, my first three children's books, Alana The Angry Alligator, Bertie Bullfrog And The Bullies and Charlie The Cheating Cheetah, were published by Thingley Press, under the umbrella title, The ABC Animals. In March 2015, I began challenging myself to write a new bedtime story for children every week, to be published on my blog each Wednesday night at 6pm GMT. I had so many ideas for children's books that weekly bedtime stories felt like the way to go! In October 2015, I dipped my toes into self-publishing, with the release of a collection of children's stories, called Seven Days With The Cherry Tree Gang. But, in amongst all this children's writing, I had always wanted to write a novel for adults and had been working on one for several years. In December 2015, Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections, my debut, semi-autobiographical adult novel, was self-published. The reaction has been amazing and has encouraged me to start working on my second novel, which I aim to have out by the end of this year!
I would say my adult novel(s) fit into the rather generic "women's fiction" category, but in reality, I just enjoy exploring human nature and relationships (of all kinds) in my stories.
Do you have another job or are you a full time author? If you do something else (international spy?) what is it and do you like it?
Ooh, if only I could say I was an international spy! I'm a nursery nurse, which definitely helps with coming up with ideas for my weekly bedtime story feature, over on my blog. I do really enjoy it, although I find squeezing writing time in after an 8am-6pm shift looking after little ones can be tricky, especially if all I want to do is curl up with a chocolate bar and watch Buffy The Vampire Slayer all night! The dream is to write full time, but the day job is fun, so that's a bonus.
When did you start writing?
To be honest, almost as soon as I knew how to write, I was writing stories. That's not hyperbole, either! I used to tell my teachers at primary school that my exercise book was full up, so they'd give me a new one and I'd take it home and write stories in it. I think they did wonder how I got through quite so many exercise books... I became very serious about writing when I reached my late teens and I wrote a full-length children's novel, which I sent to every publisher I could think of, only to have it returned by every single one.
In my mid-twenties, I started my blog, The Rambling Curl, and began honing my skills, there. I figured I could practise my writing and have another go at getting published when I'd regained some confidence. A couple of years later, I was put in touch with Thingley Press, who were looking for a new children's writer and The ABC Animals books were born! I decided to throw myself at a writing career head first; gave up my job as a TA at a primary school and spent a year promoting the books and doing school visits etc. It was amazing fun, but as most of us know, you rarely get rich overnight in this game and so I found myself going back to a day-job in 2012.
Unfortunately, whilst all of this was going on, I was also escaping an emotionally abusive relationship and trying to piece my life back together again. It was in late 2012, whilst having a counselling session with my support worker from the amazing abuse charity who helped me, that I said: "Someone needs to write a novel that shows emotional abuse for what it is, whilst also showing how easy it is to fall for it." My support worker knew I was a writer and just said: "Go on, then." I started writing Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections that very night. It's the most personal thing I've ever written and I'm so proud of it!
What 3 things are guaranteed to make you smile?
My family, my friends and the general existence of Phil Lester (his YouTube videos are absolutely guaranteed to cheer me up if I'm feeling a bit "meh," plus he's a genuinely lovely guy and not exactly hard on the eye...).
Do you have any pets? If yes, what, and do they help or hinder the writing process?
I currently live with my parents (I know, I'm way too old to be saying that, but don't get me started on the cost of living in Cornwall, or the minimum wage...) and they have a four year old Labradoodle called Rusty. He's absolutely adorable, but also absolutely crazy. He's good for going to if I need a bit of down-time after writing an emotional scene, but he also has a habit of tapping on the back door with his paw, in an effort to distract me from writing and get me to go and play fetch instead! I'm weak-willed and I can't resist those puppy eyes...(having just got a puppy myself, which might explain the late posting of this weeks post, I can appreciate the way they waste your time! In the best possible way!)
Who is your favourite author? Do they influence your writing or are they a total break from the sort of thing you write?
In terms of children's writing, I am a massive fan of Jill Murphy. Her writing has been a big influence on my own and I would say that reading The Worst Witch is what inspired me to write for children.
In terms of adult authors, I absolutely adore Roddy Doyle. His style is quite different to my own, but I love how he really gets into characters' heads and explores what makes them tick, in a very down-to-Earth manner. His novel, The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, is probably my favourite book of all time and it was definitely something I thought a lot about when I was writing Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections.
Which book(s) are you reading at the moment?
I am massively late to the party, but I'm reading Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl at the moment and loving it, so far! The characters are well drawn and I like the mystery of the storyline. I've managed to avoid any spoilers, so I'm really keen to find out what happens as I read. (I'm even later - I still haven't read it - I'm not sure I'd enjoy it. I've just become a bit addicted to audio books and am finding science fantasy a genre I'm getting back into)
In a pretty huge style contrast, I also keep a copy of Dan Howell and Phil Lester's The Amazing Book Is Not On Fire next to my bed, which I flick through if ever I need cheering up. I love them on YouTube and their book is just like an extension of their video channels - funny, silly and creative. Perfect for if you need a giggle!
Where do you do most of your writing?
I like to sit at the kitchen table. I can look out of the French doors into the garden, pop out and throw a ball to the dog for a bit if I need a screen break and I'm never too far away from the kettle! ;-) If it gets too noisy in there (I'm very easily distracted!), I'll go up to my room and sit on my bed with my laptop on my knees. There's something nice about not actually being at a desk and just being comfy and cosy, somewhere familiar. I don't like writing to feel like work.
Tell us about the character that you've written that you like the most - no spoilers!
It probably sounds arrogant to say this, seeing as she's partly based on me, but I love Jenna in Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections. She's very warm and caring, yet she has much greater reserves of inner strength than she even realises.
From Seven Days With The Cherry Tree Gang, I have a soft spot for little Henry. He's the sensible, slightly nerdy member of the gang and I like that he doesn't necessarily feel a need to conform to being a stereotypical boy. I also like Flo from The Cherry Tree Gang, because she doesn't let being the smallest stop her from being heard! Considering I'm only five foot tall, I can empathise with that. ;-)
What is your favourite biscuit?
Oooh, I'm very partial to an Oreo. Especially the double-stuffed kind. They make me drool like Homer from The Simpsons!
Tea or Coffee?
Either! I like both. I start the day with a boiled water, which is exactly as disgusting as it sounds, but it's excellent for your digestive system. But I will happily drink a tea or a coffee. A good cup of tea is like a hug in liquid form, whereas a decent cup of coffee is like a pair of spark plugs directly to my brain. I get very wired if I drink too much of it...
In the film of your life who would play you? (why)
I'm told I look like Kristen Schaal and, being a big fan of Flight of The Conchords, I'd be more than happy to see her do it, if she could do a British accent! Alternatively, I also get told I look like Issy Suttie and she's brilliant, so she could have a go at being me!
That said, if I could choose anyone, I'd maybe choose Alex Kingston, because I'm a Whovian and River Song is just amazing. Plus, it would mean that I could meet Alex and ask her what it was like to kiss Matt Smith!
If you could genetically cross an animal and a vegetable, what would you pick and why? I like the idea of a potato and a sloth...could you get a lazier creature? (my soul mate)
Oooooh, fab question!! I'd cross a dog with a cauliflower, to create something even cuter than a bichon frise. It would serve very little purpose, but it would be aesthetically pleasing...
You can grab a copy of Cracked Mirrors And Torn Reflections from Amazon. Don't forget to leave a review if you do.
Seven Days With The Cherry Tree Gang is also available on Amazon
Emma's Blog is at: http://theramblingcurl.blogspot.co.uk/
And Emma's Twitter page: https://twitter.com/EmmaTofi
Thank you Emma for your great replies, and thanks to you dear blog reader, for reading, do pop over to twitter or Facebook to chat or ask any extra questions.
Until next week. Keep Reading.