Aspiring author Tanya Cutler discusses her upcoming book, the valour and vulnerability of storytelling, and how she balances work and writing with being a mother…
Writer. Hairdresser. Mother. All three words encapsulate Tanya Cutler, a hardworking author from Bournemouth. After already dipping her toes in short stories and paddling in a pool of poetry, Tanya dove headfirst into writing her first novel last year.
Her debut novel, The Boy in Your Dreams, is the culmination of five months’ work, its ideas and inspirations plucked from her children and hobby for collecting all things horror. We spoke to Tanya, who describes herself “first and foremost” as a mother, about the writing process ahead of her novel’s release next year.
WHAT DO YOU WRITE?
I have, and always have had, a passion for writing poems and small stories. Stories mainly for the children at bedtime, or on a long walk. I write fiction novels. Mainly on the scarier side of the scale, but I like a bit of fantasy too!
COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK?
I’m really excited for the release and I’ll say as much as I can without giving too much away! It’s called The Boy in Your Dreams, aimed at young adults, but the publishers think ages across the board will like it. It’s a fantasy-adventure story.
It is the first in a series, so I’m super excited to start writing the next one. I love all the characters and their personalities.
WHO ARE YOUR WRITING INFLUENCES? WHAT INSPIRES YOUR STORIES?
Stephen King is a massive influence of mine. I love the way he writes and his amazing imagination. My children inspire a lot of my stories – this book came from my youngest sleep talking.
One night my little boy was talking in his sleep and I went to check on him. Something he said in his dream made a lightbulb ding in my head, and I was up until 2am the next morning plotting and drafting.
Another inspiration for my stories is horror films, which I am totally addicted to! It’s like a hobby of mine, almost like collecting stamps. I collect horror books and films, and they creep out into my writing.
HOW DID YOU BALANCE WRITING THE NOVEL WITH YOUR DAILY LIFE?
I don’t quite know how I did it, to be frank. I was training in hairdressing at the time, so was working full-time as well. I guess I was so happy writing that I found the time. I would write in the evenings when the kids were in bed, and on the hour-long bus journey to and from work. I must admit, it was oddly easy to find the time, because I was so passionate about it and I knew that someone somewhere would like it.
HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING ANYTHING ELSE SINCE GETTING THE PUBLISHING OFFER?
Not really. I want to see how The Boy in Your Dreams gets on and then think about writing the sequel. I do, however write a poem in my head every single night whilst I’m drifting off. It usually revolves around how I’m feeling or who I’m thinking about. I can write poems so quickly, I’ve always wondered if I could write songs. But I don’t think my talents reach to those ends of writing. I have a few drafts of some horror books on my laptop, so I’m keen to get some adventure written into those.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GET OUT OF YOUR WORK?
I would like to endear the reader, like I have been endeared so many times before. I would like the reader to feel what the characters feel and want them to be able to get lost in the world I’ve created. I think it’s important to me that the reader can escape reality and enter a realm that isn’t “real life”. That’s what I love about reading and I guess that reflects in my work.
A lot of detail went into making sure the reader can see what I’m seeing in my head. When I tell my son a story, I tell it in a way that he gets totally lost in and I can see he is so engrossed that he forgets reality, and I guess that’s what I want for my readers.
It took me an additional two months to even send my manuscript out there because I was so afraid of them telling me it was rubbish! But no one did! It is a very personal experience, especially because in one way or another, everyone reads, so it is a massive part of humanity.
If you don’t take risks, you’ll never grow and you’ll never know. And that is my motto.
Tanya’s debut novel The Boy in Your Dreams will be available in bookstores next year. For more local Literature stories, click here. And you can also follow HQB Media on all our social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.