Name Trevor Belshaw (Author names T A Belshaw and Trevor Forest)
Where are you from Nottingham in England
A little about yourself `ie your education Family life etc
I have been married to Doreen, (for longer than either of us care to remember.) We have two children, one lovely Granddaughter and a Grandson on the way in a couple of weeks’ time. We also own two mad Springer Spaniels, Molly and Maisie, five unruly hens and a 14 year old adventurous cat called Misha.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My new book Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail was released by Crooked Cat Publishing this week. It is the sequel to Tracy’s Hot Mail which was published in 2012.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always had the desire to write. English composition along with History were my best subjects at school, but with a family to support and not much in the way of leisure time, I struggled to find space in my life until the end of 2009 then I let my creative side loose.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when Tracy’s Hot Mail was published via a real life publisher in 2012. I had written five children’s books by then but I still wasn’t confident enough in my abilities to call myself an author. My kid’s books are all self-published, (not that it makes anyone who publishes via that route less of a writer,) it was just the fact that I felt my work had improved considerably by that time.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I had an idea running through the back of my mind about a little witch whose spells go wrong. It was going to be aimed at under-fives, but when I actually sat down to write, it soon became obvious that it would have to be aimed at older children. The story just took off and went its own way. I just sat back and clung on for the ride.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I tend to add a dollop of humour to almost everything I produce. I’ve tried to write serious stories but the odd gag still finds its way in.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The first book was called Tracy’s Hot Mail and was all about Tracy’s first experience of working in a busy office. In the new book Tracy has been made redundant and is now determined to fulfill her dream of becoming a C list celebrity. In both books Tracy writes emails to her best friend, Emma, passing on all the latest gossip abour her friends, rivals and family.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There is no hidden message in the Tracy books, just a lot of laughs and a fair bit of observation.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
It’s all fictional but… well, the settings are extremely realistic, I just blow the events out of all proportion.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Some characters are loosely based on people I have bumped into during my life, but they are mostly amalgamations of up to five people. Tracy’s gran for instance, is a mix of three old ladies that frequent my local post office. It really is amazing the amount of prejudices some of the old girls have. Tracy’s character is based on half a dozen girls who sit gossiping on the back seat of the 8.30 bus into Nottingham every morning. There is a little bit of each of them in Tracy.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
The Just William stories by Richmal Crompton, Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons, all of Enid Blyton’s books and anything by Roald Dahl. As for adult literature, P G Wodehouse, Leslie Thomas, George Orwell, Douglas Adams, Spike Milligan, Tom Sharpe and Sue Townsend. Take your pick of any of their books I’ve read them all and they have all left their mark. If I have to go for one particular book, I’d say, Ancestral Vices, by Tom Sharpe, he was truly the master of satire.
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I think I answered this question in the one above. Probably Tom Sharpe… but Leslie Thomas is a major influence. He could make me laugh hysterically and reduce me to tears, sometimes in the same paragraph.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I have just started to read, I am Pilgrim, by Terry Hayes. I’m not really far enough into it to judge how good a book it is yet. I have just finished The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. I found it very moving and it went straight into my top ten favourite books of all-time list.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
A lot of my fellow Crooked Cat authors are excellent. They are well worth a look. You will find every genre imaginable and one writer in particular, D W Robinson, can turn his hand to just about all of them. Crooked Cat’s authors feature regularly in the finals of The People’s Book Prize. Authors new, (to me,) that I have enjoyed this year include, Joe Abercrombie, Catriona King, Frances Di Plino and Pam Howes.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I am, to paraphrase the luvvies in the acting fraternity, between books at the moment. I have a couple of part written projects that I hope to finish in the next few months including. The Diary of an Aspiring Adulteress and the next installment in my Magic Molly children’s series, called Halloween Hattie.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
When I first started writing seriously, I joined an online writer’s group called Writelink. It has now closed but for the year or so that I was a member I received a hell of a lot of excellent advice and support. I owe a lot to D W Robinson and Maureen Vincent-Northam, (who has edited everything I’ve ever published,) in particular.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
As a full time paying career? No, sadly only a small percentage of authors will actually make a good living out of writing. Many more will do as I do and top up their other earnings with book sales, but very few will be able to give up the day job, unfortunately.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I don’t think so. It’s turned out pretty much as I hoped it would.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I fell in love with stories at a very early age and happily that love has never deserted me. I used to write silly little plays that I would perform with my brothers after tea on Sundays. They were dreadful, but my long-suffering parents always made out they enjoyed them. When I was in my late teens I tried my hand at poetry but the world wasn’t really ready for the new Keats, so I stuck my talents back under the bushel and moved on. I always knew I’d be a writer one day. Even as a child I pictured myself hunched over a typewriter, turning out story after story. It took a while, but I finally got there.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is the shortest of the emails in the new book.
I’m on the lookout for a new top. I know what I want but I can’t find it in the shops. You recorded Jeremy Kyle yesterday, didn’t you? Well, straight after that Roxie tart said Robbie was the father of her black twins, even though he’s white, there was a camera shot into the audience. If you freeze frame it, look at the blonde girl in the 2nd row from the front, three seats from the left hand aisle, the one sat next to the munter with the double chin and bottle glasses… she’s wearing the top I want, only I need it in red. If you spot one anywhere can you let me know? Thanks, Emma. Hope your nasty little rash has cleared up now.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The vast majority of my protagonists are female, this applies to both my children’s and adult books. I find writing from the perspective of a female very challenging, but it has been very interesting and rewarding too, especially when I get reviews that state; ‘Trevor writes like a girl.’ Other reviewers have found it very difficult to believe that the book had been written by a man, so I must have got it about right.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, Crooked Cat designed both the Tracy’s Hot Mail books. My children’s book covers and illustrations are drawn by a fabulous artist called Marie Fullerton. She really is fantastic and I love her work.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Keeping up the standard of the humour. Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail is meant to be a satirical look at the celebrity business. Writing comedy is extremely hard work although a lot of people (who have never tried to do it,) seem to think it’s easy. Tracy has to have at least one funny situation per page and there are 180 pages, I haven’t counted the jokes, quips, one liners or funny set pieces, but there are a lot of them and every single one of them has to work.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Keep going, even if you think it isn’t going to work out. The biggest thing I learned from this book was not to leave a situation half resolved and go and do something else. Use the muse while it’s there. It may desert you tomorrow. Tracy’s Hot Mail was published in 2012 and it took me a full two years to finish ‘Celebrity.’ I did work on other projects in between but the longer I stayed away the more difficult it was to pick up the pieces.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
It may sound harsh but never trust the praise of your friends and family. Get your work read by as wide a range of people as possible. Listen to people who know about editing. Listen to people who write in your genre and don’t take criticism to heart. This is easier said than done, we are all wounded by harsh words, especially in reviews, but you should still look for any positives in the criticism and take heart from that. Always remember, you can’t please everyone so it’s a waste of time trying. You can please your family and friends though, all too easily. Thank them for their lovely comments, then look elsewhere to find where the faults lie, because there will be many of them.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your support has kept me going through the darkest of times.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Janet and John, first reader at school. ‘Run Spot, run.’
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love both classical and rock music. I have somewhere in the region of a thousand Vinyl and CD Albums in my collection. I play a selection of classical music as I write, (Mozart is fantastic,) and it really does help. I can’t write when Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd are on the turntable though. I have to stop and sing along. I am madly in love with Nottingham Forest Football Club and have been since I was a child.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Monty Python. Blackadder, anything silly. I’m not one for Hollywood, I prefer a subtitled movie to a so called blockbuster. The Holy Grail and the Life of Brian along with Airplane still have me in fits.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’d have loved to be a musician or a sportsman just like most people I suppose.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
I have a couple.
http://www.trevorbelshaw.com My Author site.
NEW!! Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail. Kindle and paperback. http://amzn.to/1vLNJBy and http://amzn.to/1l5GFeI
TRACY’S HOT MAIL! Kindle and Paperback. http://amzn.to/RS3eV8 all other e-readers http://bit.ly/MlqgyW
My children’s books are written under the name of Trevor Forest.
All Trevor Forest books are available on the Kindle. http://amzn.to/IYMC6d
The full Magic Molly series is now on Smashwords for all e-readers. http://bit.ly/NWbotX
Wordpress Blog: http://www.trevorbelshaw.com/blog
Facebook Trevor Belshaw http://www.facebook.com/trevor.belshaw
Thank you for inviting me.
Tracy’s Hot Mail and Tracy’s Celebrity Hot Mail are available from Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.