In this occasional series of "Meet the author" Terry Lander drops by to talk about his work, including his latest dynamic novel, Banned.
Welcome Terry, the two ebooks I've downloaded by you have been extremely different in style but incredibly original – and you also publish poetry – what is your favourite genre to write?
I’ll turn my hand to most genres, the main reason for which is to attract a bigger audience. I started writing poetry because I wasn’t convinced my attention span was great enough to write a novel. However, I progressed from poetry to short stories, then on to a novella and finally ‘Banned’, which was my first novel. I’ve taken a bit of a break recently to edit a poetry book for a school, during which time I also wrote a play, but I’m now back to writing my second novel. I love the feeling I get from new ideas that a character can provide and the satisfaction of reaching the end of a novel, so I’d say that was my favourite genre.
‘Kama Slumber’ was an unusual publication in that I took it from idea to production in around a month. The photos were done for free as I borrowed a camera, was given a bed and asked the model to work for nothing (which I’m pleased to say Helen was happy to do). I was working on the writing just about every night during that time as I was keen to get the book finished and asked the cover reviewers to take a look to make sure it was any good. I thought of it more as art than writing though as I was careful to choose visually appealing fonts and to lay the pages out in a similar manner. I doubt I’ll ever write a similar book as it was a spur of the moment idea that took off and seemed to work well.
Extremely well, and Kama Slumber is very visual, (btw, Helen makes a delightful model) but the captions make the photographs really come to life in my view. Moving on, do you have a particular role model?
It’s tough to pin down one particular role model but I was inspired to cut loose by two of the authors I’ve published, Mark Hendy and Alya Bessex. Before I read their work I was keen to be known as a family friendly, all approachable writer who people would like. After reading ‘Panic and the Inner Monkey’ and ‘Dark Dawns Bring Blood’ I thought I’d give dark writing a try and it really seemed to come off for me. I still have work that I can sell at literary festivals for children, as I did recently, but there’s another, deeper side to my writing that allows me the freedom to literally do whatever I want. My own children are my biggest fans when it comes to writing but there’s no way I’d let them read Banned right now, so they’re looking forward to growing up…
That’s lovely that they’re so proud of their Dad – what’s your proudest achievement – to date that is?
I’m terrible for letting achievements slip by and not appreciating them but I think that’s down to a new, competitive nature I’ve instilled in myself to keep me going forward and achieving as much as possible. Looking back now I hand stitched copies of my first poetry book and cut the edges with a craft knife as I couldn’t afford printing costs, published four other authors and built Lyvit up to what it is now, worked with Mark Hendy to get a number of famous faces into a MI77OR IM46ES gallery, got married and had children (with THIS face, incidentally) and wrote the novel I was never expecting to do. To pick one of them would be obscene as they’ve all taken a lot of time and effort, so I should probably say it’s managing to keep my job for so long.
Reading through that list of achievements has made me feel quite humble. You’ll have to return to expand on some of those! Do you have any secret ambitions?
I tend to do what I can to seize anything I feel I need to do and dream about those experiences that are simply unachievable. I’ve always wanted to go to a showbiz party, hence the references in Banned (which is essentially how I imagined my life had I not been married; fortunately I met my wife when I did) but it’s currently in the ‘unachievable’ list and something I could happily put off for a few years. Knowing the way my mind works, it’s probably just for the inspiration to write a novella on what actually happens to celebrities when the cameras aren’t rolling.
I’ve got a bucket-list-style list of entertainers I’d like to see or stadiums I wouldn’t mind watching sport in, a few of whom I’ve been able to tick off. If money was no object I wouldn’t mind watching a Formula One race or going VIP at a football match, although I’m not desperate to do so. If it happens, it happens.
So if any of the Formula One or Footballing crowd are reading this, give Terry a shout now! On to your own sporting prowess: A little bird told me you're currently in training for the London Marathon, how's the training going – and what persuaded you to take on such an epic challenge?
I’ve just managed to run 3.5 miles and stay alive, so I’m well on track for my training plan. I entered a 1500m event last month so I’ve got my first set of numbers and that’s helped me to get out there when it’s wet and miserable outside. As for why I’m doing it, I really can’t remember. I first applied six years ago and must have watched it on TV, after which I ritually applied every year without thinking I’d get in. This year I had the opportunity to run for St John’s Ambulance, a charity that my family are heavily involved with, so I thought it was time to put the application into practice.
The London Marathon seems like such a big, well supported event with some crazy goings on which appeals to me tremendously. I’ve heard the crowd are behind you all the way round and it’s well organised so there’s little keeping me from doing it these days. Being generally opposed to exercise before I started training has really helped with my sponsorship, however I still have a way to go before I reach my target. All donations are gratefully accepted!
St John’s Ambulance is a great charity to get involved with, I’m sure many others will agree with your choice. They work so hard, not only providing support at social and sporting events, but also providing youngsters with some great afterschool activities as well as good solid training in first aid. Here’s Terry’s donate page for all those who are feeling generous, even if you’re unable to support financially, please help spread the word.
Back to books and writing! Some very encouraging reviews for your latest novel, Banned – the chronicle of the rise and fall of a rock band – reading this story is just like being a teenager again – it rings very true to life – are any of the characters based on real people?
I was staggered by how well received ‘Banned’ has been, particularly as I essentially wrote it to entertain myself. I didn’t realise so many people had that side to them..! The protagonist is loosely based on me in that he has morals and sees how badly his bandmates behave, however I had to make him fit in to the story so I added a few situations and methods that I wouldn’t dream of applying. Dan and Abby’s relationship was crucial to the story as it gave rise to a number of challenges and helped the story to develop quite well, whereas Pedro came in to add a touch of mayhem and to act as a bit of a scapegoat. I like to think there’s a Pedro in all of us, although some of us control him better than others.
I think Pedro could have a book of his own! I'm certain lots of readers would like to know what you've got planned next - can you tell us a little about what to expect?
My current novel is about suicide and depression, linking into the dark humour side of my mind once again. It’s very difficult to mix those two elements of a story but the work I’ve produced so far has been enjoyable to write and has given rise to a character I believe so many will relate to, though not in themselves perhaps.
Writing is a kind of therapy for me and I always get ‘project mourning’ after finishing a book, something I found much worse after completing ‘Banned’ due to the fact I gave myself a long deadline to write it. I’ve given myself two years to write my next novel as I need to put some marketing effort into “Banned” and don’t feel I can do that properly unless I allocate some time to it. This gives me two years of free therapy, after which I will dive into another project faster to keep myself sane.
“Terry Lander was born in Cornwall and has lived in Helston all of his life. He took part in the Flora Dance during his school life, returning to watch in subsequent years. Terry started writing poetry in 2005 and has been published in a small number of anthologies including ’101 Poets For A Cornish Assembly’, ‘Metverse Muse’ in India and ‘Poetry Cornwall’, a subscribers’ magazine edited by Les Merton.
By day Terry poses as an electrician, one of many ‘careers’ that he has embarked on since leaving college. Before his present position, he had been a retail assistant, a trainee loan account manager, a bank cashier, a payroll clerical assistant, a trainee pharmaceutical assistant, a payroll clerical assistant (again), a clerical assistant in a different department and a mobile inventory control assistant. He was glad to complete the training for his current employment so that he was no longer referred to as a ‘trainee’ or ‘assistant’."
His hobbies include karate, six-a-side football in the local league, running a part-time disco and taking part in the annual Gweek Pantaloons pantomime productions. He is happily married and lives with his wife and three children in Helston.”
Discover more about Terry's works and passions at www.lyvit.com or keep up with his training at: http://fatguyathon.blogspot.co.uk