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June 29, 2016 / peoplesbookprize

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In the lead up to The People’s Book Prize 2016 we caught up with author Tanya Bullock to talk about her novel

That Special Someone

 

Tanya Bullock is a college lecturer, writer and award-winning filmmaker. She lives in the West Midlands with her husband and two young children. She has a passion for foreign culture and languages inherited from her French mother and, in her youth, travelled extensively throughout Australia, America, Asia and Europe. As a filmmaker, she has gained local recognition, including funding and regional television broadcast, through ITV’s First Cut scheme; two nominations for a Royal Television Society Midlands Award, and, in 2010, a Royal Television Society Award in the category of best promotional film. In 2008, she directed a short drama, written by her writer father, Keith. The film, Second Honeymoon, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. On maternity leave in 2011 and in need of a creative outlet, Tanya began to write That Special Someone, the story of a mother’s quest to help her learning-disabled daughter find love. That Special Someone, published by Blackbird Digital Books, is the finalist for The People’s Book Prize 2016. Her second book, a novella Homecoming, was released in April 2016, also by Blackbird Digital Books.

 

As an Author, What Influences You the Most?

In terms of ‘who’, it’s my dad, Keith Bullock. He writes short stories, poems, novels and film scripts. He’s been telling me stories since the day I was born and I wouldn’t be a writer today without his influence. His debut novel will be published next year, so we’re sort of following in each other’s footsteps. As for the ‘what’, I’ve been inspired so far to write about groups of people who I’ve felt are neglected by the mainstream. With my first two books, I’ve been influenced by social and ethical issues and have sort of jumped into the arguments brandishing my pen!

Where did the idea for this book originate?

As I’ve mentioned, I teach Drama in an FE college’s Special Educational Needs department. The idea for ‘That Special Someone’ came to me about twelve years ago when the mother of one of my female students told me her daughter wanted to get married after she finished college and that she intended to find her ‘a suitable boy’. I remember looking at her; a sensitive, intelligent, loving mother and just thinking, WOW, how does one even begin to embark on such a task? This is the central dilemma I gave to my heroine, Izzie, the mother of Jaya, who is mixed race (of Indian heritage) and has a learning disability. I wanted to write about the daily battles, challenges and isolation faced by young people with learning disabilities and their parents. From Izzie’s perspective, I was able to explore this subject matter in considerable depth. The novel is also written from Jaya’s point of view as it was important for me to give her a vivacious and authentic voice. I wanted to explore the wider social context of a young adult with a learning difficulty coming of age in modern day Britain.

The People’s Book Prize nominees are voted for by the readers, how important are your readers to you?

They’re of crucial importance. Writing for me is a very intimate experience and when I’m penning my heartfelt thoughts, or inventing characters and imbuing them with my own personality traits, I find it exhilarating to think that a little part of me will exist forever within the pages of my book. Without a reader to read it though, that book may just as well not exist. An author and a reader share a very special rapport, based on mutual understanding and an emotional connection.

Writing for an independent publisher, the value of ‘voice’ as a writer is stronger than ever.

With self-publishing and indie publishing becoming increasingly popular platforms for authors, there’s no denying that it’s easier nowadays to reach out to new readers. However, I personally never thought I’d be published. Like most aspiring authors, my debut novel was considered and then rejected many times. I was overjoyed when the wonderful Stephanie Zia at Blackbird Digital Books read and liked my manuscript enough to want to publish it. I agree that there is a voice for everyone in publishing, but that it can take time to find a Publisher who truly values what you have to say and who wants to add their own voice to yours.

Blackbird Books publishes a variety of brilliant authors, what is it like to be in the company of talented writers?

Amazing! It’s so brilliant that Susie Kelly and Diane Chandler are also finalists for The People’s Book Prize this year. They’re very talented writers and I feel privileged to be in their company! I’d like to thank my Publisher, Stephanie Zia, for her faith in me and for publishing my first two novels. She’ll never know how happy she’s made me!

What book influenced you most as a writer and what are you reading at the moment?

I’ve just finished ‘Freedom’ by Jonathan Franzen. It’s my kind of book, which focuses on family relationships, society and morality. I bought it in a jumble sale for £1, which was a bargain! I think the one book that has most influenced me is Vikram Seth’s ‘A Suitable Boy’. I was in my early twenties and on a gap year, backpacking around Australia and South East Asia. I bought it before travelling from Sydney to Thailand, but only because it was the thickest novel in the shop and I didn’t know when I’d next happen across an English language book! I totally fell in love with it, for the same reasons I enjoyed ‘Freedom’. I’ve always loved reading stories about family and society and they’re the principal themes of my own writing too.

What can we expect from you in the future? What are you writing at the moment?

I’m writing a detective novel. It’s very character driven and the protagonists are rather eccentric. I’ve written about fifty pages so far, but I don’t think it will be published for a while. Life is pretty full on for me, so writing a novel is rather a slow process. I’m not complaining, though – being a published author is a dream come true!

 

Find Tanya at: tanyabullock.com

Facebook: tanyabullockwriter

Twitter:@TanyaBullock15


home pageThe People’s Book Prize is the unique literary competition that is judged by the nation and open to all UK publishing companies.

You Be the Judge: The People’s Book Prize – “The home for new and undiscovered works.”
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