I recently read and reviewed Heaven can Wait (read my review here) by Cally Taylor and absolutely loved it! If you haven’t already read it, then I really recommend you do! Today I’m pleased to welcome Cally, who has been kind enough to give some brilliant answers to my questions!
Hi Cally, and thanks so much for dropping by! Firstly could you introduce yourself?
Hello! I’m Cally, I’m thirty-six and I live in Brighton. I wanted to be an author from the age of eight but it wasn’t until 2007 that I finally started, and finished, writing a novel. That novel was ‘Heaven Can Wait’ and it was published by Orion in October 2009.
Your first book Heaven Can Wait is certainly unique! Where did you get the inspiration from to write it?
A couple of things inspired me to write ‘Heaven Can Wait’ – the sudden death of a friend in 2006 and a comment from my then boyfriend about how long I’d wait before I moved on if he died (he was a chirpy kind of guy!). An image of a woman, madly in love and about to be married, popped into my head. What would she do if she died the night before her wedding day and had the chance to return to earth to be with her fiancé? That woman became Lucy, my main character.
Lucy is such a fun character and I loved her ditzy side (I relate!) is she based on you or anyone you know?
Lucy is a completely fictional character and much sweeter than I am but we’re both romantics and both share a bit of a ditzy side! I’m always embarrassing myself one way or another but at least these days I can console myself by thinking, “Hey, that would make a really funny bit in a novel!” A couple of the embarrassing things that happen to Lucy in ‘Heaven Can Wait’ actually happened to me but I’m not admitting which ones!
I also found Claire’s story incredibly touching, how did she come about?
In the same way that I share a few traits with Lucy I also share a few traits with Claire. When I was a teenager I was horribly grumpy, wore far too much black and was quite insecure. I used those emotions as a basis for Claire’s character but she’s a lot more sarcastic than I ever was and made extreme decisions and choices that I’d never have considered. I’m so glad you found her story touching. I grew really fond of her as I was writing ‘Heaven Can Wait’.
I love asking this question (sorry!)… If Heaven Can Wait was to be made into a movie, which actors would play: Lucy, Anna and Archie?
I’d absolutely love to see ‘Heaven Can Wait’ as a film! I waver over who I’d choose to play the main characters but think I’d pick Rachel Weisz as Lucy, Jim Sturgess as Dan and Elijah Wood as Archie (he’d have to put on an English accent though!).
If you had the choice would you choose heaven or ghost? And if ghost…who/where would you haunt?
Oooh, brilliant question! I’d only choose to be a ghost if there was a chance of getting to heaven eventually. I’d also want to be able to move around a bit. I think I’d get really bored if I was stuck in one house for eternity! If I could be a ghost for a bit I’d probably sneak around trying to uncover conspiracy theories (like whether there are aliens in Area 51 and whether Marilyn Monroe and Princess Diana were murdered). I’d also spy on people like the Queen and Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie to see what they get up to when they’re out of the public eye!
Can you tell us about your route to publication?
After I’d edited ‘Heaven Can Wait’ I bought a copy of The Writers and Artists Yearbook and looked through it for agents who represented chicklit. I drew up a shortlist of six agencies and sent them a covering letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of my novel (or whatever they asked for). The Darley Anderson Agency was the first agency to ask for the full manuscript of my novel. I received some fantastic feedback, did a bit more work on my novel and signed with them about a year later. A month after that Orion offered me a two book contract. Since then my agent has gone on to sell the foreign rights to Germany, Spain, Russia, Brazil, Hungary, Czech Republic, Taiwan and China.
Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Read a lot. And don’t just read for pleasure – read books you love to try and work out how the author kept you so gripped and/or make you laugh/cry. Read bad books too so you can learn what doesn’t work! I also bought lots of ‘how to’ books on writing a novel (I’ve listed my favourites on my website – www.callytaylor.co.uk – under the ‘links’ tab) and learnt some important lessons on structuring a novel, pace and character.
The most important tip is to actually write. It’s easy (and a lot of fun) to dream about holding your published novel in your hands but that won’t happen unless you sit down day after day and actually write the thing! It’s easy to get disheartened or lose interest in your novel when you’re slogging away at it day after day but every published author I know feels the same way. My motto is ‘First drafts are supposed to be rubbish.’ It’s the rewriting and polishing you do after you’ve written that first draft that turns it into a book. Finally, make sure you get feedback on what you’ve written before you approach agents. Don’t rely on friends and family who are likely to say nice things to spare your feelings. Join a writing group (a local group or online) and ask for honest criticism. It can really sting at first but it’ll make you a better writer.
When you’re not writing, who do you like to read? Favourite books/authors?
I read everything and anything! My favourite chicklit author ever is Lisa Jewell and I devoured ‘The Truth About Melody Browne’ in a couple of days when it came out last year. I also read all the Twilight books. This year I’ve read ‘One Day’ by David Nicholls, ‘Twenties Girl’ by Sophie Kinsella and am currently reading ‘The Elegance of the Hedgehog’ by Muriel Barbery. I’ve got a huge pile of books waiting to be read on my bookshelf and am itching to start reading ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ by Steig Larsson because I’ve heard great things about it.
What’s next for Cally Taylor?
I’ve just received the edits for my second novel from my editor and am about to start work on them. Hopefully that novel, currently untitled, will be out in January 2011. Once the edits are out of the way I’m going to start work on my third novel. I can’t wait!
I Can’t wait for the new book! Thanks so much for answering my questions.
Now Your Chance To Win!
‘What would I do without you, Lucy Brown?’ he said, and kissed me softly. I held his face in my hands and kissed him back. I felt that life just couldn’t get any more perfect. And I was right, it wouldn’t. By the end of the next day, I’d be dead. Lucy is about to marry the man of her dreams – kind, handsome, funny Dan – when she breaks her neck the night before their wedding. Unable to accept a lifetime’s separation from her soulmate, Lucy decides to become a ghost rather than go to heaven and be parted from Dan. But it turns out things aren’t quite as easy as that. When Lucy discovers that Limbo is a grotty student-style house in North London she’s less than thrilled. Especially after meeting her new flatmates: grumpy, cider-swilling EMO-kid Claire; and Brian, a train-spotter with a Thomas the Tank Engine duvet and a big BO problem. But Lucy has a more major problem on her hands – if she wants to become a ghost and be with Dan she has to complete an almost impossible task. How the hell does a girl like Lucy find a girlfriend for the dorkiest man in England? IT geek Archie’s only passions are multi-player computer games and his Grandma. But Lucy only has twenty-one days to find him love. And when she discovers that her so-called friend Anna is determined to make a move on the heart-broken, vulnerable Dan, the pressure is really on…
Cally has kindly offered to send a signed copy of her novel, Heaven Can Wait to two lucky winners!
This contest is open to everyone, you don’t have to be a follower or tweet about it (although obviously I’d be grateful if you did!)
But to make things interesting, I’m offering an extra entry if you leave a comment telling me who you would haunt if you were a ghost and why! (this is entirely optional, you still get one entry just filling the form in below)
Competition closes at midnight Thursday 15th April and the winners will be picked at random and notified by email.