24 August 2010

Author Interview: Tasmina Perry

I recently read and reviewed Tasmina Perry's latest novel Kiss Heaven Goodbye which was absolutely brilliant, and Tasmina's publishers got in contact with us and asked if we'd like to interview Tasmina for the site. Of course, I jumped at the chance and sent over some questions, and Tasmina has kindly answered them for me. Enjoy!

Q1. Tell us about your latest book, Kiss Heaven Goodbye.

It’s about four students holidaying on a private Caribbean island to celebrate the end of their exams. On the last night they find a dead body on the beach and each suspect the other of murder. The book follows them over twenty years as the incident influences and shapes their glamorous lives – and in the end, threatens to destroy everything they love.

Q2. In the book, there's a bit of a murder mystery involving the 4 friends Miles, Grace, Alex and Sasha - is this something that interests you and that you like to read yourself?

Yes – I always have a mystery element to my stories which probably comes from the fact that I love thriller and crime novels so much. Harlan Coben, Agatha Christie, Michael Connelly, Nikki French are just some of my favourite authors.  Before my journalism career I actually qualified as solicitor, so I guess it’s the lawyer in me that likes to solve problems.  At law school my favourite part of the course was criminal law. Police procedure and the law surrounding it has always fascinated me.

Q3. You've moved publishers from Harper to Headline Review, how has the transition been for you?

It’s always difficult moving publishers although it was made  little easier by the fact that a lot of people I worked with at Harper, such as my editor, have moved on too. And the new team at Headline at fantastic – I’d called them friends now as well as colleagues.

Q4. Your books all seem to be about rich, successful people with a somewhat ruthless streak in them. How fun is to create these characters and the world's they live in?

I only usually have a couple of ruthless characters per book - I think you have to be careful about having the right balance of heroes and villains because it’s crucial that the reader has someone to root for. That said, I always have the most fun writing the naughtier characters – Cassandra the hard-nosed magazine editor in Guilty Pleasures was probably my favourite character to date – I drew on lots of people I’ve met over the years in the magazine and fashion industry to create her. I think it’s important for your good characters not to be ‘all good’ and your bad characters not to be ‘all bad.’ It’s the light and shade that make people interesting.

Q5. You write about some amazing places such as the idyllic Angel Cay in 'Kiss Heaven Goodbye'. Are these places always fictional or based on real places, and do you get to do anything exciting like visit them for research purposes?!

Angel Cay is fictitious (it had to be, bearing in mind what goes on in the first few chapters!) but it’s loosely based on a private island called Petit Saint Vincent which I visited on a magazine job. It was real barefoot luxury. Your room was almost ‘open air’ and if you wanted room service you have to hoik a little flag outside you’re door. Bliss!

Generally I try to write about places I’ve actually visited because it makes the books more authentic. For my first three books I plundered a lot of my experiences from my time in magazines. I worked in the industry at a time when a record company would think nothing of flying to Miami to interview a celebrity in their house, to a fashion party in Milan to watch an artist perform. I edited a travel magazine for a year too so I was lucky enough to be invited out to a lot of incredible places that I couldn’t otherwise afford!

Q6. Do you have a favourite of your books so far, and if so which one?

As a reader – I enjoy Original Sin the most. But I’m the fondest of Daddy’s Girls. I started it on honeymoon when I was unemployed, as the travel magazine had folded a couple of months before. I finished writing DG the day before my son was born too – I was literally balancing my lap-top on my bump writing the last chapter, knowing I was due in hospital twelve hours later!

Q7. What do you enjoy doing when you're not writing books?

I’ve just taken up photography. I’m not very good at it at al but the beauty of a digital camera is you can get rid of your rubbish pictures and just keep your good ones, so people think you’re better than you are! I love going to village fetes too. I like nothing better on a sunny summer’s day than wandering around tombola, jam and Pimms stalls with my husband and son!

Q8. Are you working on your next book yet? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

It’s set in the world of media law and has a cast-list including unscrupulous publicists, misbehaving celebrities, powerful newspaper editors and high-flying lawyers.

Q9. What would be your top 3 desert island reads?

Kane and Abel is the ultimate blockbuster read. I can read I Capture the Castle over and over again. And then maybe something useful for life on a desert island like a Bear Grylls survival manual so I could learn how to make a house out of palm leaves and cut open coconuts!

Q10. Finally, do you have any advice for anyone out there reading this who'd like to follow in your footsteps and become an author?

First of all, believe you CAN do it. I can’t tell you how many people told me ‘Oh it’s SO hard to get a book deal isn’t it?’ Well it isn’t easy, but when I started writing Daddy’s girls three girls in our office were writing our debut novels and we all got book deals, so it can happen. Secondly, read all the authors you love and work out why they work. Then practice! Sign up to a course, try your hand at short stories, anything to find your writers ‘voice.’ And then find the story you are desperate to tell and just get going. Lots of people start a novel but far fewer finish. The people who get stuff published put the hours in and just keep on at it. Oh, and have lots of luck!

Thank you so much, Tasmina!

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