Today I’m super excited to be hosting a chat with a local Australian historical author, Tea Cooper. Tea is a relatively new-to-me-author, having only discovered here last year. Since then I’ve devoured all of her books and absolutely adore her effortless writing and vibrant characters.
Tea Cooper is an established Australian author of contemporary and historical fiction. In a past life she was a teacher, a journalist and a farmer. These days she haunts museums and indulges her passion for storytelling. She is the bestselling author of The Horse Thief, published by Harlequin in 2015 and The Cedar Cutter published in 2016
Hey Tea, thanks for chatting with us today.
Hi Jess – thanks for the invitation to visit The Never Ending Bookshelf.
What are you currently reading?
I’m reading The Birdman’s Wife at the moment, by Melissa Ashley, which I have to admit is the very first book I have ever bought on cover alone! It’s proving to be a fascinating story.
What was the last book you bought?
The Arsenic Century by James C Wharton – yes, I’m researching my next story!
Do you prefer to read books in print or electronically?
A bit of both – I love old books but often they’re only available electronically. I bought the hard copy of The Birdman’s Wife because I adored the cover. I find research books easier to reference if they are electronic – it saves me a fortune in post-it notes!
What do your bookshelves look like? Do you have an organisation system (genre, colour, author…) or are you just happy to go with the flow?
My bookshelves are organised in my head and I defy anyone else to crack the system! I’ve converted the garage into a library, (my car is not happy) and have some serious books shelves in there but I also have an old ladder, crowded window sills, bedside tables – the house is full of books. Did I mention that I love books?
How often do you read?
Everyday, often, all the time! It actually depends where I am with my writing. Obviously I read a lot when I’m researching but I also like to read fiction that has nothing to do with the type of story I’m writing.
Describe what you would expect to find in your dream book?
I actually found a dream book while I was researching The Currency Lass. I had to rush out and buy it. It’s a coffee table book called Circus – The Australian Story by Mark St Leon. It’s not only a fascinating story but full of the most amazing photographs and drawings.
How do you choose what to read next?
Books tend to lead me to books although I’m not very good at series. Sometimes I’ll read two or three books by the same author other times I read on recommendation or because of a review – and sometimes it’s because of the cover!
So you’ve started a book and discover it’s not for you. Are you more likely to discard it or finish it?
I don’t finish a book I’m not enjoying.
If you could read any book again, for the first time, what book would you choose?
The Lord of the Rings – not a very original answer I’m afraid.
What is it about books that appeals to you so much? What is your favourite part about reading?
I love to lose myself in a book, to see the world through someone else’s eyes and I love to experience the past.
Can you tell us a bit about your writing style: are you a pantser or a plotter? Do you prefer to write in 1st or 3rd person? Are you an early riser writer or a late night owl writer?
Yes, to all of the above!
Panster or plotter … something will take my interest (Circus – The Australian Story is a great example). I’ll wander around for a week or two thinking ‘what-ifs’ then I write a very brief Once upon a time story…just a few paragraphs, telling all the way. After that I usually write myself into the characters, maybe five or ten thousand words until I realise I have two characters, massive holes and no plot at all – so the plotting begins and everything changes constantly. If that sounds complicated, you’re right, it is! I have no idea how I end up with a finished manuscript!!
My stories are usually written in the third person but if I’m writing an emotional part of the story or something close to my heart I’ll write it in the first person and then ‘translate’ it.
I’m more productive in the mornings but I tend to write when the words start dancing regardless of the time of day, or night.
Was there any particular book that inspired you to start writing?
Writing came first! I’ve always written, apparently before I could read … I can still remember the belting I got for ‘writing’ all over my bedroom walls.
Do you have any advice to other writers out there?
Cultivate patience, (I’m still working on it) and I can’t improve on Shakespeare: To thine own self be true. There is no magic formula.
And lastly, what are you currently working on?
I’ve just started a new story called The Curio Shop of Wonders. I’m at the I-have- two-characters-massive-holes-and-no-plot stage!! I can tell you it involves arsenic and a Baron but the rest is in the lap of the gods!
My latest book The Currency Lass releases on February 20th 2017 and I have submitted my next book The Great Platypus Hoax to my publisher. More of that another day, I hope!
I love those titles and look forward to seeing them on the shelves in the future. Thanks for stopping by Tea Cooper.