July 19, 2021

S1 Ep13: A chat with Tudor

This week, we talk to brilliant thriller-mystery-horror writer C.J. Tudor. Topics covered: Dog walking, the 1980s and what it's like when one of the biggest authors in the world decides to say something rather nice about your book.

Music by Dano Songs 

uh right so should we start off with an intro yeah yeah although i've got a couple of things to say before we do that oh okay well then i want to say thank you to uh the people who have asked for the tree story oh yes because there have been a lot there's so many yeah steve henderson kate mcgovern lee grant phil stix gary clark emeralds emporium of curiosities mark at h k martin healey is eight oh and paul wayne writes but he's he doesn't really count on that because he's strictly speaking his family and tom well don't speak with me on that well then i'm me just just need one more that's it but i just wanted to thank those guys for their support i mean so you're saying john if one more just one more person asks you to read your true story you will read it yeah they were my arbitrary rules weren't they in the first place then right there you go you heard it here folks one request yeah just the one even if you don't know what we're talking about just send us an email saying tree story yeah tree story i'm in yes yes trees yeah just chuck us a thumbs up emoji or something like that and that'll do excellent so yeah oh yes and speaking of um speaking of audience engagement as well i don't know if you saw on twitter there was a question from a fellow member of the online writing community elizabeth eckstein twitter handle at red alexa and she was just she just happened to ask what's with the hate of exclamation points presumably she means explanation marks but they i think that's what they call them in the states and at first uh i answered with a you know a typically glib response it was quite confirmation marks and then i thought well yeah what what is what is the beef with the exclamation marks why do they have such a bad rap i i really don't know no i i didn't know either so i thought i'll do a bit of research would you like a very quick uh rundown of the exclamation mark yes please john that sounds fascinating yes thanks better exclaims thanks for your enthusiasm man uh so very quickly one theory of its origin uh the most likely one is that it was derived from the latin exclamation of joy which is oi an o and an i and in the middle ages copyists used to write at the end of a sentence to you know to indicate joy and over time the i got moved on top of the o and eventually the o sort of shrank to become the dot and it became the little exclamation mark that's it so you can uh now at the end of the sentence if you want to explain something you just say i instead won't confuse anybody all those times i've said oy mate i've actually been speaking latin and i never knew

it has slang names too secretaries in the 50s called them bangs uh presumably because of comic books at the time um an exclamation mark in a speech bubble kind of denoted a loud noise uh in hacker culture it's called a bang a shriek or a pling in case you ever wanna pling yeah apparently yeah and in the printing world it can be called a screamer a gasper a slammer or a startler for obvious reasons i guess yeah it and it says in wikipedia the overly frequent use of the exclamation mark is generally considered poor writing uh for it distracts the reader and devalues the mark's significance i mean apparently come on that's all nonsense isn't it stuff like that it's made up it's just made up and i think i think the real death i think the real death nail for the exclamation mark seems to have come after f scott fitzgerald said cut out all these exclamation points an exclamation point is like laughing at your own joke and after that i think people just stop using it they they um they're kind of regarded as very casual more formal so you can imagine if you're a serious writer that is a like that's a major no-no isn't it so there you go a little history of the exclamation point for elizabeth but what if you're what if you're um if your character speaks in a very exclaimed manner you know what's what's so wrong with putting an exclamation mark to show that they're going to pick up exactly yeah exactly it's the same with all these stupid writing rules that someone's thought of or as taken as absolute literal gospel because one writer said it once and then they go oh yeah no no no no no you shouldn't use capital a's in your work what yeah i don't you know it's not like i don't think there are you know sort of literary agents maybe i'm wrong get in touch if you are a literary agent if you read a manuscript and it's got more than three exclamation marks in it that you go no not having that even if it's really good yeah because surely the point is that it just makes it easier for the reader to read and if it makes yeah easier unless unless they're badly used in which case yeah fine but this idea of just don't use them that's the trouble people take this thing is just don't use them i thought well you can if you use them well people take words far too literally don't they that's the problem yeah adverbs as well adverbs are a massive one yeah yeah i suppose if you overuse anything then it can it can get annoying i guess if you're reading it and you notice something and then once you've noticed it that's it isn't it you go oh god they're doing that again and the dna you sparingly you sparingly yeah exactly yeah use it in moderation just use them well exactly just yeah just do it properly right properly just write proper there you go i think that ticks the education box for today doesn't it yeah should we move on and take the interesting box then yeah okay there you go well let's not get ahead of ourselves i wasn't thinking about us i was thinking about cats who was actually oh yeah that's right fair enough yeah i was kind of passing that one down the line so we wouldn't have to be responsible for that yeah so if you're sick of us talking about exclamation points fortunately we've got someone else coming to talk today haven't we lads we have indeed we've got cj flipping tudor that's not actually her name she doesn't use the flipping it's just an exclamation mark isn't it that was just an exclamation mark exactly yeah she's coming in to talk about her books and her uh previous jobs before she was a mega best-selling author and um yeah having stuff option for tv and all sorts of exciting things her career has just exploded hasn't it yeah really i think it's fair to say that she is uh she is a big name but yeah no she's it's a fascinating story isn't it and and she can even i think she she's done the best it's like identifying the moment where things really took off just a particular quote from a particular author so yeah stick around to hear that enjoy yes really enjoy it exclamation mark

so i think we should start by saying that we have the wonderful cj tudor on the line with us today um and we could probably start by saying that at some point the three of us have probably all voiced one of your scripts in the past

yeah i mean we've also looked because you were a copywriter weren't you i was we've all like passed like because of [ __ ] tonight have me at various radio stations and things i guess probably over the years never working in the same place at the same time but maybe yes yeah yeah probably and probably cursed me because it was probably dreadful it's so weird it's like it seems like sort of a long time ago but but it's not really since i was sort of writing radio ads and things because i did it even when i wasn't working at radio stations i was doing it freelance for years afterwards as well you know i've got to earn a crush yeah absolutely i definitely remember seeing your name on scripts and thinking well i'm sorry i just got the ring best seller all about it where did you work at oh my god all over i was at um i was at radio trent when it was radio trent many many years ago um and i was at yeah i was at nottingham a couple of times century um literally i worked at most radio stations across the country at one stage or another in a freelance capacity all sort of employed yeah um so yeah i was in because i was radio for a long time i worked at radio trent when i started there when i was 17. so a long time five long years ago just just just just you know a few years ago really honestly yeah because in in the in the blurb on your books it says that you have been a trainee reporter radio script writer dog walker voice over artist television presenter copywriter um so you've done a fair few things but it is all through those have you always had a sort of burning desire to be an author is that always been the dream oh god yeah i mean i always i always wanted to write and and you know i sort of i i didn't really sort of keep it up in my 20s and things i think i had other stuff going on and you know as you do sort of at that age um but i always used to sort of write in the background but i think i came from a background where like you know you being an author wasn't really a proper job so much as that's what i dreamed of doing it was a case of well you love writing but you've got to find it more practical way of using it to make a living really hence you know i got a job at the local newspaper then ended up in radio doing the you know radio ads worked in advertising agency for a while um so so i think it was never really seen as a career path but i think it wasn't i got to my early 30s that i thought you know what i still really i still got this kind of itch to do this and if i don't kind of try and make an effort to write something and finish it at least now you know i'm never going to do it so i i didn't really knuckle down to try and even finishing a book um sort of in my early sort of to mid 30s there's that bloody word again effort yeah always comment effort yep it's quite a big part of actually writing something isn't it having to put the effort in well on time as well isn't it because like you said we all have to have jobs that pay the bills so you're kind of fitting it around work and family and kids and all that sort of stuff so you know time i think is the biggest thing yeah did you have did you actually actively stop doing voiceovers in order for that like mental shift to take place did you one day decide okay i'm gonna start being a writer for real now or no because you know you can't afford to can you yeah yeah unless you've got another partner who could support you but i mean to be fair the voice over stuff kind of faded off a bit because you know there was a time when it was quite easy to just you know be a chancellor and do voice service and get paid quite well for it and then lots of people don't know so lots of people who were much better than me came into the industry and stole all the work and so hence that was why i was down those those talented people so yes i'm still doing script writing um but i also set up a dog i set up a dog walking business and i sort of did that when my little girl was quite young because i was like well we need to find some other way to get money in um and the freelance script writing isn't quite covering my heart for the mortgage and stuff so i'd worked the dog walker for someone else i knew before so it just seemed a good option um to do that um but you know you yeah so i had to do the writing around all of that you know chasing dogs across muddy fields and looking after betty who was about two at the time and and all of that yeah i just had to sort of fit it in around everything else i'd have loved to have gone but that's it darling i'm going to concentrate on being a writer imagine neil's face you're what it is that's an awkward conversation to have isn't it yeah i mean some people are lucky enough to be able to do that yeah but but for most of us you know you've got you've got to just crack on and sort of squeeze out those small bits of time to to write you know that's the only way to do it yeah does dog walking lend itself to that it is actually it's quite good for plotting you know is it isn't it inspiring job well yeah because you know you're spending a lot of time just walking around with dogs perfect for sort of you know thinking of ways to kill people and stuff i thoroughly recommend it but if i'm ever stuck on a plot point now take the dog for a walk um you know lots of lots of time to unlock plot twists and all those sort of things so yeah i used to do a lot you know we're fantasizing about being a published author as well obviously that's almost a full-time job isn't it we do a lot of fantasizing yeah

who who did you used to fantasize about being interviewed by who was your talk show fantasy for you you guys obviously obviously but you know i think you all have those dreams of like oh my goodness you're my book's published and i've got my quote from stephen king on the cover or my book being made into a film or whatever and yeah those are those lovely things that you imagine when you're a wannabe writer sometimes you mentioned stephen king uh kaz and uh i do remember a few years ago when the chalk man had not had been out not too you know for for a period and uh i remember seeing that tweet from stephen king and uh he was basically saying what like hey you should read this it's good it's a bit uh it's a bit like a british female version of me i think is what he said something like that uh can you can you stephen king yeah talk us through give us a snapshot of that moment in the in the tudor household oh my god i was actually i mean he is a huge hero of mine the chalkman was basically my sort of love letter to stephen king and of course all the stuff that i loved growing up as a teenager in the 80s all those sort of films with kids getting into dark adventures stephen king james herbert all of that um yeah so it was a massive homage in a way um to mr king and there were lots of nods to his books and characters in it um so it was yeah i was on the train into london um some meeting or do or something or other and i'd opened up twitter um well i was opened up my laptop to do some work but then of course that involved me opening up twitter obviously and it was the first it was the first tweet at the top of the page it was like and i follow stephen king obviously and he tweets about books quite often so i started to read it thinking i wonder i wonder what book he's talking about and then went oh my god this book sounds familiar wow yeah i think i may have i may have left up and done a bit of a bloody hell in the middle of the train and then the next thing i did was check it wasn't a fake account obviously uh yeah you know because i couldn't quite believe it and then i phoned neil and i hyperventilated on the on the phone to neil about it and yeah it had all these other tweets in response to it so it was it was bonkers it was i it was i say it's the best day of my life and then i have to say apart from beating neil having my little girl yeah yeah yeah well you've got to be honest it was it was yeah it was so amazing because he is such a big hero of mine um it was the most incredible thing and i i sort of replied in a very you know sort of british sort of oh my crumbs you know i love you uh but then he very graciously just responded and wrote you rock which was

yeah it was a massive massive thing for me it meant such a lot um and and so weird just trying to imagine stephen king as i imagine him sat in front of some roaring fireplace um with i don't know a great big chair with skulls on it and things yeah reading my book simultaneously tapping on a hundred typewriters as he goes basically yeah yeah wow so did you did you think at that moment oh was that like there this is it i've done it this is the sort of big right that's it now i've made it i'm at the top of the mountain it's all downhill from here that's it i've peaked well yeah that is that is kind of your thought isn't it it is sort of like have i have i peeped now this is it so someone actually said that too he said you know i was trying to joke on the twitter thing oh maybe you've peaked too early it was a bit like yeah yeah you know what i can live with that i can live with that it's not a bad people i've got my moment right here yeah basically that's it forever now that's fine that has to be fair yeah but um we don't just want to hear about success in this podcast um because it dallas we'd love to is about um sort of the process of i mean did you go through a lot of rejections what was it like when you were kind of pitching your book out how did it how did it all happen oh god i mean well i said i started seriously trying to sort of um finish a book and then get published in sort of my early thirties and you know i finally got published with the chalkboard that was 46. so that's how long it took for really you know i've got to try and you know knuckle down try and write a book try and do what i've always wanted to do to actually getting the book published um so yeah so it was what over well over well over a decade of trying and being rejected not with that particular book you know i i wrote other stuff probably you know three or four manuscripts actually right in the same kind of genre it wasn't a say a similar kind of genre and i did actually have an agent i was about 35 36 i submitted um a manuscript and i got taken on by an agent which was like this is it i've made it i think i'm going to get published it's all going to be wonderful and brilliant um and then we sort of went through the editing process because there's always an editing process with agents with you know with editors and publishers there are always more edits and it very quickly sort of became apparent that they wanted to kind of change what i wrote if that makes sense they represented a lot of very high profile very successful you know they're a good agent um crime writers who wrote i would say more sort of procedural crime or straight psychological crime and i kept trying to go a bit stephen king on them basically and they kept trying to take that out of the writing and i kept trying to put it back in um and the first book i submitted that you know i thought was the one i was going to you know see published never went anywhere and i wrote another book with them and then again the same sort of thing happened and i went you know i'm absolutely bloody miserable i'm not enjoying this anymore i only had some kind of twitter time machine that you could have gone and got your stephen king tweet it would all been good and showing them that at the time look hold on a minute editing but i think they were probably right at the time i remember them saying to me at one point basically you know this this stuff you want to write you know it's not it's not publishable it is not publishable there's not a single publisher who would take this off um and they may well have been right at that point in time all i knew was how does that feel though to hear that frustrating i think was the thing and i was unhappy and i guess also i'm pretty bloody minded as well so probably partly thought well i think you'll think you're wrong i think you're wrong and i think it is good i think somebody will want to publish it um but they did it just took a quite a few years later um so but i left them i i realized that i was having no fun i wasn't writing what i wanted to write i wasn't getting even a sniff of a publisher it wasn't really working out for anybody so i decided that i would leave them and it was all mutual and amicable and everything and then i i thought as soon as i'd done it i thought i'd make the biggest mistake i could possibly make so i've just left this really successful age today and throwing myself back into the slush pile and it was another when i was maybe 37 38 then it was probably obviously another sort of five or six years before i wrote the chalk man and submitted it to the agent i have now madeleine milburn and i had a totally different experience with that book and with madeline actually as well i think thinking back the asian i was with wasn't a particularly good fit for me in more ways than just a subject matter but you don't know that because an agent offers you representation and you're like oh could you leave with it you know like you think you're made yeah yeah and i learned i sort of learned perhaps a good lesson there but you know i you know i threw myself back in the slush pile i kept writing and and hopefully i i got better i you know i sort of broke short stories got a few of those published in a few sort of women's magazines and stuff um and every little bit where i got a short story published or you know just before the chalk man i won a couple of sort of competitions and it just makes you feel like you're not completely wasting your time with the writing um but but yeah there was a point i think probably not long before i wrote the chalk man where i've had betty and i've got the dog walking business and you know time was incredibly short to fit in the writing and i didn't think perhaps you know that was it i'd kind of had my moment and it was gone and it might not happen again and you know it wasn't that bad because i was very i was happy i liked my dog walking business i was you know i had my little girl um it wasn't the end of the world and perhaps that was good thinking i kind of relaxed into it and i wrote the chalk man with really no expectations yeah there's i guess there's something to be said for that isn't it about you know once you let go of ridiculous expectations and just do something for the for the enjoyment of it then you're going to bring your best stuff is going to come to the fore i suppose i think it's true i can't think i don't think you can write with a vision to getting published you just you just can't start because what you what is popular right now in publishing by the time you get published the time that book will come out will be two years down the line and that moment will have gone yeah publishers are already looking for something other than what is being published right now so you'll always be behind the curve so you can you can only really that one sent you wanky about it be true to yourself you know and write from your heart yeah and write what you love uh because that might then be the thing in a couple of years time that publishers are really hungry for and that's kind of how it was with the chalk man it sounds like yeah it sounds like you enjoy the writing process are there ever times where you're just staring at screen and and not enjoying it but there's always yeah there's always those times because i've realized now there's part in every book normally around 200 pages you get to that pump and you go oh my god this is all awful i can't make this work i'm never going to make this come together it's the worst thing i've ever written what was i thinking of i hate it and then you kind of plow one because you have to and then you get over that hump generally not not all the time um and you finish the book and you somehow you make it work yeah but yeah there's always there's always that stage in every book i think where you you doubt yourself you don't the writing you doubt the story you do everything it's all wrong and you you have to sort of push through that and quite often there's a temptation i've said this to a number of sort of um other writers and people who've asked about writing process there's quite often the temptation of the shiny new idea so i've got to find that i've got another idea for a book halfway through the book i'm writing and of course that idea is exciting and it's new because i haven't screwed it up yet and that that next idea will be the book that is perfect and wonderful and i won't have any difficulty writing it and it'll be amazing and my editor won't want to make any changes to it so there's always a shiny new idea it's also tempting to think that one will be perfect but actually every book has has tough bits that you have to kind of push on through to get to the end so are you are you a panster like stephen king or are you a strict outliner oh god i'm definitely a panster i was speaking to i did a podcast another author actually who i know the other day and he's the exact opposite and you can't change it fills you with horror like his process of planning out chapters and detailed plans and knowing the ending and writing like 20 000 words of a plan before he starts the book is my idea of an absolutely complete nightmare because i'm like what's the point of writing the book at that stage you know you i just so exhausted yeah what 20 000 words of a plan and i feel that that takes a bit of the fizz out of it as well doesn't it for me i think it does i think it takes a spontaneity yeah whereas i like to dive in and see see where it goes really um which which means there's a lot of work in the edits you know i go back doing a lot of tweaking and changing things because i've had a great idea to do something part way through but that means i can't go and you know rewrite bits at the beginning to make it fit in but i i find it just keeps it fresh and it keeps it more interesting for me generally um but yeah a little bit of planning can't hurt knowing roughly how it's going to end is quite a good thing yeah that sounds like a good idea doesn't it yeah but i have to change the endings i often think i know how it's going to end then i'll get three quarters of the way through and go oh i could do this instead that's much more fun let's do that

again i think that kind of comes through because in reading your book sometimes i'm sitting there thinking right it shouldn't be that hard to work out the ending i should be able to figure this out and then i get there i'm like nope didn't see that coming but then thinking maybe that you didn't have a clue what how it was going to end us you were right basically i don't feel so bad yeah it's like for that point where i go yeah it could go that way but already oh let's do this let's do this instead that'll that'll throw them and i think that's quite good if you're writing through those mysteries because if you're sort of only just thinking of it then you're hopefully misleading the the reader as well yes but doing it in an honest way very misleading not in that way when you you know when when stuff is deliberately misleading and withholds stuff and you and you and you get that awful feeling as a reader of oh you've cheated me out of not guessing this rather than oh there's nothing nothing worse i think every thriller or mystery you should as a reader be able to feasibly guess um the ending the breadcrumbs should be there it shouldn't be one of those endings where it's like how could i ever assess that that's ridiculous yeah you shouldn't ever sort of have that feeling you should be able to work it out even if you don't quite work it out in time or be able to go back and go oh yeah you see now now i know that bit makes sense yeah yeah you should always have this oh there were triplets but no one ever mentioned anything about that

there was a twin oh yeah all those horrible cliches that you know you still i i have read you know thrillers where you know you do get that type of ending and you're right you feel cheated but it's frustrating it's worse than actually just it being too obvious if it's so not obvious that you couldn't possibly guess it it's it's just achieved yeah i think basically yeah it's it's interesting though because reading your stuff it seems as if they are meticulously planned out particularly with the chalk man where you're you're jumping back from something that happened now to something that happened 20 or 30 years ago there's a there's a really sort of it seems like a well thought out thread that ties you from one chapter to the next to the next to the next that keeps you kind of going um but you're saying you're just making it up as you go along yeah basically you know i'm always quite surprised when i actually you know get a book together it kind of works like that but like like a lot of them in the chalk man it's a lot a lot of work in the edits and the children i wrote in two separate sections so i wrote all the kids stuff first and then i wrote all the adult stuff and then i linked all the chapters so there was a lot of tweaking it came to putting the two bits together basically yeah it just works to write it like that um and yeah then you go back and you you do sort of the hard work bit of actually editing it and making sure it does all tie together i knew the ending in the chalk command so i knew certain points i had to hit certain plot points that were going to be in there who'd have guessed they were triplets after all spoilers spoilers i very much enjoyed the 80s references being in my 40s in george yeah thank you yeah there were some fantastic ideas in the 80s weren't there i loved the 80s i was a huge fondness but well i think at the decade that you're a teenager and you've always got a real fondness for haven't you so like 86 when the chalk man was set i would have been 14. yeah so you know it was 13 14. so yeah it was you know definitely sort of my time it feels like a really vivid time to me and i think things when you're a teenager things are more vivid yeah particularly in the 80s the 80s were very vivid oh god

leg warmers love it yeah i love the fact that stuff's back those things what were those things that you put on your head called

that was that was a great fad that wasn't it that needs to come back they were brilliant yeah the 80s were great you know well at the time probably by the time you go to the 90s you thought they were nap but they were far enough away to go no they were really they were really good they were i remember once we went on holiday to north wales and in a shop there by the seaside i managed to buy some aha sweatbands oh very cool it's like the dream yeah it's like in whales

have you got a good memory did you ever keep a diary or anything because you seem to you seem to um just remember the 80s better than i do no i didn't but i i'm in touch with all my friends that you know i was friends with in the 80s at that age we were still in touch and we you know when i was in los angeles to get together quite regularly and go for drinks and stuff so i think a lot of it was reminiscing of do you remember when this happened did you remember when that happened and we did this and that happened and so and so yeah and so i think we sort of kept it very much alive because of that really but yeah i was going to show my little girl a picture of myself because my mum's got more of them than me i'm sure but i found one of me in in a lovely it's a turquoise blue jumpsuit with a white jacket nice and i'm just growing out a bit of a perm with some sun in it i think the scary thing is we can all immediately see that yeah she was horrified she was absolutely horrified by it it was like it's like mommy you have hair

keep it really short the failing writers podcast recommended by eight out of ten dentists and nine out of ten cats and therefore by literally all of the feline orthodontists we've ever met i mean that's just maths isn't it

so i was thinking that like the flip side of um getting that magical sort of stephen king tweet is when when you do something and it and it becomes a best seller as you've had a few of now that must bring some sort of negative publicity as well do you have the sort of sort of trolls that come after you in any way or have you had to deal with any sort of bad reviews yeah um normally i mean there's a site called goodreads um that most authors just know after a while it is is not a good place to visit really but when you're when you're a debut when you're first writing a book you want to know what people think of it obviously generally on things like twitter people only sort of tag you in and contact you with the nice stuff you get a few people who tag you in with bad reviews but everyone knows that's kind of not the done thing um but you know if you seek out reviews then of course you're going to get burnt at some stage um and with the chalk man you know the first few years were lovely it was great i was like this is amazing and then inevitably you get your first one star review and you're like what what the hell who's giving me this review and then as the more reviews you get obviously the more bad reviews you get and obviously the more popular a book seems to be and the more hyped i think a book is particularly you you get those people who really do want to bring it down you know oh well you know everyone else liked it but i thought it was rather successful that sort of thing as well yeah but i got some really hateful ones for the chalk command because a lot of people um i don't think got the sort of fact that it was i say it was my homage to stephen king and all that sort of stuff that i loved and really just thought i was just trying to rip off stephen king which was not the intention at all it kind of the purpose of it kind of went straight over their heads which i was going to say before that that tweet from stephen king could have gone two ways couldn't it depend on his perspective on that i think it was supposed to be a real wink because he got all the references so i think it was really like if you like my stuff you like this because he got it could uk female stephen king and we will discuss this further in a court of law but yes service hardcore fans really didn't like it or they didn't like this british female that started you know trampolines territory so i've got some i've got some real bastard reviews yeah really really nasty ones but that's how you learn isn't it you know then you know you you learn not to seek out those bad reviews then so for the other books yes i don't i don't go looking for bad reviews i might just skim the first few nice reviews on goodreads but i don't seek out the one and two star ones because you know they can be really unpleasant funny enough sometimes the three star ones could be the worst though because they're nearly always the ones that that catch you at that bit that you doubt yourself so there's anything you're not sure about but you can guarantee this so yes this book had a really strong start oh good good but then in the middle oh no not the middle of it exactly not around around page 200.

but not managed to get over it quite absolutely and you know the funniest ones are the ones you can tell her from what i call and i don't mean a mean way because you know we've all been there sort of frustrated writers um we've all been that frustrated writer who's read a book that perhaps disappoints us and you know books is objective you know i'm not going to say you know yeah everyone should love you have to ask yourself orcas what kind of person would leave that kind of review a terrible human being is mostly wouldn't they terrible terrible human beings yeah do you ever guess where it's quite clear that they haven't read the book so they're sort of you know like chalk man well i got hit by a chalk duster when i was at school one star i don't like this so some of you do get where they're just like the funny thing is you get you do get repeat reviewers who obviously don't like your books but keep reading them reviewing them so be like i hated the chalk man i thought i'd give this one or i hated the other author's other books and this one i still don't like them why you're some kind of masochist god say go and read something else why are you doing this to yourself or this isn't my genre what's the why why are you reading it the first four times 37 of your books have been terrible i am not looking forward to the next one coming out the next one i've set aside a week to read the next one i'm not looking forward to it guaranteed sales then but people are just really strange i don't get that it's like if you don't like the first one for god's sake don't read the rest of them yeah this is this is not for you how many books all together kaz um so four books um i am well as i say i finished the fifth but there's well i think this is the interesting thing actually the fifth book i finished may not be a book that comes out next year and actually it may be something else i'm working on that we we actually do skip and put something out in 2023 instead for various reasons um so but i'm actually having an editorial meeting about that tomorrow so i i don't know quite which way it's going to go yet we may but there may be a book next january but there may be a novella next summer and the kind of passion project i'm working on um may come out in 2023 because that needs a little bit longer but we'll see um it's a little bit up in the air at the moment but yeah four published books and and more to come many more to come hopefully excellent uh i have i have the the burning girls in my hands as we speak and i've got a copy signed by the author which always makes you think two things the first one i've got a terrible signature that's mine if i ever actually finished a book well no yours i mean yours looks like a proper sign mine looks like a child's just scribbled over something and often worry if i finished a book and someone asked for a signed copy they'd get it and go what's it i'm not having this that's just rubbish but yeah on the other hand you'd get other people to sign them they wouldn't know just scribble that's true yeah i could just get a signed copy i didn't say who signed by just signed but what's that like to do is is that a bit of a pain in the ass do you have to sort of set aside a day and sit down and sign things or do you do have you done obviously not recently but book signings in books that god can everyone hate because you know basically you know unless you're stephen king you know you're not going to get many people turn up because people people don't like actually approaching someone who sat in a book you know who turns up to those don't you people who give three star reviews exactly i read your book i didn't like i signed the book beside this book i hate it but yeah oh god no no one displays i've had to travel 50 miles to come and see you today the train i do i do have a friend who that was pretty much happened to she was like some event or something someone came up to her just to tell her how much she hated the ending of her book it's like so what do you say thank you thank you very thank much thanks for letting me know signing books is weird the first time you do it you feel like an imposter it's a very odd thing um events and stuff like that um and then sort of you know if you you know you're lucky it is nice waterstones you know send you books to sign and things and i had um one of my books the other people was in target it was chosen with a target books of the month or whatever they do um in the us um and i have signed 7 000 copies of it

trying to train the dogs that you walk to be able to hold a pen if you could say if you were walking to do it yeah you know her writing speech yeah cause i i don't i don't like doesn't matter who you are if you sign seven thousand books the signature in the seven thousand is not gonna look the same it's gonna be a slightly bumpy line isn't it that's it yeah it's just gonna be just gonna be an x yeah you really want one of the first ten books don't you yeah yeah one of the good ones just like oh god yeah for god's sake yeah that's when you really make it cause you'll get a stamp that looks like cigarette i know some authors do have stance yes successful authors do have just snap it yeah that's what you know you've really made it it's true so as soon as you go as you go through all these amazing books kaz um obviously it must be like uh similar sort of musicians as well like your first book you can kind of take as long as you want on to get it you know exactly as you want it before it gets submitted but once you kind of get a deal you end up with a schedule i suppose so how do you find that when suddenly you've got like okay this the next book is coming out on this date in this year so you've got to finish it by then what can you sort of describe that that change in the process yeah it is difficult i think a lot of authors find this because you're right the first book you have you know all the time in the world basically to write and read and submit and then suddenly you are on this you know this schedule basically and and what i found is it gets squeezed tighter and tighter because you know the second book fortunately i had quite a lot writ of it written um before the chalk man was published so that wasn't too bad but then inevitably you know i didn't start the third book till probably say the second book was published in january i didn't finish the next book yeah the finished next book say until march that year and it's out the next year what you tend to find is instead of having say a year or two years to write a book you have 11 months then 10 months then maybe eight months to get this book submitted because you've got all the other stuff that goes in if you're slightly late delivering then you have the promotion stuff and you have events and then you know before the lockdowns i was traveling quite a lot because i was published in quite a few countries um and then you're promoting the paperback and so your time gets eaten into um you're trying to have less and less room to actually sit down and write and i think that's kind of culminated a bit for me in book five um because i was trying to write that during lockdown and then there was a lot of stuff going with my parents i lost my dad in january and so it was a really difficult book to write it was it was interrupted a lot it was writing it at a really difficult time and then i was later submitting it um so you suddenly go oh crumbs you know i've got a very short amount of time to write the next book which is going to be quite you know big book it's a slight change it's quite high concept and i sort of need that extra time hence perhaps we might not be you know we might be spending some more time on that so so yeah your schedule does get squeezed i think a lot of authors find that a lot of authors do have to perhaps take a year between books sometimes to sort of catch back up and it feels like you're being really lazy or greedy or something because you know readers are very lovely and they're like oh i can't wait for a book next year and it seems like a long time when you're waiting to read a book when you're trying to write a book it's actually no time at all so it feels very a little bit selfish to sort of want to take an extra year but sometimes you just have to because the worse than not delivering a book is delivering a book that everyone's disappointed with you know that it's like oh wow well yeah you don't want that because you don't want people to enjoy each book more yeah so does most of the deadline pressure come from you can so does it come from the publisher both ways i guess isn't it i like to live my books in good time because i know that if you're late delivering a book as i've just said then you're late starting the next one and it all starts getting more and more compressed um and you know you don't want that pressure on yourself uh but yeah there is a point where you know the the publishers will be saying okay you kind of kind of need it now i don't have that book i have a friend who's an author and he's well for both of his books he's been very late delivering the books but he's a brilliant author they kind of let him let him get away with it but yeah i don't think he's ever hit deadliners

but you know publishers are relatively tolerant if your books are doing well they get less tolerant if your books aren't doing well obviously yeah all checks and balances really but yeah personally i don't like letting people down i like to deliver books on time i thought you know don't like being late and missing deadlines and things thanks for listening to the failing writers podcast thanks for subscribing but mostly thanks for just being you you're great you are i am aware that one of your books i'm not entirely sure which one now but one of your books has been optioned uh as a tv show is that right yeah about all four of them have been optioned um for tv i just haven't been able to announce two of them um but it options are weird things because they basically mean we like your book and we'd like to do something with it now we have to go away and get some money to do something and see if people will let us make it and like from basically being optioned to hopefully anything happening can often be three years easily right because tv and stuff is very very slow um yeah they have all been auctioned the um chalkman has been auctioned by bbc studios and in conjunction with an american production company and burning girls has been optioned um by a production company and we they both have script rights attached actually we have hans rosenfeld attached for the burning girls who um is amazing because he was responsible for the bridge and marcella um so he's brilliant oh right okay so i'm very excited about that um yeah they're sort of a little bit further on the other two have been optioned but are just really at that option getting backing pitching to you know other production companies and you know that sort of stage so it's it's yeah it's a long process the nice thing is they pay you an option fee and that's normally for about a year or 18 months then if they don't do anything with it but they still want to do something with it they pay you again so you know it's all extra money that sounds like the dream doesn't it do i do anything for it brilliant just keep getting optioned every year so does that did that feel like another sort of uh big here i am moment or is it always been more about the books it's a strange thing because you know i always wanted to just write books i didn't want to write tv you know i wanted to write books and see my books on bookshelves but it seems like every time you write a book now or any author the next question is is it is going to be adapted for tv because books are suddenly so many books are being adapted for tv or film yeah um and that's you feel a little bit like if you say no you feel a bit like you know you you're unsuccessful i don't know yeah but it was never it's the i call it the icing on the cake it's lovely it's a lovely you know it's a lovely vote of confidence but again options i've learned not to get carried away with it because quite frankly most of the books optioned won't ever ever make it to screen you know they get options it's not a huge amount of money as far as the tv companies are concerned they'd have to pay out too much for it um and if they do something where they do and a lot of a lot of the time they won't make it a screen so you've got to be healthily cynical about it and not get carried away and go it would be lovely if something happens but you know until until they sort of tell me it's been green lit and it's actually happening you know i will i won't believe it but you know it's it's thank you for the option fee it's nice to be asked so yeah better than not having it isn't it absolutely so what else then does the future hold cassie you talked about um maybe changing the schedule for the next couple of books but further on than that do you see anything outside of like the horror genre or anything that you've got a burning desire to do um well i mean i'm never going to sit down and write a romance i think that's pretty much a given that's that's really not my kind of thing but i it's interesting that the whole thing with books five and six actually is because all my books so far have been kind of i think they've trodden the line between thrillers mysteries with a little bit of sort of supernatural kind of horror um but it it's sort of you know bit of a balance in them and i think you always want to do different things because you don't want to get stale you don't want to feel like you're doing it by numbers and you want to kind of challenge yourself and i had this really exciting idea um for the book that was book six might be book five and i think i pitched it to my agent as basically a triple locked room mystery slash post-apocalyptic horror thriller not another one of them and she didn't go oh god no yeah not another one of those books um she and she didn't balk too much i naughted my publishers when i kind of pitched them the idea as well so it is a little bit it's a little bit more high concept it's a little bit it's quite a bit different from the books i have published so far but i was just really excited about it and i had a really good idea for it um and they're basically letting me write it giving myself giving me enough rope to hang myself basically why you've earned it now haven't you but i think you've got to keep wanting to do different stuff i mean i've always said that's why i couldn't write a series where it's just the same character you know you follow the same character at the books because i'd find that really mindlessly boring i like having different books and a different playground and i'm always looking for different things that i can do um so i'm really really excited about that it's called drift um and yeah i'm really excited i'm having a lot of fun writing it as well and that's what this one it's got to be hasn't it you've got to keep having fun writing stuff i mean i'm lucky i've got to contract the next three books with penguin and i've got contract next two books with um penguin valentine in the u.s um i'm also very fortunate that i've got quite a few foreign publishers who keep coming on board for the next books so you know that's really lovely lucky privileged position to be in and you know hopefully that will continue because i just want to keep writing so you know you want to keep writing writing books people enjoy and you know keep publishing keep readers happy um and that's what it's all about really isn't just keep keep being able to do this yeah that's what kind of we're all about isn't it trying to get to the point of just doing stuff for the sake of enjoying it and if something else happens great a lot of authors you know it's i was very lucky because the chalk man was a big book and it sold in you know loads and loads of territories and everything and that gave me a great head start so i'm able to write full time um you know not every author is you know every published author is able to do that even you know it because it is a tricky industry it's that old you know you're only as good as the last book type of thing so there is there is pressure like with everything there's pressure to get the sales to sort of hit that top 10 if you can so you know you are aware of that but ultimately when you're writing you kind of have to put that stuff out of your head and and i say don't think about writing to be published or what will readers think or what the publishers think you've just got to write stuff that you're passionate about and i think that then comes through in the book i think that's a that's a fantastic place to end it on actually that's a that's like a yeah that's quite an uplifting yeah actually that's an uplifting ending isn't it so maybe i could end it on a downbeat note as well if you want you know it's really up to you you could do a choose your own ending choose your own ending yeah they're 80s books aren't they basically it's incredibly tough to get published and one publisher said to me and there are loads of writers out there who are brilliant who are not published because it is it's not just about being a great writer the books are turned out for all sorts of reasons not because they're not great books one publisher said to me it was his job to every day turn down brilliant books and brilliant authors just because they didn't fit with what they were publishing that year it was too similar to another author it wasn't what people were looking to read at that particular time it's it is really difficult i feel very lucky that you know i get get to write and publish books but you know it's not as i always say to people just because you've got rejected with that book this year next year that might be the book that every publisher wants so you've just got to sort of hang on to that it's a lot of well there is a degree of talent i think a lot of it is luck and timing as well yeah that's a bit bigger more downbeat isn't it i think i prefer the upbeat version i like the downbeat one if i'm honest bit more satisfying isn't it yeah well that was really great cause thanks so much for talking to us yeah thank you so much thank you very much guys thank you no worries thanks kaz thank you so much indeed and best of luck with all the other books yay bye bye

wow exclamation mark that was good wasn't it excellent and thanks for coming on very interesting and what a career she's had just in the last few years uh bit annoying she's jealous oh yeah she is one of the best dog walkers in the country i mean that's very very good very good we could break into that market yeah not the dog market i mean the horror the horror market did you think we could it's a big area we could get a slice of that actually it doesn't it doesn't it doesn't appeal to my writing chops at all that doesn't it you could say it fills me with horror um it just really yeah it's not my it's not my genre i don't really watch horror stuff it just doesn't well you know what we should do that yeah test test you we should set you a task tommy we should set all of us a task to write some just to prove that that's not true well you've got a page a single page about 500 words to scare right okay that sounds less daunting each other yeah some like a scary page of writing okay yeah scary page a very yeah so that could be like three or four words and lots and lots of exclamation marks it could be could be just be ah uh yeah 500 words horror story scare scare the crap out of us that's gonna be very hard for me it's gonna be quite hard isn't it

the good thing is we've got two weeks to do it because in next week's episode we've got another interview coming out oh yes very good interview with um kate fox yeah the lovely case it's a total change of pace but that's a very interesting interview as well and some exclusive readings of her poems too so she's so lovely and honest isn't she and funny things sadly missing from this podcast so yeah let's look forward to that so that's next week so we've got two weeks chaps to do your horror fiction 500 words scary stuff we can do that do it goodbye everyone thank you for that bye

hello hello where's everybody gone

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C J Tudor

C. J. Tudor is the author of The Burning Girls, The Other People, The Hiding Place, and The Chalk Man, which won the International Thriller Writers award for Best First Novel and the Strand Magazine Award for Best Debut Novel. Over the years she has worked as a copywriter, television presenter, voice-over artist, and dog walker. She is now thrilled to be able to write full-time, and doesn’t miss chasing wet dogs through muddy fields all that much. She lives in England with her partner and daughter.