On Tuesday evening I undertook the arduous five minute journey to my local library to see Tara Guha, West Yorkshire based author of Untouchable Things. She was visiting the library as part of the National Library Day celebrations in conjunction with Huddersfield Literature Festival. Tara’s talk was on the theme of How to write a novel and I was looking forward to hearing how she had approached creating her debut novel.
There were around 25 of us gathered in the small cosy library and it was lovely to see such a turnout for a cold, sleety night. Tara started by turning the tables on us and passed around a short quiz. The answers to these allowed to gauge what sort of writer we would be: organised and with plenty of pre-writing planning, slightly organised with some pre-ordained ideas of where the story would go or someone who would just wing and go with the flow, a seat of the pants writer if you will!
Tara explained how she had started to write her novel whilst on maternity leave with her first child. She thought she would have time on her hands and luckily she could write whilst the baby slept. She started out only with a theme for the novel and let her imagination run riot. It took about 9 months to write the first draft but then the process stalled and it sat for a few years.
Tara explained how she found the process of turning the first draft into a novel quite difficult and that she realised she had a lot to learn. Having read an article in the Guardian entitled How to write a novel in 30 days she used this as a guide to help structure her first draft. Things fundamentally changed in the story, use of different narratives were introduced for example and one character was totally removed from the novel.
Once the novel was at a stage she was happy with, Tara sent the manuscript to agents. As is often the case she received rejections, from the standard ‘no thanks’ letters to one agent saying she was sure she would regret it but she was having to say no. Just as she was about to put it back in the drawer Tara came across an advertisement for the Luke Bitmead Bursery, an award for debut authors, the prize being publication. Tara entered the competition then promptly forgot about it as real life took over. Then she heard that she had been short-listed which in itself was a wonderful surprise. Tara attended the awards ceremony with no thought of winning in her mind and was so unprepared to hear her name called as the winner that she didn’t have a speech prepared.
Things moved quickly from there as that evening she met with her publishers, Legend Press, and she mentioned she wasn’t sure about the original title. They agreed but then Tara had only 4 days to decide on a new title as Legend Press were keen to include the book in their upcoming catalogue. That also meant that quick decisions regarding the cover had to be made. Luckily they all agreed on the new title Untouchable Things.
Tara then went on to read an extract from her novel, which really brought the story to life. Not having yet read it, it certainly left me looking forward to reading it myself.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Tara talk about her writing process and journey to publication, and it was lovely to spend a miserable, cold, winter evening discussing books. She was engaging and friendly and the rest of the audience certainly seemed to enjoy themselves, asking plenty of questions and telling Tara what it was they had loved about Untouchable Things.
I had a lovely quick chat with Tara after the event and managed to buy a copy of her book which she was kind enough to sign.
You can find out more about Huddersfield Literature Festival here.
Tara’s novel, Untouchable Things was published by Legend Press on 1 September 2015.
“For the third time this week he is watching her scream. Watching, not listening.
Rebecca Laurence is centre stage and shining in her role as Ophelia. She pivots, rotating like a ballerina impaled in a musical box, red hair cascading down her back. Amidst the thundering applause, one man is watching.
Rebecca meets the charismatic Seth Gardner, and as attraction grows between them, he invites her to join his Friday Folly, a group of artistic friends. But as Rebecca is drawn into the web of tangled relationships all is not as it appears. The scene is set for the night that will rip the group apart.
Consumed by loss and surrounded by secrets, Rebecca must escape the grip of the Folly to have any chance of saving herself. Meanwhile, one man continues to watch.”
You can find out more about Tara and her novel on the Legend Press website.