Today I’m chatting to writer Michael Tyne
Tell blog visitors a little about yourself, Michael. Hello all, I’m a fifty-something writer of Urban Fantasy. I was born and brought up in the North of England, but I’ve lived in all sorts of places over the years: London, Norfolk, Bermuda… I’ve also spent a lot of time at the fringes of society with the drunks, the bums and the ne’er-do-wells; and that’s had a lot of influence on my writing. That said, I now work as an accountant! I have a 23-year-old son from my first marriage and I live with my other half, best friend, and sorest trial, Hannah… 😊
What first inspired you to write? When I was a kid, my parents encouraged me to read – they were both big readers themselves. They never put any limits on what I read and they took pleasure in introducing me to some of their favourites. My Dad also loved radio comedy – the Goons, Tony Hancock, that kind of thing. The books (and radio shows) my parents shared with me were my first influences.
The thing that started me on my current path – Urban Fantasy – was actually the first four HARRY POTTER books. I liked them a lot, but there was a niceness about them which made my teeth itch. I set out to write something along those lines but darker, nastier and more alcohol-fuelled. The result was my first self-published novel, THE LAST FIVE DAYS.
What was your first piece of creative writing? How old were you? When I was eleven or so, I fell in love with Arthur Ransome’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS books (my mother’s fault!). I bought all twelve with my pocket-money and was then appalled to discover that Mr Ransome was deceased and there weren’t going to be any more. I set out to write the thirteenth book. I got one-and-a-half pages in, and then realised that this writing lark was tougher than it looked….
Which writers do you particularly admire? Lawks, how long do you have? As an adolescent, I started out on comedy: Spike Milligan, PG Wodehouse, Tom Sharpe. Then I went to crime, particularly Agatha Christie and Raymond Chandler. Then fantasy – Tolkien, Richard Adams, Anne McCaffrey, William Horwood – and masses of Science Fiction; particularly Arthur C Clarke. Then I got a bit serious: Steinbeck, Hemingway, Evelyn Waugh, Kazuo Ishiguro, Graham Swift, Olivia Manning. Now I’m reading Terry Pratchett, JK Rowling, David Wingrove, Robert Rankin, and a heap of non-fiction. I love history. Max Hastings and Dan Jones are favourites, and the late Geoffrey Moorhouse was a British national treasure: it’s a crime that he was not more widely recognised as such in his lifetime. He was a lyrical writer, like Steinbeck, and I’m occasionally irritated by the modern insistence that decent prose should be blunt and bare of adornment. The human race never progressed by dumbing down.
What do you love about writing? When a new first draft is going well: it’s like flying. Also, I love creating characters. I have so much fun working out their life stories.
What do you hate about writing? The fact that I can’t make a living at it! Self-publishing has shattered the tiny cartel of publishing houses and agencies who existed in a frame of mutual back-scratching and certainly needed a wake-up call: but it’s also spread the expectation that authors should be prepared to give away a book for free, or sell it for next to no margin just to get people to read them. Authors have never been sufficiently valued in the publishing process: the only thing that’s changed is the identity of the people who rip them off. It’s criminal.
Describe your portfolio of writing. Five novels, soon to be six. A trilogy, THE SHATTERED LAND, which is about a tiny group of ‘gifted’ people, whose ‘gift’ – the fact that they don’t age – leads to an apocalyptic war. Then a gentler, more humorous novella, THE LAST GREAT RADIO SHOW, about two ageing rockers in a retirement home in the east of England; a story about male friendship – and also ghosts. And then my latest, SHARKEY, a fantasy set among the old-time tramps and the modern homeless which has got some excellent reviews, about which I’m very happy.
In May, I’ll be publishing THE LOST RESORT, a story about the evil legacy of the second world war, set in a fading English seaside resort in the north of England.
What is your proudest achievement? Finishing all these books. I’m never sure that I will get to the end.
What is your current project? THE SHERBIUS EFFECT– a sequel to THE LOST RESORT. It’s tied up with the story of the Enigma Machines, and also a bunch of East End gangsters.
Anything you’d like to add? I’m pleased to have this opportunity to indulge in an author’s favourite pastime – talking about themselves! Thank you for having me.
Very welcome, Michael. Good luck with launching THE LOST RESORT and with producing the sequel, THE SHERBIUS EFFECT. And Hannah – I’ve never heard a Muse called a ‘sorest trial’ before. Want me to have a word?
The Last Great Radio Show: A Short Novel about Rock Music and Ghosts