I am beyond excited to have the one and only Tammy Cohen join me today!!
Having read and loved A Dangerous Crossing (See Review HERE) I wanted to know more about this wonderful and very interesting writer.
Because I’m such a lovely person *ahem* I thought I would share our conversation with you here.
So relax, grab a cuppa, feet up and please do continue reading…
Tammy, Tamar, Rachel…..You are all so very welcome to Swirl and Thread today. Now I have three names as well but mine are all related to my Baptism and Confirmation!! You have a slightly more exciting reason for your multiple identities. Please do share….
Hi Mairead, thanks for inviting me!
I apologise for the confusing names. It’s not a multiple personality disorder, I promise. Tamar is the name on my birth certificate but I was always called Tammy. When my first novel was published, my publishers decided Tamar had more gravitas (don’t laugh), but then after three books, it changed back to Tammy because that was easier to pronounce (again don’t laugh). Rachel Rhys was born when I decided to have a complete change of genre. I thought a new name made sense so that readers wouldn’t pick A Dangerous Crossing up expecting a contemporary psychological thriller, and also to make it easier for me to write in a completely different way.
You had a very adventurous childhood Tammy, travelling to various parts of the world from a very young age. How did this come about?
My dad was an anthropologist, teaching at a London university, and every few years he would have a sabbatical year to go off and do field work or guest lecturing. So I was born in Nigeria and we spent odd years in New York State and Sierra Leone and California.
Now I think it’s incredibly cool, but at the time apparently we all protested LOUDLY every time we had to up sticks.
Do you find your writing is strongly influenced by these travels?
Interesting. I’ve never really thought about that before.
I guess I’d say there’s no overt crossover between those years abroad and the subject-matter of my novels. However, my characters often have a sense of displacement or unbelonging, and that could well have come from moving around so much.
On the other hand, the long term legacy for me has been that I have terrible wanderlust and dream constantly of traveling to far-flung places, so that might explain Lily Shepherd’s decision to set off for the other side of the world in search of adventure at the start of A Dangerous Crossing.
Tammy working from home is a stress in it’s own right. How do you manage to shut out your environment and focus on writing/ and editing?
The short answer is, I don’t!
While I’m answering your questions, I am also trying to ignore the dog whining to be taken out, and I have just had to break off for protracted negotiations with my sons over using the car. Since we had our loft converted last year I finally have my own study and don’t have to work on the kitchen table, which was VERY distracting, but I still never completely manage to tune out what’s going on in the rest of the house.
I just try to write around it.
Last year, publishers Transworld, signed you up for a new three-book deal. How excited were you to receive this news?
I was thrilled to get a new contract for three more psychological thrillers. Writing is such a precarious career, but I absolutely love it. The great dream for me and all the other writers I know is to be allowed the freedom to carry on doing what we’re doing.
So a three-book deal represented three more years of financial security and the chance to produce three new novels.
Several stiff celebratory gins were had!
The first of these books, They All Fall Down, is due for publication in a few months.. Set in a psychiatric ward can you reveal a little more of what it is about?
They All Fall Down is out in mid July.
As you say it’s set in a private psychiatric clinic for women most of whom are at high risk of self harm. So when two of the women die, suicide is the obvious assumption. Only Hannah knows there’s really a serial killer at loose in the clinic. But Hannah is delusional. And who will believe she’s telling the truth when she’s been locked away for lying to herself?
Your recent book A Dangerous Crossing is a complete departure from the genre you typically write within. What was the reason for this change in direction and can we expect more novels set within the historical genre in the future?
After seven contemporary novels in quick succession, I really wanted a break and when my agent suggested I try writing something historical I jumped at it.
But I couldn’t seem to settle on a period. I started writing something gothic about a governess in a spooky turreted house, then switched to writing about ladies in waiting in the Tudor court. But nothing made sense until I picked up a hand-typed book at my mum’s house. It had been written by a friend of hers and based on the diary this friend kept during a voyage made in the late thirties going from London to Sydney, and it was literally like a light bulb switching in on my head.
I sat down and wrote a prologue featuring a mysterious woman in green being led off a ship in handcuffs on Sydney docks. And immediately I knew I had to find out who the woman was and what had happened on that ship over the preceding few weeks.
Where did the inspiration for the characters come from? I’m particularly curious about Max and Eliza Campbell. Absolutely fabulous creations…
Ever since reading The Great Gatsby I’ve loved that description of Tom and Daisy as ‘careless people’.
Fitzgerald says about them that ‘they smashed up things and creatures and then retreated back into their money or their vast carelessness or whatever it was that kept them together, and let other people clean up the mess they had made’.
I wanted to introduce a couple to the ship who are on the surface of things dazzling, attractive, committed to the pursuit of pleasure and yet as the voyage goes on, it becomes obvious that something has damaged them and turned their relationship so toxic that they cannot bear to be alone with each other.
Tammy, you have written a number of novels over the last few years. Do you have a favourite and why?
I think most writers would cite their first novel as that’s the one that got them their deal and I definitely do have a soft spot for The Mistress’s Revenge.
It’s a very marmite book – readers seem to either love it or hate it.
But I’ll always be grateful to it for getting me my agent and then my publisher.
How could I not love it most?
With your writing and your family life, do you ever get an opportunity to read yourself? Who would be your favourite author(s)? What are you reading at the moment?
I get sent a lot of books by writer friends and other publishers, so I read a LOT.
I’ve just finished Colette McBeth’s new thriller An Act of Silence which I devoured. It’s out later this year so look out for it.
Other favourite writers are Kate Atkinson, Sarah Waters, Hilary Mantel and Donna Tartt.
Where do you escape to for ‘Tammy Time’?
I spend so long on the computer – either working or time-wasting on social media – that when I actually force myself to get away from the screen I feel myself growing lighter.
So I guess ‘Tammy time’ (surely that should be a nightly TV chat show?) would be anywhere I leave Twitter and Facebook behind, like lying in the bath or sitting in the pub with friends.
In theory I would add walking the dog to that list, but she’s a bit neurotic so you can never completely relax in case she decides to declare war on people with hats, or Nordic walkers. I always say ‘sorry, she’s a rescue dog’, and neglect to explain that we actually got her when she was still a puppy so all fault is our own.
Thank you so much Tammy for joining me on Swirl and Thread. It was an absolute pleasure to have a chat with you.
If you wish to find out more about Tammy Cohen please check out her website at http://tammycohen.co.uk/
Also on Twitter @MsTamarCohen
A Dangerous Crossing:
Sparkling cocktails, poisonous secrets …
1939, Europe on the brink of war. Lily Shepherd leaves England on an ocean liner for Australia, escaping her life of drudgery for new horizons. She is instantly seduced by the world onboard: cocktails, black-tie balls and beautiful sunsets. Suddenly, Lily finds herself mingling with people who would otherwise never give her the time of day.
But soon she realizes her glamorous new friends are not what they seem. The rich and hedonistic Max and Eliza Campbell, mysterious and flirtatious Edward, and fascist George are all running away from tragedy and scandal even greater than her own.
By the time the ship docks, two passengers are dead, war has been declared, and life will never be the same again.
Purchase Link ~ A Dangerous Crossing