Saturday, 30 November 2013

An Interview with Rosen Trevithick

Until the beginning of this year, Rosen Trevithick was someone I chatted with sometimes on a couple of British forums. Then one day, she asked if anyone knew anyone who could illustrate her book. That was when I became the illustrator of the fun series, Smelly Trolls. Rosen is a great writer, a lovely person and an easy lady to work with and today she's doing something rather exciting - launching THREE books at once (see details below).

Hi Rosen and welcome to Trees Are Not Lollipops.

Let’s start with a common question for authors - who or what inspired you to be a writer?
I was certainly born with the desire to create stories, but I think you need the right influences to encourage you to develop your ideas and put them down on paper. I benefited from some very supportive teachers both at primary and secondary school. In fact, I’ve recently written letters of thanks to two former teachers. My mum gave up work to raise us and frequently encouraged creative activities at home. It also helped being exposed to some really strong children’s authors like Roald Dahl and Michael Morpurgo, whose books made regular appearances on my bedside table.

How long did you write before deciding to self-publish?
I’ve always written bits and pieces. For thirty years my cupboards and hard drives were cluttered with first chapters and odd scenes. Some even saw the light of day – I put on plays, blogged and wrote magazines for my friends. Then in 2010, I learnt that you could self-publish a Kindle book. That’s when I really went for it.

Do you have a favourite book that you’ve written? If so what is it and why?
I have several favourites for different reasons. I love The Troll Trap because it was the first time I met a smelly troll and I adore writing that series. I like Pompomberry House because it allowed me to take my sense of humour on a marathon. There’s a special place in my heart for my first Seesaw collection because it was the first one of my books to be in print and no author ever forgets opening their first proof. More recently, I’ve become fond of My Granny Writes Erotica, because it’s been getting great feedback and it’s hard not to like something when it’s the cause of people saying nice things about you.

You recently celebrated having sold or given away over 250 000 books. Something to be proud of! Apart from writing great books, what did you do to achieve that?
I announced approaching 250,000. There are still a couple thousand to go. I’m eagerly refreshing my sales reports! Hopefully today’s triple book launch will be what tips the balance.

A number of marketing techniques have proven effective, such as interacting with readers online and in person. However, the one thing that has stood out above all else is offering free short stories. I have seven full length titles – two novels, two short story collections and three children’s chapter books. I regularly offer free and cheap short stories that either belong to one of my anthologies or link to a novel. Readers download short stories when they’re on offer and many go on to buy my other titles.

You’ve publicly stated that you suffer from bipolar disorder. How much of a hindrance has that been, or do you think there might be a link between that and your creativity?
Having the rapid cycling type of bipolar disorder feels like having uninvited guests running riot in your head, flicking switches, bumping into things and ripping shreds from your brain tissue. Fortunately, with medication and lifestyle management, I can keep the majority of the mood swings and unwanted thoughts at bay. However, the slightest assault to my physical wellbeing such as a cold or sprained ankle, can send my whole system off kilter, causing the illness to flare up. When it does, it’s sheer hell.

In terms of writing, my condition is both a help and a hindrance. I certainly don’t welcome the mornings where I wake up and my head is too full of nonsense for me to achieve a thing. I get frustrated when I’m invited to events that either involve too much travelling or start too early in the morning for me to attend without disrupting my much needed routine. However, the nature of my condition means that the government has provided support for me to work from home, as and when I can. I wouldn’t have had this support if I was healthy.
Bipolar disorder is associated with heightened creativity, both in terms of historic anecdotes and empirical research. The manic spells are associated with over-productivity. This means that when experiencing elevated mood, I could sit down for six hours and bash out 6,000 words. However, doing so would be highly dangerous because if you encourage mania, you can suddenly crash and that’s when many suicides happen. I have to be disciplined and put what’s right for my health ahead of what’s right for my career. It’s hard sometimes because I’m very ambitious and would love to benefit from 6,000 words a day.

In short, life with bipolar disorder is, at best, a full time juggling act and, at worst, mental torture, but it probably does help me write.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m writing a sequel to My Granny Writes Erotica. It was supposed to be a standalone story but reviewers asked for more. Author brain said, ‘But I’ve developed that idea and concluded it nicely.’ Business brain said ‘I haven’t spent hours of my time trying to create a demand for your books, so that you can throw this opportunity away.’ So I sat down and started working out how to continue a story that had already reached what I considered to be its natural climax. It’s been challenging but I think I’m getting there.

What made you decide to write about trolls and which is your favourite?
I wrote about trolls for my brother’s kids. They’re both boys and they find smelly things funny. Pointing at Roo’s feet and saying ‘pong’ gives him the giggles. The troll books are a little old for them at the moment. When I wrote The Troll Trap, I wanted something they’d grow into so that they wouldn’t grow out again too quickly. Now that I’ve decided to write a whole series, I’m glad I did pitch it a little high because it means I can keep writing with them in mind.

Brawnulator and Mama Bulbousbum
My favourite bad troll is Brawnulator Powerknees, because he was the most fun to write about. My favourite good troll is Bruno, because we’ve spent so much time together it would be impossible to choose anybody else. If we’re talking illustrations, I most like your depictions of Mama Bulbousbum Stenchmistress, Gunkfreak (in a tutu) and Marv the Magnificent.

Which do you enjoy more – writing for adults or writing for children? Why?
I adore writing for children. Comedy-writing is my favourite kind of writing and all my books for kids have been from the humour genre. I did enjoy briefly dipping back into writing for adults with My Granny Writes Erotica because that was equally silly. Sometimes you really need to get a joke out of your system. The new craze for monotonous erotica was ripe for mockery and there was simply no way to combine my desire to mock billionaire romps in a children’s troll book!

If you could change places with any other writer in the world (or history), who would it be and why?
It would have been rather fun to write Roald Dahl’s books, wouldn’t it? He led the way when it came to wacky children’s books and must have had a great deal of fun writing. Although I believe his life was not without tragedy or loss. On reflection, I am happy not to be Roald Dahl because it means I’ve been spared the agony of losing a child.   

You like to write while sitting in public – cafes and the like. What is it about writing in public that you enjoy?
Cake, meeting new people and getting away from the WiFi. When I’m at home I often find myself refreshing social networks and forums when I should be working. This means that even the interruptions in a busy cafĂ© are fewer than the interruptions I put upon myself when at home. Also, I live alone and it gets lonely. When I work in cafes people come over and talk to me about my favourite subject – my books!

Today I’m launching three new books:

Seesaw – Volume II : A short story collection aimed at adults. Features stories from a variety of genres including crime thrillers and humorous fiction. Contains the popular novella, My Granny Writes Erotica.
Trolls on Ice : The third instalment in my Smelly Trolls series. Rufus and friends go on a skiing trip, unaware that the Winter Trollympics is taking place nearby.
The First Trollogy : The first three Smelly Troll books in one snotacular volume.

Win a Kindle

Upload a photo of you or a member of your family enjoying one of my books to win a Kindle Paperwhite. Terms and conditions apply.


Rosen Trevithick said...

Thank you very much for hosting me on your blog. The article's looking lovely.

Kate said...

My pleasure, Rosen! :D