Tasha HarrisonBy Sarah Hutchings
This interview with Tasha Harrison was first published on the Deckchair website on 03/09/2007.
How did you get your first break?
My first "sort of" break was with my first manuscript, 'Ticket To Ride', back in 2001. I was phoned up by an agent at Curtis Brown and invited in for a chat. The chat didn't lead to anything in the end but it was a wonderful boost to my writing confidence that spurred me on at the time. Soon after, another agent took my manuscript on but couldn't sell it to a publisher. So I moved on and wrote another novel, 'Package Deal', and got another agent who was totally confident I'd get a deal. But again it wasn't to be. Having come so far, I couldn't let 'Package Deal' just sit there and gather dust so I looked into self-publishing and was surprised to discover that a fair few big names had started off that way. I self-published through my husband's graphic design agency and 'Package Deal' is now on sale at Waterstone's in Brighton, several other Sussex branches of Waterstone's, plus the Kemptown Bookshop and City Books in Brighton, and Hatchard's in Piccadilly.
Could you describe your working day.
Before I had children I worked part-time as a freelance magazine sub-editor, and wrote on the days I wasn't working. I would always try to be sitting at my computer by 9am, take a one hour lunch break and wrap up around 5 - unless I was on a roll in which case I would keep going. These days, with two small children, I just try to squeeze writing in when I can, as well as trying to promote and sell 'Package Deal'.
How does an idea become a novel?
My idea for 'Package Deal' was inspired by a package holiday my husband and I went on before we were married. It wasn't long before I had a complete cast of characters in my head and their various storylines were forming. Then one day I sat down and started sketching out the plot as a list of bullet points. Then as the storylines and characters evolved in my notes, I wrote out a six or seven page summary of the whole story, just to get it straight in my head. Then I began writing. It took about a year, bearing in my mind I was working part-time.
Which book do you wish you'd written?
The funniest book I've ever read is 'Are You Experienced?' by William Sutcliffe, about a guy who goes on a gap year backpacking trip to India with his best mate's girlfriend. It made me laugh till I cried. Alternatively, 'Memoirs of a Geisha' and 'The Kite Runner' gripped me from start to finish, but although I love reading serious novels, I prefer to write comedy.
As a reader, do you always finish a book you've started?
Now that I have small kids, no chance! I've read two books in the last year. However, although it took me nearly 3 months, I was proud of myself for finishing 'The Testament of Gideon Mack'. It was a really enjoyable read.
If you weren't a writer, what job would you like to have done?
Describe your perfect day.
The kids wake up at 8, play nicely with each other all day and eat all their food. The sun is shining, it's 24 degrees, we go to the beach, have a latte, swim in the sea, have another latte... (hasn't happened yet - at least not the waking up at 8 part!)
What keeps you awake at night?
My kids usually. They take it in turns to wake up at night!
Why did you choose to live in Sussex and what keeps you here?
I went to Sussex University, and fell in love with Brighton as a student. After living for a short spell in Sydney, my husband and I knew we didn't want to live in London again. Brighton was the obvious choice for a more relaxed place to live that still had city buzz. We've never looked back.
How does living here inspire your work?
I think it's just a case of better quality of life here. I have the beach and four parks within a half hour walk from my house. And it only takes ten minutes to get out into the countryside. With all this on my doorstep, I can knuckle down to work knowing that escape routes to fresh air and nature are all around me.
Visit Tasha's website by clicking here.
This page was amended on 14/01/2012