I first met Terry at the South Coast Sapphic Hang Out in Crawley last May. Her books immediately intrigued me – especially when I discovered she has tasters of them all on her website, which I think is a fabulous idea! Terry is the author of seven Sapphic books (most recently Never Again, which came out last June), and a non-fiction book all about her home city of Bristol. On top of that, she’s taught Mathematics and Physical Education, played football, and now in her retirement goes cruising, and sings in a local women’s choir! I mean, is there anything she can’t do?!
I was so excited to learn more about Terry when she agreed to be interviewed for Sapphic Fiction February – and now you can read the interview too! Here goes…
Hi Terry! Introduce yourself! Tell us a little bit about you - who are you, and what do you do?
I’m 66 years old and have been in a relationship with my wife for 34 years. I'm a retired teacher of Maths and PE, having taught for over 30 years. I am a mad sports fan and have watched my local football team (soccer) Bristol Rovers FC since 1966. During the school summer holidays every year I tried learning a new activity. Some of which I still indulge in. Since retiring I have taken up, as my main hobbies, writing part time, playing lawn bowls, and singing in a women's community choir. I love seeing as much of the world as I can and love going on cruise holidays.
What made you want to sit down and write your first book?
My first book came about in 1988 when the UK government decided to introduce section 28. I was teaching Maths at the time and overnight the LGBTQ+ community was plunged back into the dark ages. I was powerless to say anything that would promote homosexuality. AIDS was rife and this feeling of helplessness angered me intensely. And so this idea of a utopian world was born, where everyone could live their lives as they chose.
I knew what my summer holiday project would be that year. I hated writing anything down other than in note form. Writing detailed lesson plans, when I had to, took me ages. And yet, there I was, writing, letting my frustrations out into this fantasy world. Hardly anyone knew or understood why I was doing it. That summer holiday went by in a flash, and so did all the other school holidays, as I finished this special project.
It took over two years to write. I allowed three people to read it and the finished manuscript sat in a bottom drawer for twenty-five years. In early 2015, I found out it was possible to self-publish. And so I searched for the original floppy disc, finding old computers to transfer it, firstly onto a cd, then onto a flash drive. And without any knowledge of what to do and how to do it properly, I put ‘Deliverance’ out there warts and all.
How do you develop your plots and characters?
My ideas develop over time from a seed of an idea or from a comment I have overheard. Scenarios go around in my brain in that foggy time between being asleep and awake. And gradually the idea of a plot is formed. I write down how I want it to start, what I want to happen in the middle, then the ending I want. The MCs jump out at me. Their ages, characteristics and foibles.
Which of your characters do you relate to the most, and why?
I loved writing about Joy in the Coming Home trilogy for the way she overcame all the obstacles to her happiness that was thrown in her path. For her strength and determination. And yet I have a infinity with some of my older characters. Maggie is one of the MC’s in Christmas in the Canaries. I liked her so much that she became a secondary character in the Perfect Blend. She is caring, considerate and compassionate.
Has your own writing ever made you cry?
Oh yes. There were times when I was writing my Coming Home trilogy when tears were cascading down my cheeks. Where I had to stop as I couldn't read the words I was writing.
Does anyone you know in real life read your books?
I have the support of my family and friends and I have been pleasantly surprised when I have been asked to sign their copies. Quite a few of the women at the Bowling club, to which I belong, have copies of my novels and have commented on the storylines. Chuffed, as my wife and I are the only representatives of the lgbtq+ community in our club.
Imagine your book, or one of your books, was made into a film. Who would play the lead roles?
I haven't got a clue. Don't really watch many films and have no idea of the names many actresses.
When you’re not writing, what do you do to relax?
I sing alto in a community choir and have helped arrange a couple of the songs that we sing. It is so uplifting. My summers are spent on the lawn bowling green. This coming year I have been voted in as president of the bowling club. It will not be quite so relaxing but it is such an honour.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given with regards to being an author?
Don't give up. Write what you want. Not what someone else wants you to write.
How about in general life?
To always give of your best.
What is a motto you live by?
Be kind and considerate and live each day as best you can as you never know what is around the corner.
How can people connect with you?
Finally a light-hearted one. If you were a sandwich, what sandwich would you be?
Ham and cheese
If you enjoyed this interview, then make sure you’re following my social media accounts (@kblakemanwriter on Twitter and @katherineblakemanwriter on Instagram) to get all the latest updates! And if you want to support my own Sapphic Fiction journey while you’re here, my new novel The Summer We’ve Had is available now!