Character Interview; Terry Dacosta from ‘Sucker’s and Scallies’ by Kate Rigby

Are you ready for another character interview? This week I am talking to Terry ‘Tez’ Dacosta, who I hope won’t mind me describing him as a bit of a rascal. You can find out more about his turbulent childhood in Suckers and Scallies  by Kate Rigby

1) Tell us what your positive character traits are.

 I’ve got a loads of positive traits, me.  I’m resilient, I bounce back when the going gets tough, you won’t catch me moping about.  I’m driven and I’ll fight my corner and that of my family and those close to me.  Oh yeah and I’m big enough to own up if I’m in the wrong or if someone makes a suggestion, like how I can improve my attitude or my work I’ll always take it on board.

2) What would you say your negative traits are?

 Anger is my main one.  I told you I’ll fight your corner but you don’t wanna get on the wrong side of me.  If I’m under attack you will know it. I do have a bit of a short fuse and I’m not gonna make the usual excuses of my upbringing and all that shite. Not like our Jackie who blames our old fella for all his drink problems and his dodgy back and sits about whingeing in groups and that. OK, so I’ve sat about at Anger Management groups but that’s because it’d got out of control and I had to do something about it. I’m not proud of it.  But I think our Jackie is just avoiding responsibilities and blaming others for things that have gone tits up in his life but one thing our ole fella taught us as well as standing up for ourselves was to face up to our responsibilities.  Not go blaming others.

3) What are your current ambitions or dreams?

 My main ambition is to be a better father to my youngest daughter than I was to my first.  I let my first daughter down by being an absent father.

4) What are your fears?

 I’m pretty fearless, me. But I don’t mind admitting that I hate going the dentist. I don’t like someone else being in control that way and inflicting pain on me.  Another thing, I hate standing up in front of an audience and reading out my own stuff. I agreed to do that a couple of times in open mic sessions with some hard line poems I wrote but I was bricking it.  It’s weird that, coz I’ve been in bands before and don’t mind all eyes on me when singing and playing front man.

5) Do you have enemies?

 Do I have enemies! I’ve been Public Enemy Number One at some times in my life. Like when I lived in Jersey and it felt like the whole of St Helier wanted me and our Chas gone from the island (when he was living there an all).  OK, so we did get up to a bit of trouble and my ex’s family hated us and the name Dacosta.  But you get these stuck up people who hate you coz you’re a Scouser and if you get on in life they can’t wait to do you down or they think we’re all on the rob or smackheads and that.  I’m not saying that I’ve not done bad stuff in my time, who hasn’t, but I’ve no need to go on the rob – I earn decent money as a graphic designer.  But yeah, I’m used to having enemies, it comes with the Dacosta territory.

6) Tell us about your best friend

 Our Jackie was always me bezzie. It’s that blood thing, you know.  There’s less than a year between us so we were like twins growing up.  He’s in Ireland these days, mind, so I don’t see a lot of him.  I did have this bezzie called Kit. He was a kind of blood brother, we even did the ritual when we were kids.  He was from a posh family but he was sound.  We bounced ideas off each other.  Good times they were.

7) What’s your biggest secret?

 Well, they’re not such big secrets these days but when I was growing up, we sometimes used to mess around with other lads, me and our Jackie. We were bad lads, I suppose. We roughed Kit up a bit, we were just messing about, experimenting. In those days you didn’t want to be called a shirt lifter but these days it’s no biggie. Gay, straight and all shades in between – who cares? But I do remember the time when you had to keep stuff like that secret or risk being battered.

 8) Do you have any regrets?

My biggest regret which I touched on earlier is not being there for my oldest daughter, Holly. I was too selfish back then.  Her mother and me split up and I didn’t keep in touch. I didn’t really wanna be saddled with a kid.  I just wanted to have a good time, playing in bands, doing mad stuff, you know. So I missed out on her growing up but I’m not gonna let the same thing happen with Ciara, even though me and her mum have split up.

9) Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

 A lot more settled and not so turbulent, I hope.  Seeing a lot more of my daughter and making my latest relationship work.

10)  How would you like to be remembered?

As that tenacious Scouser with a chequered past who proved you all wrong and won you round! Something like that anyway.

Thank you so much Terry! It’s been great fun catching up with you. I’d been wondering what you were up to these days…




Interview with Author Kate Rigby

I am so excited to share with you my very first author-to-author interview! I discovered author Kate Rigby very recently through the indie promotion site iAuthor. It appeared that I was adding my books to all the same themes as hers, so I jotted down her name as an author I would like to check out. After finding her author page on Facebook I made contact and started reading her books. I have read three and loved every one of them. Luckily for me she has a huge back catalogue! Kate’s books appealed to me as they are the sort of stories I am always looking for and can never find. In short, as a reader they tick all my boxes. Great plots, characters to fall in love with, and gritty stories to really get your teeth into. Kate has kindly agreed to this interview, and as an author with experience in traditional and indie publishing, I really think this makes interesting reading for authors and readers as well. Enjoy!

1) You’ve been traditionally published and self-published. Can you tell us a bit about how your publishing journey first began?

Yes, it began in the 1980s when I’d finished my first novel, then called ‘Where A Shadow Played’ which took me five years to complete. My mother was a major influence as she was writing a novel when I was 17, so the idea of novel-writing wasn’t an alien concept. I was able to pick her brains and get lots of tips from her. I began sending that novel out in 1984 but in the meantime started writing another in the university summer holidays. That was ‘Fall Of The Flamingo Circus’ which was ready to be sent out early 1988. My mum had given me the name of a publishing company in Worcestershire – I think I’d already sent my first novel there which had been rejected so I was quite surprised (and thrilled to bits) when they accepted ‘Fall Of The Flamingo Circus’ straight off. Once it was in hardback later in 1988, they sold paperback rights to Allison & Busby. The paperback version came out in 1990 as did the American hardback version. I wasn’t able to capitalise on that early success however and my follow-up novel required a lot of work. I should have concentrated on that and put the time in but I didn’t and so I lost the opportunity. But that’s me all over – I feared success.

2) How would you describe your work?

Character-driven and a bit quirky or gritty – often retro – and often dealing with hard-hitting issues: drugs, child abuse, disability, mental health issues, and a common theme is about the experience of being an outsider in society. I like to think the themes I write about are timeless and universal, regardless of the setting or era.

3) What is your writing process/routine?

I’m not one of these people who sets out to write 1000 words a day or whatever, although I admire people who do. A lot of my time at the moment is spent updating older work or converting to digital or promoting. I think in this day and age, more than ever, it’s important to have a routine as there are so many online distractions that were never there years ago. I think this is why my latest novel took so long to complete! I also have a reduced window than I did, say, ten or twenty years ago in that I have Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue.

4) What are you working on right now?

At the moment I’m just finalising an update to ‘Down The Tubes’ ready for the paperback version.

5) What else have you got planned for the future?

For the last few years I’ve been trying to get my backlist into digital and paperback format – most are available digitally, but only a few are in paperback as several are no longer in print. But I still have two novels written some time ago that need to be revised and uploaded. One or both of those are my priority, although my latest completed novel is with a small press at the moment. I have already sent it to one small press and will try one more – if nobody bites I will self-publish that one too. I also have more plans for ‘Little Guides’ along the lines of ‘Little Guide To Unhip’ and at the moment I’m keeping a sort of campaign diary. I would like to get that into some sort of shape but I’m not sure whether to have that as fiction or non-fiction yet. I think it is all too current and distressing to think about so I’ve put it to a back shelf in my mind.

6) What is your approach to self-promotion?

It is a necessary evil these days, even for those traditionally published unless they are bestsellers and have a successful marketing machine behind them. I wrote a blog about this in late 2010 and have just re-read it – my views haven’t changed that much on the subject! I felt like a chugger then and I still do! I don’t like leaping out at people and saying ‘here is my book – buy it’. It is more than slightly alien to many if not most of us and yet we’re told this is what we should be doing in this day and age. I suppose I have developed a more ‘out there’ approach: blogging, building a website, supporting other writers, posting samples of my writing on various writing sites and social media although you still get this feeling it’s a drop in the virtual ocean.

It’s all about getting a balance : between visibility on the one hand but not over- saturation on the other. Obviously zero-promotion won’t get you very far these days, visibility is important, but it’s a fine line between just-enough exposure and too much. I take the view that if people want something enough, they’ll buy it. I do like the joy of discovering books for myself or on recommendation by friends with similar tastes. Over-exposure or people endlessly plugging their books (or other people’s) can have the opposite affect on me. I’m sure it’s a two-way street with my work as well. The sales I’ve secured are, as far as I’m aware, from people who are genuinely interested, and if they’re genuinely interested they’ll find out how to buy it, I hope. I don’t want to turn them off.

I do find employing a bit of humour helps with self-promotion. For instance, most of my threads die but my most successful one in the Amazon fora was called ‘Reverse Promotion’. This was where we sold ourselves short and tried to put readers off our books – it was all very tongue-in-cheek so that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously. Whether it sold any more books is another matter but it was fun to do.

The upside to self-promotion is discovering authors and books you wouldn’t have otherwise discovered. This often happens in more indirect ways than blatant self-promotion, for example, meeting on writers sites, Facebook Groups, as well as mutual support by blogging and reviewing and interviewing other authors.

7) Where do you get your ideas from?

Now you’re asking! I think I get my ideas from a variety of places, usually life or inspiring books or TV programmes. But there is no rule of thumb. Often it’s the character that comes first and in order for a character to come alive they need to be in context or situation. My sister and I have always invented characters and have been able to enact them, so that can bring them to life too – the way they speak, their interests, their backgrounds, where they come from etc.

8) You have an extensive back catalogue, but do you have a favourite book among them? Or character?

I think my favourites are where I’ve lived and breathed the characters prior to the books being written. Those characters would be Hassan and Leila (Far Cry From The Turquoise Room – they also appear in Seaview Terrace), Terry (Suckers n Scallies) Michael (Down The Tubes) and ‘Lauren’ (Fall Of The Flamingo Circus). But I also like some of the shorter novellas eg Break Point and Lost The Plot.

9) What would your advice be to young writers?

I’d say write because you have no choice, because you’re passionate about it and feel compelled to do it. If you’re only writing because you want to make a name for yourself or be a bestseller you’re likely to be disappointed and there are far more easier paths to fame and fortune! Be prepared to edit and hone your craft as you would any other. They say it’s 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration and I think that’s a valuable maxim. I’m sure young writers could teach me a thing or two as well.

10) What advice would you give a writer determined to follow the traditional publishing path?

Be prepared for disappointments. That said, a lot will depend on your genre, your persistence, your willingness to be adaptable and to follow market trends. There is always that element of luck, being in the right place at the right time with the right story. I don’t really feel suitably qualified to advise as I’ve only been traditionally published once and that was in a different era. I think I fall down on being adaptable and writing for a commercial genre. I tend to write what I want!

11) What advice would you give to a writer embarking on the independent path?

I think a lot of the advice holds true for both traditional and indie publishing these days, as the lines between them blur more and more. Unless you’re published by one of the big six, I think you have to be prepared to put in a lot of the leg work yourself in terms of

marketing. This does disadvantage those who write in a niche genre, have health problems or don’t have business acumen (I tick all these boxes!). Or those that have a day job or other family commitments. I guess that’s most of us!

12) Who is your favourite author?

This is one of the hardest questions! A friend of mine recently asked several of my family to name our favourite 60s record and I told her it was impossible to name one. Books can be a bit like that although it should be slightly easier to find a favourite author. Being a slow reader, I’ve rarely read a whole author’s works but such that I’ve read, my favourite authors include: Jon McGregor, James Bowen, Sylvia Plath, Ali Smith, Gerald Hansen, Alexander McCall Smith, Jane Gardam, Toni Morrison, Stacey Danson, Kat Ward, Sue Monk Kidd and many more. I like to savour books. Get under their skin.

I’d like to thank Chantelle Atkins for giving me this opportunity.

If you would like to find out more about Kate and her books please check her out her Amazon author page here;

And her Facebook page here;

The Pink Haze

The pink haze is a phrase used by the author Kate Rigby in her gritty novel Down The Tubes. The novel follows the two lives of estranged mother and son, Cheryl and Michael. (You can find my review and a link to the book at the end of this post.) For the character of Cheryl, the pink haze describes that aura of loveliness and addiction that surrounds the newborn child. What a perfect way to describe the near dream like state you exist in after having your first child. Although Cheryl is not exactly mother of the year (you’ll have to read the book to find out why!) I found myself completely understanding this state she found herself existing in during those early newborn days.

A haze indeed. Sleep deprived, foggy headed, surrounded by attention and well wishers and smiling faces. Everyone goes to jelly over newborns. Everyone wants to stop and stare at that rare little piece of perfection. Everyone says enjoy it while it lasts. They soon grow. It doesn’t last for long that haze. Because everything passes to the next stage so quickly. One minute your house is full of chunky baby equipment; baby gyms, and bouncers and car seats. The next moment these items are vanishing one by one. And you start to realise that as they change before your eyes, you cease to become the centre of their world. If you get in their way, they start to peer around you.

The pink haze is an addiction to love and needing and fulfillment. Maybe you have never experienced those things quite so strongly before. Will it ever be enough? It will always be transient and shifting. Like sand slipping through the sand timer, like the earth shifting beneath your feet. None of these moments can be held onto or held still. You are forever forced to chase leaves in the wind. You only get so close, your fingers brushing, before it lifts away again teasingly.

Chasing your next fix. That sweet milky baby smell. When even the waste in the nappy smells good. Inhaling every part of them so that you might contain it forever. No description fits. No words are ever adequate. The smell of their musty sick on your clothes, or the cheese balls that you scrape out from under their chubby chins. The smell of their hair and their scalp and their breath. Sniffing them up, as if that might be a way to capture them. Oh their cries are just for you. Their needs and wants and comforts are delivered by you. You exist in your own hazy bubble bouncing away from the world. Separate and secret.

A secret addiction. When you hold them in your arms and feel the urge from your heart to squeeze them back inside of you. Absorb them back to where they came from so that they might be yours again. Their fat wet drooly cheek pressed up against yours. The smell of their warm neck. The giggles from their lips. The curl and bend and thrust and flop of their changing bodies.

My baby. My baby. No other two words so precious, so beautiful. But every gasp of your love for them is a painful one. Because they grow and change and move away. You feel it is shameful. How you secretly long to keep them small and in love with you, needing you. You, the centre of everything.

Time marches on, though you drag your feet, and those special moments wander and wane. Demands are put upon you. Expectations have been raised. Now you are one of the mothers, sighing and rolling your eyes and rattling your car keys at the school gates. And most days are a rush from one fixed point to another. Breakfast is shovelled in. School bags packed and thrust upon shoulders. Lists are needed so that nothing is forgotten, so that you do not fall short or fail. You miss them and wish they would think of you, but they rarely do. You put the washing on the stairs and you wash out their lunch box at the end of the day. You tell them off and grit your teeth, and everyone is the same, everyone is moaning and whining and saying there is never enough time, a mothers work is never done, I have a lot to do and a short time to do it in!

Sometimes you think about the pink haze. Sometimes you can still feel them kicking inside of you. Sometimes if you close your eyes you can still feel their body in your arms, their head against your shoulder. You can still hear their breath as the snores whistle in and out, and their tiny ribcage moves against your breast. And you can still remember how you never really wanted to put them in the cot. And you never really wanted to move them from the breast. And you never really wanted to say goodbye at the school gates knowing that the pink haze was over.

Like all addictions, you could go back for more. Have another one, and then another. But eventually time will smash this apart too. Eventually mother nature will shake her head.

All you can do is watch them go. All you can do is be there whenever they come back. All you can do is hope that when the day comes that they hold their own newborn in their own arms, and they find themselves surrounded by the pink haze, that then they will know what they meant to you.

This book gets 5 stars from me because it was quite simply everything I look for in a book, and can never seem to find! A brilliant storyline, real characters, real dialogue, gritty, hard-hitting, heartbreaking and touching. I am so pleased the author has written lots of other books! Down The Tubes is a story about two people; Cheryl, who has all but turned her back on her four children in order to have a ‘life’ and is pursuing a career in drug rehabilitation, and her estranged son Michael, who ran away from home aged sixteen. The book brilliantly weaves their two life stories together, in the third person and present tense. Cheryl is such an interesting character, in many ways extremely unlikable, but I could not help be intrigued by her. Married young, she has child after child, seemingly addicted to the ‘pink haze’ that surrounds an innocent young baby. However once they start to walk and talk she sees their innocence fade and starts to lose interest. Michael, on the other hand, having been abused by his father, is such a lost soul that you are immediately drawn to him, instantly rooting for him and hoping he can eventually kick his drug habit. As the narration takes us back and forth between their two lives, the two characters almost cross paths but seem destined to never be reunited. This is such a well written book, and I am so pleased I have found an author who does not shy away from gritty storylines that make you flinch. I was left wanting more