I first met this month’s guest over the lunch table at an RNA Exeter get-together. Then I had the pleasure of chairing a panel discussion at Plymouth Literary Festival in which she took part last year. Last week, she was a popular speaker at the Chudleigh Literary Festival. Teresa Driscoll is an author, journalist and former presenter of the BBC’s TV news programme Spotlight. Her debut novel Recipes for Melissa was auctioned at the Frankfurt Book Fair between seven German publishers and has since sold in six languages. Her second novel is Last Kiss Goodnight. Teresa recently signed a new two-book deal for psychological suspense novels with Thomas and Mercer. The first I AM WATCHING YOU is published on October 1st 2017.
Teresa, it’s a pleasure to host you on here today. Let’s start by going back to the beginning. What is your earliest memory—and how old were you at the time?
I have several vivid memories from when I was four, living in Bahrain (my father was in the army). One was worrying about a school show. I was in an alphabet line-up wearing the letter ‘M’. My line was ‘M is for mother who looks after her baby’. I so clearly remember being terrified of forgetting my words. I think, sadly, I was born to worry. I worked in television for twenty years and I still have the odd anxiety dream in which the autocue is suddenly in Russian!
What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
English was my favourite subject from the off. I was writing epic novels in exercise books right from primary school and have always seen writing and reading as a joy–never work. But physics? No thank you. I gave it up as soon as we were able to pick O level subjects.
Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?
I would pick The Lizard in Cornwall for wholly sentimental reasons. We returned there year after year when our two boys were little so I have wonderful memories of gorgeous holidays, staying in various cottages near the sea. They were proper old-fashioned bucket and spade holidays. We would go to the beach, rain or shine, and the boys were so very happy…which meant we were happy too. I am just approaching the empty nest chapter–my youngest goes off to university this Autumn–so I am in a nostalgic phase. It’s a big adjustment when your children are suddenly grown-ups.
How do you relax?
Lovely food, lovely glass of wine and lovely company for lots of nattering, please.
If you could change one thing about yourself or your life so far, what would it be?
I would love for my mother to have known me as an adult and to have met my husband and my two gorgeous boys. She died when I was 17.
Describe your ideal menu — and where would you like to eat it?
A terrific chicken liver pate, lasagne with salad and lemon cheesecake, please. I have not yet been to Tuscany and rather fancy eating this with the view from the Tuscan farm recently featured in the TV series Second Chance Summer – Tuscany.
What would be in your ‘Room 101’?
Deadlines…especially for structural edits.
Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends—which would you prefer?
Er, all of the above, please. This tells you all you need to know about me; I am decisive in business but not in my private life. I am the one in the restaurant who can’t decide what to order and keeps asking everyone else what they’re having. I love films, theatre, reading AND gossiping so how can I possibly choose. (I’m a Libran, by the way. We weigh all things up at great length.)
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
It was my mantra through nearly ten years of trying to get a publishing deal and I share this with any writer who now asks for advice. You really do have to plough on through those rejections and periods of self doubt. It’s all part of a writer’s apprenticeship.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am just finishing the first draft of the second book in my new deal. I Am Watching You, my debut psychological suspense, is to be published on October 1st by Thomas and Mercer and that manuscript is done and dusted. The second book in the deal has yet to go through the structural edit process…so deep breath, Teresa. Here we go again!
Thank you for finding the time to chat, Teresa, especially when you are up to your eyes in your own personal Room 101. Readers, you can find out more about Teresa and her writing on her website; or on her Amazon Author Page.