Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tea with TC Southwell

I've known TC Southwell for years. I've beta-read for her in the past, and we've enjoyed many conversations about the publishing industry. Based in South Africa, TC has amassed a fantastic body of work and I am pleased and honoured to have her on Toad's Corner today.

Tell us a little about the stories you write.

I write pretty much exclusively in the science-fiction and fantasy genres, specifically epic or high fantasy set in worlds of my own making. I have one crossover series, The Cyber Chronicles, which combines fantasy and sci-fi. It starts off more fantasy and then becomes almost totally sci-fi from book four, Cyborg. The Queen’s Blade series is pure high fantasy, although it doesn’t rely much on magic. The Broken World and Demon Lord series are also high fantasy, but with a fair amount of magic, and the Slave Empire series is pure sci-fi. My stories are all intensely character driven, and I love all my heroes and heroines, which is why I enjoy writing about them so much.
Which one of your characters are your all-time favourite and why?

That would have to be Blade, my oh so sarcastic and troubled assassin, who captured my heart long ago with his biting wit and underhand good deeds that no one will ever make him admit to. He’s just so complicated and twisted; a complete sociopath with a secret heart of gold.
What are some of the recurring themes prevalent in your stories?

I think my most obvious recurring theme is the element of romance in my stories, which all have a strong hero and heroine who go through the mill to overcome the odds stacked against them and find happiness together. Another common theme is my heroes are usually troubled individuals with horrific pasts, but that’s what makes them so interesting, I find.
How do you approach novel-writing?

The best way I can describe it is ‘channelling’, which is what my agent called it when I told her how I do it. For me, it’s utterly effortless. I simply write the story that pops into my head, and the only thing that slows me down is how fast I can type. If I try to change something, I hit a block, and I have to go back to the point where I made a conscious decision to stray from the story in my head and follow the original track. When I write, I have absolutely no idea what’s going to happen in the next paragraph or even the next sentence sometimes, so for me writing is just as much fun as reading.
You initially released Demon Lord in print in South Africa, this was before the rise in popularity of ereaders and epublishing. How has this shift in emphasis in publishing affected you?

It has given me access to the international market without having to deal with publishers and editors, so my books remain as I wrote them, which is a bonus for me. It means my market is smaller, and I have to do my own marketing, but at the same time I’m able to offer my books at low prices and some for free, since only my e-publisher takes a small cut. I plan to make use of POD (Print on Demand) publishing next, as I have had requests for paperback versions of the books.
Do you have any advice for wannabe authors?

I would recommend they also take the e-publishing route if they have trouble finding an agent or publisher, as this does not preclude them from finding a paperback publisher once they’ve made a name for themselves with e-books, so it can only be beneficial. Other than that, I would advise them to write stories they love, because then other people will love them too. When you’re passionate about something, it shines through.
Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

Stephen Donaldson, C S Lewis and Anne McCaffrey are some of my favourites, although I have read numerous wonderful books whose authors’ names I don’t recall. I think these authors appeal to me because their stories are character driven and have the ability to transport me to a fantasy land for a grand adventure. Of course, I was young when I read CS Lewis’ books – he introduced me to fantasy, and it left a lasting impression.

Do you have any works in progress readers can look forward to?

I will soon be publishing the next six books in The Cyber Chronicles series, which I’m currently editing. These are Book IV, Cyborg, Book V, Overlord, Book VI, Warrior Breed, Book VII, Sabre, Book VIII, Scorpion Lord, and Book IX, Precipice. I want to complete all of them so I can publish them in one go and people can buy the entire series, or the rest of it, if they want. After that I’ll finish writing the seventh book in the Demon Lord series. Then I’ll have to decide which series I want to write another book in next, as they are all on-going – I’m not good at final endings!
Where can people find your books, follow your blog or Twitter feed?

All my books are available on my site with links where people can buy and download the ones that have been published, and also see all the upcoming titles, with their covers, that will be published in the near future. I also have a blog dedicated to the Demon Lord series, and I’m on Facebook, too, . Nothing on Twitter yet, but that’s something I need to look into when I have a bit of time.


  1. Fascinating. Great to see you forging and surging ahead with your books. I'm in awe of your writing method.
    Channelling must be closely related to 'bludgeoning' - which is my method where I beat my head against a wall until the story comes out.
    Many happy sales, T.C.

  2. I'd love to have an output like T C. I seem to be suffering from the writing equivalent of constipation. Good luck T C, I look forward to reading your stuff.