Today I have the pleasure of having Tammy Robinson on the blog! She has written an incredible moving, must-read book ‘Differently Normal.’ Be sure to keep reading after the interview for my review 🙂
Here we go…
Q1: I would like to begin by saying thank you for writing about people who care for people with Autism. As a mother of two kids on the spectrum I felt a real connection to Maddy, her mother and their situation. This is why diversity in fiction is important in fiction. Would you like to share your own thoughts on why diversity in fiction is important?
Diversity in fiction is so important in helping to raise awareness. There are so many misconceptions out there, especially about autism, and a lot of naïve ignorance because so many people just aren’t around it often enough to understand. Books can give people a window into the lives of people who live with autism, and hopefully, a better understanding.
Q2: What inspired you to write Differently Normal?
I had the idea of Maddy and Albert first. These two great characters who love each other but have so many obstacles standing in their way. I did some research into young carers and knew immediately that I wanted Maddy to be one. The rest of the book fell into place from there.
Q3: Is there a character in Differently Normal that you connected to the most?
I would have to say Maddy. Her life isn’t easy, and that could have turned her bitter, but she doesn’t let it. I also adore her obvious love for her sister and the fact she would do anything for her, including sacrifice her own future.
Q4: Which character did you find the easiest to write? Which character did you find the hardest?
Easiest would be Maddy, because there’s a little bit of me in there. Hardest would be Colin, Albert’s father. He’s extremely unlikeable and it was hard to make him behave so awfully towards his own son, Albert, who so desperately craves his approval. He had to be believable, not just a caricature of an awful character.
Q5: There are many writers who read the blog, could you tell us a bit about your publication journey so far?
Sure. I wrote my first book in 2011, Charlie and Pearl. I did submit it to the big NZ publishers but it was rejected, and it was left for a little while. Then after the birth of my daughter, my husband bought me a kindle for Christmas so I could read while breastfeeding, and it was then that I realised, hey, I can publish this myself! So, I did, and then I promptly wrote another five books and self-published those too. I wasn’t very good at the marketing side of things, so sales fluctuated and depended largely on word of mouth. In 2016 I submitted to an agent who I knew represented two kiwi author friends of mine. She took me on, and in 2017 she got me a to book deal with Piatkus in the UK and Hachette Australia and New Zealand. I’m still pinching myself and can remember every detail of our phone calls from around that time.
Q6: Do you consider yourself a plotter or panster, or a mix of both?
Definitely a mix. When I started writing, I was a panster. I’d start a book based on a scene or a character, and the book would write itself organically so I’d be finding out the ending literally as I wrote it! But the last couple of books I’ve started plotting. Just loosely, in that I have a start, conflict and end in mind. I certainly don’t work out individual chapters (I’ve tried, just can’t do it). I just make it up as I go along.
Q7: Can you share a bit about your writing process? Do you like to write every day? At a certain time etc…?
Unfortunately, with three children under the age of five, my writing process it just to write whenever I get the opportunity! Usually it’s when my husband has a few hours off on a weekend. He takes over childcare so I can lock myself in a room and get the story in my head out onto paper. If I go too long without writing I get quite angsty.
Q8: What would your top advice to aspiring authors be?
I’m pretty sure they’ve heard this before, but that’s because it really does work. Write. Write write write write write! You will learn as you go along. Don’t try to edit as you go, just finish that first draft and then set about whipping it into shape. I try not to read over what I’ve already written every time I open the document, otherwise I’ll start tweaking which eats into valuable writing time. Also, never give up on your dreams. They can come true.
Q9: Where can people find out more about you online?
And just for fun…
Q10: What is the last book you read?
Why Mummy Drinks, by Gill Sims. My husband and children bought it for me for Christmas.
Q11: Do you prefer to drink tea, coffee or something different all together?
I have one cup of coffee in the morning with breakfast, and savour it. Herbal tea or water throughout the rest of the day. Well, until 5 o’clock that is….
Q12: What is the one must read book you’d read if you found out the world was ending tomorrow?
I probably wouldn’t read, because I’d be too busy hugging and kissing my children. Unless there is a book called, ‘How to survive the end of the world’. I’d be all over that.
Thank you for answering my questions!
Thank you for having me! xx
Tammy Robinson is a contemporary women’s fiction author from the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand. After years spent working her way round the world, Tammy settled back in New Zealand with her husband, their two girls and a newborn baby boy. She has published six novels through Amazon, and DIFFERENTLY NORMAL was her first novel with Hachette New Zealand. She is currently working on PHOTOS OF YOU, which Hachette will publish in 2019.
Now for my review:
Heartbreaking and heartwarming in equal measure, DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is about first love and the sacrifices you’ll make for the ones you hold close. For fans of Nicholas Sparks and Jojo Moyes.
For Maddy, life is all about routine. It has to be, to keep her autistic sister happy and healthy. With just Maddy and her mother as Bee’s full-time carers, there’s no time in Maddy’s life for complications like friends, let alone a boyfriend. So when Bee joins a new Riding for the Disabled stable and they meet Albert, the last thing on Maddy’s mind is falling in love.
Some things, she’s about to learn, are outside of our control. Albert has resigned himself to always being a disappointment to his strict father. When he meets Maddy, he gets a glimpse of what being part of a family can be like, and of the tremendous sacrifices that people will make for the ones that they love.
DIFFERENTLY NORMAL is a heart-wrenching tale of love and loss, because sometimes it takes letting someone else in to discover who you really are . . .
Tammy Robinson is an incredibly talented author. I was breathless after reading this. Tammy has weaved together an amazing love story that will stay with me for a long time.
Maddy’s whole life revolves around her autistic sister. She helps her mum care for her, giving up her own desires for the love of her sister. She is guarded and doesn’t let anyone in. Knowing she can’t give them the time they deserve.
When taking her sister to her session at Riding for the Disabled, Maddy meets Albert. Albert finds himself attracted to Maddy, but Maddy seems to have no interest back. Albert is persistent, and he shows a kindness to Maddy’s sister she hasn’t seen before. Soon Maddy starts to let her walls down. Both of them have a hard family life, but they both find happiness together that they never thought they would.
Maddy and Albert sunk deep into my heart. Their chemistry was electric and they felt so real they leapt off the page. Their’s was a sweet, swoonworthy romance and I didn’t want the story to end. Differently Normal was hilarious in some parts, heart warming and heart breaking in others. It was so easy to get swept up in and I read it in one sitting.
Differently Normal is a must read. It will tear you apart in the most beautiful way. You will need your tissues.
You can add it to your Goodreads here.
Find out more at Hachette.
(And it is well worth the money spent!)