Teresa Basset is a Young Adult fiction author living in Cornwall. Having initially worked as a non-fiction writer, she joined the Eden Project in 2000, leaving in 2011 to focus on her writing.
Teresa’s debut novel, The Time Crystals, was published in 2020 and her new novel, The Mystery of Acorn Academy, is due for release next month.
List three interesting facts about yourself:
- I used to sing in bands and once made a single.
- I gave up eating meat aged eight, and haven’t eaten it since.
- I brew my own beer.
Did you manage to meet your writing/publishing goals for 2020?
Amazingly, I did meet the goals I’d set myself! I published The Time Crystals, a time travel mystery for children and young adults set in Cornwall. It was my debut novel and I’d been working on it for some time.
I also managed to find a new publisher in the wonderful Authors Reach, and made good progress with my first novel for them (The Mystery of Acorn Academy). Alongside this, I edited two other novels I’m working on.
What is the title of your new novel and what is it about?
The Mystery of Acorn Academy is the first book in my new series Cornish Mystery Adventures. It tells the story of fourteen-year-old Holly Champion, who is sent to a secretive academy housed in a Cornish clifftop mansion. There, she is embroiled in a chilling adventure.
What inspired you to write it?
It actually began as a writing exercise for a course I studied some years back. The assignment was to write a synopsis for a potential novel using a five-point plan.
As for the inspiration, well, Cornwall always inspires me as a setting, and as a child I always loved mysteries where ordinary people get drawn into thrilling, sinister adventures. In terms of themes, people’s increasing reliance on science and technology has always intrigued (and worried) me.
What do you enjoy most about writing and why?
I’ve always loved reading and writing. I love being transported into a world of my own, or another author’s, making. My characters and their situations are very real to me. Nothing distracts me from life’s woes like escaping into their worlds.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I’ve never actually suffered from it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously or believe it could happen to me. I tend to have several projects on the go, at different stages of development. So if, for example, I’m struggling to make progress with the first draft of a novel, I can switch to a different book at a later stage, and give that another edit.
I do have the odd time when I struggle to buckle down to any kind of writing. My answer to that, unless it’s urgent, is to work on something else, e.g. the garden!
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
The hardest thing for me is writing the first draft. I make lots of notes and dither extensively before I start, then I race through it at speed, desperate to get the basic story, characters and framework down.
I end up with a kind of skeleton, full of gaps and things needing checking. However ropy it is, though, at least I’ve got something to work with. Most of my novels go through several drafts, probably five or six.
What is your next project, if anything?
Once The Mystery of Acorn Academy is published, I have two other completed novels vying for my attention: The Flight of the Bluebird, which is the sequel to The Time Crystals, and Tell and You Die, another Young Adult mystery adventure set in Cornwall.
I also have a backburner project I’d like to develop, involving ‘technology gone wrong’, set in the near future, about a girl who wakes up several years after an accident, who must piece together her past whilst solving a mystery in her present.
Aside from these projects, though, I would really like to learn all about marketing this year, and make some proper headway with that!
Do you have any top tips for aspiring writers?
If writing is for you, you will know it, deep in your soul, even if you don’t understand the reasons why. If you really want to do it, keep going. However disheartened you feel at times – and we all do – writing is a craft as well as an art, and there are always things you can learn, new ways to improve. I’m a great believer in the mantra the secret of writing is in the rewriting.
Do you have a favourite word or quote?
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.“
I love this quote from William Morris, although I can’t claim to always live up to it!