Interview with Author Tui Allen

So, while on the discussion thread on, I had the wonderful chance to talk to Tui Allen the author of Ripple.  She was kind enough to say ‘yes’ when I requested an interview! Her responses are below:
Can you tell us a little about yourself and where you live?
I lost my father at age six which is possibly why there is childhood grief in this story. I grew up in a sailing family in Auckland New-Zealand. I’ve worked mostly as a teacher, but also as a postie, a waitress, a web designer, and a writer and have two grown up children. I now live, with my partner Jeff Tucker, in a house we built ourselves, in the countryside in the Waikato area of New Zealand. It’s a paradise for cyclists and has glorious mountain views and the Tolkienesque name, “Bagnalls Hill.” It’s not far from the town of Te Awamutu, where I was born in 1952.

Tell us about your book Ripple. Have you written any other books? When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I knew in childhood that I wanted to be a writer because the books I read then gave me such pleasure and impressed me so deeply, I longed to be able to produce such magic myself.
Although Ripple is my first novel and first fiction for adults, I’m not really a newbie writer since I’ve previously published children’s books, stories and poetry and have also written and designed many web sites.

Ripple is the story of a dolphin who lived twenty million years ago and made a creative discovery that changed the universe. It’s marine environmental fantasy but also a love story. I think of it as the defining story of our planet, and expect that humanity as an egotistical species might be a little miffed that such an important story is not even a human story, but why would it be? Humans only just evolved quite recently on the scale of the life of our planet, whereas cetaceans have been here far longer, tens of millions of years longer. It’s about time humanity thought about some species beyond their own that might have something worthwhile to contribute and Ripple shows how that might have happened.

How long does it take you to write a book? What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
It took me 2½ years to write Ripple, by the time I’d had the MS assessed twice and edited once and I’d done several drafts. I’m not a fast worker. On the first draft I tried to stick to a certain daily wordcount but on subsequent drafts word count is irrelevant since a good day’s work could result in a lower wordcount. I hit my office chair by 8 am daily and knock off about 4.30pm to go for a bike ride in the beautiful natural country environment I am fortunate to live in. Not all that time is spent on the latest story of course. I have web sites to maintain for clients and marketing to think about too now.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My typing is terrible. For example I cannot type the word ‘from’ without getting the ‘r’ and the ‘o’ transposed. I’m constantly fixing my own typos. Luckily years of teaching have given me a good eye for picking them up. I had to fix at least six errors just to write this one paragraph. I also am inclined to be very verbose, a typical teacher’s failing. I always have to cut, cut, cut, my own excessive verbiage. And my editors and assessors tell me to cut back more again.

The ideas for my stories are sparked by something from my real world and embellished by imagination into a fiction story. It could be the slightest little odd thing that triggers an intrigued feeling, something like the ringing sound that Ripple heard when Cosmo triggered her inspiration. The dolphins I saw in my ocean sailing days, made me wonder what they did with their great intellects and that inspired the story of Ripple. As far as information goes, while writing Ripple I was constantly researching, mostly online but also in other ways to make sure I got the factual background as correct as possible.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing? What does your family think of your writing?
My family are proud of my writing. I’m the only writer in the family so they’re also a bit mystified by it.
These days, when not writing, I love cycling, both off-road and on-road. I love being outside in beautiful natural environments in all weathers and have done all my life. I’ve been a long distance runner, a triathlete, an open water swimmer, a multi-sporter, and in my teens was a horsewoman. Also did a lot of sailing when I was young, having grown up in a sailing family. My first marital home was a small yacht in which we sailed the South Pacific.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
You wouldn’t believe how many dozens of times you can go over a chapter and still find things that can be improved.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I’ve been stunned by the responses of readers. They respond as I always hoped and dreamed they would, via their reviews and emails and facebook messages. I try to be as accessible as possible to answer any questions they have. So far I’ve not had one single negative response to Ripple, even from people who admit they would not normally read this type of book. It’s so often been a case of the readers writing things that make the writer cry, and I thought it was supposed to be the other way around, and I’ve used a lot of tissues.

Do you have any suggestions for other writers? If so, what are they?
Understand from the start that this is no easy road you’ve chosen, but the rewards exist even if your book is not a commercial success. If you publish a book, you have the chance to create a kind of immortality for yourself, in that through your book, you have the power to speak to subsequent generations, even after your death. Make sure your words are worthy of their attention, if you want that immortality to continue.

Kareen: Thanks so much for being open to doing an interview 🙂
Tui: No problem – thanks for asking me. I enjoyed it. Who doesn’t enjoy talking about themselves?

2 Responses to “Interview with Author Tui Allen”

  1. Linda McK says:

    Wonderful interview, Tui! I can't believe I just now found it.

  2. K.W. McCabe says:

    Thanks for reading!

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