Wednesday 21 June 2017


Oliver Tidy, author of He Made Me and lots more beside was kind enough to humour me with some answers to my questions about his reading and writing habits.

He Made Me was featured on the blog yesterday - here.

Is the writing full time? If not, what is/was the day job?

It’s been full-time for the last two years. Before that I was teacher, writing in my spare time. Please, God, don’t ever make me go back in the classroom. I’d rather mow lawns.

What’s your typical writing schedule?

After the usual morning procrastination on the Internet, I usually get cracking about 8am. Work through ‘til about 1pm. Gym and stuff. (Going to the gym at lunch time makes me miss lunch – sitting on my bum all day I’d just get large.) Collect my son from school. The evening is centred around him. Back at the desk for about 9pm and stay there until about midnight.

Do you insert family, friends, and colleagues into your characters?

Not as often as I might. I do have two ex-wives working for me in the book-themed coffee shop in the Booker & Cash series. (Not a joke.) Not sure how they feel about that, if they know. But it makes me laugh (so I suppose it is a joke) and it’s about the only time I’ve ever been able to boss them about.

Are you a plotter, or do you make it up as you go along?

I find it impossible to actually plan a story start to finish. I’ve tried. The best I can do is a few notes. I once told someone that I think through my fingertips as I type. He said, ‘So you make it up as you go along.’ He was right. I don’t often know how a story is going to end when I start it and if I do it’s even less common for me to know how I’m going to get there. Keeps things interesting.

Are there any subjects off limits?

No. Not for ‘off limits’ sake. There are things I’m just not interested in writing about. But if I ever think I can make some money out of them I’ll probably have a go.

Can you tell us a bit about your published books so far? Is there one you are more proud of than any of the others? Which and why? Which would you press into a reader’s hand ahead of the others?

Tough question. It’s like being asked to choose my favourite child. (I bet everyone says that.) I have seventeen books available and two in the editing process. The Booker & Cash series are very close to my heart because they are set where I was born and interbred - Romney Marsh - and the duo operate out of a building I lived in for years. Plus I love the idea of running a book-themed coffee shop. For these reasons the B&C stories just edge my affections.

Your latest book He Made Me is in your Booker and Cash series, how long did it take from conception to completion?

I tend to write my first drafts quite quickly. As I said, there’s no real planning involved. I get an idea and start running with it. I think this one took about a month.

Was the finished book pretty much how you envisaged it when you set out, or was it markedly different?

Because of the way I write I can’t really answer that, except to say that sometimes I’m more surprised by the way some books turn out than others.

You have three different series in progress – Booker & Cash, Romney Marsh Files (something I need to check out, I can remember going to a cub’s camp around that area – St Mary’s Bay more than once as a child) and Acer Sansom. Are all three series live and ongoing or have any now drawn to a natural conclusion?

Never say never, but for the time being I have finished with the Romney and Marsh Files and the Acer Sansom books. I think Acer is certainly done. He deserves a rest. R&M, I might come back to one day. Booker & Cash is the series I intend to continue with. I’ve got other writing projects that I also want to have a go at. Too many ideas, not enough time.

What’s been the most satisfying moment of your writing career so far?

Making the first million pounds. I wish. Giving up the day job. That was worth a million quid.

How difficult is it to attract a readership?

It’s getting harder and harder. I don’t think that’s because my books are getting worse and worse. I think it’s got to do with the industry. The ebook market is saturated with titles and every week there are hundreds more being traditionally published, self-published and converted to ebook format from older hard copy versions. And if that isn’t bad enough there is such a lot of great writing out there to be enjoyed and it’s mostly dirt cheap. I’m finding that my financial returns have been diminishing for some time. It might even get to the stage where my wife has to get a third job. Seriously. It’s a bit depressing.

Any unpublished gems in your bottom drawer?

Two books: one a crime thriller that I’ve just finished and one in what Margaret Atwood would call the ‘speculative fiction’ genre. (Actually, Margaret Atwood would probably put my effort in the ‘crap fiction’ genre. But I could live with that. At least she’d have to say my name.

What’s the current project in progress? How’s it going?

Booker & Cash #4 is next for me. I’ve made a start. I’m about 20,000 words to the good. It’s shaping up and I’m enjoying writing it. I always enjoy writing about these two and Romney Marsh.

What’s the best thing about writing?

Being my own boss.

The worst?

Being my own boss.

What are the last five books you’ve read?

Slade House by David Mitchell
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (I’m interested in Stoicism. I think as a philosophy it can help me to understand why I’m such an idiot sometimes.),
The Enemy by Lee Child,
The One From the Other by Philip Kerr
and Dead Lions by Mick Herron. All brilliant reads.

Who do you read and enjoy?

Too many to mention. But... Elmore Leonard, CJ Sansom, Gerald Seymour, John Le Carre, Conan Doyle, Michael Dibdin. I like the tried and trusted.

Is there any one book you wish you had written?

Fifty Shades of Grey. Just think of the money.

Favourite activity when not working or writing?

Spending time with my children.

What’s the last film you watched that rocked you?

Kung Fu Panda #1. I’m not kidding. Those Dreamworks films are absolutely brilliant and hilarious.

TV addict or not? What’s the must watch show in the Tidy household?

TV, aka the idiot’s lantern, is the biggest drain of time I’ve ever encountered. But I do love movies and a good series on DVD. I’ve recently finished working my way through every boxed set of Spooks. I could watch those again and again. Superb British drama.  

In a couple of years’ time…

We could all be dead. But with how life has gone I won’t have any regrets. Well, maybe one or two... or three... but I don’t blame them.

Many thanks to Oliver for his time. You can catch up with him....

His website is here.
Facebook here and he's on Twitter – @olivertidy


  1. Interesting interview, Col. There is a glut in self-publishing and yet, sadly, not enough readership. I agree, even good books are going a-begging. There's just so much to read out there.

    1. Prashant, I read my fair share of self-published authors, as well as those traditionally published. It's hard to separate the wheat from the chaff, though I've been mainly lucky in my picks. I think Oliver has now hooked up with a good publisher though - Bloodhound Books.

  2. Thanks, both, for a really interesting interview. It's quite true that it's getting harder than ever to carve a place out for oneself in the writing world. The industry really is changing.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it Margot. I don't envy any one of you authors trying to find a place in the market. It doesn't seem like the battle ends with just the creative aspect of writing.

  3. Very nice interview, and interesting answers. I will definitely read at least one book by this author, although I don't know when, with all the books on my TBR pile.

    1. Tracy cheers. Looking forward to seeing how you get on with this author once you get around to it.

  4. Thanks for posting this interview, Col. Whether a writer is a plotter or a make it upper, always interests me. Frankly, I can’t imagine how the later does it.

  5. This confirmed me in my thought I should try his books.

    1. I hope it goes well and you do a post on it!