We're back with another fantasy-themed interview, and today our guest is Swedish author Therese Caruana, better known as T.M.Caruana.
PB: Hi! Welcome to pjbermanbooks.com. Tell us a bit about your background.
TC: I grew up in a suburb area in Sweden, my childhood was spent playing with twigs and pine cones. It wasn’t until I spent a year as an exchange student to earn my double bachelor’s degree in the Netherlands that I first found my interest for big adventures. Now live in Gibraltar, having earned an MBA and also being a member of the ACCA.
This has made me into a person who likes doing too much rather than too little. Apart from consuming too much coffee and chocolate I enjoy writing complex stories with a vivid imagination, manifesting in new worlds and versatile characters. Having always been a free spirit at heart, my dream has always been to write fantasy novels in which to escape into. Your life is your dream -if you can dream it, you can live it- is my motto and when I die I expect I will have lived a thousand lives through books I have read or written myself.
PB: What made you decide to become an author?
TC: My debut book, Symmetry, started out as a diary not meant for publication. I knew I loved writing and making up stories but never had the self-confidence to even venture the thought of becoming a professional author. When self-publishing books took off in 2010 I started to consider that I too could try it out – as a hobby of course… I started to adjust my diary, which contained my teenage thoughts about the ‘purpose of life’ into a story, but soon realized the entire work would need to start from a blank sheet. The story still debates what in life is happiness, what is important and what are simply material possessions or desires, but subtly woven into a quest adventure where The Creator of Mass battles the ideology out with The Creator of Souls’ grandson.
PB: What was the first story that you can remember writing?
TC: The first story was about Rebecca…hmmm…can’t remember much about it except that it started with a scene where she walked into a sauna which had the thermostat on its outside and that someone barriered the door and turned the heat up for her to die. The attempted murder turns into an investigation and adventure. This was for an assignment in school which was supposed to be about ten pages long and turned out to be about forty-four pages long. These were the days we had compact disk storage to save the work on and I have tried to find it, but I think the story is long gone. It would have been interesting to have found it and read it now.
PB: When you begin writing a new novel, do you always know the ending?
TC: Oh dear, yes. I started to plot my next big series in January 2019. I use a black notepad for each of my plot planners and the one for this particular project is absolutely full to the point I’m finding it hard to find a blank page to write on. I plan out everything from fashion and festivals, cultures and cruelties, hobbies and hardship to twists and turns. I have recorded a vlog with my progress as I go along and plan to publish it to my YouTube channel when I’m finished. I hope this will make for interesting material.
PB: Tell us about your recent work.
TC: Okay, so in between finishing my heptology The Eternal Quest Breaker Series and before starting my new big series I’m actually co-writing a book with my mother. She woke up one morning and as she called me over Skype she told me that she dreamt an entire story for a book during the night. I said, “Go for it!” So, she wrote it down on Trello in Swedish and I’m translating and adding a few bits here and there as well as discusses the plot to make it more detailed. It has been a great team effort and I get to spend some quality time with my mother. This will be a Sword and Sorcery Fantasy which I will be looking forward to publish during or just after the summer.
PB: If you could meet any of your characters, who would you meet, and what would you say to them?
TC: Oooh, this is a difficult question. I have a few unique people in my crew. If I could get Hakon (In the Eternal Quest Breaker Series) to talk, I would probably want to see him and ask him about the future. He normally doesn’t speak about the future to anyone due to the risk of any action and reaction, but if he would tell me his secrets, I would absolutely want to meet him. He knows exactly what has been schemed by the Creator of Mass and The Creator of Souls and how it all will end.
PB: Where did the idea for the Eternal Quest Breaker series come from?
TC: The idea for the Eternal Quest Breaker Books came from my deep thoughts when considering the meaning of life and what happens to a soul when you die. If it were the case that it was all a circle of life how would it be explained? This is what I’ve tried to do in a fantasy quest adventure. The characters go though stages which could appear simply as only entertaining on the face of it, but it all has a symbolic message whereby you follow the journey of a soul’s importance. The debate about the human perception of souls and mass can go as deep as you want…or you can just sit back and enjoy an adventure – it’s up to you.
PB: Of all your achievements, which are you most proud of?
TC: The fact that I keep learning new things is a great accomplishment. When I first started out in 2014 I had neither literary qualifications nor media or marketing knowledge. I am constantly observing what other authors do, what software they use and how they promote their books. I have now managed to publish eleven books with at least two more coming this year. I’m satisfied with how my newsletter mailing list has grown and I have established a good relationship with my editor Sally Dixon (https://dixons2000.wixsite.com/writeaid). I would also say that I will let out a big sigh of relief when my Eternal Quest Breaker Series has published its seventh book (Book 6 coming next month-ish).
PB: What is your favourite book series to read and why?
TC: I mostly like reading Paranormal Romance or Epic Fantasy and have read two fantastic books of late; Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind and The Mute Prince by P.E. YoungLibby. I suppose it is biased to mention Vengeance of Hope and the King of the Republic by P.J. Berman, but they were genuinely great books too.
PB: Thank you very much for the endorsement! It's much appriciated. What are your long term ambitions with regards to writing?
TC: I hope I will be able to keep up my writing as a hobby. I think I need both aspects in my life as work provides social stimulation in a small place such as the Rock of Gibraltar. If I would win awards and be able to publish many more books that would be a personal target. I definitely want to have completed the Eternal Quest Breaker Series, and who knows, maybe I will write two more books in the Arakzeon City Series as well. Then I hope, of course, that my daughter will have inherited my love for creating and continues with her book series, Penelope. Perhaps her drawings will become more elaborate than the current six-year-old doodles.
PB: If you weren’t an author, what career would you be in?
TC: I am a qualified accountant with an international MBA and hence I will be working in the finance sector whether or not I write books. I enjoy all aspects of life and I find that the life outside being an author adds to the inspiration and depths of the stories. To be out in the world and keeping up with what is going on keeps your story fresh and relevant.
PB: What’s the next target for you?
TC: As mentioned, I have been outlining a massive epic fantasy series all of 2019 and will continue with world building and character building in 2020 too. I hope to be able to start writing the trilogy around Christmas time 2020. By that point, I hope to have completed Eternal Soul (The 7th book in the Eternal Quest Breaker Series), the book I’m writing with my mother and also a Christmas book in the Penelope Series.
PB: Tell us a random fact about yourself.
TC: For a few years Toblerone has been my favourite chocolate, but it is now threatened by Lindt Lindor and their smooth texture that melts in your mouth.
Well I certainly can't wait to see how this next epic fantasy series turns out! Thank you so much to Therese Caruana for taking the time to talk to us today. If you would like to sample her work, you can do so via the links below.
Until next time, happy reading!