We are pleased to present our premiere Island Audio interview, today the spotlight is on YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy author, Bridget Tyler.
You’ve got a book that just dropped days ago and two previous books available for sale, but you didn’t start out in the publishing world. Can you tell us a bit about how you ended up in Hollywood and what made you decide to become a novelist?
I’ve always written stories, but I never could get my head around doing it for a living so I decided I was going to be a film reviewer (you know, a sensible, easy to get job HUGE eye roll at past self). Then at NYU I interned for a Hollywood producer’s book scout and decided to move to LA after school and try to get into the feature film production business. I worked my way up to an executive gig, but it wasn’t satisfying.
At some point, I was on the phone with a writer resisting the urge to dictate dialogue and I thought….hmmmm something is wrong here. So I decided to write a script with a friend, just to see if I could do it. Ultimately, that turned into separate writing careers for both of us, but it was a great way to start. I worked in TV for several years, and I still write pilots and scripts. I started writing novels when I moved to Oregon after my husband took a job at Oregon State University (he’s a robotics professor). It takes a lot of hard work, and a damnable amount of luck, to make a career creating things.
I see that you worked on Burn Notice. I’m a big fan of Bruce Campbell, but even without him, I would have loved Burn Notice. You said you were a fan before you became part of that project. What was it like working on and writing for that show? Any interesting stories and did you get to meet Bruce (the chin, himself)?
Oh yeah – I read the pilot script for Burn Notice when I was a development assistant on the feature side of the business and I was obsessed with it. I was so excited to see it become a reality and watch it…then when my agent asked if I wanted to go up for a staff job I was just floored. Matt Nix, the creator of Burn Notice and a crazy-talented writer who I’m proud to say I can call a mentor, always says that the people who like your writing tend to be people who would/do like you. And luckily that was true in our case.
I got a parking ticket during my first interview because we spent so much time nerding out about science fiction and science and military history. It was totally worth it. Writing on Burn Notice was a huge drop into the deep end for me as a novice writer – every writer on the show also produced their episodes in Miami – but the writing and production staff supported my learning curve every step of the way and ultimately, taught me to produce television. I would definitely not be the writer I am today if I hadn’t earned by wings on Burn Notice first. I definitely have a lot of interesting stories… like singing show tunes with Jonathan Frakes (aka Commander Riker) in a location scouting van while he was directing my first episode. And yes, I had the privilege of working with Bruce Campbell, as well as Jeffery Donovan, Gabriel Anwar, Sharon Gless, Coby Bell, and the rest of the amazing cast. I still wear the silver bullet necklace Gabriel gave the cast and crew as a wrap gift for luck.
Please give me the scoop on showtunes with Riker…
Ha, there isn’t much of a scoop other than that it was freaking amazing and I was just siting there singing and thinking…is this actually happening? It’s happening. Jonathan was such a wonderful support to me my first time producing. Including the one time we disagreed and I had to insist on doing something my way. He’s a great guy.
Judging from your attachment to Horizon and your two most recent novels I’m guessing you’re a fan of genre fiction (scifi, fantasy, etc.). Were you always a fan of these kinds of books and movies or did that interest develop during your time working in Hollywood?
Some of the first stories I ever “wrote” were about Princess Leia and Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. I was about three, and my mother used to follow me around the house writing them down as I told them to myself. So yeah…I’m a born and raised science fiction girl. I was a hobbit for Halloween when I was in kindergarten, long before LOTR was cool. I actually seriously considered being a scientist, but I wanted to study whale song and when I figured out you had to stay in remote locations for a long time alone to do that I decided against it. But doing the research and learning new things to build new worlds is still one of my favorite parts of what I do.
What did you want to be when you were little and what do you think the kid version of you would think of what you have accomplished?
When I was a little kid I used to tell people I was going to be a Marine Cetacean Linguistics Biologist (a field I’m pretty sure doesn’t exist). Basically, I wanted to talk to whales. But even little Dr. Bridget the Marine Linguist was already writing stories, so I don’t think she’d be surprised or disappointed…except for the not talking to whales thing. But I hope she forgives me.
What draws you to writing Young Adult fiction?
I love adventure stories and writing about young women and there’s no better place for either of those things.
Do you have any personal favorite authors or titles in the YA field from when you were younger or contemporary books?
The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander were and are some of my favorite books in the world. Also Nancy Drew. Contemporary writer wise I’m a huge fan of Keirsten White, Sabaa Tahir, and Amie Kaufman, both with and without Jay Kristoff. I also love Rosaria Munda’s newly unfolding Aurelian Cycle triology – Fireborne is available now, but I’ve gotten a sneak peek at book two – Flamefall – and ooohhhh boy. It’s consuming, to say the least.
Who are your greatest inspirations and role models in the world of writing and just in general?
Well, I’ve been lucky enough to get some great advice from several working writers, who had no reason to take time out of their day other than kindness…and I think that’s the big lesson I try to emulate. Nobody gets here on their own, so when you have the chance to help other writers you do it. Rising tides raise all boats.
Featured at Writers Read: Bridget Tyler, author of The Survivor: A Pioneer Novel @California_b @harperteen @HarperCollins @mimi_albert @cullenbunn @kierongillenhttps://t.co/T9IFvdCQLG pic.twitter.com/me7fW1mB4F
— Marshal Zeringue (@ZeringueMarshal) March 17, 2020
What advice do you have for up and coming writers?
Write stuff and read stuff. That might sound overly simplified, but seriously. More than half of doing the job is being able to sit down at the keyboard and actually WRITE, and it’s freaking hard even for those of us who have contracts to do it, much less when you’re writing in a vacuum. Just taking what’s in your head and putting it on the page is a huge deal, so seeing if you can actually do that is the first step.
If you find that you never finish a project, or can’t make yourself sit down to write regularly…that’s fine! Search for other creative venues. You don’t HAVE to be a professional artist to be artistic and creative. Sometimes, it turns out your major creative talent is baking, or teaching, or doing other people’s taxes, or throwing the best ever office parties that make everyone you work with happy. And you know what? That’s fine. But if you’ve got a story in you…sit down. Start writing the words. See what happens. You can never tell where it’ll take you.
What did you think of the task of producing an audiobook?
I’m a huge audiobook nerd, so I was really excited. I don’t live in New York, so I wasn’t actually able to meet my amazing narrator Jesse Vilinsky but she did such a great job with it. I’m humbled.
How does audiobook production compare to the kind of production work you were used to before you made the switch to publishing?
I didn’t get to be boots on the ground producing the audio book, so it was really different. In TV I’d have been there with Jesse and the director every step of the way, helping to smooth over awkward lines and answering questions. But I put my trust in the Harper team for a lot of things, and they haven’t let me down, including in our amazing audiobook!
Do you have another book in the works in the Pioneer series?
Not yet, but I know what it would be if we get there… (it’s about REDACTED FOR SPOILERS and also REDACTED FOR SPOILERS and there’s definitely kissing and crazy survival drama)
Any other additional titles in development or currently being plotted?
I’m working on my next YA novel…it’s about a young woman who has an unsettling supernatural ability but knows nothing about it other than the fact that it terrified her mother so much she told our heroine to never, under any circumstances, even acknowledge it. Her mother died when she was six, and so she’s spent her whole life being terrified of the thing that makes her unique…until the moment she’s called on to use that power to save the universe.
How about other types of adaptations, do you see a possibility of film, tv or audiodrama/podcast series version of the Pioneer series?
We’re working on a TV adaptation, but a podcast would be SUPER fun and now I’m going to try to get one going. Good idea!
— ScienceFiction.com (@ScienceFiction) November 18, 2019
In honor of Women’s History Month we are asking all the creative people we have reached out to name some women who have changed their lives, someone you looked up to or someone you knew personally.
Oh man, there are so many. My mom, Connie Tyler, my former writing partner, Dana Horgan, and our third musketeer Reece Cardwell who keep us both sane for almost a decade of our lives while we were trying to get our writing careers going, just to name a few…and as for people I look up to. Anne McCaffrey’s work is some of the formative bricks of my creative brain and childhood.
Stay tuned because we will be featuring a second interview with the talented Jesse Vilinsky who collaborated on Bridget’s recent audiobook.
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