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Thursday, 15 September 2016

Interrogation: Teresa Schulz

Kia ora,
Please welcome our latest victim guest, Teresa Schulz. On the metal plate suspended above that puddle by wires is a chocolate fish. Behave and the delicious pink marshmallow fish covered in chocolate won’t end up a goopy mess on the floor.
In the event of an earthquake/zombie plague/or random occupation - you’ll find emergency procedures taped to the bottom of your seat. Yes, just like a flotation device. You’ll also find a Glock 17 with a full magazine.
Remember you cannot reason with zombies and it’s a head shot every time.  

As for the rest of you ... Make a drink, settle in, and please keep the noise to a minimum. Trust me -no one wants to wake the thing that lives in the dungeon. 

I was feeling a cold sweat and racing pulse, as you would if asked to dismantle a bomb, but I feel so much better now, thanks ☺


Indeed. I have a dog sleeping between my knees and one snoring by my elbow … all good to go.

1. What’s your favorite type of takeaway? (Yes, that means take-out in NZ speak)  
Very easy, fish and chips, every time.

2. Describe your current mental status. 

Ha ha ha *maniacal joker-like laughter*  No but seriously, possibly borderline schizophrenic with multiple-personality disorder and a phobia for clowns and people who whistle merry tunes. But I think we have it under control now. An intravenous supply of either coffee or wine seems to keep the Tourettes in line, OR make it worse. And how else would I write such vividly gripping fiction?

3. I know how I do what I do … but how do you do what you do?
 I often ask myself that very same thing. I’m hoping by admitting this I don’t get locked away in a rubber room some place, but ever since I was young I’ve heard ‘voices’ in my head, conversations between characters who have invited themselves into my imagination and run off with my story. If I find their conversation, personalities, dreams, goals etc  interesting enough, I write them down. It helps to have a quiet space to do this because if not, the minute my five year old runs into the room telling me he needs to pooh now! the characters who were entertaining me so vividly disappear like mist and it takes a wee while to coax them back again. Often the best ‘scenes’ I get to see occur in the middle of the night, and I’ve learnt now, to write it down right then and there, because you can never usually remember it quite so vividly the next morning. 
From there it’s a matter of seeing where these characters want to take me and painting the picture in the reader’s mind as clearly and three-dimensionally as I can.
So yes, that’s something like how I do what I do.

4. Could you tell us a little bit about your latest work?

Ok, ah, I’m a bit strange in that I tend to work on two or three projects at a time. It works for me because if I get writer’s block on one story, I can flip across to another one and try and pick up on ‘vibes’ the characters are feeding me from that one. 
I’ve been working on the second book in my Lost Land series which is a dystopian thriller based in future rural New Zealand. The first book was Barbed Wire and Daisies which is currently available on Amazon. The second book is with my editor at the moment and is called Avenge my Chief. It follows on five years after Barbed Wire and Daisies with the family who are the main characters in the story. There will be a third and final book in that series.  

Also, I have just finished a psychological thriller (novella) called Unwilling to Break and I’m just awaiting proof copies of that one to double-check before I let it go live on Amazon. It’s about a fairly typical NZ housewife whose life gets flipped upside down when her husband betrays her by giving her to Albanian drug lords in payment of a huge debt he owes them. It’s about her struggle to escape the very hard time she gets put through (including organ harvesters) and get home to her children before her husband, Greg, does anything to harm them.

The third project is my children’s book series The Chameleon Shop. I’ve published two books in that series and currently beginning the third and final one. It’s about a twelve year old girl from Feilding, called Kaylee Browne. Kaylee discovers a magic key, nestled within an old book, which she finds in a mysterious new bookshop in town. The key transports her to a magical place of giant cats, fairies, and various other magical beings, called The Five Realms. Here she begins a quest which involves stealing a dragon’s egg and rescuing someone very dear to her. 
I’ve had one fan letter so far from an eight year old boy (his mother read it to him) and I can tell you that THAT letter is absolutely the best reward for writing this series so far. I can only imagine the joy J K Rowling’s success has brought to her heart, given how incredibly successful her stories have been with young folk.

5. Do you have a favorite coffee or tea?

No. Just plain old instant is fine with me. I don’t like Green Tea much. Tastes like evil to me. Earl Grey seems pretty nice though.

 6. Walk us through a typical day. (Do you make sure you’re wearing your lucky underpants before you sit down to write, perhaps you prefer commando? While we’re discussing your underpants, boxers, briefs, or budgie smugglers. Inquiring minds want to know. Yes, that includes my Admins… we don’t piss off the Admins.)

I think commando is way under-rated to be honest, but you can only really get away with that sort of thing at home. No time for favourite underwear to be honest, just the first pair I lay my hands on when I open the drawer. Briefs are the usual choice … boxers tend to make me feel a bit too manly for some reason. Could be my massive biceps … or my generous Precious McKenzie thighs. Not sure. 
I rush through the mundane parts of my day, so I can get into what I love. Writing stories (or reading other stories by my favourite authors). I begin the day by rushing my precious little cherubs off to school so the constant budgie chittering in my ears ceases and leaves just the right vacuum for fictional friends to move in.
I rush through my Cinderella shit, (washing etc) and feed my chickens. Yes, I have chickens. I love animals. In fact my cats are my inspiration for the huge Messenger Cats in The Chameleon Shop.
I make a coffee and search my barren fridge for a donut or something delicious, get disappointed because the budget doesn’t allow for such luxuries and grab a couple of Farmbake biscuits instead.
I then go to my bedroom ( I would love to have my own wonderful woman-cave, or beautiful writer’s cottage but again, need to sell a few thousand more books to achieve that), jump on my bed (if it’s a good day, I will have changed out of my PJ’s and be wearing my usual jeans and t-shirt, or warm jersey given the Manawatu is ALWAYS bloody RAINING!), where I am joined immediately by my two heat seeking dogs and usually at least one cat, who latch onto me to use me for the meager warmth my legs put out. 
Then I eenie, meenie, miny, mo as to which of my two or three books on the go, gets my undivided attention this morning … and try my best to make magic happen on the blank pages.

If I’m on a roll and don’t get interrupted by a) children b)couriers or c) bloody dogs barking at whoever is walking past, then I can usually write anywhere from 500 to 1000 or so words a day. If my muse or mojo has decided not to play the game, I will either read a book, do some gardening, wash dishes while listening to really loud music, or watch an action movie until I feel refreshed enough to be creative again.

Mornings I find are the best time for me to write. But, then again, I have children. And if I were to wait for total peace and quiet, I would never get one book finished let alone four or five. 
That’s pretty much my day.
If the magic’s not happening, I don’t try to force it. Writing is art. You can’t force art. You have to feel inspired and motivated to do a decent job of it.

7. Tell us about your main character. (How did you first meet? Would you like to hang out with him/her? What delights you the most about writing him/her? You get the idea …)

Ok I’m going to pick the main character from Barbed Wire and Daisies. Genevieve MacGregor. She popped into my imagination back in 2011, after studying at Massey. I’d been writing a communications paper on Biofuels and a question kept nagging me. ‘What would I do if one day the world’s oil supply was cut off and our country quickly ran out of food?’
Enter Gen. Mother, wife and darned impressive woman!
She is married to Nate (who is my second favourite character because I have used a combination of Jamie Fraser – Outlander, Liam Neeson and Brad Pitt, as inspirations for him and he’s the closest thing to a man in my life that I have at the moment, so I make him as delicious a man as I can possibly get, purely for my own selfish reasons. But I’m sure readers would also benefit from this.) Anyway, drawing our attention away from the half-naked torso of our hunky man Nate, back to Gen. 
This story is really told, mostly, from Gen’s point of view. I like her because she is smart, courageous, and a little sarcastic at times. She can be a ball-breaker or she can be the loving arms you run to when the world is just way too hard. She is definitely a protective Mama bear and woe-betide whoever threatens her family. 
Nate is also a great family man, and matches Gen in the passionate, fiery yet loyally loving stakes. Gen probably swears a little more than the average housewife, but then again, she is fearless and fights like a man, so I don’t find this out of character for her. She has a few of my traits, and a few I am yet to achieve. She is the kind of woman who is independent, yet very feminine and striking, and commands respect but also gives it to those who have earned it. She loves her husband and her family and is loyal to them. 
Yes, I would like to hang out with her. Her sense of humour is very entertaining and her fiery spirit gets your adrenaline pumping. I think she’d be awesome to have a few drinkies with on a Saturday evening.

8. Who are your favorite writers?

Diana Gabaldon would be at the top of that list. George R R Martin. J R R Tolkien and Stephen King to name a few. Oh and also Cornelia Funke … love the Inkheart series. 

9. Who inspires you to do better? 

Mmmmm. Let’s see. My family. My mother, my kids, my lovely editor who tells me the brutal truth but wraps it in love so it doesn’t hurt so much, other writers who offer support and encouragement, tips and advice to help you not give up. And myself. I constantly cheerlead myself because writing novels is a lonely career for a lot of the time. You have to be your own best friend to hang in there and keep at it.

10. Do you ever put pants on your dog, cat, or budgie?

No … but my kids likely have when they think I’m not looking. And my Grandmother (who was very fond of Vodka and found the stash my Aunt had hidden from her) put her big old lady bloomers on my Aunty’s doberman’s head one time. Have to admit, I laughed. Quite a lot.

11. Describe your perfect day.

Sleep. Lots of sleep. And NO children. Never happens of course, but one can dream.
Other than that, perhaps to be a guest at a candle-lit dinner of some owner of a Scottish/Irish castle would be rather pleasant I think.

12. Who is your favorite fictitious villain? Or are you all about the hero? Who do you love to hate?

Professor Snape (Alan Rickman, RIP) and also his role as the Sheriff of Nottingham in Kevin Costner’s Robin Hood. Love to hate that man, because he is so evil and yet, so funny with it. In fact I modeled my bad guy in The Chameleon Shop on Alan Rickman. Your hero can’t shine quite as brightly without a bad guy who gives him/her a good run for their money.

13. Do you have any quirks?

Can a person truly see their own quirks? Maybe my friends or family could answer that one better. They would probably say that I rescue way too many animals but what can I say? I have a soft heart. In fact it amazes me sometimes that I can write thrillers when I’m really such a softy underneath. 
Maybe my childlike imagination and love of fantasy, science fiction, stories of time-travel and heroes, might appear to some conservative people as ‘quirky’ but I think of them as valuable attributes for a person who is trying to make a mark in the world as a story-teller.

14. All-time favorite movie and why?

Wow! I love movies so it’s really hard to narrow it down to one. But, if I had to choose I’d say Ladyhawke (1985) featuring Mathew Broderick, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Rutger Hauer. I love medieval stories, knights, castles and horses. (You have a lovely dungeon here by the way). 
I also love magic and an enchanting love story. This film covers all of that. The heartbreaking curse which keeps Lady Isabeau d'Anjou (Pfeiffer) and her lover Navarre (Hauer) forever together, yet eternally apart, is as wrenchingly painful as their eventual reuniting is touchingly beautiful. And the wolf and hawk are also beautiful majestic animals to add to the powerful story.

15. Do you enjoy the editing process?

Is that a trick question? ;) Hell no! Editing sucks. It takes forever and you have to constantly kill off your darlings, and feel like the teacher is telling you to go back and ‘do it again!’ But, ultimately it takes your sculpture and strips away the edges until you have refined a piece of work that is more a diamond, than a rock. Absolutely worth it, even though it’s a pain in the ass.

16. If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be and why?

Still New Zealand. I think we’re really lucky to be honest. I would prefer to be farther down the South Island, maybe Marlborough/Blenheim area, among some lovely vineyard in an eco-log cabin among trees. A little part of me is still longing to live in one of my fairy tales.

17. Favorite Pizza topping?

BBQ chicken and feta cheese (no olives, eww yuk!) 

18. What were you before you became a writer?

Clerical worker, Mum, wanna-be Vet but didn’t quite make the grade, Massey Student part-time studying Agriculture as I grew up on farms.

19. What is the most random thing you have ever done?

Karaoke in a pub to one of Kylie Minogue's songs ha ha (can’t believe I told you guys that). But in my defense, I was only about 17 at the time.

20.  If you’re not working, what are you most likely doing?

Helping the kids with homework, taking them to the park, writing whenever I can squeeze it in, eating, watching movies, reading books, gardening, occasionally even sleeping.

21. Who is your ultimate character?

Not sure if you mean mine personally, as in one I have created, or just any in general. Out of the characters I have created myself, I like Gen (Barbed Wire and Daisies) as she really kicks ass and I love strong kick-ass women. 
Also Jett the big black Messenger Cat in The Chameleon Shop because he is loveable, smoochy, protective and (in my mind at least) sounds like Gandalf from Lord of the Rings.
In general, I love the strength of Arya Stark from Game of Thrones (George R R Martin). She never gives up, no matter how much horrid stuff life throws at her, no matter how many loved ones her world takes from her, she doesn’t give up the fight. I admire those qualities.

22. Whiskey or Bourbon? Red or white wine? Tequila? Beer?

Can I say all of the above? No, better not. Jim Beam, bourbon is my absolute favourite. But white wine with dinner or a nice cold beer after mowing the lawns is very enjoyable too.

23. What’s in your pockets? (Or handbag, whatever you carry your stuff in. Are you apocalypse prepared?) 

At the moment my pockets are empty. BUT, yes, totally apocalypse prepared. If you get nothing else, get a paracord firestarter bracelet. In fact I’ve even included one of these in Avenge my Chief as these are survival type stories. Can’t afford not to be prepared these days. Maybe the threat of zombies isn’t so high, but there are plenty of other things out there unfortunately, so preparing is not a silly idea.

24. Laptop, PC, Mac, tablet?


25. Ebook or tree book?

I get my e-book files to read via Kindle on my Laptop

26. Favorite apocalyptic scenario?

Doomsday (2008) Starring Rhona Mitra as Maj. Eden Sinclair. This is one of my favourite strong female actors. I have watched all the Mad Max movies as well, and I think there’s a Mad Max kind of feeling to my Barbed Wire and Daisies story in parts as well.

27. Where do you do most of your writing?

On my bed. Rather have a lovely antique desk in a quaint wee writer’s cottage, but, beggars can’t be choosers.

28. What’s the hardest thing for you when it comes to being an author? (For me it’s marketing but for others it’s the actual writing …)

No, I’m with you. Marketing is the absolute hardest for me too. You feel like a little minnow in a sea of sharks, and about to be swallowed and pooped out the other end at any given moment. Writing for me, is the easiest part. Editing... meh... not so much.

You made it!! Damn, you rock. Now would you like to try for the chocolate fish? Mind the puddles … but hurry. Power surges are common in the dungeon; you don’t want to have one hand on the metal plate containing that delicious chocolate fish and a foot in a puddle...
That laughter you hear is coming from The Knight, he probably won’t flip that switch he has his hand on. Probably …

You can find out more about Teresa Schulz in the following places ...
Twitter @vetgirl4

And you can buy Barbed Wire and Daises from Writers Plot Readers Read.

Please share this post and tell the world about the wealth of talent living and writing in NZ. 
And buy a book by a kiwi author! :)


  1. Well that didn't look too scary. I might volunteer for interrogation myself one day. Or perhaps make one of my writer colleagues go first just to make sure.