Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Terrance Coffey

Today's interview is with the winner of the 2016 International Pacific Book Award for Best Historical Fiction, Terrance Coffey.

1.      When did you first start writing?
I actually started writing fifteen years ago when a friend challenged me to co-write a screenplay with him. The collaboration experience gave me the confidence to do something I had never done before and from that point on I was hooked.

2.      What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
I love history and thrillers so my book and upcoming books are in that genre. Kindle Press has published the E-book version of my novel and I have my own imprint called Helm House that publishes the print version.

Valley of the Kings is a book series that chronicles the turbulent lives of some of the most known and sometimes lesser known pharaohs of ancient Egypt. Told in story-form, it’s a fictional biography based on historical facts and events. The 18th Dynasty is Book 1 of the trilogy which recounts the reign of pharaohs in that particular dynasty. The next installment is The 19th Dynasty that will focus on the pharaoh Ramesses and the pharaohs that followed his reign.

3.      What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I’m an avid believer in outlining because I like the idea of having a roadmap that will carry me from the beginning to the end of the book.  It’s what keeps me focused. I first write each chapter by hand in a notebook then write it again in MS Word making necessary changes as I transfer it.

4.      When in the day do you usually write and for how long?
I try to write something daily starting in the early morning, and I work into the late evening as much as I can. 

5.      Where do you feel most inspired to write?
Generally, I write in my home office, but sometimes I crave a change of scenery and I’ll go down to the nearest Starbucks with my notebook and laptop and write there.

6.      Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
I normally don’t listen to any music when I write at home, but when I go to Starbucks, there is usually music playing there but I tune it out.

7.      Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
Most of my career I’ve worked as an independent consultant through my own company, so I’ve always been able to set my own working schedule so that it wouldn’t detract from my writing.

8.      When did you start working on Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty? What was your writing and editing process?
 I asked a friend to read and then give me his comments on a television series pilot script I wrote back in 2003. He loved it but felt the story deserved to be told in its entirety first, and suggested that I write a novel based on the series outline. At first I didn’t take the suggestion seriously because I had never written a book before, but because he was so tenacious in his opinion that it would make a great novel, I decided to give it a try. Once I started writing it in early 2014, I literally couldn’t stop. I worked on it at least 6 days a week, spending 5 to 8 hours on it a day. It was as if the characters were telling the story themselves. It took me about a year to actually complete the first draft and an additional six months for the 2nd and 3rd drafts. The editing took a total of five months before I passed the final manuscript on to the publisher.

9.      Since your book is a historical novel set in 1400 B.C.E., it must have required quite a bit of research. How did you approach the research process?
I actually started researching the story for Valley of the Kings in 2001, after stumbling across a televised biography about King Tut. Though the bio focused mainly on the young pharaoh, I was more intrigued by the story it wasn’t telling—the story of his father, the pharaoh Akenaten. The untimely death of the young pharaoh Tut was ominously tied to the life of his father who at the time of his reign was considered a heretic and it was his actions and decisions that almost destroyed the Egyptian superpower. I was fascinated by just the little I knew of his story and from that spark, I really got into researching the history of the 18th and 19th dynasty pharaohs. After two years of research, I wrote a fifty-page outline for a television mini-series based on my story and from that I wrote a one-hour pilot episode. I then put the whole thing away and would periodically update it whenever new information or recent discoveries in the tombs of Egypt were documented. I did this up until I actually began writing the book in 2014.

10.   How much marketing do you do? Which platforms are you most active on?
Though Amazon does the major part of the marketing, I try to do something every day to help market the book myself. I advertise my book links on related Facebook book clubs, Twitter ads and other social media sites.

11.   What's the most fun aspect of marketing? The most challenging?
For me, marketing is not fun at all but very necessary if you want your book to stand out. The challenging aspect is deciphering what information or marketing technique(s) are best and most effective for your particular book.

12.   What project are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to my debut novel Valley of the Kings called The 19th Dynasty and also a sci-fi thriller called “Something Happened to Maggie.


Terrance Coffey is an author, screenwriter, composer, and Winner of the 2016 International Pacific Book Award for Best Historical Fiction. With a predilection for Egyptian history, he has written numerous short stories, screenplays, television pilots, and even Coca-Cola music jingles. Born in Chicago, Illinois, Terrance now lives in an ambitious little town near Atlanta, Georgia, where he constantly dreams of ancient Egypt.

Website | Twitter |  Blog | Goodreads

VALLEY OF THE KINGS: The 18th Dynasty

In the year 1355 BCE, the land of Egypt was the superpower of the known world. King Tut's father, Akenaten, the so-called 'heretic pharaoh,' is on the verge of catapulting Egypt into a revolution that will forever divide its people and rip the most powerful empire on the earth from its foundation. Will Akenaten's staunch religious conviction protect his people and his family, or will the threat of betrayals, curses, murderous jealousies, plagues, famine, and foreign enemies be their undoing?

Inspired by the Hittite and Amarna letters of the 14th century BCE, 'Valley of the Kings: The 18th Dynasty' is an epic novel of intrigue, passion, and betrayal, resurrecting the thrilling story of a singular leader whose beliefs were both visionary and disastrous.

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