Charlie Tyler is an author from Reading who studied Theology at Worcester College, University of Oxford. She now lives in a Leicestershire village with her husband, three teenage children and their pets. We sat down with Charlie to discuss her debut novel, The Cry of the Lake, and her journey to becoming a published author.
Growing up, Charlie had always written her own stories before making the choice to study Theology at university. The course, much to Charlie’s delight, required a lot of research and writing and she admits it was this aspect of her degree that she enjoyed the most.
After graduating, she went on to have her three children – the oldest of whom is now 21 years old. She says as her family grew, writing offered her a sanctuary: “That was sort of my escape, I’d put them to bed and start writing.”
When she ventured back into work, she did a variety of roles including tutoring, freelance illustration and being involved in a prison literacy programme but she admits that her “heart was always set on writing”. “Once you’ve started getting that bug, it’s really difficult not to keep going,” she explains of her own experience.
She came away from the course with a completed novel and after submitting it to publishers, it was picked up and distributed by DarkStroke, a predominantly online-based indie publisher. The Cry of the Lake is a psychological thriller told through the viewpoints of three female characters. The book explores some dark themes including murder, mystery and psychological trauma. “I’m not going to be as dark next time,” laughs Charlie. “I often have to think of a really good way of killing somebody. I’m sitting there thinking, ‘How could you get away with it?’ I think my husband does find that quite frightening!”
It was when her youngest child began secondary school that she decided it was time to dedicate herself to becoming a published author. “I thought this is it, I’m either going to do it now or this will be the end of it,” she explains. At the urging of her husband, she enrolled on an online creative writing course. During the six months of the course, she met a “really good editor” who would go on to edit her debut novel. On meeting, Charlie says: “She was the person who persuaded me to keep going because it is quite soul destroying after a while, putting yourself out there, unless you’re really lucky.”
Following the success of the novel, Charlie is reflective on the things that helped her in her journey to becoming a published author. says “I think one of the things is losing any sort of ego you’ve got about your writing. If you want to be published, I think you’ve got to listen to people that know and not hold onto an idea because it’s your little baby and you love it. Listening to criticism is hugely valuable and taking everything on the chin.” Some of the feedback she gets is from her children, particularly when she’s writing in the voice of younger characters: “My two teenage girls would look at it and say ‘Mum, you’ve got the language really wrong’. Sometimes, when I’ve thought that I was doing really good ‘teen speak’, they were able to say ‘Mum, no one ever says that!’”
Some of the settings in the book were inspired by Charlie’s own life. One scene in particular was inspired by a walk she took close to Leicestershire village, Tur Langton: “I was taking my dogs for a walk and stumbled past ‘King Charles’ Well’, and it’s this well where King Charles was supposed to have taken his horse to drink after the Battle of Naseby. So I’ve got a scene that’s set around there.” After the book was published, Charlie also says that some of her readers were compelled to visit the spot themselves: “I think people have been to visit since my book, and they’ve said ‘I didn’t know this existed!”
Her next novel is set in Leicestershire, but in a fictional village as Charlie admits that setting a novel in a real place comes with its own challenges: “The difficulty is if you’re setting it in a real place, people obviously mind if you get those little bits of detail wrong. So, I do have a character that’s a detective that lives in Stoneygate, and I have featured Wigston Police Station but I also wanted an old, rambling convent which we don’t have so I created a fictional village.”
Because of pandemic restrictions, Charlie wasn’t able to have the full book release she had hoped for with The Cry of the Lake, but for her upcoming release, she’s excited to be able to experience all aspects of a book launch and enjoy all that comes with being a published author.
You can find out more information about Charlie Tyler, The Cry of the Lake and upcoming projects here: www.charlietyler.com