Interview with Vincent Tuckwood, author of "Family Rules"


About Vincent Tuckwood

Vincent Tuckwood NewVincent Tuckwood is a story-teller working in fiction, song and verse. At any given point in time, he’s proud to be a father, husband, son, brother, cousin and friend to the people who mean the world to him.
He is the author of the novelsEscalationFamily RulesKaraoke Criminals and Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies? as well as the 2010 poetry collection, Garbled Glittering Glamours. His screenplays are Team Building and the screen adaptation of Family Rules, Inventing Kenny.
Vince regularly connects with his audience at VinceT.net and at his story-teller page on Facebook, often writing poetry in response to their prompts, and encourages everyone to get in touch there.
You can find out more about him and his work at http://vincet.net.
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Vince.  Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
A: It’s very nice to be here. I’ve been telling stories all my life and writing fiction since I knew how to write words. I wrote my first novel when I was twenty or so but only moved to publication when I wrote my fourth novel, Do Sparrows Eat Butterflies? I’ve now published four novels, a couple of screenplays and a collection of poetry.
Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it?
A: In a nutshell, Family Rules is the fictional memoir of Kenny Walsh, a former child star with a very distorted sense of identity. When we meet him, he’s on the streets of New York, lurching from addiction to addiction, all as a way of avoiding reality. Most recently, he’s taken to stealing cars for the rush. After an argument with his junkie soul mate, Ivvy, he goes to steal another car, only to find a two-year-old child in the back seat. In his panic, and need to run from reality, he decides to play Dad to this little child. He becomes her father for a lost weekend in the city.
Why did I write it? Well, we were living in the city and one night, all the garbage was out for collection, and I just suddenly thought: I wonder what would happen if there was a baby hidden in amongst the garbage sacks? From there, as always, ideas began to collide. It became: what would happen if the absolutely the wrong guy found a baby in amongst some garbage sacks?
So, Family Rules became a redemption story. But it was a few months later that I saw a documentary on child stars, and how many of them end up living tragic lives, with a constant thread of addiction, and I had the first inkling of who Kenny would be.
The final piece of the puzzle was my making my way through becoming a father. Every parent is besieged by messages of: everything could go wrong! So, in some ways, Family Rules was me playing in that space, getting fatherhood lined up in my own soul, revisiting my own upbringing, which was very happy, to make sure I carried that forward to my own kids.
Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it?
A: Finding time and focus. When I was writing the first draft of Family Rules, I was still in the corporate machine and splitting time between home and New York City. Life was kind of chaotic and I had to take an episodic approach to both the structure and the writing of the story.
This left me with a LOT of clean-up to do in the redraft – a second marathon to run! My friend, Mark Henning, of Combine The Victorious, suggested I post chapters online as I rewrote them and that proved to be the key to keeping me going. I got about 10,000 page visits over the course of posting the novel online.
Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it?  Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it?
A: Yes, there are press kits and media for all my books at http://vincet.net/press
Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV?  What are your upcoming plans for doing so?
A: Yes, I’ve been on local college radio (WCNIradio.org) with the wonderful Dot Nielson who is just the most powerful advocate for my writing and music. I’ve also spent some time with local writers’ circles, encouraging people to keep writing. I love talking with people, either one-to-one or as groups and planning to do much more in the future.
In the meantime, I’ve just added video-blogging at http://VinceT.net in response to questions from my readers.
Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/she is?  If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one?
A: I don’t. I’m very fortunate to be in the middle of transformative times for publishing and I’m pleased to operate without an agent or publisher – I get complete creative control from idea to product and luckily have the skill-set to produce my books to high quality in both eBook and hard copy. The same is true in music. I can produce professional-standard recordings in my home studio and release them direct to my audience, so why would I need a recording contract that confines my creativity?
Where it gets harder is in the marketing and publicity, but I’m now discovering that the services are out there if you’re willing to do the legwork yourself.
With all that said, my own experience is my own experience. My stories almost demand a slow-build of awareness rather than mass marketing, that’s in their nature, and I’m not looking for a best-seller. I know there are writers who need, and value, a trusted partner to help them focus and deliver to their audience.
So I don’t have a definite opinion for others to follow, all I know is that I just don’t feel the need for an agent or publisher, and am happy building my audience one reader at a time.
Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it?
A: No. My stories are pretty absorbing, and hook people pretty deeply, so benefit more from word-of-mouth connection than from a large-scale blitz. I’ve turned down offers of publicity in mass-market media such as Readers Digest and Publishers Weekly – though, to be honest, I’ve yet to see whether that works for or against me!
Q: Do you plan subsequent books?
A: Ha! I published Family Rules at the start of 2011 and was planning on spending the year building its audience. Only it didn’t quite happen like that. I was surprised in early April by an idea for a new novel and, four months later, Escalation was finished. So I actually published two novels in 2011!
Do I plan another? Of course. In fact, the next couple of ideas are already gestating. One will likely be an original screenplay rather than a book. But I’m pretty sure 2012 will see at least one novel - and maybe more, if 2011 is anything to go by.
Q: Thank you for your interview, Vince.  Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?
A: You’re welcome! I’m always at http://VinceT.net and encourage people to sign up for the newsletter there. For the ‘Facebookians’ among us, I have a story-teller page: https://www.facebook.com/VincentTuckwoodStoryTeller where I keep folk up to date, and also ask for prompts for poetry.
All my books are for sale in both eBook and hard copy at http://VinceT.net/shop/
Thanks for giving me the chance to share Family Rules with you, it’s been fun.

About Family Rules

Family Rules NewNew York. In this city that never sleeps, anyone could make a brand new start of it. Or so the song goes.
For some people, starting again is no option.
Kenny is adrift in the city, tormented by the scars and memories of his unique upbringing as a child star in the UK, chasing any addiction that can fill the void he carries at his core.
Increasingly unable to paper over the cracks, to numb himself with street corner narcotics, or build an abiding relationship with his junkie soul-mate Ivvy, he turns to stealing cars to provide momentary escape from his increasingly desolate life.
Estranged from his parents, Kenny has no hope or vision of a better future.
Until one night he steals a car from a gas station in New Jersey and is offered an unexpected, final opportunity for redemption; a radically different role to play.
Family Rules is an intense personal account of an invented life, where all the rules of family life are inverted, and of the damage done when the boundary between reality and television is truly no boundary at all.
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