I’m delighted today – as the second anniversary of the devastating impact of Typhoon Haiyan on the Philippines approaches – to welcome Claire Morley, author of Tindog Tacloban, to Being Anne for the first stop on her mini blog tour. Over to you Claire…
Huge thanks to Being Anne for so kindly giving me the opportunity at such short notice, to start my mini virtual book tour on her blog.
Returning home from a month volunteering in the Philippines, helping to rebuild schools and provide a hot meal for the school kids, I was determined I was going to write a book – finally (I had been vowing for years I would).
At first I had in mind a non-fiction book, after all I had taken thousands of photographs of the scenes I had witnessed, the survivors I had spoken to and the schools we worked on. However I think there are only so many pictures of sad looking coconut trees – they became a bit of an obsession – people would be interested in looking at and it was the prompting of my partner which eventually persuaded me my story would be better in a fictional novel.
I didn’t really start off with a solid idea of how the book would work. All I knew was that I wanted to bring home to my readers what it would be like caught up in a natural disaster and to show how it doesn’t stop once the news has moved on to something new, but how it continues to affect the families who survived it.
I had interviewed 20 or so survivors while I was there, so I had the transcripts of their experiences, but I needed to know more – technically and visually. Before I even put fingers to keyboard, I researched how typhoons worked – if I was going to write about how people lived through one, I needed to understand what they are. Of course none of this ever reached the pages of Tindog Tacloban, but it made me feel I could write about it more convincingly.
I had attended a workshop on human trafficking while I had been volunteering and had been horrified to learn not only are natural disasters a lucrative recruiting ground for predators, but also a new form of the child sex trade had become prolific in the Philippines. As this was another message I wanted to highlight through my book, again, I needed to know more. I approached the international organisation, Terre des Hommes who has been raising awareness of Webcam Child Sex Tourism, particularly through their innovative ‘Sweetie’ programme. They kindly supplied me with reports on their findings and the work they have been doing in this area.
Finally I felt I had enough background knowledge and writing began. I set myself a daily word count, which sometimes came easily and other times felt I was trying to extract blood from a stone. I downloaded books on plot and structure, characterisation, points of view (POV you soon learn), but still wasn’t satisfied I was writing a novel as best I could. Living in North Cyprus my best option was to sign up to an online writing course, enter www.writingclasses.co.uk and my wonderful tutor there Anne Hamilton.
Finally, a year after the decision to write my first draft was complete – then started the rewrites, the editing and the proofreading! There’s a lot of commitment required for writing a book!
Typhoon Haiyan, known locally as Yolanda, decimated parts of the Philippines on 8 November, 2013. Two years later, the people of Tacloban continue to rebuild their lives, many of them still living in tented cities with no electricity and no running water. All profits from the sales of Tindog Tacloban go to help the organisations Claire worked with while she volunteered in the Philippines. Her mini blog tour is in memory of those who lost their lives and to remember those still rebuilding theirs.
You can follow Claire on Twitter or via her Facebook author page. Claire’s book, Tindog Tacloban, is available for Kindle via Amazon UK.
You can watch the television interview with Claire about how TIndog Tacloban came about here: