An interview with Sophie E Tallis

Ben Nevis

All images Copyrighted to Sophie E Tallis


Today on my blog, I’m interviewing the wonderful Sophie E Tallis, gifted artist and writer.
Welcome Sophie, and thanks for agreeing to share your writing and artwork with us. I’ve a few questions I’d like to ask, so my readers and I can gain an insight into your inspirations, and the choices that led you down your current career path.

Thank you so much for inviting me.

Q. Firstly, how long have you wanted to make use of your artwork commercially? For instance, was it something you always had in mind, or did events push you in that direction?

A. Lol, initially I went to Art College so I did have delusions of being able to make a living from being an artist. The reality is, that in a population like ours, less than 100 traditional artists can actually make a living from it full-time, most have to diversify and hold down other jobs or go into the digital art field. I also quickly found that I just didn’t have the PR skills (ahem…spouting BS) to get me ahead, and that my art wasn’t ‘fashionable’ next to people I consider talentless like, Tracy Emin! So, after a few successful exhibitions, I just continued to draw and paint for myself, doing the odd commission along the way. Then last year, after my illness, turning 40 and most recently the death of a good friend, I realised that life is just too damn short NOT to be doing what I love. The planets kind of aligned, one of those epiphany moments. I lost my full-time job of the last 12years due to my illness, but it was actually a blessing as it gave me the push I needed to reassess my life and change my career. So here I am, working part-time not full-time, and writing and illustrating, and I’ve never been happier!

Chapter Twenty-One - Into The Light (4)
Q. Where do you get your inspirations from: travel, other artists, or does inspiration spring on you out of the blue?

A. I DO get very emotionally and spiritually moved by nature and natural landscapes, in quite a profound manner, so they definitely spark off ideas, plots and stories. Travelling has been a huge source of inspiration for me, especially my yearly trips to my beloved wild Dartmoor and New Zealand where I spent the best 4 months of my life just travelling around and having adventures. But I do also tend to get inspirations completely out of the blue, lol, usually when I’m in the bath or on the loo, so I always have plenty of notepads at the ready…ahem…after I’ve washed my hands I hasten to add!

Q. What’s your preferred style: oils, watercolours, pencil sketches, and if you have a favourite, why?

Finished Chapter 1 S&W
A. I work in all mediums and don’t really have a favourite, I’m a bit of a magpie that way. For large canvases up to 12ft, I always use oils – it’s a bit of a lazy medium really as it’s so easy to manipulate and can stay wet for days and even weeks, so you can keep changing bits. I tend to paint in very thin layers using my own concoction of liquin, linseed oil and white spirit in different ratios to give matt and glossy surfaces and allow previous drier layers of colour and texture to come through. For illustrations, I mostly work in graphite pencils, pen & ink and use watercolour washes for colour. I do love experimenting though, and started doing copper embossing and silk paintings a couple of years ago, which is great fun. The only thing I can’t do any more, is acid etching as I don’t have the equipment for it!

Q. Have you always known you wanted to be a writer/artist, and when did you realise it?

A. In reality, I’ve always wanted to write and paint and make a living doing the things I love. Since I was a child, I used to dream of being an author and illustrator, writing epic, exciting adventures and illustrating them.

Q. Who’s your favourite artist/s, and why?

Finished Chapter 6 S&W
A. I love so many artists but my all-time favourite is Michelangelo Merisi better known as Caravaggio. His use of naturalistic painting and light and dark was revolutionary. No other painter before him had brought such shocking realism into art. He also created the dramatic effect of chiaroscuro, strong contrasts between light and dark to create the illusion of volume. I also love Artemisia Gentileschi, who followed in the generation after Caravaggio and was one of the only famous female painters, a true pioneer.

Q. Who’s your favourite author/s, and again, why?

A. Gosh, where do I start? JRR Tolkien is an obvious, as his incredibly rich fantasy worlds first inspired my love of fantasy as a genre like no other writer I had read before, and I love ancient mythology which inspired many of his tales. I adore the nihilism and dystopian visions of Aldous Huxley, Philip K. Dick and HG Wells, the dark prose of Joseph Conrad and the disturbing chaos of HP Lovecraft, the amazing writing of Margaret Atwood and the sheer brilliance of Neil Gaiman, who is just a genius! But, I must also mention crime writer, Lynda La Plante, who personally wrote to me as a kid and really inspired me to want to pursue my dream of being a writer.

The Lost Smile 1
Q. Do you work on either of your crafts in silence, or do you listen to music? If the latter, what are your favourites? For example, do you like classical, jazz, pop, and so on.

A. I have very eclectic tastes in…well…everything! For me it totally depends on what I’m working on and in what mood I’m in. For illustration work, I like calming classical music and opera to help me focus and block out the world. For big oil paintings, I like to listen to something more energetic, the angst music of Radiohead, Muse and Soundgarden. For writing though, I often write in silence or occasionally have some grand sweeping film track playing that puts me in the mood.

Q. I believe you will soon be re publishing your first novel, White Mountain from The Darkling Chronicles, how soon can we expect to see it on sale, and where can it be purchased?

A. I have its release set for this summer, either July or August, exact date to be announced shortly. It has been completely re-edited, will have a better layout and formatting, is back in its original UK English and will have a lovely new cover and an additional illustration, lol, as well as being in a font size that people can actually read! It will be available on Amazon and through most good bookshops.

Q. What are your hopes for the future, and where do you see yourself in say, ten years time?

A.Hopefully successful and happy, isn’t that what we all hope for?  I’d like to have a few milestones under my belt by then, my completed Darkling Trilogy, at least one or two of my Ravenwing paranormal thrillers finished, which I’m really excited about, and a smattering of my own illustrated picture books published, that would be ideal! In fact, I’m currently working on my first picture book, The Lost Smile, for 5-7yr olds. The text is already finished and I’m happily working on the watercolour illustrations, then I’ll be punting it around to children’s publishers, fingers and toes crossed!

Q. Finally, what one piece of advice would you give anyone with similar aspirations to yours?

A. That’s easy…DO YOUR RESEARCH! That is so so crucial, I simply cannot overstate it. By research, I mean research for everything. Thorough research for your book can only help imbue your writing with greater depth, layers of meaning and most importantly, a sense of realism. It doesn’t matter how fantastical your created world may be, if you can anchor it in something real, something the reader can connect to, you will make it more believable and therefore more enjoyable. If your world is entirely your own, i.e. set on your own invented planet, you can still look to the flora and fauna of nature here to inform your landscapes and give that sense of believability.
Also, and I sadly speak from experience here…if you plan to go with a publisher rather than self-publish, DO YOUR RESEARCH! You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive, or a house without checking it out thoroughly, so why give your cherished work, and what perhaps represents years of hard work to a publisher you know nothing about? Do they have the resources to actually do your work justice or will they cut corners and produce something as cheaply as possible? Do they have a proven record of sales and a good reputation? Check out Editors and Preditors and Absolute Write, if your prospective publisher is on either site…RUN! Have any authors left them, if so, why? Most importantly, research the other books they produce. Do you like the covers? What is the quality, the formatting, the editing like? And yes, money is important too, are they offering advances? If not, then they should be offering competitive rates, most of which are about 10%. Never take less than 7%!
So, my one piece of advice is – ALWAYS DO YOUR RESEARCH!
If you follow that simple rule, you’ll ensure a happy author and a great quality book. Good luck.  xxx

Well thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Sophie, and on behalf of my readers and myself, may I wish you every success in your endeavours.

Thank you SO much for this opportunity, Katrina, I am truly honoured and humbled to be invited here on your wonderful website! Many, many thanks and all the very best for your wonderful Silver Flute trilogy and all the fantastical stories you have, which are yet to come!

SET photo

Here are a few of my links…er…actually there are loads, sorry!:
For my illustrations:

For my writing:

For me:



13 Responses to “An interview with Sophie E Tallis”

  1. Wow, thank you SO much Katrina, I’m genuinely honoured and very humbled to be here on your amazing website! HUGE hugs!!! 😀 xx


  2. Reblogged this on Sophie E Tallis and commented:
    I was VERY honoured to be asked by multi-talented fantasy writer and the maestro of interviews herself, Katrina Jack, to be featured on her wonderful blog/website. Katrina always has brilliant posts on all aspects of writing and publishing and I highly recommend visiting her website on a regular basis. Please check it out folks! 😀 xxx


  3. Excellent interview. Sophie, I’m so happy to see you following your dreams. You’re too talented to keep your art and writing locked away. It’s time to share it with the world, and hopefully make a living at the same time. Your advice to do your research is spot on. It’s natural to want to rush right when you’re excited about a new project, but it never hurts to be cautious. Kate, thank you so much for featuring Sophie. I love your blog!


  4. Sophie is most gifted. I enjoyed learning more about her.


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