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Penny Tangey, author of As Fast As I Can, talks writing.
Posted 08.05.2020

UQP Writer's Room: Penny Tangey

Why did you start writing?

Everyone else was doing it. Social pressure in prep is intense.

How did you decide which form or genre was right for you?

For my first book I had an idea to write about a nerdy teenager who liked maths but I thought it was a book for adults. I was told it wasn’t, and I’ve written for young people since then.

Where was your inspiration for your latest work?

I look back with great fondness on my ambitions to become an Olympian. My unjustified sporting confidence forms a big part of As Fast as I Can. The idea for the medical aspects of the book came from a family illness.

How do you get started with a new project?

I just start writing, then realise I don’t know what I’m talking about, then read some things, then write again. Repeat.

Do you have a routine? What tools do you use?

I have periods of having a routine, for example I might write every Tuesday afternoon for a couple of months. This can’t be maintained in the medium to long-term because my work and study are sporadic and my children fairly constant. I write when I can and accept this won’t be always.

For tools I use Word mainly. For very secret work I use paper and lemon juice (you will need fire to read it).

How do you handle writer’s block?


How important is research in the writing you do?

It’s very important. I’m often writing about topics I’m not expert in, for example hereditary heart conditions. I also have a lot of ideas for plot and characters when I’m reading for research.

How much planning is required when it comes to structuring one of your books?

Almost none. Sometimes I will have an idea about what happens next and write it down. Then I feel very organized. I acknowledge there is probably a better way.

What’s the editing process like?


How did you come to be published?

I was lucky to get an agent, Sophie Hamley who did a great job selling my book. I thought the whole thing took ages. I now know I was actually very lucky and it was only about 18 months from when I first started looking for a publisher to signing a contract.

Social media – like it or loathe it?

Laughing face.

How do you handle the reviews?

I never read them. Unless they appear when I Google search my name five times a day.

What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?

I would probably be cultivating another way to show-off.

Fast five

Plotter or pantser? Pantser

Tea or coffee? I’ll just have a water (but I’m really hoping you’ll say it’s no trouble and ask again).

When I’m not writing I’m… In a variety of situations and moods.

My favourite place to read is… In a nook.

Ebook or physical book? Ebook for hols. Physical book for home.