Writing and publishing books demands that authors come up with the usual about me section, but as I’ve penned various biographical bits over the years, I won’t regurgitate them again. Instead, here’s a few notes from an author interview I did recently…
I’ve been writing stories for years, but it took me a long time to be able to get down on paper the stuff that was going on in my head. In the early days, what I ended up with was absolute rubbish and it wasn’t until I went to University to study Drama that I began to understand how stories are made.
At that point, I was mainly writing stage plays. The first ones weren’t great, but eventually my writing improved and my first full-length play made it onto an actual stage in 2009 (with my theatre company WACtheatre). In 1998, I started to write novels, or rather, one novel, and experimented with short stories too – my first was published in 2000 by Scribble Magazine. Several others have appeared in print and online literary mags, including SN Review, The Grind, A3 Review and Inkapture.
I’m currently working on the second of my mystery thrillers for adults, as well as another children’s novel.
What inspires you to write?
I’d have to say it was children’s books like ‘The Hardy Boys’ that made me want to write stories. As a kid, I wanted to have that sort of adventure myself, so my first novel ‘The Devil’s Porridge Gang’ was loosely based in my home town and was the sort of adventure I’d dreamed of when I was growing up in the late Sixties.
What is your writing process?
I’ve written several articles about the process of writing (some of which ended up in ‘Writing: Ideas and Inspirations’), and the thing I always come back to is that writing is a journey of discovery. If I planned what I was going to write, there would be no surprises, no thrill of finding the treasure, or discovering who the murderer is, and therefore no reason to continue to the end of the story. So I don’t plan. I simply start with a very basic idea (usually the title) and I write in order to discover what happens.
Do you listen to, or talk to your characters?
I allow my characters to do whatever they need to do. Sometimes I can hear their voices quite clearly, other times it’s more difficult to discover who they are and what motivates them. Reading aloud is a great way to hear if I’ve got the ‘voice’ right.
What advice would you give other writers?
It’s hard sometimes to keep writing when there isn’t much in the way of success. All writers want to be read, they want feedback, interaction and (naturally) praise. The only way to reach your goal is to keep writing and striving to improve your work, but mainly I think it’s about writing what you want to write, not what you think you should write.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
The publishing world is changing all the time and the old notion that the only way to get into print is to get an agent and/or publisher is pretty much out the window. I think indie authors have the right idea – we publish ourselves, are captains of our own literary ships and can stay in control of the whole procedure. I began putting out my books as eBooks to begin with and now have printed versions via Createspace. It can be scary to take control like this, but it’s also incredibly liberating and allows the writer to make their own decisions about everything.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think we’ll move more and more towards electronic forms, but real, physical books will always be popular because of that physical nature, so I don’t think they’ll disappear completely.
What inspired you to set your Maps of Time series in the 1600s?
I’ve always been interested in 17th century London and how people lived in those times. I wanted to write a story that reflected something of the reality of everyday life, but I also wanted to have a magical or fantastical element to the plot. As with all my children’s books, the story is essentially the sort of adventure I’d have liked to have had as a child, though without the threat of 17th century diseases, murders and plague!
How did you come up with your characters in Book 1?
The hero of the novel – Tom – popped into my head almost fully formed, though unlike the rest of my novels, I did spend quite a bit of time thinking about the characters and the story before I started writing. I also wanted to have villains who sounded like villains, hence the characters of Savidge and Felch. The other characters came along when I needed them, which was handy.
Do you have problems with writer’s block?
No, I don’t really believe such a thing exists. It’s very easy to come up with reasons to not write, the trick is to ignore them and just keep going.
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