Author Interview: Alan Denham

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  • Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

Well, since I am self-published and with very little hold on the market so far, it’s all electronic.  Until I feel confident enough of my status in the writing world, I don’t much want to mess about with ISBNs and any complexities there might be to ‘print on demand’ or Audiobooks.

  • Pick a genre, any genre!

A few years ago I would have put ‘SF’ and very little else.  But the world moves on, Space Opera has less appeal than it used to, and other ’hard’ SF has too much ‘Military’ in it nowadays, so I read quite a lot that falls into the general ‘Fantasy’ genre.  I also read quite a lot of crime, but I tend to avoid anything that carries the label ‘Gritty’, same as I avoid fantasy ‘Grimdark’.  Nothing badly wrong with them, I have read some from both categories – but generally I read for escapism and relaxation. 

For example: One particular crime book I read a couple of years ago began with the rape and murder of a child, with the body left on the altar table in a (named, not too far from my home!) church.  After that, it got a bit dark.  That’s not my scene.  I am more likely to go for light urban fantasy, perhaps YA.  But not vampires.  And I can tolerate a bit of Romance, so long as it doesn’t spoil or overwhelm the worldbuilding.

  • What is the first book you remember reading?

Oh, come on!  That’s <cough, cough> decades ago!  Within the preferred SF genre, it was probably Capt. W. E. Johns – same bloke that wrote Biggles, back in the 1950s, also wrote some children’s stories that would now be counted as SF.  Then I moved on to Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, et. al.  Remember those big yellow Gollancz anthologies from the early 1960s?  Them!

  • What book shaped your childhood most?

Now there’s a question!  I didn’t discover Tolkien until well out of my ‘childhood’.  Perhaps a children’s version of the Legends of King Arthur?

  • When did you first start writing?

OK, now we get to the nitty-gritty.  Round about 1981-ish a friend found he had some time on his hands so he wrote a book.  It wasn’t too bad – needed some work, but a very respectable F/SF first effort.  So I thought ‘If he can do it, anyone can do it’ – so I tried.  The result was only about 10K words, and … unimpressive, even to me.  I sent it to him with a covering note, acknowledging that in one particular sphere of human activity, he had me well and truly beaten.

He sent it back three or four weeks later.  It had almost doubled in length, acquired some new characters – and become very promising indeed!

We co-operated for the next 25+ years, writing stuff that we thought might get published one day …  And some of it eventually did, but it was a long hard road, and it only happened because self-publishing became available through Kindle, about 2010.  Sadly, we then had a notable falling out, and I was left trying to write on my own.  There’s a lot more background here (change of career, for a start!) but eventually I self-published a couple of novellas earlier this year, and have outlines on the computer for quite a bit more, if I ever get round to it – though writing is only a second hobby, I am principally a woodcarver.  It’s just that in winter, my workshop gets ****** cold!  So I stay indoors.

  • What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?

See question 5.  I tried it mostly as a challenge to an old friend.  Now … because I think I can.

  • What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

I’m not answering that one unless/until it gets published.

  • Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?

See Q5 – the long, complicated answer.

  • How many books/collections have you published so far?

Again, see Q5.  There are three in the Nuome series written with a friend (and one more that has his name on it, not mine, at my insistence), and two novellas on my own, this year – one YA urban fantasy, the other Crime.

  • What genres do you write in (or hope to)?

Fantasy, generally Urban fantasy at the YA end of the spectrum.

  • Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?

If it is going to have any ‘real world’ connection – dates or locality – then I do some research.  But it starts in my head, and the research is just to avoid glaring mistakes.

  • To plan, or not to plan your plot?

Oh, Gawd!  Plan in head.  Start writing.  Forget plan in head, recognise major problems, plan on paper.  Write a bit more.  Rewrite plan. Write a bit more. Repeat until insanity threatens.  Leave it three months.  Go back to ‘recognise major problems’.  Repeat loop.

  • What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?

Self-pubbed on Kindle.  Chosen for simplicity; I want to be creative, I don’t want to spend time marketing.  If/when sales and popularity justify it, I shall go paperback, still self-pubbed.  If I get beyond that (dream on!) then some publisher can pick up my work and handle the admin.  Audiobook?  I’m a traditionalist, I don’t really call that reading – but it’s becoming popular, so I suppose I shall have to look at it at some point.

  • If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)

Tempting . . .  They all have their dark sides, but if they didn’t, they wouldn’t be interesting.  Aaronovitch’s ‘Rivers of London’ have a lot to be said in their favour.  So has Mark Hayden’s ‘King’s Watch’ series.  And I am rather fond of Charles de Lint.  And Patrick LeClerc.  And Michael Scott Rohan’s ‘Spiral’ series.  So many!

  • Do you currently have a WIP?

Yes – but don’t hold your breath, I write VERY slowly.  It’s urban fantasy, using some Sami mythology, but set in County Durham about a decade ago.

  • Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.

I have to offer two:  While working with that old friend, we came up with Cormell, in Shades of Smoke.  He’s an Illusionist, with a very strong sense of justice – and some powers just enough to help achieve it.  On my own, there’s Louise, from A Different Sight.  Her Special Abilities don’t make life easy!

  • What do you consider your *current* magnum opus? 

Current WIP, see above, Q15.

  • Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!

Romance is not my favourite genre – but a bit of it helps keep a story rolling along.  Louise (A Different Sight) has an old schoolfriend who is a criminal (and a very decent bloke), and a boyfriend who is a detective sergeant (and a bit of a *******).  Not a situation that leads to a smooth romantic story.

  • Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.

Writing isn’t that easy.  Music in the early outlining stages (Classical, or late 60s, early 70s rock & pop), to help the fantasies, but later, I need to concentrate.

  • Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)

Only the covers, and I did not enjoy doing those.  Digital art is hard work!  Something else to be put off until sales and/or reviews prove its worth the effort.

  • If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?

Get a good collection of ‘Beta Readers’ – and listen to them.  Don’t necessarily accept all their advice, but think about all of it.

  • Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!

A couple.  I got some good feedback from one, but apart from a small ‘feelgood’ they generally didn’t help.  Another friend often takes prizes for very short fiction at his local Festival – but that style is not useful to me at present.

  • Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

Refer back to anyone I have already mentioned – that gives you eight names.  Add Larry Niven for hardcore SF, and …. No, I have to stop somewhere.

  • Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!

I used to run a website supporting the PlanetNuome books, but those days are gone.  I have a page on Goodreads, but it hasn’t been updated recently – Goodreads went a long way downhill when Amazon bought it, and it hasn’t yet re-established itself.  Mostly (at present), I am on Twitter, as @nuomer1.  I’m on facebook as well.

5 thoughts on “Author Interview: Alan Denham

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