Author Interview: Ciarán West

four pictures: a book with flowers in the pages, a stack of books with a ladder on the side and someone reading on top, a man holding a book and a man reading a book. Text says 'author interview'.

Check out Ciarán’s new book What Do I Do Now on Goodreads!

Interview:

Paperback, hardback, audiobook?

I only listen to audiobooks these days. I’m the opposite of those people who tell you that they need to feel a real book in their hands, or they love the smell of paper. I need to feel a book in my ears, and I love the smell of, well, lots of things that aren’t paper.

Pick a genre, any genre!

I’ve been avoiding doing that for nearly ten years, but Kindle Direct Publishing insists I choose at least two every time I write a book, so I usually pick Coming of Age, and something else. I write stories that definitely have plots, but I think the best way to describe what my books are about isn’t the plot – it’s that they’re about relationships you can identify with as a reader. The ones you had with friends growing up, with enemies growing up, with your parents, or with your first love. So I guess Coming of Age is pretty accurate, actually. Damn you, Jeff Bezos.

What is the first book you remember reading?

I’m way too old to remember things, but it was probably a Famous Five one. Back when I was too young to realise that the baddie was always the first stranger the kids met who seemed nice. It was always that guy. I was also too young to realise Enid Blyton was a massive racist, too. #itwasadifferenttime

What book shaped your childhood most?

The enormous hardback Bible that mother would use to spank me.

When did you first start writing?

My mother says I could read and write before I started primary school, but I’m not sure I trust her memory. I don’t think I had time to learn to write back then, to be honest. I was too busy being beaten with a Bible.

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

Reading some terrible books and thinking I could do better than that. And yes, it holds even more true now, because there are even more terrible books in the world.

What book/poem are you most proud of creating?

I used to say The Boys of Summer – my first novel, but now it’s Breaking into Heaven, because I hadn’t published anything in three years before that, and I suspected I’d never write another book. Turns out I was wrong, and I wrote the best book known to man, woman, or herd of goats.

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

I did publish it, but a lot of my books must be for my eyes only, since no one can be arsed reading them.

How many books/collections have you published so far?

I’m writing my eighth full novel right now. Very full, if the page count of the last two are anything to go by. I’m writing very long books now, which is great for Kindle people, because they get a big read for a bargain price. Not so great for people who love the smell of real paper, since they’re quite expensive to print, but on the plus side they can use them to spank their children, so everybody wins.

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

I think I’ve covered this question earlier, accidentally, but to add to it, I think what I’m writing now is comedy romance. Or romantic comedy. Both are equally possible.

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

I write a lot of real world stuff set in eras that I lived through, so a lot of it is memory rather than research. That said, my last three books were from the POV of teenage girls, and I have to say, these heels are killing me.

To plan, or not to plan your plot?

I write a classic three-act story structure with a brief synopsis of what happens in every chapter, so it’s all definitely plotted out. Halfway through writing it though I’ll get much better ideas and change the whole thing, so who’s to say, really?

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

Self-Publishing, and yes. I know my own writing, I know what I’m trying to do. I’ve invented a new method for writing and editing and a new style as well, so they thought of some editorial sending me arbitrary notes about a semi-colon isn’t my idea of a great time.

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

My own, I think. In 1995 my back didn’t hurt so much, and everything was less expensive.

Do you currently have a WIP?

Yep. It’s called Head over Feet and it’s the third book in a new series. I wrote a three book series set in this same universe before, but with those three you could read them in any order, as they didn’t spoil each other. With the new series you’re going to have to read them 1, 2, 3, or you’ll be very, very confused. And maybe a little angry.

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

At the moment it’s the new MC, Caoimhe. She’s very likable and funny, so it’s easy to write her. She’s a good soul, and a complete mess, and she’s kind of fumbling her way through life with the help of some great friends, and I enjoy writing those characters too. Characters are the most important part of my books. Characters and emotional moments – doesn’t matter what the emotion is, I just like to make people feel things.

What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?

That guy from Transformers who turns into a lorry. No, wait. That’s Optimus Prime. Still though.

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

I do, it’s from the new series, but I can’t say who they are, because SPOILERS.

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

I make playlists on Spotify with all the songs I mention in each book, and then I listen to them while writing, to get myself in the mood/atmosphere. Otherwise I listen to Billie Eilish, because she’s amazing.

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

 No, I don’t think they’re that sort of book, but I’m very big on description, so I reckon readers can picture everyone in their heads pretty accurately.

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

Write the sort of book you’d want to read, and then make it good enough that everyone else wants to read it.

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

I think I did some Flash Fiction for a competition in Maxim magazine in 2012. I’m still waiting to hear if I won.

Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?

Oh, I don’t know. Irvine Welsh, Maeve Binchy, Marian Keyes, Dean Koontz, Alice Sebold, Stephen King, Chuck Fightclubguy.

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

Um, the new book is book 2 in the series, so I think Breaking into Heaven is the one people will be more interested in. If you like that one, read What Do I Do Now?, and with any luck, once you’ve got through those combined 1,380 pages, I’ll have finished Head over Feet. Thank you!!!

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