1. Paperback, hardback, audiobook?
I love audiobooks when out walking or doing the ironing (yes, I do the ironing lol). I very rarely read paperbacks or hardback now. However, I use Kindle a lot, and yes I know that is heresy. However, as authors if we do not embrace change then readers will look elsewhere.
2. Pick a genre, any genre!
Easy – fantasy.
3. What is the first book you remember reading?
The first book I remember reading as a choice was Sven Hassel’s Monte Cassino. To be fair I was about 12-13 years old and the thrill of reading an adult’s book was huge. I read all his books and to be honest it got me into books longer than 200 pages. Which then led me onto other fantastic books.
4. What book shaped your childhood most?
The Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton. I was captivated by it.
5. When did you first start writing?
It’s been long and winding path. As a dyslexic, I was constantly told that I was thick and stupid, and that I should leave anything to do with being creative with the written word well alone. (Which is quite funny as I later learned that Agatha Christie, Jules Verne and F. Scott Fitzgerald were all dyslexic). Hence, although I read a lot in my youth, I never did any writing nor was encouraged to. Throughout my twenties and thirties, I continued to read a lot, mainly fantasy or science fiction. It was not until I was in my early forties that I decided to sit down and write.
6. What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?
I had a story running around my head and it had to get out. Also, I wanted to write fantasy stories for adults. It seemed that fantasy had been taken over by books aimed at teenagers and were becoming overly political. What happened to a simple good story? I wanted to write books that reflected the stories I loved. Stories by Fritz Leiber like Swords and Deviltry, and his characters Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser. Or Robert E Howards’ Conan the Barbarian.
7. What book/poem are you most proud of creating?
Oh, that is a hard question. It is one of two (yes, I know I am cheating) it’s either:
- The Rain Dancer: My life the Dyslexic because it’s such a personal book.
- Tea. I am extremely proud of this short story. I think it showcases what my writing is about.
Is that a tapping of a cane I can hear? If so, I had better mention my book, Tales of Solomon Pace, the antihero of my trilogy. He is not a creature to cross!
8. Did you publish your first book or is it for your eyes only?
I self-published Echoes of a Storm over 10 years ago and don’t get me wrong, I am very proud of that book and it holds a very special place in my heart. However, I made a lot of mistakes, which most likely cost me over the years. Since Echoes I got myself a really good proof-reader, my writing style has improved a 100-fold, and the pacing of my stories is a lot better.
9. How many books/collections have you published so far?
So far, I have published: The Storm Series (Fantasy), Echoes of a Storm, Scions of a Storm, A Dark and Hungry Storm, Stories for a Storm Filled Night (a book of short stories), Tales of Solomon Pace (a book of short stories), Tales of Salvation and Damnation (a book of short stories), The Mancer Series (Fantasy), A Kingdom Falls, The Midnight Man, I Am Mancer (WIP), The Y Front Series (Sci Fi), The Y Front Chronicles, The Y Front Stand off and Dyslexic, The Rain Dancer: My life the Dyslexic (semi-autobiographical).
10. What genres do you write in (or hope to)?
I write in the sci-fi and fantasy genres.
11. Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?
I don’t do a lot of research as such. However, I served 12 years in the Royal Air Force, so I have all that experience to draw upon when writing military characters. I’ve been that guard, standing in a guard box at 02:00hrs with the raining pouring down on a cold November’s night.
I have been dyslexic all my life and drew upon my experiences of that for The Rain Dancer.
12. To plan, or not to plan your plot?
When I write, it’s like I am a director making a film and the characters are my actors. I have a general idea of what I want to happen, but there is always a great deal of improvisation by the characters. Which has led to a few intriguing and thought-provoking outcomes.
13. What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?
I self-publish and I am going to stick to that route. My stories are not mainstream enough for publishers, although I would love to do through the learning experience of at least once having a story published.
Saying that, my short story, “The Deadly Tap of a Cane“ (Solomon Pace again) was chosen by WorldReader for use by them (8 years ago). This charitable organisation aims to help spread ebooks and literacy in developing countries. They’re a really great organisation and are backed by all the big publishing houses.
14. If you could live inside another author’s universe, which one would you pick? (Ex: Middle Earth, Narnia, etc.)
That is an excellent question. I would choose Harry Harrison’s world of The Stainless Steel Rat. I loved those books and it’s a bit different.
15. Do you currently have a WIP?
The last book in the Mancer trilogy, I Am Mancer. The sad news is I have been trying to finish this book for over four years.
16. Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.
I think I may have mentioned him before. Solomon Pace is the character who I just love the write. He is wonderfully wicked, broken, and very occasionally a hero. I did not want him to be black and white, I wanted there to be reason which the reader could connect with for why he did what he does. I am very proud of the well rounded character I created.
17. What do you consider your *current* magnum opus?
That must be The Rain Dancer: My Life the Dyslexic. I have spoken to library group about it. It has been read by senior management within the company I work for, so that they could better understand what it is like to be dyslexic. It is an important book in my life.
18. Do you have a favourite romance in your books? Or, if yours features no romance, tell us about your favourite character friendship!
I am going to choose the male friendship between Nathanial West and Twever the Magnificent in the Storm Series. I choose these two because I find that most male friendships in books are rubbish. Especially the older men. These are two very dangerous men, who have lived violent and hard lives. They cannot form friendships with normal people, as normal people would be unable to understand what they had gone through. So, they have formed a friendship out of need, to talk to someone who understands them.
19. Do you listen to music as you write? Recommend a favourite writing song.
Oh yes. I love using music when I write and for each book, I produced a soundtrack. Some examples of the music I use are: For my main character Nathaniel West: ‘Got you (Where I want you)’ by The Flys (from the Album Rock Band classics); ‘The Seer’ by Big Country; ‘Behind Blue Eyes’ by The Who. For one of my characters called Jane: ‘Weak’ by Skunk Anansie. The last stand of the old guard: ‘Deadlock’ by Tristania (from the album World of Glass). For my character Mancer: ‘Open Book’ by Gnarls Barkley (from the album The Odd Couple).
20. Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)
There is a wonder lady called Saskia Schnell that does my covers for my books. You can see them here on Amazon. Or you see her other work at SASKIA SCHNELL / ILLUSTRATION & GRAPHIC DESIGNSASKIA SCHNELL.
21. If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Remember these simple thoughts:
- 20% of people will love what you do. 20% will hate it, and the rest will be indifferent.
- Even famous writers get 1-star reviews.
- Write the story you want to tell.
- Get the best proof-reader you can afford.
- Get Beta readers.
- The odds of making a million is very small.
- Enjoy the experience.
22. Have you entered any writer contests? Tell us about your experience!
I have entered a few and have a 100% success rate of failure 😊.
23. Who are your top 5-10 favourite writers?
My recommended writers would be:
- Terry Pratchett.
- Richard Matheson – I Am Legend.
- Harry Harrison.
- Fritz Leiber.
- Aaron Dembski-Bowden – The Night Lords Trilogy.
- Alan Moore – One of the best British writers there is.
- Andrzej Sapkowski – You need to read foreign writers.
- Sergei Lukyanenko – The Watch series is brilliant.
- David Gemmell – Waylander is a must-read book.
- P.G. Wodehouse – as a writer you must read outside your genre.
24. Link us your book/twitter/goodreads or wherever we can best connect with you!