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An interview with thriller writer, Eldon Farrell

I apologise for the brief gap in my author interviews. The summer holidays with the kids and a lack of computer time put pay to my interviews. I am pleased to say I’m back at the keyboard, perhaps a little pinker (burnt) around the edges and with my nerves shot to pieces, but I’m back!

Today I am pleased to introduce the talented American writer, Eldon Farrell, author of number of thriller novels including his latest blockbuster, Singularity. Eldon has opted to take the self-published route with his novels and has offered some cogent advice for anyone planning to undertake a similar journey.

KINDLE Singularity 11 May 2018

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
So we’re starting with the tough questions right off the top, huh? LOL. Let’s see, I was born and raised in Southwestern Ontario, married to the love of my life going on a handful of years now, have one amazing son, and love to write. I’m an avid reader of anything from non-fiction to fiction to comic books. Marvel and DC – no discrimination here. Favourite would still be DC though 😉

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
When I’m not writing I’m trying to find time to write. Any parents out there know what I’m talking about when I say time is a precious commodity with a toddler underfoot! I love to watch movies or television (though I don’t see much of it anymore), and as mentioned before, read. I’ll read almost any genre, but tend to stick close to thrillers.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Like a lot of authors out there, I do have a day job. My formal training is in accounting, and I work as a Certified Professional Accountant for a large multi-national corporation. I love numbers and am something of an Excel junkie, so my career choice has worked out perfectly for me.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
So long ago now. I started writing short stories over thirty years ago, which is a number that both blows my mind and makes me feel old. Back then, it was all about a love for creating. No publishing or marketing, just a boy, an imagination, and a blank page. The stories weren’t the greatest, but the value of the lessons learned cannot be replaced.
I finished my first book in College, around 2001 if memory serves. It has never seen the light of day. What those who aren’t in the craft fail to realize, is that writing is a process and often times the only way we learn how to do it is by doing it wrong. I made so many mistakes crafting that story. But, if I hadn’t made those mistakes, I never would’ve had the skill to write Stillness and everything since.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
The famous advice given to all writers is to write what you know. There’s truth to that. For me, because I’ve read so many thrillers, it was just natural to write them as well. I write the kind of suspenseful stories I like to read. As to where I get my ideas from . . . after more than thirty years writing I’ve learned that ideas rarely come to you fully formed. The first draft of anything is so different from the final draft. As an example, the first idea for Singularity had aliens in the story. The concept didn’t work for me, and the story evolved to the harsher realism present in the final draft.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
What if I said I’m experiencing it with this interview, haha 🙂 Seriously though, I don’t know a single writer who hasn’t spent time on the block. I believe at least some of it stems from the self-doubt all good writer’s experience. It can be hard to create something and then wonder for months on end if it will be well received. In the back of your mind you always wonder if it’s good enough. Spend too much time wondering on such things, and you’ll find your creativity takes a hit.
But you’ll notice, I said good writers. It was once said to me that only good writers wonder if they can be better, bad writers know they can’t 😉 There’s wisdom in those words, I think.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I’ve done both actually. Early in my career, I wrote from the seat of my pants believing it would curb my creativity to have an outline. Sometimes this worked out, and other times it didn’t. Without an outline it’s easier to back yourself into a corner, or just have the plot unravel on you. These days, I avoid those issues by plotting out an outline before I sit down to write. It changes as I write and new ideas crop up, but it keeps me on track.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I’ve been influenced by the works of many authors. In particular, the late, great Michael Crichton and the amazing Patrick Redmond. Reading Crichton’s fantastic novels (Jurassic Park, Congo, Sphere, the list goes on) taught me the value of truly original ideas. And from Redmond, I gained something to shoot for. I often remark that he could write about grass growing and keep you on the edge of your seat, such is his ability with the written word. One day, I hope to write a book in his league and will continue to reach for that star.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My first book went the self-published route, and as such, held a steep learning curve. When you publish yourself you have to consider everything. I did learn this the hard way. If you’re reading this, and considering doing it yourself, there are three key areas you need to focus your energies on. First, find an editor you can trust and work well with. To be taken seriously, your work needs to be professionally edited. Second, don’t design the cover yourself. Just don’t do it. Whatever you save in money by doing it yourself, you will lose in sales because you did it yourself. And third, unless you’ve committed to learning HTML programming, pay to have your ebook interior formatted. The common thread with all this is the reader experience is paramount and our challenge as authors is to make sure nothing stands in the way of that.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I love this question. If I could do it all over again, there’s a few things I would change. Starting out as an author, most everyone makes some mistakes as we learn the craft. For me, the biggest regret I have is publishing my first book, Stillness, without having it edited first. I was younger, and foolish enough to think I could “edit” it myself. I’ve since wised up and am in the process of having each of my first three books professionally edited. But you only get one chance to make an impression on readers and I regret I didn’t put my best foot forward. For any new author reading this, invest in an editor. We all want to make sales, but your money will be far better spent on an editor than on marketing if your book is not up to par. It’s a competitive market out there, and you need to project professionalism in everything you do.
The other thing I would change is the release schedule of my second and third books. I listened to some bad advice regarding series and rushed them both out concurrently when I should’ve taken my time and spaced out the releases. Live and learn.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Marketing is always tough. There’s never a lack of suggestions or advice out there on what works and what doesn’t work, almost to the point of being too much. I will say this much, for me, I found sites like ENT and Book Gorilla to provide the best return on investment. If you’re lucky enough to snag a BookBub, that’s worth its weight in gold too. Aside from promo sites, building an email list is key. Just don’t succumb to the temptation to offer rewards for signing up. Remember, what you desire is not a large number of subscribers, but a list of engaged readers.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Not yet, and honestly, I can’t see this happening. In this age of print-on-demand and ebook publishing, there’s really no reason why any book you write can’t be published. The old barriers to entry are gone. The gatekeepers were put out to pasture and ushered in a brave new world.

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
August 14 was the big day for me. Release day for Singularity, a gritty, dystopian vision of the future and the start of a brand new series. Nothing says it better than the back copy:
Nathan Miller owns the streets of Union City. A rogue detective protected by a corrupt establishment—his rule is absolute. But nothing lasts forever.
Someone has betrayed him and now blog sensation Alexis King knows things she shouldn’t. Coming after Nathan she threatens his authority, giving the elite cause to question his worth.
To protect his reign, Nathan must silence his betrayer before Alexis learns enough to topple him. But he’s no longer the only thing to fear in the rotten underbelly of 2035. His search uncovers an evil preying upon the displaced beyond the city wall—making Nathan the next target.
Except of course, maybe the tagline: It takes a certain kind of evil to save this city.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Well . . . 😉 No, seriously most of what I write is pure imagination. Even more so for this story set in 2035. I’ll say I had so much fun writing this one, maybe because of the near future setting. An author friend of mine pointed out to me that it’s not so far in the future, but it’s far enough to be able to have some fun speculating with technological advances.

15. What project are you working on now?
Right now, I’m returning to my roots and expanding upon my world all at the same time. As mentioned previously, I got my start with short stories. But once I moved on to novels, I haven’t written many short stories. Because it can take a while for me to write a full length novel, I decided to keep the momentum of Singularity going with a collection of short stories set in that world. Dawn will hopefully hit digital shelves by May of next year. A collection of five stories that will give further insight into chosen characters and set up the second book in the series—Horde Protocol—before it’s 2019 release.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Singularity was published on August 14. Dawn: Singularity Stories out by May of 2019. And then Horde Protocol in November 2019. Keeping busy!

17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’ve never been one for looking back. The characters I want to work with are all ahead of me. With that being said, I did have an idea before I started Singularity for a psychological thriller revolving around the disappearance of a little boy that I would love to return to one day, when I have the requisite skill to do the idea justice.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism came from a fellow author who pointed out my grammatical blind spot in a review of Stillness. It was her sage words that transformed me into a champion of editing, something for which I’ll always be grateful.
The best compliment had to be a comparison by a reviewer to Robin Cook. Undeserved, but appreciated.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Same advice I’ve been giving for years now, be humble. The only way—and I do mean the only way—you can improve as a writer is to admit to yourself that you need to improve. And you know what, we all need to improve. None of us are perfect, so we all have things we can do better. Be open to those who have gone before, and listen when they offer you advice. The indie community is one of the most helpful I’ve ever found, and aspiring writers can learn a lot more by listening to them then by assuming they already know everything there is to know.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Keep reading. Never be afraid to try something different, or give a new author a shot. After all, as Haruki Murakami said, “If you only read the books everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

Please join me in thanking Eldon Farrell for his candid and insightful responses regarding the publishing industry and for sharing his journey as a writer. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Eldon direct via the below social media links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out Eldon’s work on Amazon.com.

Stillness: https://www.amazon.com/Stillness-Descent-Book-Eldon-Farrell-ebook/dp/B01DRBVBOW
Taken: https://www.amazon.com/Taken-Descent-Book-Eldon-Farrell-ebook/dp/B01L85U1OK
Realm of Shadows: https://www.amazon.com/Realm-Shadows-Descent-Book-3-ebook/dp/B01LA4S7Z4
Singularity: http://netgal.ly/rYgSBT (For a limited time, you can grab an ARC copy here for free!)

Social media contacts:
Website: http://www.eldonfarrellauthor.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15147838.Eldon_Farrell
Twitter: @eldon_farrell

An interview with the thriller author, Gary Stark

A FREE DIGITAL COPY of, Gary Stark’s, In The Shadow of Lust, is available to anyone signing up to my blog and messaging me the name of the catalyst who inspired Gary’s writing career.

NOTE – THERE IS A PARENTAL ADVISORY ON THE BOOK and the author suggests 18+ only.

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the extraordinary talent that is, Gary Stark, author of the thriller, In The Shadow of Lust. Gary is published by BookLocker.com. I’ve really enjoyed this interview and Gary’s unique take on responding to my questions. Please be aware he has asked me to place a parental advisory on some of his answers.

Cover Pic

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thanks, Mark. Okay, straight up, I can’t play guitar. Or sing. And I’m profoundly in love with an entity that doesn’t exist. Forever and ever, you know it? She’s here with me now. Lucille. We both like pizza and winter mornings and oral but you can talk to her later. This is about me, not my muse, right?
So, I lie about my sex life at the pub and I’m a hopeless gambler. I love the taste of bourbon but because I’m an alcoholic I can only sniff other people’s drinks when they’re not looking. I could take this opportunity to tell kids that drugs are bad but I’m not a hypocrite and this ain’t a pulpit. What else? I like gardening and think most politicians are dickheads. And I adore faded purple. I was a failure at school, but so what. School teaches you how to earn enough money to do the things they don’t teach you in school.
Like how to play guitar. Which I can’t do. Not yet, anyway.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I read. And think about writing. And construct abstract sentences in my head – I assume they’re what some people call thoughts – and then scrabble around cursing for a pen and paper to make notes. I suppose all writers do this – wake up and before their dreams even fragment they begin working on yesterday’s chapter. With that shit of a thing sitting fat and contented between your ears, saying, “Really? You gonna end with a preposition?” and suggesting edits to your grocery list even though you’ve only written ‘milk’.
Other times I eat and occasionally I bathe, nothing unusual. Same as you but somewhere else.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Hell yeah. I earn nothing from writing, it’s a hobby. Like some people watch television, you know? Only writing is a cerebral skill and you gotta concentrate.
I used to work in hospitality but that industry has a use-by date. Working nights, weekends, holidays, eventually you gotta leave the night-owls and boozehounds and try going to work at dawn rather than watching the sunrise thinking about maybe one more beer.
So these days I’m learning construction, like how to renovate a house. Lotsa work painting houses too, cos nobody enjoys boring shit. Moving heavy things around on building sites, stuff like that, jobs so I can write in my head without concentrating on what the rest of me is doing. Anything that’s different from yesterday, I suppose. I don’t understand how people get one shot at life and decide to do the same job every single day for years. Madness.

4. I understand this is your first book? And you recently celebrated turning 50, so tell me, what was the catalyst for writing at this stage of life?
Stephen bloody King. You may have heard the name? Christmas day, I was given his manual – ‘On Writing’ – cos I was never without a book in my hand. But I’d never even considered writing one. I took his advice, read Strunk and White’s ‘Elements of Style’ and on New Year’s Day, sat down to describe my literary masterpiece. And wrote a bunch of unreadable shit. You know how other people make something look easy? And then you try it? Like that. I found out right there and then that it was actually painful to read my own prose. Anyway, I kept going, wrote a dozen short stories, dragged my illiteracy outta the mud and washed it off. One of those stories wouldn’t go away, and that’s when I met Lucy. She was the voice behind the words, my muse. And that’s when we wrote the prologue. Incarcerated in this ancient cathedral, surrounded by the occupants of Perdition, being judged by Death. Always a nice way to start the day, you know? So, not knowing why we were dead, or what we’d done wrong, Lucy took me back to the beginning. And for the next six months, she recounted our life together. Hard to imagine that I’d forgotten such debauched abasement, but there you go. Selective memory, I suppose, or too many drugs.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
That was easy cos I wasn’t aware there was a choice. Your first sentence will probably tell you your genre. I wrote ‘Spread-eagled in chains against the wall of this monolithic cathedral, my spine tight against a marble statue of the Holy Father, I observe my unbreakable shadow.’ Then sat back for weeks wondering what the hell that meant. No shit, the thousand word prologue took a month to write. I didn’t know what I was talking about.
‘My shadow has a name and her name is Lucille’.
‘She is my Poet, Priestess, Lover and Muse.’
Excuse me? My shadow is female? Okay. Tell me more. And she did and has never left. Lucy is Ancient, and just then, or whenever I talk about her, I get cold shivers prickle my skin. Maybe you’ve met her too. They say she walks on graves, but I’ve never seen her do that. Anyway, if your shadow narrates the story it’s fair to say that’s where the idea came from. All those voices in your head, telling you their version of the truth, wanting to be the narrator of the next idea.
That, and has anyone with an imagination not wondered if a bunch of flowers is drowning when we put the stems in a vase of water?

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
That’s never happened. Probably the complete opposite – Writer’s Diarrhoea. And the only natural cure for pathological verbosity is the wholesale slaughter of innocent words. I culled about ten thousand by the third edit and it made me wonder why I bothered initiating such an extensive breeding program if I’m gunna choose my favourites and only keep the ones I like.
I shouldn’t get emotional and it’s not personal. But you look at some sentences and just know they don’t belong. So you kill them and put them back in storage for later.
But no, I cannot admit to writer’s block. Sometimes I don’t know the next sentence, but usually if I throw a few words at the page they already know what to do, where they wanna go. We like to pretend the arrangement of language is ours to command but that’s just so much bullshit – this sentence was simply waiting patiently for me to write it. And it’ll still be here when I’m gone.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
Just write. I don’t know enough about writing to plan ahead. It might sound weird, but I had absolutely no idea, at any stage, where the story was going. That should’ve been a bit disconcerting, but it was the complete opposite – it was almost as good as getting high.
Each chapter, I found myself writing the opening paragraph, then walking away and thinking about it, wondering at the intent. Usually, those few opening sentences were all I needed to know what came next. I’ve seen musicians do it in jam sessions – someone introduces a riff, maybe a backbeat, whatever. It builds on itself, one instrument at a time, everyone intuiting when to add another layer. Remember this is the first attempt at writing, so everything was unfamiliar and interesting. Like I watched myself build a house made of words.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Too many to name, but I admit to having favourites, those authors who write with ridiculous clarity – Barker, King, Dostoevsky, Straub, Leonard, Nietzsche, Wells, Lovecraft. They’ve all got something different that fascinates me. Style, structure, syntax, the rhythm of honest dialogue. There’s an individual precision in their prose, something unique that makes their writing identifiable without actually knowing the author’s name. Every writer is restricted by the same dictionary, the same finite choice of words, but by their subtle arrangement on the page, some writers step inside the shell of your mind and draw pictures on the walls. That’s the story I want to read again and again, the one that leaves graffiti or scars on your imagination. Like the author has gifted you something personal, something priceless only the two of you share.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Sure. As per usual, I was utterly clueless. The book was done, now comes the easy part, parading my efforts before a gobsmacked publisher. Strut and preen, bask in the glory, listen to the thunderous applause and watch the street parades in my honour. Toss bouquets from balconies, right?
Wrong. On every account. Shit, I almost felt sorry for myself. Such an idiot.
Seriously, imagine finding yourself not only on another planet, but in another dimension. Where they speak a different language. Then assume the species inhabiting this alien environment wants your soul, cos that’s all you brought with you (you might have your book, but these creatures read it BEFORE you even wrote it, such is their elegant sophistry). You agree to sell your soul but what’s lost in translation is they actually want your virginity. And you’re a man who has forfeit his chastity years ago. It’s fascinating, but also quite disturbing when you recognise how much you don’t know about somebody else’s job. I still don’t know how it works.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Easy. I would start off rich, and only then would I write a book. And afterwards, employ people who knew what they were doing to compensate my ignorance. Kind of like the world works anyway, but without me having any wealth. And after writing the first and second draft, I would engage someone to do the third, so I never had to read the bloody thing ever again. That’s yet another thing I didn’t see coming – you come to hate your own words with a passion. Not just simply dislike them, but would rather chew broken glass than Read Them One More Time. And you can’t see your mistakes. Says much about how we lie to ourselves, huh? Ten times I read the same sentence and refuse to see any errors.
So, to avoid the struggling artist syndrome, sell your soul, get rich, write a book, pay someone to do everything else. You’re not doing it for money, so you also keep your integrity. If you have any. I think it’s probably unnecessary to a writer. Kind of limiting.

11. Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
Hmm, maybe I should get a lawyer before answering that one.
Seriously, I’d have to confess to a combination of both. I wanted to address the line between reality and delusion. There’s domestic violence, which I’ve never suffered but happens every bloody day. Drug abuse, with which I’m intimate. Social segregation, the outcasts on the fringe and those dispossessed. Homelessness and poverty. Shit that happens everywhere, constantly, but we, in the general context, feel either unable to change it or worse, are inclined to indifference.
This is no secret – I’ve slept on the street and been a junkie. I’m prone to excess. In everything.
I spent three months in rehab, been clean now for a decade. So, having been an outsider, the story is told from an insider’s perspective.
Everybody knows or has seen someone living rough or with a problem, be it booze or drugs or mental issues. Do you ever put yourself in their shoes? Imagine what it’s like to be so fucked up you don’t know what year it is? Or what town you’re in? Or when you last ate?
And that’s not patronising or preaching. It’s our disconnect that I find interesting – you read the newspaper and it’s all bad news. Then you throw the paper in the bin and go back to work. Even for those with empathy, it’s background noise. For a junkie, EVERYTHING is background noise.
Okay, now I’m sounding preachy. Suffice to say, there’s truth behind the story and I’ve never tried to have sex with my shadow so I probably don’t need a lawyer. Yet.

12. What project are you working on now?
Book Two of the Trilogy. I thought I was writing a stand-alone novel and I was wrong. Confirmation, if needed, of my own lack of awareness. The story has an epilogue, for crying out loud, and I pretended that was it, done. No conclusion, no wrapping the loose ends and walking away. Instead, I left the door wide open. The difference is this one I’m taking my time. The first book was approached as a challenge in both creativity and skill – could I invent a coherent story, and more importantly, was it even worth telling? Outside the walls of psychology, does anyone want to contemplate having sex with their shadow? Should you tell someone, ANYONE, if one day in the sunshine you heard your shadow speak, and found it arousing? I’ll leave that to the individual’s kink. It’s none of my business. But one book wasn’t enough.
It’s human nature to feel slighted, whether manifest or imagined, so I thought about revenge, and keep writing. And wonder why people are strangely obsessed with pointless shit.

13. Will you have the new book coming out soon?
With luck and grace, the second book will be out next year. The third, probably the year after that. Bit presumptuous of me to predict the future, and those deadlines could NOT get any looser, but as the weeks and months go by I feel a certain panic settling in – I’m the type of person whose mind finds distraction in everything. Give me a task and I’ll either do it immediately or never. No middle ground, another endearing characteristic of bipolarity. And there’s that charming parasite we call Doubt, asking me why I think anyone would read the crap I write. I comfort myself with the idea that if I was confident in my ability, I probably shouldn’t be. The parade of lies I afford my delicate ego is endless.

14. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I mentioned earlier that Lucy was here? Okay, I’m gunna let her take this one.
“Salve hominibus. Fiat mihi incipere . . .”
Lucy? In English, sweetheart. Nobody speaks Latin anymore, remember?
“Really, babe? Huh. Okay.
You wanna know about critics, right? Fuck that, and fuck them.
Writers don’t need critics. You think they live in ivory towers? Bullshit. They live in basements and make shit up. None of the stuff they talk about ever happened, you know it? In any other universe they’d be locked up and medicated. You don’t let kids drive cars or drink beer but you let writers do it? They spend hours alone playing with their imagination and pretend it’s hard. We tell kids to grow up, spoil the whole Santa Claus routine but ignore it when these lunatics grow into adult bodies and keep believing that if they’re good, they’ll be rewarded. You can’t criticise children and expect them to pay attention. They sulk. And go to their ‘writing room’. With their ‘friends’. Shit. It’s insane. But some people give them money. And smile at them. Tell them to keep going. You don’t encourage that sort of behaviour. Well, you don’t, but I do. See, if I don’t keep my man writing, I don’t exist. I’m his muse, amongst other things. You really think we need some smug self-satisfied prick telling us what they think? We. Don’t. Care. And another    thing . . .”
Umm. Thanks, babe. I think that’ll do.
It’s enough to say we appreciate criticism. It makes us a better person.
Let’s move on, hey?

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
No. I’ve written one book. I still know less than nothing about literature.
But I do have one suggestion – practice the Vacant Stare. Introduce it to social settings or family gatherings. Look thoughtful when you’re bored by inane conversation.
Focus on the horizon and empty your mind, pretend to be writing in your head (you probably are) and encourage people to leave you alone. That way, rather than think you rude, people assume you to be in the throes of creativity. They might even provide food and drink so as not to interrupt the Artistic Process.
Doesn’t always work, but it might save you a shout at the bar.

16. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?
Don’t believe anything an author says – they have no grip on reality.

Please join me in thanking Gary for his open and imaginative responses regarding the publishing industry and for sharing his journey as a writer. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Gary direct via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by signing up to my blog and obtaining a free copy of Gary’s first novel, In the Shadow of Lust.

Social media contacts: https://twitter.com/StrayMutts
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An interview with fantasy author, Mike Brooks

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the gifted author, Mike Brooks, creator of the Science Fiction / Fantasy novels, Dark Deeds, Dark Run and Dark Sky. Mike is traditionally published although experienced a few setbacks before securing the writers equivalent of the holy grail. It has been interesting to find out his take on the positives and negatives associated with his journey.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Gladly! I’m Mike Brooks, I’m 36 years old, I was born in Ipswich, Suffolk but came to Nottingham for university and stayed here when I realised it was far more interesting. I’m married, we have two cats and two snakes, I’m disabled (hearing loss), and bisexual.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I like to go walking: the Peak District is just over an hour away in the car, which is lovely. I also play guitar and sing in a punk band (no, that’s unrelated to the hearing loss), play tabletop wargames, and DJ wherever anyone will tolerate me.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I do, although I have managed to drop my hours from five days a week to four as a result of income from writing, which is very welcome. I’ve worked for a homelessness charity in Nottingham since 2004; I used to be a support worker in hostels, but these days I’m a Housing Officer so I deal more with buildings, repairs, and legal issues like tenancy agreements and anti-social behaviour.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing about as soon as I could actually form letters. I won a prize for Best Long Story at primary school (the prize was the book Fog Lane School & The Great Racing Car Disaster, I can remember it clearly), so I had the intent from early on. However, I spent my teens and much of my twenties messing around jumping from one idea to the next and never getting anywhere. At the end of 2008 I sat down and told myself that I was going to pick one and either finish it, or admit that I simply couldn’t finish a novel. It took me just over a year, was stupidly long and probably not very good, but I managed it, and it went from there.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I write science-fiction and fantasy, and their various sub-genres, and I chose it because that’s what I like to read and watch. Working with homelessness gives me all I can stomach of the “real world”, so I value escapism. As for where I get my ideas, I can give no better answer than “everywhere” – so many things can spark off an idea for a setting or an event or a character, from a news article to a piece of art to a documentary. The trick is taking something and putting it into your work as something new and interesting, that fits your own setting.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not yet. Not really, anyway. Sometimes words don’t come easily, but I keep putting them down and it works through to a part of the story that’s far easier to write, and then sometimes I can go back and tidy up when things are flowing more easily. I mean, some days it just won’t work and I’ll give up and go play a computer game or something, but that’s isolated: I’ll get up the next day and it’ll be back to business as usual.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I’ll usually start writing with a vague idea and see how things develop. If I feel that what I’m writing has legs, I’ll generally then sit down and start planning out much more fully. However, I always discover new things as I write, as new ideas come up or I realise connections that I hadn’t made until that point, and the plot links together in new and interesting ways. I don’t think I’d be able to write out a plot and stick to it with no divergence.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
“Influenced” is difficult. I love Terry Pratchett, but I wouldn’t say my writing style is particularly influenced by his. However, I do very much admire how he used the Discworld series to write whatever he wanted to write, but framed with that consistency. I maintain that science-fiction and fantasy aren’t really genres so much as settings: you can’t write a “science-fiction novel” or a “fantasy novel” unless it’s really conceptual, and incredibly tightly focused on the science or the fantasy element. I view it more as a way of saying “this novel is a certain type of story, but set in a place where physics/biology/chemistry, or our abilities to manipulate them, differ in some way from what we understand to be true”.
As an example, my Keiko series of novels are what I call “grimy space-opera”, and are certainly science-fiction, but if you read them you’ll see other genres there too. The first two are essentially thrillers: in Dark Run, the crew of the Keiko (a spaceship) are blackmailed and framed, and have to outwit a powerful adversary to survive. In Dark Sky, they end up trapped in a subterranean mining city during a rebellion and accidentally end up on opposite sides. On the other hand, the third one, Dark Deeds, is very much a heist movie, but on another planet (with a sub-plot that’s a gangster movie).

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I’d written an urban fantasy novel and managed to get an agent. He liked my writing, and liked the world I’d created, but told me that we wouldn’t be able to sell the novel I had. I went away and wrote a new novel, with the same characters and in the same world, and honed that. Then we took it to publishers. One publisher was very interested and it got to the final yes-or-no meeting… and the answer was no. It wasn’t that it wasn’t good enough, they said, it was because they’d just taken on three urban fantasy novels and didn’t want to take a chance on any more until they saw how well those did. But let us know what you write next, they said. So it was back to the drawing board.
I think some people would have been crushed by getting so close but not succeeding, but luckily my mind worked more on the basis that I would have got a contract had I only got there a little sooner, so I wasn’t going to give up now. My agent asked me what I was going to write next, since we had definite interest from a publisher. I thought about it and said that I had several different ideas I could write about, I just wasn’t sure what to concentrate on. My agent talked to the publisher about what they might be interested in and came back with a list of broad things they were looking for. One of them matched up pretty well with an idea that had been kicking around in my head, so I got to work and, with not much more than a title, a vague concept and two pre-existing characters, started writing what would become Dark Run. The urban fantasy I’d been working on for years never found a home – the space opera I blasted out in six months got published.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I think there probably are, there always will be, but I’ve found that I’m good at saying “You know what; that’ll do” and just leaving a novel be, rather than tinkering endlessly. I would have liked to introduce more and stronger LGBTQ themes in my first two novels, but at that point I wasn’t sure what sort of reaction I was going to get from my publisher, and wanted to get my feet under the table, as it were, before I started pushing boundaries. These days I’ve found my writing voice far more, and I’m happier to throw in whatever I want to be there.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I don’t do a great deal of marketing myself, since I’m lucky enough to have my original work published by two of the “Big 5” (imprints of Ebury and Simon & Schuster) so any marketing I could do would be dwarfed by their reach. Similarly, I’ve started writing for Games Workshop’s Black Library and their connection with their readers is far more efficient than anything I could do. However, I can track sales of my novels (to varying degrees of accuracy) and it is interesting how certain events can spike sales. As an example, a website review that compared my Keiko novels favourably to the Firefly TV series got cross-posted to a Firefly community (possibly on Reddit, I think) and I saw my book sales jump by about five times the week after!

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I do like my urban fantasy, although looking back I think it’s probably good it didn’t get published. I’d still like to publish that, and do the series I had planned, but I’d certainly be rewriting it. I’ve developed as a writer but also as a human since I wrote it, and I have a greater understanding of various issues now that I perhaps handled a bit clumsily back then.

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Dark Deeds came out at the end of last year, and (as I mentioned above) is essentially a heist movie on another planet. The crew of the Keiko need to pull off a big theft to save one of their number, which sets up a lot of scams, treachery and, it has to be said, tragedy.
I’ve also got my first novella for Black Library coming out towards the end of this year (I know the release date but I don’t think I’m allowed to make it public yet). It’s called Wanted: Dead and is set in the world of Necromunda, their recently revamped and re-released tabletop skirmish game. This was incredibly exciting as Necromunda was my favourite game as a teenager (and to be fair, I’m a big fan of the new version too), and the dark, gritty-but-futuristic feel of it (I always described it as “Wild West meets prohibition-era gangs meets Blade Runner”) was a big influence on the tone I wanted to evoke for the Keiko series.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Very little of the Keiko series is based on my real life experiences as I’ve never flown a spaceship, shot a gun or pulled a heist. Similarly, Wanted: Dead isn’t based on my experiences as I’ve never been a lesbian gang member fighting for survival. However, I like to think that my characters are realistic and relatable, and – by and large – that’s the feedback that I get. And I do try to do research where I can. Some parts are science-fiction, and the fiction is stronger than the science. However, for the parts that do have some relationship to real-world stuff, I like to make sure that it’s as accurate as I can get it.

15. What project are you working on now?
I’m currently writing my first full-length novel for Black Library, about which I’m contractually obliged to say nothing other that it’s in the Warhammer 40,000 part of their universe, and touches on an area of the background that I don’t think has really been explored much yet. I’m also working on a fantasy novel of my own.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
As I said above, Wanted: Dead is coming out towards the end of this year. Dark Run should also be coming out in French at some point before too long, although I’m not yet sure when. It came out in German in May this year, and it was a real thrill to be published in another language. I also have another Black Library short story called A Common Ground coming out in issue 1 of the relaunched Inferno! magazine, which is another thrill as I grew up reading that in its former incarnation, and I’m in there with some fantastic authors.

17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I find my writing littered with characters that I introduce as bit-parts and which suddenly get their own personality and I find hugely interesting; which can be distracting, but is far better than feeling that they’re flat and lifeless. I could happily write about several of them. As for themes and ideas I’d love to work with, the fantasy novel I’m working on at the moment is doing just that. It features conflicts, but the main themes are around learning tolerance and understanding, and appreciating the diversity of others, and it’s given me a place to play around with my own understandings of sexuality and gender, as well as religion and belief systems.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I have quite rigid mental processes, so criticism can be hard to take – my immediate reaction is that the other person must be wrong, because this makes sense to me, so why doesn’t it make sense to them? I’ve learned to work around that though, and to appreciate that other people have different perspectives that are just as valid to them as mine are for me, and crucially, might be shared by more people than share mine. I think I did get annoyed by one reader review which said that my characters were two-dimensional and the dialogue wooden, as I genuinely feel those areas are one of my strong points as a writer. However, they’re perfectly entitled to their opinion, and it seems that it’s not one shared by many others, from what I’ve seen.
The best compliment is probably a tie between “Great fun… Golden Age chic!” from Stephen Baxter and “If Firefly and The Expanse had a love-child” from BookRiot. Both of which ended up as pull quotes on the covers of my books, because my editors are no fools.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t be a dick. Apart from that, pick and choose whatever advice seems to work for you. Any piece of advice from anywhere will be contradicted by someone else. People will say ‘write what you love, don’t write what you think will get you published’, but I loved my urban fantasy and it didn’t get me published, and then I wrote Dark Run because I thought it would get me published, and it did. I mean, I enjoyed writing it – the Keiko books are a blast, tremendous fun to write – but I only picked that idea because I thought it would work. So you know, do what feels right.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
I am honestly, truly touched that you were and/or are prepared to take a chance and spend money on stories I make up in my head. Thank you.

Please join me in thanking Mike for his open and candid responses regarding the publishing industry and for sharing his experiences and journey as a writer. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Mike direct via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out his work on Amazon:

Dark Run – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Run-Keiko-Mike-Brooks/dp/0091956641/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530916179&sr=8-1&keywords=dark+run+mike+brooks
Dark Sky – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Sky-Keiko-Mike-Brooks/dp/009195665X/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530916325&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+sky+mike+brooks
Dark Deeds – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dark-Deeds-Keiko-Mike-Brooks/dp/1534405445/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530916342&sr=1-1&keywords=dark+deeds+mike+brooks
Inferno! Issue #1 – https://www.amazon.co.uk/Inferno-1-David-Annandale/dp/1784967335/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1530916371&sr=1-2&keywords=inferno%21+games+workshop

Social media contacts:
http://www.mikebrooks.co.uk
http://www.facebook.com/mikebrooks668
Twitter: @mikebrooks668
Instagram: @mikebrooks668

An interview with romance novelist, Sajita Nair

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the very talented, Sajita Nair, creator of the classic romance novel, She’s a Jolly Good Fellow. Sajita has taken the traditional publishing route with her work and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the pros and cons of taking that particular road.

She's a Jolly Good Fellow - cover
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a writer based in India. My first novel, ‘She’s a Jolly Good Fellow’ (Hachette India, 2010) was inspired by my life in the Indian army. Recently, I published a collection of short stories by Juggernaut Books. Apart from these, I’ve also written travelogues, short stories and articles for various publications.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Reading and travelling. Reading lets me explore other minds, thoughts and ideas while travelling helps me keep the childlike wonder alive by exploration of nature, cities, cultures and cuisine.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I facilitate creative writing programs at Nutcracker creative writing workshops (www.nut-cracker.in) and I also conduct corporate training sessions on women empowerment and soft skills.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
My writing career began with blogging. After every blog post, I would eagerly look forward to feedback from readers. It was a good learning experience. I then moved on to writing articles, travelogues and short stories for reputed print and online publications. It is only then that I attempted writing my novel. The first draft of my novel was done in 2007 and after several edits, I completed it in 2009. It was finally was published in 2010.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
When I began writing my first novel, I had limited knowledge of genres. I wrote because of the compelling urge to tell the story. Much later, from the editors at publishing houses I learnt the concept of genres and their importance in marketing books.
About ideas – my ideas usually come from travel, observation and interaction with people. Being a student of psychology also helps as I tend to indulge in psycho-analysis (sometimes landing me in embarrassing social situations). But that notwithstanding, I believe that better understanding of human behaviour and emotions helps create well rounded characters in fictional work.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I’m just out of one that lasted about eight years! Writer’s block hits me when I feel that an idea is not exciting enough to pursue. I’ve abandoned several projects after a thrilling start. Also, negative review of my work triggers a writer’s block. I get into an introspection mode. But in recent times, I’ve come to understand that each reader is entitled to his/her opinion. Hence I try and distance myself from my work. It is quite a challenge though!

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I work on a rough outline, a short synopsis, which helps me get on track if I lose myself in the sub-plots. Usually this rough synopsis gets edited as the characters take on a life of their own.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
As a child, I have been influenced by the works of Rabindranath Tagore and Ruskin Bond. Tagore’s short story, ‘Kabuliwala’ still melts my heart. As an adult, I’ve enjoyed reading Hemingway, JM Coetzee, Haruki Murakami, Kazuo Ishiguro, Jodi Picoult and Amitav Ghosh.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My novel was selected by a talent scout at the Kala Ghoda Literary festival in Mumbai. And this led to a traditional publishing contract. I believe that such contests/ forums at literary festivals are a great way to land your first publishing contract.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Nothing! Although with time, one learns the nuances of storytelling better, I wouldn’t replace the raw energy in my first book. Its imperfection is perfect.

11. What project are you working on now?
My upcoming novel is a story set in North Kerala and tries to capture the essence of a changing society from Maru-makka-thayam (inheritance through nephews and nieces followed among Nairs of Malabar) to the modern day nuclear one. It requires me to study anthropology so as to understand how the society functioned and what triggered the transition. The research is on and I hope to complete it in a year.

12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the greatest compliment?
Let’s start with the good things first. The best compliment I received was when readers told me that they could get under the skin of my characters and feel the emotions and challenges. Most readers found my work inspiring and entertaining. The worst however was when a critic wrote in a review that had my paperback not been published, the world could’ve saved more trees.

13. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t stop writing. It’s a long drawn process, often replete with rejections, self doubt and criticism. But like the proverbial tortoise, continue to write bit by bit, everyday. Quoting Toni Morrison – If there’s a book that you want to read, but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.

Look forward to reading your work!

Please join me in thanking Sajita for her comprehensive answers and for sharing her experiences of the modern day publishing landscape. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Sajita via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=Sajita+Nair

Social media contacts:
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sajita.nair.79
Twitter – https://twitter.com/sajitanair1
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/sajita.nair.79/

Previous publications:
Debut novel, She’s a Jolly Good Fellow – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/7229386-she-s-a-jolly-good-fellow
Short stories – https://www.juggernaut.in/authors/5a6a2d21b4c3447eb8c2c3d8af50a39f

Book reviews –

https://www.news18.com/news/books/shes-a-jolly-good-fellow-is-thrilling-345663.html
http://www.tribuneindia.com/2010/20100801/spectrum/book4.htm

An interview with YA author, Glynis Guevara

Welcome to the latest in a series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am thrilled to introduce the very gifted Trinidadian, Glynis Guevara, author of, Under the Zaboca Tree and the upcoming YA novel, Black Beach. Glynis is a traditionally published writer and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the process.

black beach imageutzt

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Glynis Guevara. I was born in Trinidad, but have lived in Canada for over twenty years. I started writing my first novel at fourteen, and even though it was never completed I never gave up my love for writing. I am a graduate of Humber College School for Writers creative writing program and was admitted to the bar of England and Wales, and Trinidad and Tobago. In 2012, I was shortlisted for the Small Axe Literary (short fiction) Competition, and my YA manuscript, “Barrel Girl” was a finalist for the inaugural Burt Award for Caribbean literature. “Under the Zaboca Tree” is my debut YA novel. My second YA novel, “Black Beach” will be published in September 2018.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
My second love beside writing is reading. I also love to travel. I have been to England, (I was a student in London for four years), Sweden, Finland, Russia, USA (California, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut) and Grenada. I hope to travel to Africa next year.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Yes, I am an instructor. I teach adult literacy classes full time during the day and also two evenings a week. I love my job and I enjoy working with diverse learners in my literacy class.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you complete your first book?
I started writing my first novel when I was fourteen, but it wasn’t completed; however, I never gave up my love for writing. I actually didn’t attempt to write another book until 2006 after I was laid off my job. It took about six months to finish the first draft.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
The first book I wrote was an adult contemporary novel, but it has not yet been published. I then wrote several YA books. In the beginning, I didn’t set out to write a YA book; it just turned out that way. So far my first YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree, has been published and a second YA novel, Black Beach, will be published in late September this year. Social issues influence my writing.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not really. I have a lot of ideas in my head! I have permanently injured my right ear which can affect my ability to concentrate at times, but other than that I am quite lucky.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I start with a theme, but no outline. As I begin writing, the stories shape themselves. I myself am usually surprised at the outcome!

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
There are many writers I admire, but amongst my favourites is the Trinidadian / American writer, Elizabeth Nunez.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
Initially, I tried to find a literary agent. Looking back now, I realize my earlier works were not ready for publication and probably why I found it so difficult to secure an agent. I hired a private editor and he helped me grow as a writer. This was probably the best money I have spent. Hiring an editor helped me polish my work and as a result allowed me to secure a publisher.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I am happy with my publisher, Inanna Publications. My only regret is that I wish I didn’t have an ear issue that has affected my ability to market myself better.

11. How do you market your work?
I am working on improving my marketing skills. Currently, I market by word of mouth, social media, including Facebook and Twitter. I am hopeful I’ll be able to do a number of readings and personal appearances once Black Beach is released in later this year. I’m also trying to figure out how I get time off work to travel to other countries, including Trinidad and Tobago and other provinces in Canada to promote my work. I’m working on having my work included within the portfolios of literary festivals, local and national.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
I have two complete books that remain unpublished. That said, I am on the verge of sending them out for assessment. Wish me luck!

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
My debut YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree, is a contemporary coming of age story about a young girl affectionately called, Baby Girl, who moves from Toronto, Canada to Trinidad with her dad. Baby Girl silently longs for her mother, a woman she can’t recall ever meeting and doesn’t have a photo of. Under the Zaboca Tree is a contemporary coming of age novel that explores multiple issues including the challenges of being a motherless adolescent, searching for one’s identity, the unbreakable bonds of family, and the ability to adapt to difficult situations.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
There is nothing in my published work based on my personal life experiences; however, in general, social issues influence my work.

15. What project are you working on now?
I am in the early stages of writing two YA novels. The working titles are, Poui Season, and, Gift in my Pocket.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Yes, my second YA novel, Black Beach, will be launched at Ben McNally Books in Toronto on September 28, 2018. Black Beach tells the story of sixteen-year-old, Tamera who lives in La Cresta, a fishing village on a Caribbean island. Tamera’s mother suffers from severe mental illness. Also, one of the young girl’s schoolmates disappears and no one knows anything about the missing girl’s whereabouts. An environmental disaster strikes the small community devastating the fishing industry. Tamera finds herself at the centre of the mystery of her classmate’s disappearance, the resolution of which shocks the people of La Cresta.

17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
Inanna Publications published my first book, Under the Zaboca Tree, in 2017 and will publish, Black Beach, later this year. Inanna will also publish a third book, Barrel Girl, in 2019. I have completed two other manuscripts. However, the character that I feel a strong desire to write more about is Baby Girl, the protagonist from Under the Zaboca Tree. Every day I think about what has happened to her. The rest of her story needs to be told.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been your greatest compliment?
Before I even contemplate sending my work to any publishers, I work on my manuscripts with a professional editor. I am so thankful for all that I have learnt from my current editor. I have grown as a writer because of the constructive criticism he has provided.
I have received many compliments from readers since my debut YA novel, Under the Zaboca Tree, was published. But I think the compliment that stayed with me above all was from a literary agent regarding one of my unpublished works. After reading the first twenty pages of the manuscript she said, “You write dialogue well. Not a lot of people can do that.” These words helped build my self-confidence and gave me the belief to continue.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
I don’t know if I’m qualified to give advice. My first novel was published in 2017 and I am still learning about the writing and publishing business. However, I think aspiring writers need to be consistent readers and writers. Take writing courses, enter writing competitions. Be active on social media. Believe in yourself and don’t allow anyone’s negative words to discourage you.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you to everyone who has taken time out of their busy schedule to read this blog interview and also thanks to all who have purchased my debut novel, Under the Zaboca Tree. I look forward to your continued support over the coming years. You are all invited to the book launch of, Black Beach, on September 28, 2018 at Ben MacNally books in Toronto.

Please join me in thanking Glynis for taking part in this interview and for sharing her experiences as a traditionally published author. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Glynis Guevara via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon using the below links:

Link to Black Beach at Amazon.ca
https://www.amazon.ca/Black-Beach-Glynis-Guevara/dp/1771335696/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530816458&sr=8-1&keywords=black+beach+glynis+guevara

Link to Black Beach at Amazon.co.uk
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Beach-Glynis-Guevara/dp/1771335696/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530816521&sr=8-1&keywords=black+beach+glynis+guevara

Social media contacts:
website: https://glynisguevara.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gguevaraauthor
Twitter: @GlynisGuevara

Previous publications and links:
Link to “Under the Zaboca Tree” (Publisher’s website):
https://www.inanna.ca/catalog/under-zaboca-tree/

An interview with the action/adventure author, Jordyn Spencer

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the talented author, Jordyn Spencer, creator of the action and adventure novel, Whispers of War. Jordyn has selected the self-publishing path and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the pros and cons of taking that particular route.

Cover pic

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a Pittsburgh native, but spent my later years living in South Jersey. Growing up, I had a love for music and learning. I surrounded myself with musical opportunities by joining marching band, jazz band, chorus, and learning multiple instruments. I also had a fondness for science, having learned much from my grandfather, who was a chemist. I found my love for writing a few years after high school. I love creating worlds and characters of my own.

I’ve always had a deep respect for the military. As a child, my brother and I would pretend we were soldiers. I was also inspired by my grandfather’s service in the Navy during World War II. My admiration for soldiers followed me throughout my life, as I read testimonials about their experiences, read up on historical events, and even visited battlegrounds with my family during the summer. I have always been moved by their courage and sacrifice.

I am a mother to a wonderful, funny, and inspiring son, who constantly motivates me. I have recently gotten engaged to my fiancé of two years, who encouraged me to follow my dreams and finally publish my book. My first book is dedicated to the both of them.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
When I am not writing, I enjoy relaxing with a good book. It’s important to keep reading to help your writing evolve. I also love anything that I can do with my family. We go for hikes, play video games, bake cookies together, and so much more.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
For a few years, I have worked as a marching band instructor, teaching visual and music, while doing freelance writing.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you complete your first book?
I came up with the idea for Whispers of War in 2014, but was working on other projects at the time. I didn’t start writing it until November 2015. I completed the first draft of the book by the end of the month, but spent the next three years editing and re-editing. I was initially scared to publish, which held my release back, but finally decided I was ready to share my book with the world.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I’ve written short stories in many different genres and still do. My story guided my decision on genre. As much as I enjoy writing action and adventure stories, if I ever come up with a story outside my genre that I really want to tell, I wouldn’t shy away from writing it.

The ideas for my stories come from a variety of places. Some are rooted in dreams, others are inspired by observations, while most come from random thoughts. Music is another big influence in my writing. Every project starts from one small thought and grows from there.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I think all writers do at some point. When I hit the wall, I will listen to music. Other times I will take a day and work on another project. When I’m not even looking for it, I find the answer to overcome my writer’s block.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I usually work with an outline. For me, it helps connect major plot points and avoid inconsistencies. It’s easier to make changes to the plot during the outline phase than having to comb through page after page to correct something that isn’t working.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I don’t think I can credit one particular author or book for influencing my writing. I like so many different genres and love books that are willing to cross over genre lines. I wanted to be that kind of writer because it was what I enjoyed reading. With that being said, I was incredibly moved by Laurie Halse Anderson’s book, Speak. It touched on a hard topic and showcased how trauma can profoundly impact someone’s life. It is a book I have read many times and has always lingered in my mind.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I explored the traditional publishing route, but ultimately my first book was self-published. The biggest challenge I faced was overcoming my own fears with publishing. I felt vulnerable putting my work out there for people to read. Suddenly, your work is on display for all to see and critique and judge. You love your book, but someone else may despise it and ridicule it. Even with the backing of friends, family, and potential publishers, I was still afraid to share it and face reader reactions. I was finally able to overcome my fears and publish the book. I know that not everyone will like it, but there will also be readers who will love it. You shouldn’t deny those people your story.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
I would have published it sooner. By delaying the publication, I became obsessed with making it absolutely perfect. I read the entire book over 14 times and individual sections even more. If I could go back, I would have more confidence in my writing to publish it sooner.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Most of my marketing has been done through social media. I occasionally run ads on Facebook or promotions via Twitter. Social media is a great way to reach potential readers, especially when you target the ads. My website is a wonderful tool as well. It allows me to showcase my writing skills to readers. They love when you offer free material, whether it is blog postings, short stories, or journal entries. Readers are more inclined to pay for your books if they are familiar with your writing. It’s less of a risk for them.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
No. However, I do have projects that I wish I had more time to do that I want to get published.

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
In June, I published my first book in The Shadow Team Chronicles, Whispers of War. The series follows Army Sergeant Kara Olson and her team as they face constant battles. Whispers of War focuses on Kara joining her new team. Being the only woman on the team, she faces issues acclimating to her new position, as well as the struggles brought about war, and her past.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Most of the book is my own original concept, but small portions are inspired by real experiences. In all my characters, I layered in some aspects of my personality. In terms of events in the novel, some are based on real life, although they are embellished a little!

15. What project are you working on now?
Right now, I am working on book two in The Shadow Team Chronicles. I’ve almost completed the first draft.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
I’m hoping to release book two in The Shadow Team Chronicles series sometime next year, as well as a collection of short stories about the experiences of the other members of Shadow Team.

17. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
I’d like to expand the backstories of the other team members, particularly Fox, Hunter, and Trey. I wanted to include more of their stories in Whispers of War, but things had to be cut for the main story. I hope to cover some of their backstories in the sequels or short stories. They have very interesting histories. There are also some characters from my short stories Making Another Peace and Non-Lethal that I would love to pull completely into The Shadow Team Chronicles Universe, like Dani, Aniyah, and Sergeant Martin. Hopefully, I’ll be able to find a way to reintroduce them.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been your greatest compliment?
When someone asked me why I was not writing in the romance genre and why I was wasting my time writing a military novel, it was hard to hear. Military novels are primarily written by male authors or soldiers who served. It made me feel like I wouldn’t be taken seriously or even be able to compete with other authors. I extensively researched war, military service, and everything else I needed to make up for my perceived disadvantage. Like my character Kara, I was out to prove everyone wrong and ultimately used this criticism to write.

I’ve heard the same compliment from most people who have read my first book. They said they had trouble putting the book down. Former soldiers have read it and complimented me on how realistic the scenes are. Other readers have noted that the book is immersive and that they feel like they are right there in the battle. One reader finished the book in two days and is already excited for the sequel. It is great that people are enjoying the book so much.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Don’t let fear of judgement keep you from writing or publishing your book. You have a story that needs to be told, whether others realize it or not. Don’t let them dictate what you need to say.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you for reading. Without you, I never would have achieved my dreams. You are the ones who have motivated me to write and continue these stories. Please feel free to reach out to me. I love hearing from you!

Please join me in thanking Jordyn for her comprehensive answers and for sharing her experiences of the modern day publishing landscape. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Jordyn via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/default/e/B07DKQY37K/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1?redirectedFromKindleDbs=true

Social media contacts:
Facebook Page- Jordyn Spencer
Twitter-@jspencerbooks
Instagram-jspencerbooks

Previous publications and links:
Free short stories- https://www.jspencerbooks.com/stories-from-the-shadows-a-collecti
Website- https://www.jspencerbooks.com/

An interview with American artist, Jean McGuire

This week I am moving ever so slightly off-piste and stepping away from my author interviews. Instead I am proud to introduce the acclaimed American artist, Jean McGuire, to my blog. It has been a privilege to showcase some of her work and hear about some the successes and failures she has encountered during her creative journey.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a Kansas City native who works primarily in oils. I returned to painting 3 years ago after a 40-year hiatus. Most of my paintings are done with my fingers, creating all the colors in my paintings from four colors: red, blue, and yellow, and white. I love watching the paints flow, shifting colors and shapes almost of their own volition.

2. What kind of artist are you and where do you get your ideas?

I paint primarily in oils on canvas, but I have been exploring other mediums and surfaces. My ideas come to me from all over: the pattern of leafs on the sidewalk; pictures I see on the internet; a glimpse of color or shape that I observe in nature; inspiration can be found almost anywhere.

3. What is your Background and has it had an impact on your creativity?

I was always considered one of the “class artists” growing up, but when I was unable to make my pictures look exactly the way I had them in my head I gave up painting. If I couldn’t be another Rembrandt I wasn’t interested in even trying. When I returned to painting after walking away from the corporate world, I set the intention that I would allow myself to play with the color and not be as invested in the outcome. This path isn’t always easy to follow, but I feel it makes my work uniquely mine.

4. How do you work? What drives you? Are there any guidelines and/or procedures you adhere to which aid the creative process?

I have found that my work ethic is better when I have a studio to go to work. I paint with my fingers a lot, so you can usually find me in a lab coat, non-latex gloves on my hand, barefooted and covered with paint. I usually start by throwing some paint on my canvas just to get started and let things flow from there. Sometimes I have a vision I want to create, and sometimes I just let the paint tell me what it wants to be.

5. Can you tell us about your most recently completed work?

A few weeks ago I painted a rooster for my home, to commemorate my house’s origin as a chicken coop. The painting turned out well and reflects a new look and some new processes for my work.

6. What project are you working on now?

Because of the success of my chicken painting, an artist friend has challenged me to complete a series of 5 chicken paintings. This is very challenging because it’s so easy to rest on the laurels of one project done well. Pushing through to do five on a theme is going to really push me into areas I’ve resisted in the past.

7. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an artist? What has been the best compliment?

The world has been amazingly supportive of my efforts since I’ve returned to my artistic self, but I constantly judge my own work if it strays from my original vision instead of accepting it for what it is. My favorite compliments come from fellow artists. I am somewhat insecure about my lack of formal training, so it means a lot when an artist with that training tells me they like my work.

8. What role do you think Artists play or should play in society?

We are living through a period of unrest and turmoil. While I believe we should all be involved and speak up, I also believe our souls need a break from the severity of reality. Walking into a museum or a concert, or any other source of artistry, is necessary for the balance we need.

9. What is your favourite artwork/artist and why?

I love art in almost every form. Even if I don’t like a specific piece, I always appreciate the work and creativity the artist put into it. I never thought I liked Picasso until I saw an exhibit that connected his work to his experiences in New Guinea. That fresh look at his work made all the difference in my perception of him.

10. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring artists? 

You grow by doing. There is a saying that says that whatever you do 10,000 times you become an expert in. As I continue to paint I can see my work growing and changing with each piece. Even if I don’t like a piece, I always learn something from everything I paint.

11. Is there anything that you would like to say to your followers?

I love what I do and consider myself the luckiest person I know. I would love to have you follow my work, but even more important, follow your own dreams. It’s so hard to risk stepping outside the norm and following your passions, but it’s worth every moment of discomfort once you know how it feels to live your dream.

Please join me in thanking Jean for her candid and open replies. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Jean via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on her website: http://www.artbyjeanmcguire.com/

Social media contacts:
Instagram @artbyjeanmcguire;
Facebook: @artbyjeanmacguire;
Blog: http://jasminepetalsthoughts.com/

An interview with historical fiction author, Intrigue Sui Generis

Welcome to the latest in a series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am thrilled to introduce the very gifted, Intrigue Sui Generis, author of the historical fiction novel, The Witch Trials, The Becoming. Intrigue has chosen the self-publishing route and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the process.

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a life time learner with a particular penchant for medieval history. I love going back to the primary sources and pulling them apart, dissecting them to give me a better understating of how past events have helped mould and shape present day society.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I play the violin, paint and take my children on adventures!

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I am starting an online retail store and recently started a publishing company.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you complete your first novel?
I started writing when I was 12. For reasons I won’t go into, I found myself grounded for a whole month and was bored out of my mind. My sister and I used the time to write stories to pass the time and try and entertain one another. To cut a long story short, I was bitten by the writing bug and my first book was finished 10 years ago. That said I am still re-writing it 10 years on, I’ve honed the craft over time and feel now is a good time to go back and look at the novel with fresh eyes and ideas. It’s amazing how I’ve been able to improve it already!

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I always wanted to write historical fiction. I love that I can lose myself in History and almost live alongside my characters during my first draft. A distinct timeframe also gives me a defined focus for the research phase, otherwise I’d simply lose myself in our planet’s fascinating past!

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No, I honestly have so many ideas that pop into my head it’s hard to get them down before I forget them. There are so many I have yet to develop, time is my main problem.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I write an outline for historical fiction, but tend to allow my imagination to wander when writing regular fiction.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Karen Hancock, The Guardian King series and The Coldest Winter Ever, by Sister Souljah. They are amazing.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?
I chose the self-publishing route and I must say, what I didn’t appreciate was how long the process actually is. From Editing, copy-editing, proof reading to cover art design everything takes weeks or even months. One has to learn to be patient way after the first (or even second or third) draft of the book is actually complete. It could still be years before anyone will actually pick up and appreciate your work.

10. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
Yes. Personally I would have created the book trailer way ahead of publishing date and been able to have It released at the same time as the book or possibly during the pre-sale period.

11. How do you market your work?
What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Social media (Twitter), my website (https://intriguingpages.com/), press releases and word of mouth. I am still investigating which avenues work best for my particular genre.

12. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
The Witch Trials series is a very informative, action packed way of telling the history of the witch trials themselves and how that contributed to other norms within our society.

13. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Yes, the events in this book are based on real events, but the characters are all fictitious.

14. What project are you working on now?
Marketing for The Witch Trials book one and I’ve just started writing the second in the Witch Trials series. I’m hoping to release it by the end of 2018.

15. Are there certain characters you would like to write again?
You can expect to see Sylvie in book 2.

16. What has been your greatest compliment as a writer?
My favourite compliment has been that they could not put the book down once they started reading it.

17. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Never give up. Perseverance is key, whether you are self or traditionally published.

18. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Please go out and get yourself a copy of Witch Trials: The Becoming http://a.co/8eQQsIK.
It is a short read and action packed. A necessary predecessor for the next book in the series. You will not be disappointed. There is something in there for both genders. History must not be forgotten.

Please join me in thanking Intrigue for taking part in this interview and for sharing her experiences as a self-published author. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Intrigue Sui Generis via the following links. Please show your appreciation by checking out her work on Amazon using the above link.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/IntrigueGeneris
Website: https://intriguingpages.com/

An interview with YA author, Nathan Hopp

Welcome to the latest in my series of interviews from around the world. This afternoon we find ourselves in North America and I am delighted to welcome the talented writer, Nathan Hopp, author of the recently published historical fantasy novel, The Adventures of Peter Gray. It has been fascinating to hear about Nate’s journey as a writer and his route to publication.

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Nathan Hopp, and I’m a college student/author born and raised in the U.S. state of Wisconsin. I’m a big nerd when it comes to topics such as history, anime, the furry fandom and I love exploring new places wherever I go. I mostly write short stories, but I’m pleased to announce my debut novel, The Adventures of Peter Gray, was recently published earlier this year.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I’m either biking, studying for / attending university classes or meeting new people such as your good self, on the Internet.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Unfortunately, yes. At the moment I’m an associate at Walmart, and while the pay is good it doesn’t beat the thought of waking up one morning and doing nothing but writing!

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve loved reading ever since I was in kindergarten, but I guess you can say writing my own stories began somewhere in my high school library. One day I decided to write poetry, this led to short stories and eventually I hit the hard stuff and completed my first novel by the time I started college. A year later, and here I am.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
When I first started, I wrote short stories geared towards fans of serious science fiction. The Adventures of Peter Gray is a historical fantasy; two genres I hadn’t attempted at that point. As such I needed to undertake an extensive period of research and cherry picked features from each genre that best worked for me. As for plot ideas, most of the time they just come to me in moments of inspiration, but they can come from anywhere and at any time. I just have to keep a notebook handy!

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
My God, who doesn’t? Some days I feel unable to write a single sentence, and the next I’m hastily writing entire paragraphs of a story on the back of a napkin or scrap paper taken from the Walmart break room. On those days, I’m terrified of forgetting these ideas and additions to a story.

7. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Where do I start? There’s too many books that influenced me, but I can tell you the writers who shaped me. There’s classic authors like Stephen King, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens, Ray Bradbury and the like. Then there’s Marie Lu, Alex London, Kyell Gold, Scott Westerfeld, Anthony Horowitz, George Orwell and countless others that would need an entire book of its own.

8. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I am lucky enough to have been traditionally published but it has been a tough route. From my point of view, taking criticism was probably the hardest part of being traditionally published. I signed my contract thinking my manuscript was the finished article. Far from it! I think I’d have found the process much easier if I’d started knowing my first draft was about to undergo a substantial period of revision and editing. It is an essential step when it comes to publishing any book, not just mine, but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier when you receive your first set of notes from the editor. The side I enjoyed and therefore found easiest was the promotion side. It helps that I’m currently attending college and my minor is in Marketing, but I’ve loved the creative side and the myriad of ways you can put yourself and your work out there in public and on the web.
Coming back to the process itself, aside from developing a thick skin, patience is a virtue. There is so much waiting once the various edits leave your desk and return for reassessment. I believe the average time to publish a book is a year but it can be much longer. To cut a long story short, my editor and I knew each other back when we were in high school. During our first professional encounter she read the first couple of paragraphs of a short story I’d written and turned to me to say, “If this were a book and you asked me, I wouldn’t publish it after reading the first sentence.” That cut to the bone!
So I worked hard. I practiced and practiced, honing my writing skills, taking on-board any criticism thrown my way – learning from it instead of getting upset. I made sure I grew as both a person and a reader before writing the first draft for, The Adventures of Peter Gray. Five years later, I told her about the concept during one of our email correspondences and she was intrigued by the pitch. I sent her the manuscript and the rest is history!

9. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I mostly utilize online and local sources. Given my book is about an anthropomorphic wolf who lives in a historical setting, I already know my audience is the furry fandom, that makes it much easier to pitch in arena’s and on sites where I know this type of book will thrive.

10. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Tough question – yes and no. There is another related project I’ve been itching to complete, but both life and my current publication have served to delay it. I will certainly go back to it and I’m hoping my new and existing fanbase will support it once I breathe life into it over the coming months.

11. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Absolutely! The Adventures of Peter Gray is a historical coming-of-age fantasy set in 1899 New York City. My protagonist is an anthropomorphic wolf who lives a life of mischievous shenanigans & adventure on the Manhattan streets. Think of, The Adventures of Peter Gray, as a crossbreed between Disney’s Zootopia and a work of fiction by either Mark Twain or Charles Dickens.

12. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
Given it involves childhood, I have taken some aspects of my own and implemented it into the narrative. You’ll have to read it to start guessing which parts though!

13. What project are you working on now?
Mmm, it’s a bit of a secret, but let’s just say Peter’s story isn’t finished yet.

14. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
There are, especially in the fictional world of my novel. As for themes, I don’t shy away from tough issues and indeed prefer to embrace and explore them; most recently I’ve run with themes such as diverse as economic inequality and prejudice.

15. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
J.K. Rowling and Stephen King didn’t become famous by imitating others. It is great to be inspired by others, but don’t let that be the only thing you’re known for in your writing career. Surpass your role models, take and assess the criticism you receive, and be unique in every way you can.

16. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you so much for all your support, I really appreciate it.
The Adventures of Peter Gray is a coming-of-age tale that will invoke nostalgic memories of your childhood and bring it back to life. The novel is available on Amazon, Goodreads and at any Barnes & Noble store you can visit. Please leave a review if you enjoy my work, not only will I be very appreciative but it is the only way to nudge the Amazon algorithms into life!

Please join me in thanking Nathan Hopp for engaging with me and discussing some of the finer points of life as an author. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Nate via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out Nate’s work on Amazon:
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Adventures-Peter-Gray-Nathan-Hopp/dp/173205116X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531410182&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Adventures+of+Peter+Gray
Amazon USA: https://www.amazon.com/Adventures-Peter-Gray-Nathan-Hopp/dp/173205116X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1531410278&sr=8-1&keywords=the+adventures+of+peter+gray+by+nathan+hopp

Social media contacts:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HoppNate
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NathanWHopp/
DeviantArt: https://www.deviantart.com/domus-vocis
FuAffinity: Userpage of domusvocis — Fur Affinity [dot] net

An interview with YA author, Christopher Galvin

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the talented author, Christopher Galvin, creator of the children’s fantasy novel, Strings. Christopher has selected the self-publishing path and it has been interesting to find out his take on the positives and negatives associated with his experience.

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1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m from Co. Offaly in Ireland. My background is in TV and film. I have a BA Hons Degree in Video. I’ve always enjoyed writing since I was very young, whether it was short stories or plays or comics. I write short films which seem to do reasonably well on the film festival circuit – the last one was called Stuck. I really enjoyed writing and co-directing that one.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Marketing my book! Pushing it on social media etc. But I’m also a videographer so I edit videos etc. too.
3. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve been writing since I was old enough to pick up a pen, but my first book… I recently finished the third draft of my first novel, Arthur Smallwood’s Quest for Magic, which I’ve begun to submit to agents. Although ASQM is technically the first book I completed, Strings, is the first book I published. It’s a children’s fantasy book which I’ve self-published on Amazon and came out earlier this year.
4. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I’m not sure I have a genre as such, but there’s usually something supernatural added whether its monsters or ghosts etc. but I wouldn’t classify it as horror. Maybe drama or comedy with a hint of the unusual about it.
As for where I get my ideas… Sometimes they jump out at me from nowhere. Other times they have been developed from something else. For example, Strings came about because I read about a competition for a story which had certain ground rules (i.e. the protagonist had to be a certain age and had to meet certain people). I simply started writing the requested scene and a couple of hours later I created the basis of a story around a young girl, her imaginary friend and their discovery of a mysterious puppet theatre materialising in her room. After writing that piece I started thinking about what would happen next, so I just continued to write and finished it in a few days.
5. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes. The way your head goes blank. It’s frustrating but it can be overcome. Either by sitting there thinking it through, or by walking away and going about your business. Usually when that happens the ideas eventually start flowing again.
6. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I just write. Most times I’ll have thought about it a lot, building the story in my head, but when I sit down, I simply write. I can edit out the bad bits later. I’m a great believer in just letting the words flow, especially with a first draft.
7. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
I suppose the author or authors that stick out are Stephen King and Terry Pratchett. Their styles, while miles apart, really appeal to me. King’s strength is in his great build up of suspense and the horror he can unleash. Pratchett’s is his wonderful way with world play and his characters. Imagine combining those styles together!
8. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?
When I wrote Strings I thought, well I’ll self-publish it. This was on the basis the experience would give me a better understanding of the market and the process if I decide to self-publish, Arthur Smallwood’s Quest for Magic. Publishing it on Amazon was fairly straightforward and went well. The decision on the size of the paperback was a challenge and the cover design certainly had its issues (although I’m pleased with the result). Sales went fine for the first few days (family and friends buying it) but there comes a time when you have to reach out to an audience of strangers and say, ‘Here’s my book – I think you’ll like it!’ I’m still trying to figure out how to do that effectively.
9. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I post about it on twitter and Facebook. I have a Facebook page for Strings and an Instagram account for it too. I made three short trailers for it (I think the last one got the most response) and I had a one-day sale where the digital version was free for the day. I haven’t cracked the market by any means but I’m constantly researching and plugging away.
10. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Well, I mentioned Strings which is about a young Irish girl who has trouble making friends. She ends up creating an imaginary friend who helps her through her ups and downs. But some malevolent force has detected she is unhappy and initiates a plan to lull her into the magical town of Puppet Town. Now, Puppet Town is great, has marionettes and shadow puppets and hand puppets etc but if she stays there for 24 hours she will become a puppet too and can never go back home. The remainder of the tale follows her journey to do just that.
Arthur Smallwood’s Quest for Magic is a bit more complex and is aimed at the YA market. I’ll talk more about that when it’s ready to go.
11. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or is it purely imaginative?
One or two little pieces that reflect my own life but mostly pure imagination.
12. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been your greatest compliment?
The toughest I think is that I’m very much in a hurry to get things written and done. In the past my first drafts were ‘it’. I didn’t bother with editing much. But that has changed for the better and I’m more patient. You kind of have to be. It makes your writing better. My greatest compliment is probably that I tend to make things very vivid – if you read my stories you can really imagine what the characters are feeling and the worlds they inhabit.
13. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
This is hard as I’d still describe myself as an aspiring writer. That said I guess my advice would be firstly to take your time and don’t rush a project. Give as much time to perfecting your work as you can. Secondly is simply to keep writing – don’t wait for inspiration to arrive before writing, it won’t! You have to work at your craft, inspiration rarely just appears and if you simply waited you’d be staring at a blank page most of the time. Finally you must engage with those willing to help. Let people read your work; if you are lucky enough to be friends with someone who can edit, don’t be shy about passing over your manuscript! They are a huge help and can improve your writing. If you have writing heroes follow them and keep reading. Sometimes going to a book signing can push you to want to have one of your own. *takes a deep breath and ends answer*
14. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Please pick up a copy of Strings and take a look. While it’s a kid’s book, it’s also not. I would imagine a lot of adults now might feel some of what Mary is feeling and enjoy her adventure. And if you do, please leave a review on Amazon and/or Goodreads. Not only is It a huge boost when you read about someone loving the story you have told but reviews are the life blood of a self-published author and essential if new readers are to discover our work.

Please join me in thanking Christopher for the insight into his publication journey and for sharing his more general writing experiences. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Christopher via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out his work on Amazon:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1981099468

Social media contacts:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChrisGalvin1981
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Previous publications:
http://www.fishamble.com/fishamble-diaries/playsonatrain-my-lovely-molly-by-christopher-galvin