An interview with Ugandan author, Achiro P. Olwoch

After a brief break, during which I have got married and finally published my first novel, I am pleased to welcome you all back to the latest in a series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am thrilled to introduce the gifted Ugandan writer and film maker, Achiro P. Olwoch, author of Achiro’s Kamunye Conversations, Achiro’s Taste, and Achiro’s Notes. Achiro is self-published and I’ve enjoyed hearing her take on the process.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My name is Achiro P. Olwoch and I am a Ugandan writer, playwright and film maker.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
I enjoy watching movies, binging on boxsets or reading.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I am a full time freelance writer and film maker.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I started writing about 15 years ago but I was transcribing and writing someone else’s books as he recorded his thoughts using a voice recorder. Soon after that though, I started my own book and wrote it in three months.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I usually write drama stories. Most of my stories are based on real life situations but I add a twist of imagination unless I am shooting documentary film, then it is as is.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Yes, yes and yes. But sometimes I think it is more procrastination than anything else.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I start off with an idea and then start to write. When the ideas start to flood, then I make an outline. I also allow my thoughts to flow freely so even if I am writing from an outline, I may not always stick to it.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Yes, J.K Rowling, J.R.R. Tolkein and Alexander McCall Smith. The first two authors because their sense of imagination is just out of this world. And Alexander because he captures the attention of the reader with his sense of humour and his power of description.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
So far I have self-published all my books. I have been turned down numerously by publishers mainly because what I had was not what they were looking for at the time. My biggest challenge as a self-published author is marketing my books.

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 start marketing it way before it has been printed.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I use social media especially and word of mouth. My family and friends have been my best marketers to date and this has worked well so far.

12. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
My upcoming book is set in the 70’s and is a story about life of the people in Uganda during the rule of the dictator Idi Amin through the eyes of one man.

13. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
It is based on a couple of real life stories but I dare say it is getting cloudy now because those stories are re-occurring this day and age by the present government. It is almost like history is repeating itself as I write my book.

14. What project are you working on now?
Working on completing my late Father’s book; completing a couple of documentary films; and writing a feature film.

15. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Hopefully, yes with the coming year.

16. 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 love history and drama and I love to write on real life situations.

17. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I will start with the compliment; my writing is easy and down to earth. The toughest criticism, I occasionally breeze through a story and do not describe the situations enough.

18. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Keep your day job until you can actually pay your bills through your writing. Still, do not give up on your writing and try and write a bit every day even if it is just in your diary.

19. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Thank you and keep buying my books and films.

Please join me in thanking Achiro 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 Achiro P. Olwoch via the following links.

Social media contacts: Twitter: @achirop

Website: http://www.achiropolwoch.com

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An interview with multi-genre Author, Owen Richards

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce, Owen Richards, multi genre author of number of novels including, “A Fool’s Errand” and “Neither Here, Nor There.” Owen 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.

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

Owen G. Richards is a pen name – I take the credit/blame for all my efforts as Owen.
Youngest child of nine, went to sixteen different schools by the time I was sixteen – due to travelling with the family.
My work experience has included Telecommunications, Information Technology, Building, Plumbing and Electrical work and international contracts, ranking from basic dogsbody to manager and back again.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?

When I’m not writing, which tends to be periods of short duration, I fill my time either playing mind numbing games to eradicate any lingering thoughts relating to any of my work, or I’m messing about with Twitter, which is a fairly recent development. TV? No, don’t have one.

3. Do you have a day job as well?

My occupation is that of a teacher of English as a foreign language and it can be very demanding. However there are times when the rewards far outweigh the effort I put in to the lessons. Most recently a student commented that it had been a pleasure to have the lessons.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

I first started writing at school, though my early efforts were stifled by the requirement for essays in place of fiction. I resumed writing later in life perhaps mid-thirties when I realised that with my ex-wife in control of the television, the evening’s entertainment would consist of soap operas, soap operas and more soap operas. I finished my first novel (an epic) within six months, if I recall correctly.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?

The genres that chose me to write them are predominantly SciFi, Fantasy and Horror, though I am experimenting with others. As for where the ideas come from that’ll be anything, anywhere and at any time. One story was provoked by someone saying – “It doesn’t matter.” – at an inappropriate time.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Writer’s block is a right royal pain in the butt, and when we first encounter it, it seems insurmountable. But there are various methods for getting round it, from taking a break to changing the subject to one you wouldn’t normally write about. It takes time to identify what works for you, but don’t be afraid to try anything.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?

A bit of both, and it depends which story I’m working on. Sometimes there is no time for planning as the story demands to be told NOW!
8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

There are too many to mention, from a wide variety of genres, though my reading has been dramatically curtailed since I started writing. I actually studied English Literature for a while and if I have to blame anyone for the pleasure I get from writing it would be my English Literature Teacher.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published (self-published or traditional)?

I am self-published, but I am not someone who is any good whatsoever at the marketing aspect. I produce the book, publish it and usually make a single announcement just to say it’s out there on the bookshelf. I can’t ring the bells and bang the drums and shout – “look at me and my stuff”.

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?

With any first efforts you’re either a total genius, which I’m not, or you have regrets. My biggest regret is impatience. I rushed to write, without gaining any real experience and without remembering how others wrote their books. And I rushed to publish and perhaps should have tried harder to find an agent or publisher.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

Answered that one – I’m bloody useless at it.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

I love all my books. I’m hoping to take my current WIP – probably a trilogy – down the agent publisher route. People seem to be quite excited about it when I describe it, or share snippets.

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?

My WIP – a sixteen-year-old orphan is thieving from a military shipyard in an effort to produce something to provide him with a future that does not include the draft. He gets shanghaied by an escaped blob of pico-technology and finds himself starting his adventure aboard a salvage vessel – the Resurrection. His father died in an experimental spacecraft, his mother subsequently committed suicide – at least that is what he believes. You’d need to follow his adventures to find out if he is able to discover the truth, or not.
Nope, not good at writing a synopsis either!

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Some small (undisclosed) parts are based on experience, but a lot of it is fiction. To write without including something of yourself in the story – even in horror stories – leaves the writing a little flat. Experience, desires, aspirations are all good elements to include. If you can’t feel it, your readers won’t feel it either.

15. What project are you working on now?

The Trilogy – Resurrection, Renegades and Revelations are the three working titles – the saga of Thomas Andrew McNulty.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?

Soon, no… I hope to finish all three books before I begin touting them around.

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 take each and every theme on it’s own merit. Maybe I do revisit some themes because they are related to the better qualities of the human animal. I’d revisit characters if they could be written into stories with continuity, or episodes.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

The toughest – a report written about my first story, produced by a “reader”, whom I am pretty sure was on her menopause – though I will admit it was badly written – she gave 0 encouragement – hence I had a long hiatus before returning to writing.
The best feedback – when a reviewer compared my most recent publication to ‘Game of Thrones’ – they said it could have been an episode.

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

Learn from any source, any person, any other written work but mainly be prepared to learn from experience – and those can be the best lessons, though some will be brutal, some will be sublime.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

To my (few) readers I say – thanks for taking the time/making the effort to read my work. And fans… don’t know that I really have any, but I’d like to say – I hope that I can continue to produce works/commentaries that you can appreciate and enjoy.

Please join me in thanking Owen Richards 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 use the facilities available below and show your appreciation by checking out his work on Amazon.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Owen-G.-Richards/e/B01LYI7AZE/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

An interview with horror author, Scott West

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, Scott West, creator of the horror novel, “Ghosts On The Highway”. Scott selected the self-publication route after attempting to track down a traditional contract. It has been interesting hearing his take on the positives and negatives associated with both routes and his experience in general.

Cover

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m a writer/musician living in the pacific northwest. We moved up here when I was three years old and I guess I’ve got moss growing on my toes and mountain-fresh river-water in my veins because it’s still a place I love. I’m a comic book collector and horror movie aficionado. I also like to occasionally use words like “aficionado” to make myself seem smarter. Trying to be an adult and not lose my sense of wonder or love of the strange and offbeat.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
When the weather is good, I might be hiking around in the woods, looking for Sasquatch. Most likely, you can find me with a book in my hand, though. I haven’t played in a band for a couple of years now, but I haven’t put my guitar away forever. It seems that when I’m playing music, the writing takes a back seat. But increasingly the writing has become the focus of my life and music is more of a hobby at this point.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
I work for the library.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I’ve been writing all my life, but got serious about it about ten years ago. If you mean, when did I start the book, itself–that would have been in 2014. I finished it in 2015 and published it on New Year’s Day, 2016. There was a long and winding path to that finally happening.

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I think the genre generally chooses the writer, and my muse has always been a bit of a devilish figure that lurks in the shadows, beckoning me to write about the weird, the fantastic, the frightening or the preternatural. I’ve always had a fascination with horror–in fiction, movies, comics, etc. This is where my writing tends to lean, although I will write about anything that to comes to mind, takes up residence and refuses to leave until I type it out. Ideas are all around us. Learn to observe and remember. Eventually, a couple of disparate things will clash unexpectedly and often a story will be the result.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
I experience periods of laziness, where if something is proving too hard to describe the way I want I will let it lie and tell myself it’s writer’s block. But I’ve never just had nothing to write about.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I might have a vague idea in my head where a story is going, but I’ve never been able to work to an actual outline. I like the freedom of the story going wherever it wants to (to an extent–I also like playing God and forcing my will on the poor saps inhabiting my stories).

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Ray Bradbury. As a kid I loved his work for the wonderful language and sheer brilliant imagination. As an adult I have a whole different appreciation for the bravery (although I doubt he thought of it that way) to truly be himself, to be one-of-a-kind, and not change his work to fit in with accepted styles of the time. And he succeeded spectacularly! Reading Tom Sawyer as a child, and then Huckleberry Finn a couple years later, was also hugely influential. Mark Twain, Ray Bradbury, John Steinbeck, Stephen King, Philip K. Dick and Harlan Ellison – those are pretty much to my go-to guys.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
I tried, unsuccessfully, to find a traditional publisher. The rejections I received were pretty uniform: “We don’t know what genre this falls under”, “We wouldn’t know how to market this”, etc. Honestly, part of me was relieved. Coming from a DIY, sort of punk rock music background, I have been pretty used to having creative control over my projects. I had a great cover–an eerie, black and white picture by a local photographer, Tom Moore–some little visual things inside–and I really wanted to hang onto those. The real challenge is that I sat on the book for about a year while I was going through some personal struggles, and when I came out on the other side of that and had to start thinking about what to do with it, I had no inclination to go through another round of rejections. About this time, I found out a co-worker was self-publishing books and after talking with her pretty extensively about the pros and cons, decided that would be the best course for Ghosts On The Highway.

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?
Although I’m happy with the way things turned out, and the amount of support and great feedback I’ve gotten from people, I think if I could go back I might actually try a little longer to find a traditional publisher. Mainly, because I’m just curious to see what would have happened.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Marketing has always been the hardest part, and that goes for all my musical projects, as well. I’m just not interested in that aspect of being a writer (or musician). Unfortunately, it seems more and more that an artist really does need to also be their own PR person. I’m getting slightly better at it. I was highly skeptical at first, but Twitter has actually been very effective–I’ve sold quite a few books through Twitter, even with my extremely limited marketing skills. Because my book is a little fuzzy around the edges, genre-wise, I’m able to deceptively infiltrate a lot of different literary enclaves, which is beneficial. It seems like the horror community has been very receptive to the book, which makes me happy because, even though Ghosts On The Highway doesn’t easily fit into that genre, it does share some aspects and I think a lot of horror fans have picked up on that. Other avenues for me have just been lots of word of mouth, networking with other writers, especially indie writers, and sharing each other’s work.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
Oh, several! Maybe someday they will see the light…

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
The book I’m working on currently is the story of a very buttoned-down, well-adjusted, no-nonsense young man who has an unexpected encounter with something so mysterious and foreign that his entire life is upended and he begins to question everything he’s ever believed, all the minutiae–all the way down to the One Great Question of the Ages: What’s it all about?

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The main character, John, is based partly on a real man I met at a gig in Seattle–a huge Native American who was living on the street and writing poetry in journals that he carried around in a garbage bag. John’s struggles with mental illness and medication are inspired by own experiences in those areas. The mythology that holds the story together is based on Coast Salish legends and history. The story itself is pure imagination, though.

15. What project are you working on now?
I have the above-mentioned novel and several short stories in the works. I also just recorded the first episode of a podcast I’ll be doing with my friend and co-host, Mike Longmire, who played bass in my first band. We’ll be talking about our musical misadventures with many, hopefully interesting, tangents. It’s called Feedback and Forth and should be out soon on iTunes and hopefully a few other platforms.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
Swan River Press just released the anthology, “Uncertainties Volume III” which contains my story, “Ashes to Ashes”. I’m very humbled to be included alongside Joyce Carol Oates, Lisa Tuttle, and several more award-winning writers.

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?
My head is so full of vivid characters, I’m usually happy leaving the ones I’ve already written about where they are and move on to the next. As far as theme, I feel like I’m chasing the same one or two, but in different ways. There’s always something more I’m trying to understand about myself. I think I put my characters through the wringer in the hopes that if they can make it through, then probably I can, too.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
I’ve never had a criticism levelled at me that I couldn’t learn from. Probably the harshest was being told by an editor that my “endings suck”. I actually couldn’t argue with her about that. But it forced me to work harder to fix that, and I hope that I have gotten better.
The best compliment, easily, was from a friend who told me that he never reads fiction, but he read mine because we’re friends, and he told me that he went from reading Scott’s book, to reading A book, to actually getting lost in the story and not realizing it until he came to the end. That, coming from a non-reader, really meant a lot to me. I think that’s the ultimate compliment for a writer.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Read as much as you write, and write every day.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Just to say thank you and I very much appreciate every single person who has bought, read, reviewed, passed on or even mentioned Ghosts On The Highway to someone else. Read voraciously and if you have any kind of creative urge, yourself–follow it! There can never be too many stories!

Please join me in thanking Scott 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 Scott direct via the following links.

Social media contacts:
Twitter: @ScottMWest
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5448463.Scott_West
Facebook: @KingDinosaur6669

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

Ghosts On The Highway (novel) – currently available at Amazon.com in paperback or Kindle format
“Sepulchro de Demonios” (short story) – Corpus Pretereo (anthology)
“The Monster in the Meadow” (short story) – Tales of the Talisman (magazine)
“Ashes to Ashes” (short story) – Uncertainties Volume III, currently available at http://swanriverpress.ie/titles.html

An interview with the multi genre author, Ellington Norris

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from talented writers around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce, Ellington Norris, multi genre author of number of novels including, “Killer’s Forest” and “Immortal Curse.” Ellington 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.

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
My pen name is Ellington Norris, I’m in my 30s, and I’m married with four kids. I decided to write under a pen name because my wife was concerned that my co-workers and other acquaintances would read my writing and feel perturbed by the intensity of it all.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Outside of my day job, I enjoy reading, I just read “The Maltese Falcon” and I’m reading “Watership Down” right now. Having four kids also keeps me very busy taking time with them. Other than that, I enjoy movies, TV shows, and a few other odds and ends here and there.

3. Do you have a day job as well?
Yes! I’m a lawyer for a mid-size law firm. I primarily do litigation and court-room work, but also help with contract drafting and negotiating. It has helped in my writing career because I can represent myself.

4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
I have wanted to be a writer since I was about 9-10 years old, and I wrote all sorts of things all the time from that age on. My first book I wrote was a collection of short stories I wrote with my brother about our experience selling alarm systems door to door in Kansas City. Killer’s Forest is my first novella, and it took me about 3 months to write my first draft, followed by about 2 years of editing!

5. How did you choose the genre you write in and where do you get your ideas?
I’m not tied to one specific genre. My next book after Killer’s Forest will likely be a detective-noire, meanwhile I have a spy novel and a sci-fi novel idea I’m working on as well. Many of my ideas come from long contemplation where I adapt little experiences in my own life into bigger, grander events. I also get quite a few ideas from dreams, as well, and adapt those into actual stories.

6. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Of course, who doesn’t! My biggest struggle is getting through the middle-part of a book. I usually have a great beginning and an idea of where it will end, but bridging the middle-part is toughest.

7. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
I usually know where things are going, so I just write. Sometimes I’ll put an outline together for more complex stories with lots of characters to make sure I don’t forget anyone in the story.

8. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Novels by Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton really spurred me forward in reading and writing in my teens. Those books were what kept me interested in reading for years, and really helped me get a good sense of what a book should feel like.

9. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
My biggest hurdle was editing my story into a stronger piece. Between the family, the day job, moving, selling my house, changing jobs, starting the new job, moving to the new job; all of that took time and energy and editing my novel just took a back-seat to all of that. Once I had it edited and in final form, I knew that if I took the time to shop around to agents and publishers, it’d be another year before it hit shelves due to my limited time, so I opted to self-publish.

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 do it the same. I love the writing process and love seeing a story come together, and Killer’s Forest came together so well in so many ways that it just felt right every step along the way. I don’t mind being self-published, so I have no qualms there, either.

11. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
I enjoy marketing to “writer twitter” because there are great folks online who are happy to retweet or help you promote your work. I also am considering a small run of ads on amazon, but I haven’t taken the dive, yet.

12. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
While Killer’s Forest is my first novella, I have a few other short stories and works that will likely never get widely published because of the limited market for short stories and the limited time I have to market my work.

13. Can you tell us about your upcoming or recently published book?
Yes! Killer’s Forest is a dark psychological thriller set in colonial Pennsylvania. It is about Al, Will, and Johnny. After Al and Will witness a murder in the forest near their small village, Al starts to feel himself drawn towards the idea of death. His friendships with Will and Johnny are tested, and when the new girl moving to the village takes an interest in Al, Al spins a web of lies to keep his dark desires a secret. It twists and turns several times before a great ending. I really enjoyed writing it and really feel like it is a book driven by the main character’s interactions with all of the side-characters. Killer’s Forest comes out August 26.

14. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
When I had the original idea for the book, it was actually supposed to be based upon four young boys who spur the Salem Witch Trials–telling lies and staging events so that another “witch” would get burned/hung. I thought that was too predictable and campy and moved it forward 50-100 years to 1750s Pennsylvania, instead, and that’s where the first paragraph of the book opens.

15. What project are you working on now?
Next up is my detective noire, set in modern day. The book opens on a suicide note that reads “this is not a suicide note.” The detective assigned to the case is a once-famous, turned lazy detective who has to dig deep and resolve his own demons to solve this one. I’m still not sure how it will end but its going to have a similar psychological feel as Killer’s Forest, but with many more side characters and a bit of a “whodunit” feel as it all comes together in the end.

16. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
So Killer’s Forest comes out August 26, then the detective-noire book will hopefully drop late spring of next year. My hope is to keep the releases around 9 months apart for all future books.

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 know that series are all the rage, but I have a hard time bringing myself to draft a series. I feel like character development is just so much fun to do, and having a series you really have to stall that character development in order to break up the book, and I hate to do that to my characters. I’d rather see them start, grow, and end (or die, in many case) instead of pause the growth for 25 chapters so that I can get a 2nd book out of it.
That said, I do have a few books that I think could work as a series, but they are much more story-driven than character driven…or they have so many deaths that the characters change a lot from book to book.

18. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
As far as criticism, I have had a few of those “1-star” amazon reviews that are not helpful, just something along the lines of “you have bad grammar your the worst writer” (ironically with poor grammar, itself) or people who just say “I just don’t like this kind of book.” The worst criticism to receive is the criticism that you don’t understand or that you cannot work on because its either vague or is based upon something you can’t change, like the genre of your work.
As for the best compliment? People saying they couldn’t put the book down is an amazing one. I’m the type of reader that, when I pick up a good book, I will not put it down for anything. I love knowing that someone felt the same about my book.

19. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
There’s the basic ones like “never stop writing” and “believe in yourself,” but here’s something else: write something real. Every story will have something real, whether that’s real emotion or real situations. Even if your story features space pirates or medieval dragons, you can write some real emotion from your own experience to make that book real to your readers. As an example, Killer’s Forest is a dark psychological thriller, but I put something of myself in each and every character to make sure that readers will find someone to connect with, and I’ve had numerous people say they either liked Al, Will, or Johnny the best of the three, which tells me I did something right. You can do the same. Make your characters real people with real feelings and your readers will accurately respond.

20. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
To my fan(s), thank you for reading my work and sharing it with friends. To readers who aren’t fans yet, please keep reading! I write the kind of books and stories that my mind has had trapped inside for years, and I’m sure I’ll tap into something you’ll love.

Please join me in thanking Ellington Norris 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 Ellington direct via the below social media links.

Twitter: @ellington.norris

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

Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=dp_byline_sr_ebooks_1?ie=UTF8&field-author=Ellington+Norris&search-alias=digital-text&text=Ellington+Norris&sort=relevancerank

An interview with fantasy author, Faith D. Lee

Welcome to the latest in my series of author interviews from novelists around the world. Today I am pleased to introduce the talented writer, Faith D. Lee, author of the fantasy novels, “The Fairy’s Tale” and “The Academy.”

1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I live in London with my cats and my husband – it’s a constant state of flux which of them has top priority, to be honest. Who I am kidding? It’s the cats!
I write fantasy novels in the Terry Pratchett, Jasper Fforde vein, but I struggle to think of the exact genre, which makes marketing a lot of ‘fun’. My series, The Pathways Tree, is an ongoing story about the sinister world behind fairy tales and myths. Think the old, pre-Disney blood-and-bones type fairy tales with a dash of dystopian politics and a sprinkle of Gothic and you’ll be there! A reviewer once described my first novel, The Fairy’s Tale, as “Cinderella meets 1984” and I think that’s pretty accurate.
I’ve also just finished a PhD looking at the importance of storytelling and why literature needs multiple voices and representations. I looked specifically at Self-publishing, of which I am a huge advocate, and how this new publishing method is breaking down the gates and allow more varied literature to reach readers.

2. What do you do when you are not writing?
Not much! I write a lot, usually about a thousand words a day, so that takes up a lot of my spare time. I am a geek, and in a number of fandoms, so that also keeps me busy, I love the theatre and go as often as I can afford to. And reading, of course – SF and fantasy are my go-to genres, but I’ll happily read most things if I think the characters are interesting. I’m a reader (and a writer, I suspect) who really focuses on character; I don’t mind if they’re good or bad, as long as they seem real.

3. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
A little bit of both. With all my novels, I always know what the overall arc is going to be, and where the main beats are. I then spend time working on my characters, developing character sheets and so on, before I start writing. At that point, I just write! I think it’s important to get the first draft done and not to worry too much if it isn’t perfect – that’s what draft two is for. I tend to have three or four drafts of a novel before I decide it’s finished.

4. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Blimey, yes! Tonnes! Like most bookish people, I read voraciously as a teenager. But Terry Pratchett is absolutely my favourite author – I have read and re-read all of Discworld novels and most of his non-DW books. I think the thing that makes Terry so wonderful is how layered and clever his writing is; the fact you can pick up something new every time you read one of his books is a testament to his genius. He also wrote about very real people facing very real problems, albeit they’re witches, dwarves, trolls or wizards (or a wizzard!) I think you can see his influence in my writing and also in the way I look at and think about the world. I was also lucky enough to meet him on a few occasions at signings, and he was a wonderful, friendly man. In fact, I met one of my dearest friends in a queue at a Terry signing, so not only did he gift me with hundreds if not thousands of hours of happiness with his books, but he also gave me one of my best friends.

5. Is anything in your book based on real-life experiences or purely all imagination?
To be honest, it’s a mixture of the both. Writing fantasy, of course, a lot of my world and its lore is created by my imagination. However, in terms of the emotional experiences of the novel and the journeys the characters take, I always draw on my own feels and experiences. I’m sometimes asked if my characters are based on anyone, or if any one specific character is me, but the truth is that they’re all me – or aspects of me, anyway. Bit worrying thing to consider when I think about some of the villains I’ve written! But then, I think a good villain, like any good character, needs to come from somewhere real. I’m probably aided in this as I trained many years ago in the theatre, so I draw a lot on the techniques I learned to get into each character’s mindset. However, this does backfire sometimes! I’ve one long-running villain, Julia, who I find it very uncomfortable writing scenes for as being inside her head is such a nasty, cold, calculating place to be. My husband always knows when I’ve done a Julia scene as I tend to dance around the house trying to shake her off once it’s finished!

6. What project are you working on now?
I’m just redrafting “The Princess and The Orrery,” the third novel in my Pathways Series books. I’ve enjoyed writing this one a lot as a couple of characters I’m very fond of take centre stage in this book, and it also sees the return of someone we’ve not seen in a while. I’m also writing the first draft of a new novel, “Rez-Q Me,” which is a mystery/detective novel that follows a superhero trying to make a living from saving people in a world were all heroes are rated on an app, and the more stars you get, the better ‘rescues’ you can apply for. A draft of the first chapter is up on my website (https://www.fdlee.co.uk/rezq-me) if anyone would like to check it out! Last but not least, I’m also working on a long-standing SF novel, “In The Slip.” This has taken a bit longer to get right, but I’d prefer to take a while and publish something I’m happy with than rush it out.

7. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write! It’s such old advice, but that’s because it’s true. Get that first draft written – don’t worry about every line being perfect or every plot-point lining up. You can fix all that in the redrafts. But if you don’t get that first draft written, you’ll never have anything to fix.

8. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
Yes! Thank you all so much for your enthusiasm and for taking Bea and the gang into your hearts! Writing can be a very lonely, very nerve-wracking experience, and I hope that my readers know just how much it means to hear from them. I’m very lucky in that my readers are a really friendly, supportive bunch – it motivates me to keep writing even on days when I want to pull my hair out or am having a massive imposter syndrome moment. So a huge, huge thank you to each and every one! You all make it worthwhile xx

Please join me in thanking Faith for her insightful peek into her life as an author and for sharing some of her experiences. If you would like to ask any further questions, please either use the facilities available below or contact Faith via the following links.

Please show your appreciation by checking out Faith’s work:

Readers can pick up a complete, unabridged copy of The Fairy’s Tale for free if they choose to sign up to my newsletter at http://www.fdlee.co.uk
However, if they prefer to purchase a copy, here are the links!
The Fairy’s Tale (Amazon): https://amzn.to/2LgNrwF
The Fairy’s Tale (Kobo): https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-fairy-s-tale-2
The Academy (Amazon): https://amzn.to/2JnKAAb
The Academy (Kobo): https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/the-academy-39

Social media contacts:
Twitter: @faithdlee
Instagram: @faithdlee
Facebook: @fdleeauthor
Website: http://www.fdlee.co.uk

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/