I live in an outlying Pennine village in Yorkshire, England, with a growing collection of books and my understanding wife. From an early age I wanted to write and whilst working freelance for magazines gave some satisfaction, it didn’t provide a living. For that I spent some years working for one of the major banks, which was a great way to learn about people.
At university I managed to squeeze in a course about playwriting, so I suppose something was trying to tell me what to do once I grew up. For my MA Professional Writing, I specialised in screenwriting and story structure. It was a great course, and filled in a lot of knowledge gaps.
Since 2005 I have seen life from the other side of the publisher’s desk whilst being heavily involved in republishing the novels by Leo Walmsley. Oak Seer (A supernatural mystery) is the first of my published novels, followed by Flither Lass, a historical novel set in England during the First World War. My hobbies are reading, swimming, and watching lots of screen drama. Oh yes, and trying to persuade my wife to stay off eBay.
What inspires you to write?
I just want to tell stories.
Tell us about your writing process.
I’m an outliner, and I think it comes from my training as a screenwriter. For every story I have a fixed set of crucial questions that I ask myself. These are difficult ones, the answers don’t easily roll out, and it’s hard work just thinking about them. But to develop the stories these questions force me into the fictional world, and by the time I reach the end I have everything I need for a character-driven story.
I have some screenwriting software which I no longer use because my own method demands much more detail. I do use a wall-mounted whiteboard, which is where I scribble odd thoughts and ideas, and for my initial outline notes. I find it’s much better than using paper.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
On occasion, if I hit a dead end (not the same as writer’s block), I will start with a blank sheet and get a character to tell me about them self. I just let them rabbit on, as if they are doing the typing, and I see what comes out. That can be useful.
What advice would you give other writers?
Always be willing to listen to other people, no matter who or what they are, because there is a lot of wisdom out there, sometimes hidden in the most unexpected places.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
In the past I have found two literary agents, but in this new digital age I wouldn’t waste time going down that route again. This is my personal choice, of course. For me, right now, self-publishing appears to have the edge over traditional ways, both in enabling me to retain control and in being able to get a book out there quickly. At least we now have a choice, but there are upsides and downsides with both.
I would advise new authors to speak with those who have succeeded as well as those who haven’t seen so much return on their time and financial investment, and then make their own decision. To do this they need to “mix” and rub virtual shoulders with real authors. Of course, if you can get to meet some of them face-to-face, all the better. I say “real authors” as opposed to “hobby authors” because these are the people whose livelihoods depend on their writing, and who will be better able to give you a warts and all view of the industry from a committed level.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Because of the low barrier of entry into a market where almost everyone and their dog has become an author, this has effectively filled it with too many books. And the sad, if not exactly surprising, effect is that readers can find it difficult to tell the difference between a good read and some of the other material that’s on offer. Put in a nutshell: there’s no quality control.
What I think will happen is that eventually the less-committed new authors will lose interest, and those people who only ever really wanted to write one book will be satisfied and also move away, leaving the market to committed writers, especially those who write books for a living. I don’t know when this will happen, but there may be signs that the initial frenzied surge in eSelf-publishing is easing off, and only when it does will we be able to see what’s left of the playing field.
One thing is certain: the eBook revolution is here to stay, and print books should no longer be an author’s primary focus.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Thriller, Mystery, Historical, Memoir, Humor
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print