Keith Dixon has been writing fiction since he was a teenager and has learned that, unsurprisingly, stories with strong characters and compelling plots are what readers look for. After drifting from job to job when young, he went on to earn Masters degrees in 20th Century English Literature and Organizational Psychology, and subsequently worked as a lecturer, proofreader, copywriter and business consultant. This experience naturally qualified him to write a series of novels about a tough British Private Eye, Sam Dyke.
What inspires you to write?
I’m inspired by the urge to create characters who find themselves in difficult circumstances but have the wit and resources to escape them. I’m also inspired by the great writers I read and I want to be able to hold my head up in their company.
Tell us about your writing process.
I usually have a beginning, middle and end in mind when I start to write. My characters usually come to me fully-formed, but I don’t really understand them until I start writing their dialogue. I plan four or five chapters ahead, then see what the characters say as they interact with each other. This can lead me into new areas to explore, and my job then is to integrate these new areas into the plot that I already have in mind.
On a daily basis I aim for 1000 words per day, then re-write some time before the next day’s session. This means I can write a book fairly quickly once I’ve got the majority of the plot and most of the characters worked out.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I start by talking to them, telling them where to go and what to do. About halfway through the book, typically, I start listening to how they interact with the other characters. This helps me to know what they’re like and helps determine how the rest of the story might pan out.
What advice would you give other writers?
My advice is always that books are written sentence by sentence, and readers are only interested in so far as your sentences engage them. It’s no good having an interesting story, in my view, if you’re not concerned as to how you construct your sentences. So I’m constantly thinking about creating interest in the writing itself. So it’s essential to think about your adverbs and adjectives and, what’s more, the flow of the language. Short sentences mixed into your long sentences. Cut out cliches. Find a more interesting and richer way of saying what you’re trying to say. Re-write.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Having tried for a number of years to publish traditionally I realised this was a tough market to break into and took a long time. I was always complimented on my writing but agents or publishers weren’t ready to put their money – or time – where their mouths were. So eventually I’ve published three novels through Lulu and, later, Createspace, as well as on Kindle, and the sales have slowly grown over time.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Easy – most people are casual readers and many readers travel. Hence ebooks are going to become more and more popular. Writers will still want to see their books in print, however, so books will continue to be printed on paper for the foreseeable future, even if the market for them dwindles.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Thriller, Crime, Private Eye, Detective, Mystery
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print