What inspires you to write?
Tolkein introduced me to fantasy and the old Hammer films to horror. I love that sense of other-worldliness that fantasy fiction conveys. It’s a place to get lost in; another world to explore and follow the fortunes, and misfortunes, of the characters that inhabit it.
The Scottish landscape, especially the Highlands, is very inspirational and draws out ideas as does poetry, songs and any many other expressions of creative imagination.
Tell us about your writing process.
I begin with a character and put them in a setting, then the remainder of the story plays out before me. I never know where it will go, what the characters will do, or how the book is going to end. I am often surprised by their choices. That’s what makes writing such a fascinating pastime. I don’t write notes, draw outlines or have sticky notes pinned to the side of my monitor. I tend to allow the characters to lead me through their story and, somehow, everything wraps up nicely in the finale. I tend to do a lot of research around the subject – like paranormal investigations and medieval warfare – and anything from that research can trigger the subject of a whole chapter or even the story arc.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I tend to write from a multiple character viewpoint. I watch my characters as they interact with each other and don’t tend to interfere with them. Sometimes I get into the heads of my characters and see the world though their eyes, other characters (especially the ones who are mysterious) are reported: I will never know what they are thinking. Gabriel in The Sleeping Warrior is one such character.
What advice would you give other writers?
Unless your book is an overnight success – ie, simultaneously in the right place, at the right time to the right audience – or you have the might of one of the big publishing houses behind you, getting seen in the vast ocean of struggling authors all vying for a place at the top of the Amazon lists is not an easy feat. It can be a demoralising, difficult and depressing ride but, if you have a good story written well, perseverance will be rewarded eventually. I have learned, and very many other successful authors have said the same, the more books you produce, the bigger your chances of getting noticed as an author and winning a strong fan base.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I self-published my debut novel The Sleeping Warrior in early 2014. I blogged, tweeted, publicised on Facebook, sent out review copies and did as much as I could to market it. I’ve always had a problem with selling myself, however, I’m just not good at it. I was fortunate to secure a publisher for my second novel The Ghost Tree who has been brilliant and they also took on The Sleeping Warrior without hesitation. It helps having a professional publishing house behind you, because the onus of responsibility for marketing the author and book as a package rests on the publisher, freeing up the writer’s time to do what they are best at – writing.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I was delighted to hear at the end of 2015 that printed books are making a comeback and digital sales are going down. I don’t know how true this is but, if correct, a rise in printed media will have a significant impact on bookshops and libraries which, for the past few years, have been struggling to compete against e-copies from the likes of Amazon’s digital division.
The way in which we choose what to read has also changed.
Before the coming of the “reviewing public” publishing houses told us what they thought we should read by only publishing books they believed they could sell. The dynamics have now completely shifted. The general public have become the watchdogs of the publishing world and even the Big Five are on a frantic mission to conquer the one-to-five-star system, often offering sweetening incentives of gifts with review copies to some of the top reviewers on Net Galley.
It has become quite clear that the importance of the literary critic has become obsolete and authors don’t necessarily have to be good writers any more. People will grade a book in accordance with their personal enjoyment of it: this could mean a one star because of a bad cover or five stars because they liked the pet bunny in Chapter 5.
Some would say that this degradation in quality is undermining the publishing industry as a whole and making it difficult, if not impossible, for good writers to compete in an over-saturated market. Others would argue to let the people choose and that there should be no barriers to publishing.
What genres do you write?: Paranormal and fantasy fiction
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.