Chapter One: I am born. The world blinks.
Chapter Two: I toddle. I am introduced to the works of Richard Scarry. The illustrations burn themselves into my tiny mind. This is followed by an intense interest in Winnie the Pooh and the Radio Times.
Chapter Three: Beanos and Dandys and tape recorders enter my life. I read the comic strips aloud, record these performances. Leads to writing my own stories, which are mostly about spaceships or murderous snakes.
Chapter Four: Santa brings a Commodore 64. Writing is forgotten.
Chapter Five: Teenage nerdism strikes. Dragonlance Chronicles are read. An attempt is made to copy them. Results are dreadful.
Chapter Six: Off to university to study ancient history and archaeology. Hat and whip not received. Compaints about this are ignored. University mostly a waste of time, apart from hours spent writing apocalyptic horror-comedy on 386 PC. It’s great.
Chapter Seven: Apocalyptic horror-comedy sent out to literary agents. None are interested. Novel not great. Mostly a waste of time.
Chapter Eight: A long period filled with much writing and many submissions and plenty of rejection letters. Decide I can’t stand prologues as they’re never much use.
Chapter Nine: Short stories accepted by Polluto, Voluted Tales and Kzine. Prompts a vigorous interest in Kindle Direct Publishing. First release is Macadamian Pliers, YA horror with an emphasis on creepy, spooky and other ooky things.
TO BE CONTINUED…
What inspires you to write?
All sorts. A lifetime of reading. Thousands of nights watching Hammer horrors and mad Japanese films. All the stuff I’ve ever seen or read that’s been rubbish. All the stuff I’ve ever seen or read that’s been great. A desire to commit to paper/ereader the kind of heroes and villains people can relate to. My partner, who gives me all the time in the world to write, bless her.
Yeah. All sorts.
Tell us about your writing process.
Outlines don’t always happen. That depends on the story (and the story depends on the characters). Any initial writing happens via pen and paper, specifically journalist notepads which are easy to have close to hand. I try to make sure a notepad is nearby at all times. If that’s not possible, I use notes on my phone to get any thoughts down as fast as I think them – I never let anything get away if I can help it. Once I’ve finished a novel (and rinsed through a bunch of black Bic biros), the next edit is done on computer using Microsoft Word, going through my near-heiroglyphic handwriting to fine-tune, cut chunks out, and add bits in as necessary. All edits are done on computer after that.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
All lead characters come to me fully-formed and ready-for-action (which sounds a bit disturbing, and I try not to think about it too much). It makes life easier when it comes to the writing, as I can always tell when I’m forcing a character to do something they really wouldn’t do for the sake of moving the story forward. It also makes the story-writing process somewhat unpredictable, and isn’t that part of the fun? There’s been so many times when I’ve had a very clear ending in mind, and the story has gone in a completely different direction before I’m even aware of it happening.
Some days they absolutely will not shut up.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t hide your stuff away. I did that for years. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and yes, I enjoyed it, but what’s the point if you don’t let it loose upon the world? Give your stories air, let them breathe. Be brave about it. And if it goes wrong? If the story isn’t well received? Learn your lessons and move onto the next one.
It should really be fun. If it’s not fun, what are you doing it for?
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Over the years, I’ve had periods where I’d send out a finished novel to agents, publishers, all that malarkey, and didn’t get very far. No feedback, nothing useful. And the finished work mounted up. I’d thought about KDP a couple of times, but wasn’t quite ready, needed to do final edits, was put off by the need to get a front cover, and just let myself get distracted by the next novel, the next short story, the next whatever. Then my wonderful partner gave me a push, and I saw she was right. I’d reached a point where I had that many novels finished that it was time to do something with at least one of them. (There might be something to be said for the argument that there’s a good reason why no agent wants my work, but let’s not think about that.) Why wait forever for answers that might never come when you can have a go yourself? So I decided to go for it, to self-publish.
And it sounded like fun.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Digital is on the increase at the moment (and the main reason why I’ve jumped into self-publishing). Digital brings the good and the bad – now that anyone can publish, it will bring us gems that would have been missed or passed on by traditional methods, but will also let through a lot of dross that should really remain in bottom drawers (and I hope my work doesn’t fall into this category). Eventually a balance will be struck between digital and physical, because nothing can ever replace a paper book and there will always be a market for that. A pretty big market, by my reckoning.
What genres do you write?
YA, Horror, Comedy, Fantasy
What formats are your books in?