I’ve been been writing for over thirty years. I realized my unhip credentials were mounting so I decided to write about it. Little Guide to Unhip was published by Night Publishing in 2010. It’s due for an update when time permits.
However, I’m not completely unhip. My punk novel, Fall Of The Flamingo Circus was published by Allison & Busby (1990) and by Villard (American hardback 1990). Skrev Press published my novels Seaview Terrace (2003) Sucka! (2004) and Break Point (2006) and other shorter work has appeared in Skrev’s avant garde magazine Texts’ Bones including a version of my satirical novella Lost The Plot.
Thalidomide Kid was published by Bewrite Books (2007).
I’ve had other short stories published and shortlisted including Hard Workers and Headboards, first published in The Diva Book of Short Stories and subsequently as part of the Dancing In The Dark erotic anthology, Pfoxmoor Publishing (2011)
I also received a Southern Arts bursary for my novel Where A Shadow Played (now renamed ‘Did You Whisper Back?).
I’m gradually in the process of getting my books into digital format as well as into print (or back into print).
My novels tend to be character-driven and a bit quirky or gritty and deal with issues of today: drugs abuse, homelessness or mental health issues and a common theme is about the experience of being an outsider in society.
What inspires you to write?
That’s a difficult one because I’ve been doing it for so long it’s almost like breathing! I have a backlog of ideas for books and it’s a question of which one I feel inspired to write next. There’s always a lag between the initial inspiration and the execution.
Tell us about your writing process.
I do need an outline to map where I’m going but there’s plenty of scope for change and spontaneity within a loose framework. I outline on my computer mostly and then keep a file with a plan and a file with the notes I wish to use for the book. If I’m going to be offline however I do print off ‘the next section’, write it by hand and then type it into the document when I’m next online. Main characters are usually known before the book, in fact they’re often the inspiration for writing the book (I should have mentioned this in the question above!). More minor characters may evolve as I’m writing. I have years of notes including character sketches. Sometimes it’s a bit of a patchwork process – stitching relevant notes into the main body of the book as I need them.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
For many of my books I have relied on invented characters. My sister also invents characters so those characters have interacted with one another. It’s a great way to get inside a person’s thought processes, feelings, motivations etc.
What advice would you give other writers?
The importance of editing and rewriting. Be your own critic or get a trusted person to read what you’ve written and ask them for honest feedback. This is the only way you can improve your craft. Don’t be in a hurry to ‘get your book out there’. If it’s hurried readers will notice. The other thing that I would say that’s really important is to find your own voice and style and be comfortable with it, even if it’s not the most popular. You’ll never please all the people all of the time!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I was first published by a traditional publisher. Allison & Busby published ‘Fall Of The Flamingo Circus’ in paperback and it was also published in the US. In those days publishing was a whole different industry but my second novel to be published eluded me for years. I had several near misses. Then I decided to submit to small presses who were prepared to take more of a risk on work that is less commercial. But a few years ago, even the small presses were having to change their business models on account of the new digital revolution. Disillusioned with the way the publishing industry was generally heading (six figure deals for celebrities and unknown writers struggling to get a foothold), I decided to embrace the digital revolution. I joined Authonomy in 2010 and learned a lot from people who were doing it themselves. I liken it to the punk movement in the 70s when bands empowered themselves and brought their music straight to the people. Some were unashamedly unmusical (that was sort of the point!) whereas other bands and tracks from that era have stood the test of time. At first I was resistant to the digital revolution but then I embraced it as I say. It’s all very time-consuming and it changes weekly, new countries and platforms joining the ebook revolution all the time. The downside is finding time to write, of course, with the endless self-promotion one has to do (*sigh*)
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
It seems that e-books are here to stay but as long as people are reading, however they are doing it, whether in print or on a Smart Phone that is fine. I can’t imagine reading a book on a phone myself, mind! I think the nature of books may change. Shorter books and stories better suited to phones and tablets may become the norm. But I hear it that e-books are taking off globally and that can only be a good thing for writers and readers alike. However, the market is very saturated out there, people are competing in the race to the bottom and giving their hard work away for free (myself included) just to gain some visibility. I am concerned where this will eventually lead. Writers struggle financially as it is, though those who write in the popular genres and who write well probably have the best chance of making it.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
Literary, Gritty, Edgy, Coming-Of-Age, Popular Culture, LGBT,
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Both eBook and Print