I was a newspaper journalist for over 14 years and an editor for a legal publishing company before that, so writing has always been part of my day job. I took voluntary redundancy in October 2012 to start up my own publishing company and become a full-time author. My aim is to not only publish my books, but also to become a publisher of quality fiction. I write fantasy fiction, mainly epic, but my debut novel can be described as an urban fantasy. I liked the idea of mixing fantasy with reality to see what would happen. The result pleasantly surprised me.
What inspires you to write?
I live in rural Scotland and the dramatic scenery of the Highlands is very inspirational to anyone in the business of creating worlds.
Tell us about your writing process.
I don’t outline, I don’t make mind maps, write down ideas, make character sketches nor scribble down notes. I start with a character and set the scene. Other characters come along and they do something that has an outcome and an effect on others. Just like real life, characters are led by their sympathies towards others and by the choices they make. Out of this comes a strong main plot and a good few sub-plots. My work is multi-dimensional. For some reason, this system works for me and, in the end, I have a beginning and conclusion to a story that looks as though I’ve thought it all through beforehand. It’s a very satisfying process and full of surprises, even for me.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I tend to take what they call an omniscient approach to writing which means that, rather than get into the heads of my characters, I watch them from afar. I tend to write in the third person from multiple points of view – mainly seeing the world through their eyes but never fully possessing them.
I don’t talk to them, but I do listen. The trouble is, they rarely listen to me. Occasionally, I will have a good idea as to where I want them to go and what I want them to do, but they refuse to do it. This may sound very weird to a reader but there are lots of writers out there who know exactly what I’m talking about.
I think, if a writer creates a really strong character, that character will have the strength to follow a certain path or change it, as the case may be, irrespective of the voice guiding them.
What advice would you give other writers?
Write well and seek out other writers. They will support you, guide you and share experience.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I did submit a synopsis and sample to a few publishers and got mixed reports. Three really liked it and asked for the remainder of the manuscript, so I knew at least that the book was worth its effort in print.
The trouble was with ‘classification’ and fitting a multi-genre crime thriller/urban fantasy into the right list.
Publishers tend to rely on lists for promotional purposes but, with the coming of the likes of Amazon, readers tend to look a little further than what they are told to read.
Also, there’s little point in spending considerable effort on publishing a book if no one knows it exists and many publishers, even the top ones, are relying more and more on authors to create their own markets and spend time and cash on promotional work.
I know the editorial process; I am a good editor, photographer and graphic designer; I can produce professional-looking books; and I am now using my marketing training to deal with promotion in an almost infinite market place. It’s very easy to get lost and drown in the publishing industry, but I’m learning to swim very quickly.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
There will always be books, no matter what form they take.
The explosion of digital photography on the market, didn’t kill the print industry, it just altered it. The focus shifted from the exclusivity of professional photographers to produce a good image and suddenly everyone is taking photos from their mobile phones.
It’s also the same with newspapers: circulation figures are spiralling swiftly downward because less people are buying newspapers but that doesn’t mean there are less people reading news. News is just being consumed in a different way.
There’s a parallel taking place in the world of book publishing that is turning the industry on its head.
With the coming of the mighty Amazon, readers are no longer herded into the confines of what publishers tell them they can read, they are making those decisions for themselves.
I’ve heard so many people complain about the number of really awful books being self-published that don’t deserve to be on a professional book retailer’s site, but why not?
There is a filter system in place – ie, if you don’t like the look and sound of the sample, then don’t buy the book.
What genres do you write?
fiction fantasy crime thriller
What formats are your books in?
eBook, Print, Both eBook and Print
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