Interview with Adele Cosgrove-Bray

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Knutsford in Cheshire, England, but my family moved from there when I was aged around eight months old, so my memories of that picturesque town, with its numerous Tudor-style buildings and narrow roads, are mostly due to visiting my grandmother there. My father's job had relocated, and so we settled in Newton-le-Willows, a market town in Lancashire. We had two cats, various rabbits and a fish pond that neighbours repeatedly vandalised.

We moved again, this time to the small village of Lowton in Lancashire, which is now threatened with urban sprawl but back then it still retained its rural character. Nothing happened, or at least that's how it felt at the time. My two high school friends and I would hang-out at the local youth club, which at the height of the punk rock era was nicknamed the Lowton Vortex, and which spawned at least one band which is still playing to this day. I had toyed with being a singer, too, but quickly gave that up as a lost cause. However, I began writing poetry. My first poem, "Knight of the Sword", was published when I was only seventeen, in a small magazine called "Pipes of Pan".

As a child and teenager, I would have described my life as very ordinary. Yet our family had its tensions and its secrets bubbling away under its respectable veneer. My fiction often has a surface normality which is disrupted by hidden truths; and certainly some of the people I've known have crept into my stories, albeit in exaggerated or contextually altered forms.
When did you first start writing?
I began writing song lyrics when aged thirteen. After the band I'd formed with school friends petered out I discovered that I enjoyed writing, and so writing lyrics morphed into poetry. I can remember feeling embarrassed by describing myself as a poet. I had the idea that poets were mostly grouchy old men or drunken romantics, apart from the woman who'd written about planning to wear purple with a red hat when she was old.

My first employed post after graduating from college, at the age of nineteen, was as the editor for "The Birchwood Guidebook", published by Spiral. This was a community information booklet for three newly-built housing estates located on the outskirts of Warrington, in Cheshire. I had to supervise a team of researchers, a photographer and a graphic designer, and oversee the printing and distribution budget.

In 1987, I started writing a non-fiction column for the monthly "Exploring the Supernatural" magazine, which later changed its format and name to become "Your Future" magazine. In my opinion, the changes were not for the better, but penning the dream analysis column helped keep the wolf from the door. I was living alone in St Helens, Lancashire, by then; alone apart from the resident ghost, but that's another story….
What's the story behind your latest book?
"Bethany Rose: An Artisan-Sorcerer Story" is my third novel. It tells the story of a young girl who faces poverty, bereavement and isolation. Through her interest in New Age subjects she meets an older man, Morgan, who introduces her to a secret occult order. Her life undergoes huge changes which bring fresh challenges which she battles to overcome.

The novel carries the thread of philosophy which helps to bind together the Artisan-Sorcerer series, which can be read in any sequence. Each novel focuses primarily on one member of Morgan Gruffudd's community of artists and craftspeople, who share a house on the edge of Sefton Park in Liverpool. They're also members of the secret order, whose temple is hidden in the Williamson Tunnels which run beneath the city.

My other most recent project is a short novel for children called "The Grumpets". Maybe you've met a Grumpet but just not noticed one. They're shy creatures who live in compost heaps, and who look rather like old potatoes. Chip Grumpet is the hero of this story, and this youngster has quite an adventure, battling with Slimers and dodging The Gardener's fork, risking life and many limbs in the Great Green Beyond. It is totally different in mood and subject to any of my other stories, but it was a lot of fun to write.
What are you working on next?
Right now, I'm writing "Fabian: An Artisan-Sorcerer Story", which is the forth in the series. It describes Fabian's disillusionment with his career as a high school art teacher and his need to establish his role as Morgan's second-in-command within the community of Artisan-Sorcerers.

"Fabian" introduces the Caldy fae into the novels, though I've used them in several short stories already. Caldy is a small village in Wirral, close to where I live. The science-fiction writer, Olaf Stapledon, used to own the woodland covering Caldy Hill which is now known as Stapledon Wood, and this is where the last prince of the Caldy fae has his home. Fabian meets this prince in this forthcoming novel - but that's enough spoilers already!

I am also compiling another short story collection, intended as a sequel to "Dark Tides". That project is about half-done now.

There are numerous submissions for the forthcoming free ebook anthology, "City Stories", which is due out at the end of 2013. This is partially a collaborative project with my writers group, Riverside Writers. I have chaired meetings for this group for the last decade or so, which is a lot of fun as we're a lively and informal group of enthusiastic and totally diverse writers and poets.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have been published traditionally as a non-fiction writer and poet, and some of my short stories have also been published traditionally. I decided to take a chance on indie publishing after my Artisan-Sorcerer series was repeatedly turned down by agents, whose usual response was to say that nobody buys fiction based on philosophy. Tell that to Richard Bach or Paulo Coelho.

A few years ago I would have scorned self-publishing, dismissing it as a dead-end, but technology has opened up new opportunities and now any creative person can access a world-wide market place. The real work now seems to be in finding your audience within an internet that is already jammed with adverts pestering us to buy stuff. I will probably continue to use traditional publishing, especially with short stories, in order to reach a wider readership.

Indie publishing has allowed me to offer previously-published material which otherwise might not have been available again. Few editors and publishers accept second-time-around stories and indie publishing neatly side-steps this issue. Indie publishing has also enabled me to make my Artisan-Sorcerer series available to the English-speaking world, and as the series progresses, interest is steadily growing.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has enabled me to sell ebooks easily, reaching a much wider audience than previously. I sell far more books through Smashwords - particularly via Sony, Apple and Barnes & Noble - than I do through Amazon.
What do your fans mean to you?
It's a huge compliment when someone I've never met exchanges some of their hard-earned cash for something that I've written. I'll never take this for granted. Here we are, heading out of a tough recession, and yet people have still bought my work. I'd like to thank each of them.

Oh, and if anyone fancies writing some Artisan-Sorcerer fanfic or creating some fanart, go right ahead so long as it's 100% non-profit-making. What could be a bigger compliment than someone wanting more stories in the world an author has created?
Who are your favorite authors?
Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles were a huge influence on my early fiction. Perhaps my favourite of her books is "Armand", if I had to choose just one, as I loved the breadth of history and the lavish, sensual descriptions which wonderfully captured a sense of time and place. The complexity and contrariness of the main characters hold my admiration, as do their inner battles, and this is a book I've re-read numerous times.

Over the last couple of years I've really enjoyed Helen Dunmore's writing. She has a delightfully poetic turn of phrase, and a real skill with character portrayal. I came across her work via her children's series about Cornish mermaids, which I couldn't put down, and since then I've been reading my way through her other novels. In fact, I'm currently reading "A Spell of Winter".

For skilled dialogue, I have to mention Maeve Binchy. "Circle of Friends" and "Tara Road" are both favourites for the way the story is told through chatter between the characters - which is something I do in my writing - and for the way Maeve takes ordinary people in an ordinary situation and gradually reveals hidden layers of tangled stories.

Though their style is now heavily dated, I will also mention the influence of historical writers such as Will Garver, Marie Corelli and Bulwer Lytton whose fiction served as a vehicle for their philosophy. I'd add Cyril Scot, too, but his books weren't supposed to be fiction. While I don't echo their literary style, my Artisan-Sorcerer series certainly follows a similar tradition.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I've just made a frog pond in the garden, and so now I'm looking for aquatic plants. I paint and draw, and enjoy photography. I recently took up swimming, after years of not going near a pool, and this has now become a regular feature of my week. I also enjoy taking my two Jack Russell Terriers for long walks along the Wirral coastline and through Stapledon Wood and up to Thor's Stone.
Published 2013-09-01.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

City Stories
By
Series: Anthology, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 11,640. Language: British English. Published: November 7, 2013. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » General
Love, terror and 21st century life! From the heart of cosmopolitan Liverpool come nine thrilling views of modern living. Blood-drinkers, killers and secrets. Old sorrows and new beginnings. The light and dark of human life set against the glittering backdrop of a reinvigorated city. City Stories. Tales of life today.
The Grumpets
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,440. Language: British English. Published: May 30, 2013. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
Grumpets are shy creatures who live in compost heaps. They are small and wrinkly, with many long, pale limbs, and like nothing better than burrowing into fresh grass clippings. But the heap can be a dangerous place. Follow the adventures of young Chip Grumpet as ravenous Slimers and the dreaded Time of Turning threaten to destroy the Grumpet's world!
Message from the Great Rainbow
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 2,880. Language: British English. Published: December 22, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
"Little sister, let me tell you this story. It is a simple story. It came to me last night in my dreams...." So begins this enchanting account of a mystical journey.
Seaside Stories
By
Series: Anthology, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 13,650. Language: British English. Published: October 2, 2012. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author
Romance, heartache, treachery and death! Eighteen stories and poems inspired by the sea, from a group of imaginative writers who live surrounded by water on the Wirral peninsula in England. Tim Hulme * Andy Siddle * Adele Cosgrove-Bray * Peter Caton * Nikki Bennett * Ruth Ann Titley
Intimations: Five Artisan-Sorcerer Stories
By
Series: Artisan-Sorcerer, Book 4. Price: Free! Words: 14,270. Language: British English. Published: September 28, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Five thrilling insights into the secretive lives of artisan-sorcerers! Five stand-alone tales featuring Fabian, Bethany Rose, Rowan, Jason and the Peacock King himself! Discover the people. Explore their world. Taste the magic. Extra content: "Sisters", a free short story.
Bethany Rose: An Artisan-Sorcerer Story
By
Series: Artisan-Sorcerer, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 109,780. Language: British English. Published: August 14, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Selkies, Ghosts, Terror and Romance! Morgan seems perfect, but he is a member of a mysterious occult order. Can he protect Bethany Rose from power-crazed assassins? Horrified by visitations from a black-robed spectre, Bethany Rose runs to Morgan - and straight into danger. They want to be together. But will love keep them apart? Extra Content: Book Club Questions.
Rowan: An Artisan-Sorcerer Story
By
Series: Artisan-Sorcerer, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 100,420. Language: British English. Published: May 19, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
Rowan lives with secrets. His family know nothing of his life after his mother banished him. Rowan is attracted to the handsome and vivacious Aiden, a member of Morgan Gruffudd's secretive community of artisan-sorcerers. But blackmail threatens to destroy the new life Rowan has been building. People are dying - and Rowan is caught in the middle of a secret war.
Quiet Lives
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 7,010. Language: British English. Published: May 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » Contemporary
All her life, Dawn has been told she isn't beautiful. Armajeet refuses to compromise when her lover lacks bite. The generation gap provides a meditation on family life. And the witch who welcomes a door-to-door salesman grants an unexpected gift. Appearances can be deceptive…and nothing is as it seems in these four short stories of womens' lives:- Beautiful; Dear Harry; The Four Seasons.
A Wirral Otherkin Trilogy
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 5,130. Language: British English. Published: April 28, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Three stories of selkies and faeries. Encounter the notorious fae of Caldy Hill. Meet the secretive selkies who swim beyond Hilbre Island then walk on land in human form. Discover the magic of Wirral's ancient history in these enchanting dark fantasy tales.
The Karens
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,360. Language: British English. Published: March 11, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
Karen's clones built a perfect world - and then they created Karsen... Can we overcome the prejudice between natural-born people and regenerated clones? "The Karens" is a satirical tale of gender politics, DNA cloning and the human condition.
Threads
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 5,630. Language: British English. Published: January 3, 2012. Category: Nonfiction » Biography » Other biographies
A diverse collection of poetry dating from 1983 to 2008. Many of these poems have been previously published in "Moonstone" and "Touchstone" (the journal of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.)
Tamsin: An Artisan-Sorcerer Story
By
Series: Artisan-Sorcerer, Book 1. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 87,090. Language: British English. Published: December 16, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Two secret societies. Two very different men. Which will Tamsin choose? That a tiny minority of the Antiquarian Emporium's customers collect rare manuscripts on the occult is of no concern to Tamsin. Fabian sells his masks through the Emporium. But masks aren't the only things which hide a true identity. A tale of romance and danger. Choices and consequences. Vampires and ancient magic.
Entering the Grove
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 7,840. Language: British English. Published: October 29, 2011. Category: Nonfiction » Biography » Autobiographies & Memoirs
What was the beyond-human being who walked into her dreams? How could mere dreams seem more real than reality? This enchanting collection of poetry describes the author's long search for answers.
Spanish Jones
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 7,140. Language: British English. Published: October 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Pirates, selkies and witches battle to survive in this dramatic short fantasy tale. When Charlie Porter makes a deal with Spanish Jones, he ensnares the Porter family in a vicious centuries-long feud. Can Charlie's descendent stop the violence? Set on the ruggedly beautiful Hilbre Island in the Dee Estuary, history and folklore blend to create a magically atmospheric tale.
Dark Tides
By
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 24,300. Language: British English. Published: September 21, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » General
A collection of short fantasy fiction by Adele Cosgrove-Bray. Nightmares from ancient myths glide through our thoroughly modern world. When selkies, faeries, old gods and young mortals rub shoulders, tensions quickly flare.