Interview with Clive Gilson

What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest published book is Acts of Faith, which came out electronically at the end of 2012 and in print this summer (2013).

The story is based on a number of memoirs from the eighties - namely those of people like Tom Sutherland, Terry Anderson, John McCarthy and Brian Keenan. Lebanon and the Middle-East in general are fascinating areas of study and in reading both memoirs and journalism by writers such as Con Coughlan and Robert Fisk, I remember sitting in bed with my late wife, Karen, one morning discussing the nature of any human reaction under the circumstances that people lived in and died in in such times and places. I asked her a simple question - would we be any different if we faced the same hardships and dispossession?

And that was the germ of an alternative history where the oil rich Middle Eastern states are what we in the West like to think of as the developed world and poor Northern Europe is the fundamentalist basket case. The story is written as a memoir by a twenty-something Lebanese man who comes to war-torn England as an aid worker... and that's it for now - if you want to know more the eBook is on Smashwords and, even better, is free, so download and read Marwan's story :)
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
As a family we moved around quite a bit when I was young. If memory serves I think we moved about seven times by the time I was twenty (although I'd left for college at eighteen - another move, of course). I guess the key things that I learned then were things like self-reliance and the art of making a life in ever-changing circumstances, all of which have stayed with me throughout my adult life.

As far as influences on my writing are concerned I think this is reflected in the independence of thought and the range of subject areas that I have covered. I don't like to be pigeon-holed or tied down to one particular genre or area of story-telling. You could say that I'm "bloody-minded" about it at times, but the variety keeps me interested and motivated. That said, of course, the very fact that I range over different areas and topics sometimes mean that maybe I miss a trick in establishing a stable audience.
When did you first start writing?
I can remember exactly. Age eleven. Our English teacher at school, one Bruce Ritchie, entered the class into a national competition run by The Daily Mirror here in the UK. I'd been lucky enough to accompany my Dad on a cricket tour to Canada that summer and wrote a long poem about Niagara Falls and The Maid of the Mist, which was commended and included in an anthology.

I'd always loved story-telling, especially during the Monday essay - "What I did at the weekend...". I remember a couple of those stories - going sailing and bumping into a submarine, for example, none of which were ever true but my elementary teachers seemed happy that I was imaginative. Anyway, after the competition entry that was it. I got the bug and, with varying degrees of success and skill, have kept at it ever since, although for many years it was a private, even clandestine, hobby rather than something public... but the advent of opportunity through self-publishing is another story entirely.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The usual...

As I said in an earlier question I've written all my adult life, working as a journalist at times and as an editor and contributor to magazines, but even with that background and with some good contacts in the industry, getting fiction onto a publisher's radar is still difficult. Added to that is the fact that for some years I entered national and international poetry competitions and was regularly short-listed and anthologized, but always somewhere along the line the fiction break never came.

So, a few years ago, emerging from one of those black moods caused by the growing pile of rejection letters, I decided to investigate self-publishing. After one or two false starts I forged links with a couple of other small independents and with mainstream printers and distributors and now have my own imprint. I don't use the big guys - Ex Libris, Author House, Amazon etc - preferring to learn the trade and do it all myself. The long-term aim is to establish Dancing Pig Media as a business so that I can gently retire from the day-job and just do the thing that I love.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Seeing where the story goes.

Obviously I plan and story-board but I love the fact that characters take on their own lives and personalities as you unfold the layers and as situations develop. In my first novel, Songs of Bliss, I was pretty strict with the story-board concept, almost making it filmic in the development of acts and scenes. With Acts of Faith I felt much more free to let the story develop organically, and I think that sense of enjoyment shows in the story-telling.

There is also, of course, that sense of satisfaction that you feel when you put the last full-stop on the first draft. That is a real sense of accomplishment, although the feeling tends to be short-lived once your editor starts passing comments back and you're into the seemingly endless rounds of editing, proofing and re-writing...
What are you working on next?
Right now I'm caught between a rock and a hard place...

Basically, I bought a 200 year old cottage about a year ago and its turned into a real gut-job. Pretty much all of my spare time has been taken up with knocking out walls, re-wiring, painting, plastering etc. Added to that is the jungle of a garden that I'm wading through this late summer in 2013 because of the DIY induced neglect shown earlier in the year.

That said, though, I have written the opening sequence to Arkland, my next novel, and I hope to get into the detail of it during October and over the winter. Arkland is, I guess, science fiction in that it is set in a post global warming England, where what is left of the island after 30m sea rise and climate change is one of James Lovelock's proposed arks - that is a relatively stable eco-system capable of sustaining more than basic life.

The story is in early development, and is based around a love story between a citizen militia border guard and a refugee. There will be a number of sub-plots and themes around survival, about how society might have to function and similar. To put it in context I visited Berlin earlier in the year and the history and story of the Stasi prison in Hohenschonhausen has made a very deep impression on Arkland.
Who are your favorite authors?
An impossible question to answer...

Angela Carter, Thomas Hardy, Clifford D Simak, Iain Banks Neil Gaiman, Colin Dexter, Elmore Leonard, Terry Pratchett, Leo Tolstoy, Cormac McCarthy...

...and that's just on one shelf of one book case in my study...
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
The main thing is that Smashwords make it easy; easy to publish, easy to aggregate distribution across some of the biggest networks and channels, and easy to find friends and readers. I love the simplicity of the site and the fact that I can build presence by making offers to readers and so on.

I use a number of other distributors as well, but I have to say that Smashwords is the easiest service to navigate and, to date, has been the largest source of direct downloads and distribution. In the ten months since I started putting up short-stories and new work for free I've had over 10,000 downloads and something like 50% are direct from Smashwords readers.
Published 2013-09-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Where There's a Will
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 5,270. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Where There's a Will is the final tale (#23) in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk and fairy tales. If you live by the internet then prepare to die by the internet, especially when you forsake kith and kin for cyber gratification.
Where the Grass is Greenest
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 2,720. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Tom Bowler's story is #22 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk and fairy tales. Where the Grass is Greenest is a gentle meditation on one man's life-long quest to find the "right one".
Upwardly Mobile
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 4,070. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Upwardly Mobile is story #21 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk and fairy tales. You should never look a gift horse in the mouth - and woe betide you if you then try to drag it through a hedge backwards...
This Song is for You
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 7,690. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
This Song is for You is story #20 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk and fairy tales. This a story of evil doings and haunting melodies from the local radio station.
The Television Bride
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,170. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Television Bride is story #19 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern fairy and folk tales. It's all about "Dropped on your head" television - where ordinary folk are desperate to get in on the act...
The Politician's New Speech
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,400. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Politician's New Speech is story #18 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk and fairy tales. In this updated version of The Emperor's New Clothes we have dossiers, politics and the unashamed grasping of power...
The Only Way to Know
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 4,110. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Story #17 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk and fairy tales... Every celeb should have a plan, not that we're being at all cynical with this one...
The Mobile Phone
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 4,900. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Mobile Phone is story #16 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern fairy tales... There's nothing quite like out and out avarice to make life so much better...
The Faithful Gardener
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,920. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
This is story 15 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern fairy tales... A simple tale of faith and perseverance in the face of a disbelieving world.
The Assistant Shop Manager
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,000. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Assistant Shop Manager is #14 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern fairy tales... A tale of simple human affection and hope, taken to something of an extreme.
Terry's Amazing Shin Pads
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,500. Language: English. Published: September 9, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Terry's cautionary tale is appropriately enough number 13 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... Have you ever wondered why some of the most gifted people seem doomed to ultimate failure. Terry's story shows how thin is the line between success and disappointment.
Picking the Wings off Crane Flies
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,680. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
This is the 12th story in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of modern folk tales... We've all met kids who delight in picking the wings off crane flies - maybe we've even done it ourselves... and this little tale lets you in on what happens to people like that...
The Phantom of the Sixpenny Stalls
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 6,400. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Phantom is story #11 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... A tale of daring-do and evil impresarios... with a helping hand from London's oldest ever working girl...
Only the Names Change
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 2,060. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Only the Names Change is story #10 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... A prince shakes his fist at the Gods and rides the clouds into battle...
Miss Jones and the Refugee
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,110. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Miss Jones is story #9 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... A story of genteel conservatism in England's leafy home counties, where the scion of a long standing family comes face to face with the harsh reality of life on the streets...
Jack and Jill Went Up the Hill
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,430. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Jack and Jill is story #8 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... Thank the fates that you too live in a land where democracy and freedom of expression is an absolute right...
Happy Families
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 4,640. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Happy Families is story #7 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... So you think you know your kids - after all those sacrifices that you make for them, too...
Do Unto Others
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 3,480. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Do Unto Others is story #6 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series. A tale of justice, punishment and unjust rewards - appearing in a family just like the one next door...
Big Black Boots
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 5,170. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Big Black Boots, tale number 5 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series, tells a story of a proud little girl who always seems to take things a step too far...
The Starving Wolf
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 2,300. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Starving Wolf is book #4 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... Little Red Gangsta proves that you don't need a cape and a deep and dark forest to deal with wolves...
All for One
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 4,540. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
All for One is the third book in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... Here you'll find out how the legendary Frazier gang began their reign of wrinkly terror down on the Chavbury Estate...
Heirs and Graces
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 4,830. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Book #2 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series... She's the queen bitch, the spoiled brat in the city pack, and until today no man, not even her father, has had the courage to take her on...
A Question of Spin
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Series: ShadowGrimm. Price: Free! Words: 2,810. Language: English. Published: September 8, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
A Question of Spin is book #1 in Clive's ShadowGrimm series of tales... Rumpelstiltskin re-told for the modern politico generation - spinning of an entirely new variety...
Five Shorts
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Series: Dancing Pig Originals. Price: Free! Words: 5,310. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Spiritual & metaphysical
Five Shorts is a Dancing Pig Original publication - showcasing work by author Clive Gilson. This small collection of Flash Fiction shorts showcases a number of prize winning stories from competitions.
Jamul's Happy Day
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Series: Dancing Pig Originals. Price: Free! Words: 3,760. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Historical » General
Jamul's Happy Day is a Dancing Pig Original publication - showcasing work by author Clive Gilson. Set in Afghanistan just after the arrival of US and European troops in the early years of this new century, this tale tells the story of one man's patience and reward.
Transcript
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Series: Cry 'Havoc'. Price: Free! Words: 5,240. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Science fiction » Military
Transcript is the first story in a new science fiction series called Cry 'Havoc' from Author Clive Gilson. Don't believe in Star Wars... life on the edge of the solar system is dark and dirty, cramped and mean. The Cry 'Havoc' series tells stories about war and freedom and every shade of grey in between, all of them rooted in memoirs and accounts from WWII.
Acts of Faith
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Series: Cry 'Freedom'. Price: Free! Words: 105,890. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Acts of Faith is a full length novel - the first story in a new series called Cry 'Freedom' by author Clive Gilson. The European Renaissance never happened. The Ottomans were not stopped at the gates of Vienna. Ferdinand and Isabella failed in their attempt to defeat the Moors. Imagine a world turned upside down.
Bastille Day
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 4,790. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Book 12 of Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series - Bastille Day is celebrated anew in another world, a world where men are as unequal as they have ever been...
Beginning with Smith
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 3,730. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Beginning with Smith - story #11 of Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series. Great apes bay at the moon - all alone at the edge of an unseen universe - or so they believe...
But for the Moon
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 2,580. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
But for the Moon - story #10 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series. Its time to go home - at eighty years or more in age - it must be time to go home?
Devil in the Detail
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 3,870. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Devil in the Detail - story #8 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series. There is always an accounting to be done - but equally, there is always a balancing of the equation...where there is the dry dust of ledgers then so must there be the magnificence of chaos...
The Mechanic's Curse
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 5,430. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Mechanic's Curse - story #4 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series What sort of nightmares come when you dream machines and those same machines are made real?
The Marchese's Gift
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 5,640. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
The Marchese's Gift - story #3 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series Young lovers, newly wed, bask in the Mediterranean sun until, one night, after a beautiful meal, they accept a gift and a proposal...
Ragtrade Gepetto
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 5,480. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Ragtrade Gepetto - story #2 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series Slapped with the ugly stick at birth all Dave wants is to find the love of a good woman - and then he meets the Gambling Man... always, always be careful of what you wish for...
The Incredible Shrinking Bogey Bear
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Price: Free! Words: 7,370. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2012. Category: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction
When Mrs McGonagall collapses with the biggest nose bleed in the world, inventor Dad & his daughter, Morgan, have to come up with a plan. Dad miniaturizes Morgan's cyber teddy bear, Bogey, pops him in a techno-suit, & programs him so he can wield a laser glue gun. Inserted in Mrs M's nose Bogey has just 5 minutes to fix the nose bleed before he reverts to normal size & explodes Mrs M's Head..
The Tender Kiss
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 4,200. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
The Tender Kiss - story #7 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series. In The Tender Kiss you'll be whisked away to Cretan summers and the touch of the Countess. If you love the dark heart of story-telling, then you'll love these tales...
Nine Lives
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 8,450. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Nine Lives introduces you to the chintzy feline horrors of genteel poverty in the gently rolling Cotswold Hills in the UK This is story #6 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series. If you love the dark heart of story-telling then this new tale from author and podcaster, Clive Gilson, is definitely for you.
Lord of the North Wind
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 3,140. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Lord of the North Wind - story #9 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series. Can you resist the fatal kiss of the Wolf Lord? If you love the dark heart of story-telling, then you'll love this tale...
Fancy and the Flutter
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 3,210. Language: English. Published: July 19, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Fancy and the Flutter tells a tale of shopping at Christmas, of rain and sodden feet, and of how to turn all of that misery into a moment of magic. This is story #5 in Clive Gilson's Beasts Within series
The Beast Within
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Series: Beasts Within. Price: Free! Words: 3,230. Language: English. Published: July 15, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Do you love the dark heart of story-telling? Do you love magical tales with an edge? The Beast Within is the first story in Clive's Beasts Within series of tales, telling the story of man, a glass of wine and the effects of sudden solitude.
Into the Walled Garden
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Series: Dancing Pig Originals. Price: Free! Words: 71,320. Language: English. Published: July 13, 2011. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Poetry - single author
Into the Walled Garden is a Dancing Pig Original publication - showcasing work by author Clive Gilson. This book contains 10 years worth of prize winning poetry…10 years worth of work both published and unpublished, collected together for the very first time (warts and all).
Songs of Bliss
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Series: Dancing Pig Originals. Price: Free! Words: 123,570. Language: English. Published: June 24, 2011. Category: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
Songs of Bliss is a Dancing Pig Original publication - showcasing work by author Clive Gilson. Songs was Clive's first published novel. Just how far will a father go to protect his daughter, especially when his 'protection' is so fundamentally flawed?