Interview with Charles Jay Harwood

Describe your desk
I don't have a desk. I write anywhere, it can be on a train, in a waiting room or in the garden. All I need are notebooks, pencils, eraser and sharpener. I will then type out my handwritten draft onto the computer to be edited.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the Midlands in the UK. Early life was hard. We didn't have much money and I went to large comprehensive schools. I also come from a large family. I therefore had a lot of source material for creating characters and situations. This made it easier for me to empathise with why people do the things they do, even though on the surface, it might be wrong or a crime.
When did you first start writing?
I have always written things. I used to keep a diary when I was 10, then I would write plays for my siblings. My English schoolwork wasn't that good because the curriculum wasn't that inspiring, but I had the urge to write stories for my own pleasure. The two were separate. I have continued to write stories on and off all through my life.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest novel is called Nora is in the process of being adapted from the screenplay of the same name. My book blog enables readers to enjoy this story for free. You can find my blog novel on the following link.

The blurb is as follows:

Her harsh brand of rehab hides a bitter secret.

Ex-nurse, Nancy is hurled into the world of celebrity when she finds herself performing a shoot for handsome but odious playboy, Vince, as they walk from one of his nightclubs.

Vince wears a tailored Armani suit; Nancy wears a cheap cocktail dress from Kelly’s next to the fish shop. Vince is OK with the shallow values that cherish good looks, sporty cars and a fluctuating love life. Nancy’s more traditional values have been forged from an underprivileged life and a neglectful mother.

Nancy has a score to settle.

Her alter ego, Nora takes over after a series of unprecedented events cements their worlds together. Vince’s playboy lifestyle is turned upside down. Hers will never be the same.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is great. It makes life for the author much easier as they distribute to all other main ebook retailers in one go. You don't need to create accounts for Sony, Apple, etc. You can access all from one dashboard. It saves the writer valuable time. Your ebooks also become more visible.
What is your writing process?
I will not put pen to paper unless an idea comes to me that has a thrill factor. By thrill factor, I don't mean action, blood and eroticism, I mean a story that poses a personal risk to write. I love throwing together disparate ideas that creates a bizarre story, and most importantly, characters with realism. My bugbear is stereotypes made of Plasticine. If I feel my characters and live through them, the story becomes more thrilling to write. With these ingredients, the novel is much easier to write.

I will write a first draft or a screenplay. Writing a screenplay is great for creating a map of your story in a coherent form and identifying problems. Once the screenplay has been perfected, I will write the novel itself. I will try to get it right first time, to save effort in later drafts. I will read through the story several times before putting it away and reading it one last time and publishing.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is vital for book marketing and therefore will give it some thought. Fortunately, I love designing covers. I will keep it simple. As my genre is thrillers, I prefer dark, sombre colours and large fonts. Elements must not clutter, or the image will not have impact on thumbnail size.

I use simple programmes and a low budget. I use Paint, Photoshop and my camera. I like to play around with colours and different fonts. Book cover design can be organic, as I will change the design after a year or so.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I still don't really know what works. Some of my books sell better than others for reasons I cannot fathom. I personally don't think Facebook, Twitter and the like do much for book marketing. You just have to keep plugging away and write. Get more books out there and get on more platforms. Not forgetting great writing and story.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My greatest joy in writing is risk, risk and more risk. By risk, I mean taboo, saying something that shouldn't be said or creating a bizarre or embarrassing situation. Some write for money, which is fine, but there comes a point where writing could become a chore and the joy goes out of it. My thrillers feature complex characters with realism. Putting them in bizarre psychological situations will create a dynamic core to the novel where I can't wait to put words down. This is what drives me to write.
Published 2014-01-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers: a Thriller Foursome of Kidnap, Paranoia, Obsession and Emotional Blackmail
Price: $6.99 USD. Words: 283,780. Language: English. Published: September 16, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Romance » Suspense
Four psychological thrillers on hidden drives where love and shame collide, creating a warped kind of sexual chemistry. Abduction, paranoia, addiction and obsession thicken the mix, providing a very different type of thriller. Note: Three of these novels can also be found in a separate anthology: Gone Too Far: 3 Psychological Thrillers on Taboo. Novels available singly.
Inappropriate: Three Short Stories
Price: Free! Words: 11,150. Language: English. Published: August 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Literary collections » European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
3 short stories about irrational emotions between 2 people. ‘Deadline’ tells of Andrea, about to bag the ideal boyfriend. Only her tutor and her late thesis stand in the way. ‘Outside’ recounts of Deke, an ex-con doing community service outside the home of single mother, Elaine. And ‘Nice’ follows the life of Durante, suspicious of his girlfriend, who keeps getting texts from a secret admirer.
Falling Awake The Screenplay
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 15,560. Language: English. Published: April 9, 2014. Categories: Screenplays » Drama, Screenplays » Thriller
A screenplay adaptation of the psychological thriller, Falling Awake, telling a toe-curling tale of an insomniac voyeur and a reluctant exhibitionist. Adapted from the novel of the same name, this unforgettable screenplay runs 90 minutes. Specially formatted for ereaders and paperback. Includes a character list and guide to reading a screenplay.
The Shuttered Room Screenplay
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 16,930. Language: English. Published: April 7, 2014. Categories: Screenplays » Thriller, Plays » European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
A screenplay adaptation of the bestselling thriller, the Shuttered Room. Little do they know their captive holds a deadly secret. Jess is taken hostage and locked in an upstairs room by 3 thugs. In a bid to escape, she cuts a hole in the floor with a cutlery knife from where she spies upon them. Specially formatted for ereaders, includes character list and guide to reading the screenplay.
Nora: A Love Hate Romance Suspense Thriller with a Bitter Secret
Price: $2.49 USD. Words: 68,790. Language: English. Published: March 16, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
Nancy is having a great night out with her friends. She finds herself in the back seat of a millionaire’s limo. Things just couldn't get better. Could it? Her life is about to be hurled into a nightmare. Her alto ego is about to be born. Note: this novel can also be found within an anthology: Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers. Available on audio.
Nora The Screenplay
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 16,230. Language: English. Published: November 23, 2013. Categories: Screenplays » Thriller
Nora's harsh brand of rehab hides a bitter secret. Ex-nurse Nora vents her displaced anger with darkly comical results upon a slick and arrogant nightclub owner who has been crippled in a car accident. With a character list and a guide to reading a screenplay.
Gone Too Far 3 Psychological Thrillers about Taboo: A Gripping Thriller Trilogy on Abduction, Redemption and Betrayal
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 215,410. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller, Fiction » Anthologies » General
The hostage and the captor; the voyeur and the performer; the teacher and the pupil. Here exists a line that should never be crossed – but what if it were? Three full-length thrillers about the contorting effects of taboo; Note: these novels can now be found within a large thriller anthology: Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers. Novels available singly.
Blood and Water: Three Short Stories
Price: Free! Words: 5,840. Language: English. Published: June 10, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
Three short stories on poignant life experiences. The opening story, Blood and Water begs the question: who really influences us in life? Dead Letter Room, the second story delves into the thought processes of a misfit at work. What made him that way? The final story, What Simon Knows is something hidden and mysterious. All three stories to fill spare moments. Collectively, 5.200 words.
A Hard Lesson The Screenplay
Price: $1.49 USD. Words: 17,420. Language: English. Published: May 18, 2012. Categories: Screenplays » Drama
A teacher takes on the pupil from hell only to learn what treachery means. A screenplay adapted from the novel of the same name telling the story of a tenacious teacher who takes on the pupil from hell. She grows torn between obligation and what her student might be. A thriller with sexual chemistry at its core, formatted for ereaders.
Falling Awake: A Gripping Thriller of Deceit, Romantic Suspense and Paranoia
Price: $2.49 USD. Words: 79,050. Language: English. Published: December 28, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
Gemma, a single mother is facing homelessness. To makes ends meet, she takes an evening commission performing for a mysterious insomniac voyeur. If she knew the truth. She wouldn’t perform for him. Insomnia can have the most sinister causes. Note: this novel can also be found within Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers.
A Hard Lesson: A Psychological Thriller on Blackmail, Shame and Betrayal of Trust
Price: $2.49 USD. Words: 70,510. Language: English. Published: May 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
A teacher takes on the pupil from hell only to learn what treachery means. Sarah soon gets drawn into the dark secrets of her pupil's family and the inner workings of her boyfriend’s criminal clique, headed by a psychopath. A story of the worst deceit and barbed secrecy. Note: this novel can also be found within two anthologies: Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers.
The Shuttered Room: A Disturbing Psychological Thriller of Abduction and the Dangerous Mind Game of Stockholm Syndrome
Price: $2.49 USD. Words: 66,790. Language: English. Published: May 26, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
Little do they know their captive holds a deadly secret. Jess is taken hostage and locked in a bedroom by three thugs. In a bid to escape, she cuts a hole in the floor with a cutlery knife. From there, she observes her captors’ secret lives. That’s when she starts playing mind games with them. Note: this novel can also be found within Eclipse Quartet: 4 Psychological Thrillers.