Interview with Harri Roberts

What are you working on next?
We're currently working on another hiking book based on walks from castles, this time in the Newport and Cardiff areas. Weather permitting, we're hoping to finish the actual hiking in early January and then Tracy will format the book and it should be available to buy towards the end of January. We're also halfway through another castle book based on the Gower Peninsula and surrounding area where there are a surprising amount of castles.
Who are your favorite authors?
That's a tough one. I'm an avid reader and have eclectic tastes. I'm currently reading a non-fiction book by Sylvia Nasar called Grand Pursuit, but I also read a lot of fiction in English and Welsh. I wouldn't say I had a favourite author as such. I often read books about the outdoors; two I have enjoyed recently are Bill Bryson's Walk in the Woods and Walking Home by Lynn Schooler. However, you're just as likely to find me reading classics from H G Wells or modern novels like Cloud Atlas (David Mitchell). .
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I don't know about what inspires me to get up, I usually end up getting up because my thirteen-year-old cat is crying to go out. I always find it easier to get up when the sun is shining and I know I've got a day's hiking ahead of me. I do find it difficult to get up on dark mornings when I have to go to the day job.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not working, I try to spend as much time hiking as the British climate allows. Fortunately, the summer of 2013 was the best we'd had for years and so we were able to get out walking regularly. If the weather's bad, I tend to catch up with writing, administration and my various freelance projects.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. I wrote a lost 'classic' about a merman who lived at the source of the River Severn and swam down the river to the sea before circumnavigating the globe. I was in primary school at the time and had never been to the source of the Severn but, even then, I was fascinated by landscapes. Two years ago, while walking on Pumlumon in mid Wales with Tracy for a longer term project, we did a detour to view the source. It was quite a momentous moment for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I don't recall the first story I ever read, but I do remember reading Roald Dahl's BFG when I was about six and it made me scared to go to bed. I later progressed to Stephen King's novels and I'd end up spending all night reading because I was too frightened to turn the light off.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
We're only just starting in terms of e-books, but I have published two print books with another one due out in spring 2014. I tend to leave all the marketing to Tracy who blogs about our exploits, chats to a wide circle of friends on social media and sends out press releases to local newspapers and other bloggers. It's my intention that she'll continue to do all the marketing on my behalf.
Describe your desk
I'm not very happy with my current desk as it's too small and not particularly comfortable. When we bought the Mac, Tracy took over the larger desk and we got this second hand one for me. There's plenty of space in the study so a larger desk is definitely on my shopping list for 2014.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up on a dairy farm and spent my childhood outdoors exploring the fields and brooks around our home. I'm certain it was my early freedom to roam for miles that sparked my lifelong interest in hiking and the landscape.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing hiking books about four years ago, however the first book I wrote has never been published by the publisher who commissioned it. It wasn't until spring 2013 that I had my first hiking book published (Vertebrate Publishing). I have also had an academic textbook published by the University of Wales.
What's the story behind your latest book?
As a post-graduate student in Swansea, I was lucky enough to find myself living at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive - Dylan Thomas's childhood home. At the time the house was in a pretty run down condition (it's since been completely refurbished) but people still came to visit and photograph the outside. It made me realise that many people are interested in knowing more about the places which inspired Dylan Thomas. 2014 marks the centenary of the poet's birth and, as I know the places he lived pretty well myself, I thought it would be interesting to produce a book of walks which combined Dylan Thomas landmarks with the spectacular Wales Coast Path.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've touched on this before, but when a publisher commissions a book then fails to publish it, it's pretty demoralising. The cost of producing a hiking book in an area over 50 miles from your home is not inconsiderable and yet, nearly four years after I finished writing that book, it's still not sitting on anyone's bookshelf. I also discovered that the big publishers want more and more of the same and don't seem interested in hiking books outside the big tourist areas which are already over-walked. It was Tracy who finally persuaded me that we should become indie authors, mainly so that we could have complete control over the books we produced and when they were published. We hope we can encourage people to walk in areas they've never considered visiting before and, in doing so, help to keep many lesser-known footpaths clear and usable. We've already got nearly thirty books planned and doing it the indie author way means no-one can say 'no' or sit on a completed book for four years again.
Published 2013-12-21.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Via Algarviana: an English guide to the ‘Algarve Way'
Price: $4.32 USD. Words: 37,140. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Hiking, Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks
The Via Algarviana (‘Algarve Way’) is a fully waymarked, long-distance trail across southern Portugal’s Algarve region, from the Spanish border in the east to the Atlantic Ocean in the west. This guide describes the complete route from Alcoutim to Cabo de São Vicente (Cape St Vincent), as well as an alternative finish to the walk via Aljezur and the Rota Vicentina.
O Fôn i Fynwy
Price: $5.99 USD. Words: 51,970. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2015. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Hiking, Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks
The traditional Welsh expression ‘O Fôn i Fynwy’ literally means from Anglesey (Ynys Môn) to Monmouthshire (Sir Fynwy) but is also used figuratively to mean the whole of Wales. This new Wales end to end is a 364-mile route starts at Holyhead and passes through Wales’s most stunning landscapes. The walk ends in Chepstow on the Wales-England border.
Dylan's Welsh Walks
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 10,130. Language: English. Published: December 19, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » History, Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks
In 2014, Wales celebrates the centenary of the birth of Swansea-born poet Dylan Thomas. These eight themed walks, from an author who himself lived in Dylan's childhood home, will take you past several of the poet's childhood haunts, former homes and favourite drinking places, while offering stunning views along the Wales Coast Path. Walks vary from 4.3 to 8.1 miles (6.9 to 13.04 km).
Castle Walks in Monmouthshire
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 20,720. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2013. Categories: Nonfiction » Sports & outdoor recreation » Hiking, Nonfiction » Travel » Hikes & walks
Wales is famed for its castles, which are rivalled only by the stunning landscapes in which they stand. All twelve walks in this book start at, or close to, one of Monmouthshire's magnificent castles, fortresses like Chepstow, Raglan, Skenfrith and White. Walks range from 5.6 miles (9.1 km) to 12.3 miles (19.7 km) and each offers an exciting introduction to the area's history and natural beauty.