A maelstrom of ideas, some great, which I will probably never put into practice, and some terrible which I will explore and then abandon. But, among the tangled vine of concepts which seem to sprout during the night, there are always one or two which, I hope, lead me to better writing or give me something interesting and useful to pass on to others.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Trying to work out how to make my life, and that of my family, an adventure. I love to travel and immerse myself and my wife and children into the cultures of other societies, to learn enough of a new language to get by in a new country. Oh, and I do a lot of thinking. About new writing concepts, certainly, but also about new ways to reach out to the world and find something interesting to say. (And no, I don't always succeed!)
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually through recommendations. That's the great thing about social media and writing in general. You quickly develop friends and contacts who will send something your way because they knew your genres of choice. And the thing that never fails to surprise me: the number of people who were complete strangers to me one day, and the next seem to know exactly what I'm into. That's the social aspect of writing, and I love it.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes and it was awful! It was called 'The Coming of the Storm', a short serial-killer-thriller. I never published it (because there was no such thing as self-publishing back then and no agent or traditional publishing house would have touched it in a million years, quite rightly) but I did enter it into a competition. Strangely enough I never heard back from the organisers. Having said that, the story I first thought up as a teenager some twenty years ago has been rolling around in my head the past few weeks and I believe I can now turn it into something that is original and compelling. At least that's how it reads in my mind. If it turns out the same way in print, you'll be seeing it some day here on Smashwords.
What is your writing process?
Ah, now that's something that is still evolving, and I suspect (and hope) always will be. I used to just start writing. I found that way, the story would develop all of its own twists and turns and, in the case of 'Pursuit', what better twist the the one even I could not see coming? I believe with that story, the shock ending would never have come about had I not written it in that fashion. But...when it comes to show-not-tell, I do find that concept easier to master when I've planned the story from start to finish. It's much easier to show a character trait or a plot development if you know how it turns out in the end.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I believe it was Desmond Bagley's 'High Citadel' and it's an adventure I keep coming back to once every couple of years. I must have read it ten or more times. It inspired me to think about situations of peril, how they might come about, and how to draw a reader into them. I think 'High Citadel' also influenced the way I convey the climate of a given location; the stinging cold of a blizzard, the monotony of a wet English summer, the cloying heat of the rainforest. In any case that, as much as any other novel, inspired me to write.
How do you approach cover design?
Less is more! Have a look at 'Pursuit' and 'The Villager' and you'll see what I mean. I'd rather tantalise the reader with a mysterious image than paste the cover with something garish.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
'High Citadel' by Desmond Bagley (as discussed!) 'Winter Hawk' by Craig Thomas. Well Thomas was a genius in creating electric tension between his characters. You haven't met a sinister antagonist until you've some across the likes of GRU General Serov. Plus the gritty, get-the-job-done protagonists Thomas employs as they battle through frozen mountain passes and slushy rivers fall into a category almost all of their own. 'In Cold Blood' by Truman Capote. I studied this for A-Level English and I couldn't get enough of it. I think the word 'compelling' was invented for this book. 'Cold Mountain' by Charles Frazier. Original and beautiful. It's one of those novels you just want to take a bite out of because you can actually feel the locations, the emotions, taste the tastes and smell the smells. It's the only Frazier book I've read to date actually, but I'll certainly be reading more. 'The Day of the Jackal' by Frederick Forsyth. I read this for the first time last week whilst on holiday in Turkey and I was as completely blown away by the prose and plot as Charles de Gaulle almost was by the Jackal's exploding bullet. The expression 'page turner' is overused today but if it ever applied, here is a perfect example.
What do you read for pleasure?
Crime thrillers, the occasional horror, some espionage and then the odd bit of non-fiction (have recently ventured up Mount Everest and into the Andes...purely through the words of others, you understand!)
What is your e-reading device of choice?
My good old PC! Oh or one of my children's Nexus tablets if I can get my hands on it.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
That one's still a work in progress actually. I favour twitter over facebook and I have a blog but at the moment I lack direction so I tend to take a stab in all directions. I'm soon to read the Smashwords guide though and I hope to find some focus there. And then...the world!
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