Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Belfast in the 70's and 80's. It was a violent place but not nearly as bad as the drama queens of TV news would have you believe. I learned to be street msart at an early age to be unafraid of things that other people say are scary. I had a very happy and normal childhood and there is nothing that I would change about it. When I had had enough of Belfast, I left and wasn't afraid to sample what the world had to offer. I think tha that is probably the best thing that you can say about any place. My parents had a similar outlook. When you are unafraid of real life, your experience grows every day and when your experience grows, you have more to write about.
Why do you let the reader set the price for your books?
I actually state in my profile that I would prefer that all readers download my books for free and then pay for a second copy only if they enjoyed the book. I let readers set the price for all of my books because there have been times in my life when I literally had no money and I would have been glad to get some entertainment for free and there have been times when I would happily have paid more for entertainment if the cashier's desk had been at the exit and not the entrance. If you're strapped, just change the recommended price to US$0.00 and read the book. I hope that you enjoy it. Most people are essentially good and fair so if you enjoyed it and can't afford to pay now and you reach a time in your life when you can affrd to pay for the experience, you can pay then. If you forget, don't worry. I know that you probably meant to and just let it slide. It happens. If you do pay, you'll be subsidising my attempt to get my books into print. I love a book that I can hold and so do many others but I'm not going to print anything until there is some demand. When I do print, I'm not going to make more profit than I do from my e-books, so hardcover will probably only cost what most publishers charge for a paperback and a paperback will probably cost as much as a decent sandwich. Some have described my pricing policy as suicidal but I know that anyone who pays does so because they actually enjoyed what I gave them and not because I made them pay at the door. I know that my paying readers are happy and that makes me happy because the price that is paid is the evidence of a connection that has been made and not of a demand that has been obeyed.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My wife and son. If you're not married or a parent, you might not get that, but it's only when you are doing something for someone else that life has meaning.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was eight and my teacher said nothng about the story: he just maerked the spelling mistakes in red and told me to write out each word five times. I've had better experiences.
What is your writing process?
I sort throught the hundred or so ideas that I have every day, sit in front of computer and start tapping until something intelligible appears. If nothing intelligible appears, I start the process again teh next day. If you're not producing sentences, you're not writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I teach English to Chinese-speaking children in Hualien, which is a small city on the east coast of Taiwan. I write all of my own texts so I'm kept quite busy. I also enjoy camping with my family and playing guitar and mandola. Irish traditional music is my favorite.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was a Biggles book. I loved the characters and the strange environments of the book. I still remember the thrill of being transported to another reality. I'll stilll read anything that has an aircraft in it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
"The Little Prince" has every insight that you neeed to navigate life. "Papillon" is the greatest true story that has ever been written. I still read it and have to remind myself that I'm not reading a novel. Any of Garrison Keilor's collections of Lake Wobegone short stories will make you feel good about the world and yourself. Michael McLaverty's collection of short stories, "The Road to the shore" are perfect vignettes that take no more than twenty minutes to absorb. Any of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels can still drag me into its alternative reality.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have to write. It;s as simple as that. If I don't write, all of this stuff just builds up inside me and gets clogged and confused. Writing is my therapy.
When did you first start writing?
I started late, at the age of 45.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
What do your fans mean to you?
They keep me cool. My favorite fan is a large blue one that blows a nice breeze across the keyboard when the summer is really hot.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read anything and everything. I'm not picky, but my choices are based on some sort of instinct that even I can't explain.
What are you working on next?
Five different novels and a travel book.
What's the story behind your latest book?
It;s the first part of a trilogy that I'm writing back-to-front. Bogart Black is a Cat Sweep. He breaks into people's houses and cleans their chimneys. He's a nice guy. I think that you'll like him. Try the book for yourself.
Who are your favorite authors?
My favorite authors are (in alphabetical order) Henri Charrière, Tom Clancy, Garrison Keilor, Michael McLaverty, Flann O' Brien, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Oscar Wilde. My favorite poets are (in alphabetical order) WH Auden, John Betjeman, Seamus Heaney, Philip Larkin and WB Yeats.
Describe your desk
There are books, a monitor, a keyboard, a mouse and various detritius from a life that includes a young son and a wife who doesn't put anything away.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Whatever is handy
How do you approach cover design?
I ask my wife nicely.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm not really sure how to answer that one as I'm still trying to do my own thing. I'll tell you when I've found something that works.
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