This is a question with two answers as I experience different levels of joy from fiction and non-fiction.
Where non-fiction is concerned my joy comes from educating others and evoking lively discussion so that I can learn from others too. I am the kind of person who loves to learn and nothing makes that happen like non-fiction writing whether I'm the author or the reader. Education is invaluable so I will always look at providing and receiving it.
As for fiction writing, it's simply the escape from the norm that brings me the greatest joy. I get to escape to a world of my creation and shut out whatever might be frustrating me in the physical world. The characters and the settings become an extension of me. They become alter egos in a sense. That world is my own and one where I make the rules without the say so of others. That mental freedom is true joy in its purest sense.
What do your fans mean to you?
The idea of having "fans" is a new concept for me and one that has only come about since my foray into blogging. It's a surreal feeling to know that I have a modest, but loyal support base who truly think that my writing is a wonderful thing. They religiously read my posts and always have something to say about them. The thing about it that brings a smile to my face is that these people are not just friends from Facebook trying to give me a boost. No, these are people who found my blog and became fans because they liked what they saw. They're fans of my work as opposed to me and that feels so good. These fans mean everything to me because they are the ones who will throw their collective weight behind me when I finally look to get my WIP traditionally published. It's so refreshing to know I'm not going into the whole thing alone.
What are you working on next?
Over the last year I have become the kind of author who never has just the one iron in the fire. My WIP (the main one) is undergoing a third edit. I am currently writing an ongoing story for my blog called Find Me a Find which is a romance story centred around internet dating. I regularly compose a multitude of standalone material for my blog so I never know one day from the next on what I'm going to be focussing my efforts. I like this tumultuous style. I tend to become bored if things become too regimented. Once I've answered these questions I have about three or four different things I could do. Hmmmm, which one...?
Who are your favorite authors?
For this one I could easily refer you to one of my first blog posts and indeed the first in an ongoing series called Living the Dream. The first edition was called History and listed a few inspirations of mine. Just follow the link:
Other ones unmentioned in that post are Dan Brown, Søren Kierkegaard, John Grisham and Oliver Bowden aka Anton Gill.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Usually it's my young son making noise. I miss him while he sleeps so when he wakes up my eyes open immediately after and I'll go over to him. I generally don't like being away from him.
Other than that, it's the thought of switching on my laptop and wondering what mini goals I'll achieve in my writing that day. I see each completed piece of work as a small achievement and I can only accomplish those achievements while I'm awake. I get antsy if I don't spend a decent portion of my day doing some form of writing.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I remember the first story I wrote rather vividly. The weird thing is that I actually cannot remember what I called it. How weird is that? I was twelve years old and had recently been introduced to the works of the incredibly talented Brian Jacques. I was hooked from the first book of his that I read and got through many of them in the years following. He was the reason I wanted to write stories. My first one was essentially using his model as a template and was pretty much an experiment. I don't recall how well written the story was (it has since disappeared into the ether), though I do recall the who's, the why's, and the where's. Although I borrowed Jacques' model I did at least display great imagination and creativity. I followed that story up with a sequel that I didn't end up completing and when I was fourteen I began work on an entirely original story altogether.
What is your writing process?
There are many levels to this as each piece I write differs.
My tried and tested method when writing a novel is to brainstorm and then write a synopsis. Intense research into the subject matter follows this. Then I write character profiles before a more detailed synopsis. The final planning task is a blow-by-blow account of the story. After all of that I begin writing the story. The research side of things never ends and I will continue to research after finishing the story in case there are details I missed that didn't tally. I used to work on a pages per day basis. Nowadays I go more off a words per day basis.
On my blog I got braver with my story writing and actually composed a few that had no prior planning at all. My current blog WIP is unplanned and I'm writing it off the cuff. The one before that, A Survivor's Apocalypse Story, was unplanned too though it is a sister story of another blogger and I had that model to feed off (admittedly I changed some things which meant my blogging friend had to too - something she wasn't massively appreciative of).
The process for non-fiction writing is pretty much unplanned too. I've grown fond of the unplanned style since I began blogging. There's a lot of freedom in it. Switching things as and when I fancy is a breath of fresh air. That said, I do miss the uniform style of my novel writing when I spend too long away from it. Knowing how the story is to pan out and it not being written down causes me misgivings.
Describe your desk
At present my desk is the arm of my sofa. You need money to buy things like desks and I have none. You also need space and I have decidedly little of that too!
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind my WIP is really quite simple. I have always had an affinity with the Golden Age of Piracy and it was on my agenda to write a story set in those times pretty early on into my writing life. It took a long time to get it started and once I had got it started it took a long time to finish (there were very long gaps of inactivity in between).
The Golden Age of Piracy, the period between the late 16th and early 18th century, is a time that gives me shivers when I think of it. How exciting it must have been to be around in those times. The world essentially grew a third in size as new discoveries were made in the Caribbean and the Americas. It was a time of conquest, war and action as rivalling European nations jockeyed for position in the New World. Everything was new and fresh. The bravery of those people to venture into the unknown in hopes of bettering their lot was admirable. Sure, there was violence, death and enslavement. Name me a time period that didn't have its evils.
Pirates represented something that means a lot to me... freedom! They receive bad press, but they were very misunderstood people and mostly nowhere close to as barbarous as we're led to believe.
What better subject to centre my WIP around than people who were exactly the kind of person I desire to be? In my mind I feel free and that was why I decided I would start to write this story. That way my main character could live vicariously through me. My WIP is a representation of the freedom I yearn for.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
We all have to start somewhere and I feel that going indie is a logical step on the way to becoming traditionally published. Much like my blog, I believe that this is a way of building my reputation and fan base so that when the time comes for me to approach publishers with my WIP I can point to past success and use that as reinforcement. The less people the publishers have to market to the better. The less they have to market to the better chance I have of getting published. At least that's the way I see it.
In the meantime, I get to do what I love as a hobby (though I view it as more than merely that) while improving my style and learning new ones along the way. I look forward to seeing what my readers think of my work and what critique they may have that I can take lessons away from.
What advice would you give to fiction writers just starting out?
I'd tell them that they have to go into it with a clear understanding of what they want to achieve from it. I see so many bloggers who turn up, write a few posts, and then disappear a month later. These people are doing it for all the wrong reasons. Writing isn't something one should pick up when they're bored and looking to fill a void. If it isn't something you feel a passion for then you shouldn't do it. The blogosphere is littered with abandoned blogs that the author no longer touches or even looks at. What a waste!
A new writer should head into the game with a goal. They should then ask themselves a simple question; "Do you want to achieve your goal as much as you want to breathe?". If the answer is anything other than 'yes' then they should find something else to do.
After that they should work towards that goal in whatever way they can when time allows for it. No slacking. They need to adopt the mind-set that every word written is another step towards the goal they set themselves. They need to love the craft and show it the respect it deserves. If they realise that their grammar isn't up to scratch don't just plod on regardless. Do something about it. I recently realised the same so I went to the library and got an English grammar reference book and have been brushing up on it to eradicate (or at least dramatically reduce) the errors. If you love writing then it's something you'll do. If not then you'll carry on thinking that you can slip through the net unnoticed. You won't!
I'd tell them to work as hard as they possibly can. If they're sitting there flicking through the channels on TV, why are they doing that and not writing? If they're spending an extra thirty minutes in bed of a weekend, why are they doing that and not writing? You only get out of it what you put into it. Less is not more. Procrastination is the beast. Don't use writers block as an excuse like I did for years. Move onto something else in the meantime until the block naturally shifts and by something else I mean another form of writing. Don't be afraid of having several things on the go at once.
I'd tell them that the most important thing is this: enjoy it! If you don't enjoy it, if it's nothing but a chore, if there are fifty things you'd rather be doing than writing then you're better off just giving up. If it isn't the thing you yearn to do more than anything else then don't do it. If it doesn't make you feel happy then don't do it.
And all of this is just for starters...
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.