Interview with W. R. Watkins

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Tunbridge Wells, and to be perfectly honest, it didn't really influence how I write. Most of my writing influence comes from the music artists I listen to (Mariah Carey etc.), from films/shows, other people that I have met over my life. And of course, I write about different aspects of my life and try and use it in a positive way.
When did you first start writing?
I can clearly remember when I first wrote my first poem. It was in 2007, and I was going through a low period in my life, and for some reason, I picked up a pad and pen and began to write out what I felt. That first poem (at the time were lyrics, which were ranked as semi-finalist lyrics in the UK Songwriting Competition a couple of years ago), started off my first poetry book, 'You. Are. Not. Alone.'

However, it was not until a couple of years later, when I began to properly write more lyrics/poetry more consistently, writing about scenarios that I made up in my head, along with different bits of my life. Writing turned out to be my saving grace, and as a safe way for me to express what I was feeling/thinking.

My main aim for writing, was to write pieces that could relate to anyone in their lives, no matter what they were going through.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book, 'Diary Of The Heart: An Obsessive Infatuation', was a result of a brainstorm of ideas, after I wrote 'You. Are. Not. Alone.' I knew that I wanted to create a series of books about love/relationships in general.

However, when I began to put together that material for the first book, I realised that I wanted to create a story with the poems, and not have them as stand-alone pieces of work, that had no relationship to each other, which was also the main aim of my first book as well.

It tells the story of the time you have a secret crush on somebody, but you end up having to let that person go.

Much like my first book, there are elements of my own personal life and experience in this book. It actually took me by surprise how personal I was making this story.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
What motivated me to become an indie author was not exactly the best reason in the whole world.

It all began with a poetry book that I was recommended by a friend. I liked with what I was reading, and so I bought it. What I didn't realize at the time of purchasing, was that the book was written by somebody whom I did not particularly like or get along with.

Anyway, I got the book in the book, and I began to read it. It started off ok, but then...a whole load of 'no' and I ended up having to give the book away (coincidentally, to the friend who had recommended the book) before I finished it.

What I did realize however, was that I had at least six years worth of material, sitting in my room, collecting dust. I always knew that I wanted to write a book at some point in time, so, why not put the poems that I had written together, into one book? Or at least a selection? I mean, the internet has made self-publishing your own book so much easier, so it was worth a shot.

So in January of 2014, I began to work on my book, looking through a the books of poems/lyrics that I had, and picked out the ones that I thought would be good enough to publish. I had no plan at that time for what the book was going to be about. It took me some time, before I worked out that this book was going to tell bits and pieces of my life.

Whilst this was going on, I began to look for a publishing house that may have looked like it would have been interested in my work. However, that proved to be a dead end. Most publishing houses require for your work to be presented to them from an agent, or asked for a large sum of money upfront. Money that I knew, I would never see again for a very long time.

I knew that poetry was going to be a very difficult subject topic to sell. I have always known that. So, the only other option for me, was to explore the ebook realm, and see what that offered me. My first port of call was Amazon Kindle, along with a variety of different ebook sellers, however, I felt that Kindle had a more worldwide reach for an audience, therefore I picked them as the sellers of my book.

Deep into the writing/editing/proofreading process, I really wished that my book could be available to buy in a physical format. And if the ebook did well enough, maybe I would be able to print a few copies off. However, all that changed when I noticed during the signing up process for my first book, 'You. Are. Not. Alone.', that Amazon had a parent company called 'CreateSpace', which offered to print your books on demand. I could not believe it.

So I quickly released the ebook edition, and proceeded to set out the print format of the book, and released it on the day of my graduation from University, one month after the release of the ebook edition.

Throughout the process, I did not pay for an artist to do the cover art. I did not pay a proofreader to check over my work (my mum helped me on that front). I paid for the rights to my cover art, and did all the designs myself., and even when selecting the cover art, I did not have to pay huge sums of money.

My aim was to create a book at the lowest possible cost, without sacrificing the content or quality of the book. And with my current books, I feel I have accomplished that.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
To be able to release what I feel in a positive and creative way, that I feel has the potential to benefit other people who may be going through something similar to me.
What do your fans mean to you?

An author can write a great book.

An author can write a book that captures the imagination of its reader.

An author can write a book that touches somebodies heart, and inspires them.

But what makes an author, as it is with any form of artistic expression, are its fans.

That is why I will always thank the reader of my books, for taking the time to spend their hard-earned money, on my little collection of words.
What are you working on next?
I'm currently working on my next poetry book, which is completely different to my first two books (and their extended editions!).

I don't want to say too much, but I'm really loving the writing process for this book. It feels far more organic for me.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Watching films, TV shows (I love Charmed!), music, reading, writing and eating obscene amounts of Large Big Mac Meals (don't forget the three double cheese burgers!) and pizzas (with the odd salad thrown in).
What is your writing process?
I try and write from the heart. That for me, is an honest way of writing. It's a way that the writer can say: "Look, this is my life, this is what I've been through", and to try and have an emotional connection to what I'm writing. And if I have a connection to what I am writing, then I think there is a good chance that the reader will as well.

Well, at least, that's what I hope!

I'm a hopeless romantic, and I write out what I feel. I have a lot of trouble expressing what I feel and think verbally. But when I write them down, I can be as creative, direct, sarcastic, sassy as I want to be.
How do you approach cover design?
To keep it simple and to the point. I don't want to have a cover that is trying to express every single emotion that the book is about. That would be too complicated, and in all honesty, just a plain headache.

At the moment, I use stock photos from iStock by Getty Images, and I think they're great. The first two book covers are from iStock and I think they work perfectly, in order to create the mood that I want them to create.
Why is my writing mostly sad?
When my mum read the draft for my first book, 'You. Are. Not. Alone.', she told me she had to go, take a cold shower and return back to it. And over time, she had to take breaks from the book, because for her, it was too painful and difficult to read.

That set the standard for me.

And I guess that set the writing trend for me to.

I did not have an unhappy childhood. I want to say that right now.

However, there were small things that I noticed growing up, about myself that I was really not happy with. Things that I really wanted to change, and just be normal. Why couldn't I be normal like everyone else?

I did not have a very close group of friends. I had people that I felt I got along well with, but I didn't have what I saw other people having, if that makes any sense. Most of the time, it felt it was always just me, in my corner, defending myself. And there always the people whom weren't particularly nice to me. That pretty much happened throughout primary and secondary school. I guess some of it was my own fault.

And I've been on my own for most of my life. I've never been in a relationship. I've never been on a date. I guess I'm not interesting enough for someone to take a chance on me. And I wouldn't blame them! (side note: save this for a future poem). I pretend it doesn't bother me, but in reality, it hurts me a lot. Anyway, this is getting too deep! (Keep this light Will, keep this light!)

When I went to university, I met the most amazing people, whom I'm so happy to call my closest friends, and my life on a whole is a lot better than what it used to be.

But, there is still a lot of issues that I guess I have to work through. And like most people who have gone through very low points in their lives, there are times when, you just relapse, and end up back in that emotionally low point and you just feel sad for a really long time. And it's not like it has a warning bell or a small tick that happens just before you slump back. It just happens without warning.

As I said, I write what I feel. And I write from the heart. If I'm feeling sad, it would be no surprise if I wrote a poem that was sad in it's nature. It would be odd for me to write something happy. I would never try and force myself to write something happy, because I know that the finished piece of work would suck and I would end up hating it.
Published 2014-12-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Price: Free! Words: 7,440. Language: British English. Published: April 4, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Gay & lesbian, Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
'photograph' is the brand new poetry collection from bestselling author W. R. Watkins
Diary Of The Heart: Little Red Book
Price: Free! Words: 16,120. Language: British English. Published: August 1, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Gay & lesbian, Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs
'Little Red Book' documents the writing process of W. R. Watkins, spanning over one year. Raw, reflective and emotional, it is Watkins' most personal collection of work to date, that not only captures him as his happiest moments, but also his battles with anxiety.
Diary Of The Heart: An Obsessive Infatuation
Price: Free! Words: 6,710. Language: British English. Published: January 3, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs, Fiction » Poetry » Gay & lesbian
'Diary Of The Heart: An Obsessive Infatuation' explores the roller coaster of conflicting emotions of your first crush, from a teenager's perspective.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
Price: Free! Words: 9,710. Language: British English. Published: January 2, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Themes & motifs, Fiction » Poetry » Gay & lesbian
(5.00 from 1 review)
You. Are. Not. Alone. follows the W. R. Watkins’ emotional and honest journey through secondary school and university, as he battles social anxiety, in the hopes to gain social acceptance amongst his peers. As he faces his demons one by one, he extends a hand to you, encouraging and guiding you to accept yourself. Will he eventually be able to attain his dreams if acceptance?