Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Chesterfield England, lots of English countryside to roam in, but I believe my inspiration really began in Leicester where my parents were caretakers at a large old building. There was no ghost in residence, but it was a spooky place and I remember deliberately, and repeatedly scaring myself by going into parts of it in the dark, on my own.
When did you first start writing?
Twice actually, my very first attempt was around twelve years old when I wrote for the school newspaper. Casper the ghost had recently been on at the cinema and it inspired me to wrote a serial about a friendly little ghost; unfortunately I got him into so much trouble I couldn’t get him out. From then on I would get a piece of paper now and again and scribble a few words, but with career and family it was never a serious attempt; that came after a divorce in the mid nineties when I wrote to quieten the silence of the empty rooms. The silence is now filled with grandchildren and I haven’t stopped writing.
What are you working on next?
There’s the continuing Jet Black series and I’m almost two-thirds through writing a sequel to Resurrection. I have book six ‘Time Space and Mysticism' of the Company Wars series as good as finished, and I’m up to part six of the Orbit the Sun series.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I like to have a few projects all at the same time. Often I’ll get to part of a story that doesn’t seem right and until inspiration returns I can walk away to another, but my latest new storyline is Jet Black. Jet is a bit serendipitous: in my series of novels: The Company Wars Chronicles, I have a character who is an author; he writes books about his own character, Jet. To illustrate Alans type of writing I put in an extract from ‘his’ book, but Jet wasn’t satisfied with being no more than a mention and played on my mind until I gave him a story of his own, or maybe I gave alan a chance to channel through me.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
What I like is that I can write a story and in a matter of minutes it has gone global.
Why do you publish under different names
Science fiction is the genre I feel most comfortable writing, but occasionally I do enjoy something a little more spooky so by crediting another author it enables me to express a different part of my personality. If what i have read is correct it's similar to when an actor puts on a costume, they take on the persona they are playing. If I want to write something darker I get the part of me that’s Nathaniel to do the imagining.
Then what about Paul and Alan, they both share to Science fiction side
Allan was there first but he has enough to do with looking after the Chronicles, Quone and Jet, so Paul Carroll came along for one off novels.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I’ve tried a few other ebook platforms but I just feel more comfortable with Smashwords.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Maybe I never grew up, but I feel at home in my fantasy worlds. Or maybe it’s the fact that in a crazy world I can control the outcome. Or maybe its just that I have a lot of imaginary friends that I like being with.
Who are your favorite authors?
Terry Pratchett and Tolkien are probably my most favourite storytellers.
What do your fans mean to you?
A great deal, it’s nice to know that it’s not just my imaginary world. It’s a place where my characters can become shared imagination; and hopefully that brings a little pleasure and enjoyment into someone’s life that I don’t, and probably never will know.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My grandchildren; literally.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Once or twice a year I’ll just lose the inspiration, and I’ll work on the stuff I’ve neglected; my house, the old cars, or the motorcycle until it returns
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was along time ago but I think it was a H.G. Wells book, or it could have been Ivanhoe by Walter Scott, but whatever it was Sci-fi and medieval themes were there very early on.
How do you approach cover design?
That’s a tricky one, as generally I don’t. I know there’s lots of things authors are told to do to get people to read their books and I agree with most, but I’m not a graphic artist, or artist in any sense of the visual, I write stories and content is the most important thing to me. Maybe I should take more time but I want people to read the things I write because they like the storyline, not because I have a pretty cover.
What do you read for pleasure?
For a writer of fiction I like to read non fiction, like books on science to give me inspiration and ideas.
Describe your desk
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Ill answer that by saying writing a story is following a set of rules. I didn't realize that when I was twelve, so my first attempt as I mentioned before was at school, and was unfinished. The first story I wrote to the end was Subterranean. As is often the case there's a story to the story, and Subterranean was partly to settle a 'what if' from my past.
What is your writing process?
Chaotic. Sometimes I just don't feel like writing, but if I have the inspiration i will write until I fall asleep at the keyboard. Sometimes ill even get out of bed in the middle of the night with an idea that I have to get onto the hard drive. I wish I knew what inspiration was, sometimes it's as if the story is writing itself and I'm just the narrator pressing the keys. I have read of other authors who attribute their inspiration to some spiritual force, almost as if they are channeled or possessed. Yes i know that sounds like an overactive imagination, but hey if it works just keep on writing.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Hobbit would be one. I liked Tolkien's first foray into Middle Earth, it was fun and didn't take itself too seriously. Any of the Diskworld books by Terry Pratchett, and New Scientist so I can keep up and hopefully see a trend.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't have one so I use a laptop
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I'm planning a seventh book in the Chronicles, I can't seem to get to the end, whenever I think I'm getting there I realise there is so much more to tell, that's how Quone and Jet came to be written. The main character in Quone-Loc-Sie also appears in the chronicle, but his story wasn't part of the central plot, so he had to have a separate book. Jet was completely different, his adventures were a figment of the imagination of another of the Chronicles characters. His adventure was to be no more than a few paragraphs but I liked the fact that I didn’t have to take the situations I placed him into seriously. I could let my imagination roam back to the Flash Gordon and Emperor Ming I saw in the afternoon matinees of my childhood. Jet is my version of a superhero without special power's, who comes out on top no matter how improbable. I can't let my other lead characters get out of their problems so easily.
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