Interview with Harry Riley

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read a lot of classical novels, military biographies and short mystery stories, plus modern crime writers: Ian Rankin: Peter Robinson and Simon Becket. I'm a keen gardener and enjoy snapshot photography. Regularly I broadcast reflections (thought for the day and very short stories of my own creation) on Nottingham's Millside Hospital Radio.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Mainly from Amazon Kindle. If I enjoy an ebook I will usually write a review. My book reviews are invariably written with a positive slant, as I cannot see much point in writing a negative review.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes! It was 'Heroes, villains and a pig called Monty,' my short autobiography of growing up during the second World War and was published by Nottingham Evening Post Newspaper as a two page spread, together with several photographs in one of their special 'Bygones' issues. This whetted my appetite for creative writing.
What is your writing process?
I like to turn a loose idea into a story and then to start fleshing out the main characters (not too much with a short story) just enough to add a little light and shade and then to come up with a suitable title.
I want the reader to picture the character in his or her own imagination and by doing so, to participate in the story. Thus benefitting more from a shared experience.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It was Robert Louis Stevenson's 'Treasure Island' it is a magnificent tale, full of exciting incidents, danger and drama.
How do you approach cover design?
This is a difficult problem and one to which I labour long and hard.
I think a book cover can make or break a book, A manuscript's prospects can be enhanced or ruined by the design an author chooses. I tend to pick out the thread that runs through what I consider to be the most evocative part or section of a story and run with that. In The Ghosts of Edgwick Abbey, it was a local ruined church that I photographed for the cover. In my novel: Sins of The Father, it featured Coldstream Bridge, which crosses the River Tweed, dividing England from The Scottish Borders.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My all time favourite book is Thomas Hardy's: The Mayor of Casterbridge. To my mind, this novel captures human nature in it's many facets and faults. Michael Henchard is a very believable character. I have met several businessmen who are generous to a fault, just like M. Henchard, and who would gladly give you their last penny, but who, if crossed, would make really vicious enemies. This story is as relevant now as it ever was.
T.E. Lawrence's Seven Pillars of Wisdom: T.E.L. is another of my childhood heroes and his book ably demonstrates the futility and hypocrisy of war. I have visited his grave and his simple Cloud Hill cottage in Dorset.
John Buchan's: The Thirty Nine Steps: a great adventure yarn, superbly crafted and a real page-turner.
Memoirs of Montgomery of Alamein: the abbreviated life story of a great English General, whose epic battle was a real turning point for the allies during World War Two.
Nigel Tranter's Flowers of Chivalry. N. T. is a sadly no longer with us, but his brilliant, well researched, historical Scottish novels live on. I have several of them in my bookcase and it is hard to choose a best read from any of them, they are all so good. Flowers of Chivalry follows on from The Bruce's demise to the upheaval and vacuum
What do you read for pleasure?
UK, American and local Newspapers. I can browse the latest news and move on to magazine stories as I wish. I do like to keep up to date with the daily news and events.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I bought a Kindle eReader for my wife and I use an Android tablet and laptop daily. I have my major laptop apps on my Android tablet, including ebooks.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Without doubt it is the Internet. I am a member of two writing groups and my 4 published books-two novels: Sins of the Father and it's sequel: The Laird of Castle Ballantine, plus my two collections of short stories: 'Captain Damnation' and 'The Ghosts of Edgwick Abbey' are now listed in on-line bookstores, available in approx 12 countries: 'The Oxford Bodlian World Catalogue' and the 'Washington Library of Congress.' Without doubt the PLR and ACLS have also proved very effective for my work. A poem I wrote for 'Remembrance Day' called Remember Me, the voice of the dead, has now been recited in Poppy Day Services in several countries. I originally published this poem on the Internet and have received some heartwarming emails in return.
Describe your desk
My desk is a garden office, where I can work in peace and quiet without diversions.
It has lighting, heat and power, and now has full internet access 24/7
I have room for one or two visitors on the odd occasions when required.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was more fortunate than many young boys boys in that I was able to enjoy two entirely different lifestyles. Growing up during WW2. with my father a serving soldier and missing, presumed dead, somewhere in Burma,I lived in an urban environment with my mother part of the time, and the rest with my Gran in a small Derbyshire village. This gave me town and country living, and without doubt I preferred the simple life of the country village. Gas lighting, radio, and reading books were a very great pleasure and probably show through in my own writing.
When did you first start writing?
I would have preferred to stay on at school and gone on to university as I enjoyed history and English literature so much but it was not to be. Following a lifetime in commercial printing, from apprentice to director, and printing other peoples words, I wished to try my hand at writing when I eventually retired. I have written five town guides for and co-edited several community magazines since then. I also spent two years producing a monthly column for our local newspaper ref. community affairs.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest unpublished work is a further collection of short stories that I've entitled 'Wreckers' The title story concerns two young brothers who live off the Scottish coast and who do not like the new Stevenson Lighthouse, afraid it will ruin their lucrative ship-wrecking business, whereby they lure vessels onto the razor sharp rocks on stormy nights.
It is one such wild and windy night, with giant waves crashing about the rocky seas, when the elder brother decides to risk everything and to try and solve their problem,once and for all, this leads to amazing consequences for them both.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
At my age I could not wait for many months or even years, for a mainstream publisher to pick up and discover my work.
My son is a hi-tec specialist and he persuaded me the Internet is the future. I have not regretted this decision. It is so simple and straightforward and Smashwords take you through the whole process step-by-step. I later published The Ghosts of Edwick Abbey as a printed version by WordClay: Smashwords sister company, and am delighted with the result.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I tell writing friends to try Smashwords before all else, if they wish to produce an ebook. Smashwords placed a bomb under the tired and failing mainstream publishing industry and opened up a whole new world for writers of all ages to enjoy and prosper.
Published 2013-12-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Ghosts of Edgwick Abbey and other strange tales
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 46,410. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2010. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
With modern lives running at such a fast pace we have so little time to do justice to the full length novel. This is why the ten-minute tale is so useful for reading on a bus, a plane or a boat. Here are forty short mystery and ghost stories by Harry Riley that will, shock, and surprise you and perhaps even raise a smile or two as you journey through life's tortuous highway.