Interview with Steve Moran

What is your writing process?
The initial idea for a story might come from anywhere. It might pop into my head unbidden. It might come out of a chance conversation, or it might come from an idea I'd had when writing an earlier book. But wherever it comes from, the next part of the process is the same. I listen to the idea. I watch it. I study it. I try to understand what it wants to be.
For me the writing process is about uncovering a story which, in a sense, already exists. It's my job to uncover something which is buried, something which is hidden, and which is revealing itself only to me.
So it's important that I shouldn't force my own ideas onto it. Sometimes I've done that, and then the storyline has gone wrong. If that happens I have to step back and listen carefully to what the story really wants to be, and not what I want it to be.
I don't say that's an easy thing to do. It's not. It can be quite time-consuming. Quite frustrating, even. But when I get it right, I know. And there's no feeling in the world quite like it!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, I can't remember the first story I ever read, but I can remember the type of stories I first used to read!
They were stories of myth and legend, of witches and fairies, giants and goblins! Greek legends, Roman legends, Indian legends, Norse legends - gods and demons, heroes and warriors!
I found these stories so inspiring!
First of all because good (usually!) triumphed over evil, and secondly because the worlds described were so much more colourful and exciting than my own humdrum city-based twentieth-century life! How I wished I'd lived in a time when gods spoke to men, animals talked, and magicians stalked the Earth! At a later age I discovered C.S.Lewis and Tolkien, and I never looked back! Yes, eventually I read the classics of English literature - and loved them! - but for me my reading heart will always return to tales of magic and fantasy!
How do you approach cover design?
Well, I've always enjoyed drawing, and although everyone always advises self-publishing authors NOT to draw their own covers, I always do it myself. I suppose then I can't blame anyone but me if it doesn't work!
Every time it's different (unless books are related - with my three "Suzie Sparkle" books I maintained the same format for all three covers), and I don't always get it right first time! A benefit of self-publishing is that I can change a cover whenever I want, and I have done so a few times. I have to be honest with myself (not always the easiest of things to do!) and ask the question - if a book is not selling, could it be to do with the cover? The answer is sometimes yes, and sometimes no! Which is to say, sometimes I've changed the cover and it has improved sales, while sometimes I've changed the cover and it hasn't. Oh well!
If I decided to write books for an older audience, using covers which required photographic images, then I think I'd ask someone else to do it. But as long as my books suit covers which are drawn - well, count me in!
What are your five favorite books, and why?
That's a tough one, and I can't answer it! I'd rather tell you my favourite fifty or a hundred books, because I like so many! And I must admit the population of even those lists has changed throughout my life as I've discovered new authors.
What do you read for pleasure?
At the moment I'm reading fantasy to relax. Authors like Robin Hobb, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Rothfuss, Neil Gaiman, and also re-visiting Tolkien. In addition to that, about every three years I re-read all of Patrick O'Brien's 20-volume odyssey about the Napoleonic wars, and this year it's due!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I don't use an E-reader much. I have a Kindle, but I prefer the feel of paper in my hands! Reading is as much a tactile experience as a visual one, and there's nothing quite as satisfying as walking home from a bookshop or the library with a big, fat, heavy book in my hand! No E-reader - however many books it contains - can ever match that!
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Reviews are the gold standard. When someone writes that they really like your book then it boosts sales immediately.
I've tried Twitter and Facebook campaigns with some success, plus making the books free for a limited period. There is no one single method, but they all work together. Timing is quite an art, and only by experimenting can you discover what works for you!
Describe your desk
I don't have one, really!
When I write my first draft of a book, I do it by hand. I scribble into a notebook with a ball-point pen, and need to be as relaxed as possible to do it! So at this point in the creative cycle you'll find me on a sofa or deep inside an armchair. Once it's written, then it's over to the computer to type it in. Then I print it off and sit down in the armchair again to proof-read it! So it's backwards and forwards I go until I can find no more mistakes!
I never write at a desk, as such. I'm just an old couch potato, and need to rest my body on the couch when my brain is at work!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a city centre, with no garden and no playground nearby. The buildings were tall and dull, so daily life had little colour or imagination in it. I think that's why I took such delight in fantastical tales of magic and legend, immersing myself in the wonderful worlds these stories offered. I read for hours and hours, preferring the realms I discovered in the books to the real world around me. So when I started writing it's not surprising that it was just to those worlds I returned, only this time as a creator, not just an observer!
When did you first start writing?
I enjoyed creative writing in my school days, and contributed to school magazines. As an adult I turned to songwriting, and composing musicals for children to perform, and did that successfully for many years.
When I had the idea of turning to pure writing (without the music!) I found it extremely hard, but I was determined to do it. The challenge was escaping from the song format. When you write a song you have to convey a story in a few verses and choruses. That's not many words at all! I learned how to focus and condense ideas into just a few words which matched the rhythm of a tune - which is no help whatsoever when you want to write a book!
So I spent several years un-learning this, and had to practice expressing myself purely in words for hour after hour. As I write this now, I have eight books in print, and I started my writing journey about ten years ago. And it's not over yet!
What's the story behind your latest book?
Ah. Good question. I can't tell you yet! It's only an embryo, an egg, at the moment, and it mustn't be disturbed! I'm nurturing it and watching it grow, but it's not ready to be exposed to the light of day! Just be patient - as I have to be - and all will be revealed in good time..........
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Freedom, basically. I'd sent manuscripts to publishers and literary agents, and been rejected by them all. Probably with good reason! But I learned from this and worked on my technique, and then decided I didn't want anyone else to decide whether people should read my books or not. People could decide for themselves!
So I gave up trying to please organisations that I couldn't please, and aimed directly at the readers. I started self-publishing and I haven't looked back!
Published 2015-06-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Jackie Potatoes
Price: $2.30 USD. Words: 21,040. Language: English. Published: June 14, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Fiction, Fiction » Children’s books » Action & Adventure / Survival Stories
Jackie and her friends love to bake cakes and chat in the kitchen of her parents' restaurant, where they gather every day after school. Well, they did until the letters started arriving! Letters from big companies and government organisations who seem determined to destroy their happy little village. Only one person knows how to face up to these threats - and that's Jackie Potatoes, of course!
Barnabus Mudpatch
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 50,790. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Historical / Medieval, Fiction » Children’s books » Legends, Myths, Fables / Arthurian
Barnabus Mudpatch, a street urchin, tries on a suit of armour and finds himself fighting a deadly battle with the greatest knight in the land! Miraculously, he survives, only to find himself plunged into mystery, intrigue and danger as he battles destructive demons to the death! Is it just luck that he overcomes all these challenges, or is there more to Barnabus than meets the eye...