Interview with Ian Campbell

What do you read for pleasure?
I wish I could honestly say 'everything', but I don't. I enjoy a good thriller or, even better, a good espionage story... something like The Spy Who Came In From The Cold' by John le Caré. I'd rather read something that feels real rather than the romanticized spy character like James Bond.

However, I also read non-fiction for pleasure. Godfrey Higgins 'Anacalypsis - the Saitic Isis' is a set of books I could dip into any time and learn something new.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Sony e-Reader which I am very fond of. It is beautifully built although it doesn't have all the whistles and flutes of its modern counterparts.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
At this moment in time, I'm still struggling with Amazon's KDP Select and I am taking a look into producing trailers of my books.
Describe your desk
Cluttered... overflowing with papers and notes. A friend of mine; a co-author, also had a cluttered desk on which he had a sign 'Untidyness is a sign of genius!'... I had to start somewhere...
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in the East End of London just after WWII. The East End of London was the poor area of the city and took an incredible beating in the war because of the docks being there. At the age of seven, I moved to the south-east coast near Dover and I had never been as bored as I was then. None of the schools would take me because I was about a year ahead in curriculum terms... the East End school having been more aggressive in its teaching techniques.

When I was ten, I took the 'eleven plus' exam. Those who passed that exam could choose which school to attend. I passed and chose by uncle's old Grammar School at nearby Sandwich. So, I was a Grammar School boy. A couple of years later, the new headmaster of the school was elected to the Headmaster's Conference which means that your school has been classified as a Public School.

You should know that in the UK, Public Schools are more private than the private schools. Usually, if you attend somewhere like Eton or Harrow or Rugby it is because your parents have money and put your name in the register when you were born but my school had the eleven plus exam which only the top 15% had a chance of getting into.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing in 1983 mainly for amusement and to while away the time. I wondered about being a writer and remember visiting my local library to research the topic. All I found was this singular, erudite definition:-

"A writer is someone who writes".

Succinctly put.
What's the story behind your latest book?
At school I was a bit of a misfit. It was an academically oriented school and I wasn't an academic. So, I partook of other things. I invented the photomicrographical society which made black and white 35mm slides out of microscope slides so that everyone could see the slide at the same time. I got paid for this! I was also an associate editor on the school magazine and a member of the printing club which produced the programs for the school play and Gilbert & Sullivan production every year. I also designed and built sets for the school productions.

Anyway, this is where I first became interested in 'forgery'... creating something that was false but looked real. My first foray into the subject was to 'create' a non-existent exam paper by Oxford & Cambridge Examination board. The printing club had the paper, type-faces and printing equipment and the rest was slog. I produced something that looked and felt like the real thing and to get my own back on all the boys who had made my life difficult over the years, I had the paper set as a test exam paper on a Saturday afternoon... 120 boys confined to the exam room on their half-day off! I achieved it with the help and collusion of one master.

When I took the papers in, they revealed all manner of hang-ups and perversions. You see, the paper I had created was entitled 'Environmental Psychology' which probably exists now but I don't think it did then. It was full of unanswerable questions to give the pupils room to 'hang themselves'. Great fun. I passed one entry who had written 'You've got to be joking' across his exam paper. Spot on!

Twenty years later, I was running a Bureau de Change and had lots of time on my hands when I didn't have any customers. I knew a lot about the business and imagined an ordinary guy in extraordinarily difficult circumstances faced with financial ruin because of his wife. I wondered how someone in his positiion might dig his way out of that particular hole given a skill set of photography, printing and the Foreign Currency business. The result was the plot for 'That Will Do Nicely'.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I had always had this printing experience in my background and for anyone who has set type manually, the ability to just type in Word on their computer and to see pages print out perfectly seems like a miracle. Thus when Print On Demand became available through CreaterSpace, I was there in a flash.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
There are several if not many problems an Indie Author has to overcome but the most difficult is to get noticed and that means getting people to read your book. Smashwords enables me to do that as I can create a coupon and send it to book reviewers.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
'That Will Do Nicely' is an old book. It has had a long gestation period of nearly 30 years. When I resurrected it and put it onto modern media I was still too close to the story and veered from one version to another. I needed perspective. So I narrated the whole book and recorded it. What I found was an excellent way of discovering whether my book was readable. Forcing myself to narrate the book exposed the flaws in my writing and I was able to repair the damage so that the narrative and dialogues flow.

As a result, I ended up with two audio books, 'That Will Do Nicely' and its sequel, 'Pentagon Five'. Several years ago, I took a friend down to the south of France where my principle characters end up in the first book. It's a long two-day journey. We listened to 'That Will Do Nicely' on the way down and to 'Pentagon Five' on the return journey. My friend didn't need any prompting and would put the CD in and start the play-back whenever we got in the car.

Seeing my friend's response gave me a terrific lift and I have had a similar response from several other people since then.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'll let you know when I get some. I don't mean to be flippant but for an unknown author with an unknown book title it is very difficult to get fans. There's nothing for them to search for. They don't know who you are and it's totally different to non-fiction where someone can at lease enter the subject in the search bar and sees what comes up. The writer of fiction has a much tougher job.
What are you working on next?
Several years ago there was a little known book by a guy called Dan Brown... "The DaVinci Code". I was looking into that topic back in the 80's as a non-fiction topic. It had been started by a guy called Henry Lincoln who produced three television specials for the BBC on this mysterious little village in the south of France. This was in 1973. I visited the village in 1982 and in 1983 discovered a fine book on the subject called 'Genisis - The First Book of Revelations'. An investigation into the mystery and in particular into what happened to several treasures, all of which had disappeared within a few miles of the mysterious village. I tracked the author David Wood down and we began co-operating on the subject.

Wood was a trained trig surveyor and using his skill had detected an underlying geometrical pattern on the landscape. I was able to write a computer program and prove him right. Subsequently, he wanted to write a second book on the same topic but one firmly based in math and geometry. He invited me to co-author it. The result was 'Geneset - Target Earth'. It was a full color, 320 page bound book of which I am very proud to have to my name. However,in 1994 its publication price was £25 or about US$45 which was a hefty price so currently I'm producing a new edition of the book in 9 volumes, each of which will sell at $2.99.
Published 2013-10-17.
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Books by This Author

Pentagon Five
Price: $10.08 USD. Words: 75,910. Language: English. Published: July 25, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
Tom Pascoe and his partner Sam, Jim & Mary Roberts have been running a centre for artists in the south of France. The peace of the off-season is shattered by the arrival of a neighbour who has discovered a body on the nearby celtic track. Roberts, an ex Scotland Yard detective investigates which inexorably leads all of them into a conspiracy concerning the Holy Grail & other fabulous treasures.