Interview with James Sheridan

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Messy, An old desktop pc with no internet facing a blank wall and a high window. So as few distractions as possible
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and grew up in Liverpool. I have worked away a lot since 18 and now live in North Wales. I have put distance between myself and the city but when I returned for a brief visit over a weekend and visited the city centre and the museum's section on the arts I did feel that I am a Liverpool writer.
When did you first start writing?
I first remember wanting to write for a living on a ferry in Hong Kong when I was just 19. Then at times I sat down and wrote a few pages but never carried on. I did try a creative writing course about 12 years ago but after 5 weeks felt that I would be better spending the time writing down the words in my head rather than talking about doing it. I eventually sat down to write properly about my experiences in business but when that was finished it was a very personal account and I set off writing a novel. Splinter was published on my 42nd birthday.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have had the character of Dan Richards in my head since the age of 19 but now I am older so is Dan. He is an ex Royal Marine colour sergeant and was discharged after injury in a bomb blast. He has returned to his grandfather's village in North Wales and lives a locked down life for the three years prior to the story. He is working as a whelk fisherman with an older friend and is surviving but is holding his emotions inside him. When his friend is threatened by a local yob Dan acts instinctively with violence. This act dislodges the psychological "splinter" that Is holding him back in the past. The book is a journey of his redemption from his traumatic experiences and his reawakening as he interacts with civilian life, with friends, a new job as a bouncer and even romance.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The Literary agents didn't bite. I followed the "rules" of correspondence to pique their interest but was not picked up. They receive hundreds of letters a week so my take is that you have to be very lucky. I write from my experiences of life and my words have not been polished by a creative writing degree. That experience includes an award winning career in sales and marketing and running a hotel business employing 30 people. Becoming indie gave me the control to do it myself.

I was lucky to find Joanna Penn's site and I cherry-picked the relevant pieces of information that I needed from there (including Mark Coker's advice). I have strived to eb as professional as possible and run my "career" as I would a business. For Splinter I have set a budget and employed an editor and cover designer as well as set up an author platform with website, blogs etc. Who knows where it will lead but I am enjoying the adventure so far.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My wife says she has never seen me happier than when I am in full flow creating my words. I am buzzing with creative energy. The writing is the fun part. The finding time to write and deal with the business and marketing side is a drain on that energy. Now that I have my first novel "published" then I feel that I am a proper writer and I have drawn a line under the "want-to--be" title that was holding me back. Book 2 is better than Book 1 and I hope to finish by Christmas.
What do your fans mean to you?
Not sure I have many fans yet although early reviews are going well and I have had many positive comments. I seem to be building a following of ladies who enjoy the book and want to hear more of Dan's story. I work part time as a nightclub doorman so I also have a good following with ex-servicemen and bouncers. Many tell me that they haven't read a book since school but have enjoyed Splinter in paperback. They don't have e-readers and they won't leave reviews but they tell me my writing is authentic and exciting, which gives me a fantastic boost.
What are you working on next?
I have a 25K word novella called Dragon, which is about Dan's early career as a Marine and a posting to Hong Kong, which is an exciting city. This is being edited at the moment and I hope to publish by the end of October.

I am also writing Book 2 of the Facts of Life Series, which develops Dan's story after the events of Splinter. Aiming to finish by Christmas.

There is also a new novel on the horizon that I am currently plotting, which will be a topical political thriller. Due to start writing in January. So lots on.
Who are your favorite authors?
When I was younger I read a lot of Dick Francis, Desmond Bagley and Alistair McLean so I have a deep rooted sense of adventure. I read any new Bernard Cornwell that comes out and have also found Terry Pratchett, especially the Sam Vimes stories, which are a great take on a life on the Discworld.

As a new writer I am trying to be more aware of fellow writers. I have started reading Zoe Sharp's books with Charlie Fox as a heroine. Also Linda Gillard, who has a great gift and has helped me with my questions on breaking the set genre mould, which being an indie author is allowing me to do. . .
What is your writing process?
I am not very disciplined but when the muse is on me then it flows well. The internet connection on my pc broke and I have never fixed it as it would be a distraction.

I use the "pomodoro" method to switch on to writing. The method uses a kitchen timer (the original idea was a tomato shaped timer hence pomodoro), which when I am ready to write, computer switched on, coffee made etc, I set to 45 minutes and it ticks along. This concentrates the mind and when it rings if I am into the session I will add another 45 minutes or stop to have a break. It works for me.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
As a boy I read all the famous five books by Enid Blyton. They were good clean adventure stories, lots of camaraderie and derring do. They were a product of a different age and are often deliberately misconstrued for hidden meaning and to prove an academic point. I read one recently and it out of fashion but was still a great story. Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons took me sailing and canoeing and the Biggles stories by WE Johns were great war adventures where good always triumphed.

If I had written properly in my late teens then my books would have been more gung ho. Now I am more cynical and hard bitten I am told that Splinter is a realistic portrayal of its character and his surroundings.
Published 2013-10-16.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Splinter : Facts of Life Series Book 1
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 72,770. Language: English (Welsh dialect). Published: October 16, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General, Fiction » Adventure » General
An ex Royal Marine's journey of redemption. After returning to his Grandfather's North Wales coastal village, a deep psychological splinter is dislodged when Dan Richards encounters violence while defending his friend from a local yob. His reawakening leads him to put aside his experiences of war and open up to new possibilities, even romance.