Interview with Kevin Cowdall

What do you read for pleasure?
Literary fiction (classics and contemporary), auto / biography.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've promoted quite extensively on Facebook, which has been most successful, Linkedin less so. I also have an author website (www.kevincowdall.com). A postcard / flyer campaign was also quite successful, as was a series of blog / social media interviews.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up as a child in Liverpool, England (where I still live and work). I’ve always been an avid reader and was brought up on the classics of childhood and adolescent literature. Add to that the fact that I grew up in the 1960’s Golden Age of escapism television, and it was no wonder I started playing out, and then writing down, adventure stories of my own.
When did you first start writing?
In my late teens - I started writing my first novel, a children’s story, 'The Dinsdale Fox', when I was about 16 or 17, abandoned it to write an Arthurian saga, 'Death Of A Warrior', then went back to complete it. I must have the nicest set of rejection slips; I even had publishers pass work on to other publishers they thought might be more responsive, but was getting nowhere fast and grew quite disillusioned, so I decided to concentrate on writing poetry.
Like most early efforts, much of what I wrote to begin with was fairly appalling “Moon In June” stuff, but I gradually started to get things into print – my first published poem actually appeared, appropriately, in the influential publication, First Time. I’ve had about 150 poems published in magazines, journals and anthologies in the UK and abroad, broadcast on local and regional BBC Radio and featured in several local and national competitions. I also brought out three small press collections; 'The Reflective Image', 'Monochrome Leaves' and 'A Walk in the Park'.
In my late twenties / early thirties I concentrated on writing short stories and had a number published in magazines and anthologies, then I moved back to full-length works, and I’ve written my first stage play, 'Sometimes'.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm currently re-drafting a novel, 'Cosgrove's Sketches' - the story of an Edwardian artist and whilst the central characters are, obviously, fictitious, I have included a number of 'real life' people in Cosgrove's story, including: Augustus John, Pablo Picasso, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Ford Maddox Ford, Man Ray and Gertrude Stein, who impact on his life to varying degrees.
Novelist Michael Powell is approached by the eighty-one year old Catherine Coburn to write a novel based on the short but eventful life of her father, the Edwardian artist, Meredith Arthur Cosgrove. At first reluctant, Michael visits Catherine in her Liverpool home and discovers that she has not only her father’s ‘visual diaries’ – annotated sketchbooks of people he met, places he visited, little scenes that took his fancy, but also her mother’s journals. Unable to resist, he agrees to write the story, as factually-based as possible, with key historic events and principle characters instantly recognisable, but with an elaborate fiction woven around them – narrative ‘moments’ which develop the relationship between Cosgrove and Emily until the key moment: “when they looked in to each other’s eyes and knew that their lives were about to change irrevocably.”
'Cosgrove’s Sketches' is divided in to three parts, with an epilogue. The first part, documents Michael Powell’s research work and growing fascination with the artist’s story, along with events in his own life. Parts two and three cover Cosgrove’s development, his relationship with Emily, and their exile in France, his untimely death and Emily’s return with their daughter to England; along with event’s in Michael’s own life (subtle counterpoints between Edwardian and modern social, cultural and moral mores), up to the publication of the book. The Epilogue gives a final twist to the story.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I've only just joined, but I hope Smashwords will build on my success to date; not just with new sales, but by helping to raise my profile and interest in my work...
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Thomas Berger said, “Why do writers write? Because it isn’t there.” The satisfaction for me comes from watching that blank white page being populated with words which, hopefully, will transport the reader to a different place – I want him or her to be able to see the ‘scene’ they are reading as I did myself when I first imagined it. When a review states, ‘you could almost be there’. I know I’ve got it right. That’s why I write – so that it is there for all to share.
Who are your favorite authors?
I was brought up on the classics of childhood and adolescent literature, everything from Enid Blyton’s Secret Seven and Famous Five, through the works of Robert Louis Stevenson, G H Henty, Mark Twain, Jules Verne and C S Lewis, to J R R Tolkien, H G Wells, Richard Hughes, Laurie Lee and John Wyndham. In my late teens and early twenties, Graham Greene, H E Bates, Daphne Du Maurier and John Steinbeck were big influences. Oscar Wilde, Noel coward, Anton Chekhov and Tom Stoppard are my favourite dramatists. Modern novelists whom I currently enjoy reading are Warren Adler, Paul Pickering, Robert Harris and Fay Weldon (to name but a few).
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My 'day job' is as a freelance consultant providing support to local charities, community groups, CICs and small businesses around fund-raising, governance, policies and procedures, project development, Linked in profiling, CV drafting and so on,
In my spare time I'm an avid reader, enjoy live and recorded music (predominantly classical, opera, jazz and blues), theatre- and cinema-going, dining out and travelling widely.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the first story I ever read, but Mark Twain’s 'The Adventures of Tom Sawyer' was the book that first made me want to write, simply because it was a ‘Boy’s Own’ type of adventure that I could relate to. As a child it was no wonder I started playing out, and then writing, adventure stories of my own.
Published 2016-05-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Paper Gods and Iron Men
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 36,140. Language: English. Published: May 24, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Adventure » War & military adventure
Set in the North Africa Campaign of World War II, the novella Paper Gods and Iron Men is a story of endurance and survival, of ordinary people in extraordinary situations. Published with the short story, Flanagan's Mule, which shares the theme of personal determination and resolve, and which is set in a South-American mining community in the 1950s.