Interview with Mike Crowl

What's the story behind your latest book?
If you mean how did it get off the ground, then it started with the idea that I would explain how Mr and Mrs Map, who feature strongly in my first children's fantasy, Grimhilda!, came to be joined together on either end of a map. I wrote a speedy first draft and discovered that that wasn't the story at all. Nor was the intended hero the main character. Instead, his cousin, Della, who plays football, and is known as 'Della the Speller' at school, became the focus of things.
The story had a nasty villain nicknamed The Dog, and he's remained the villain ever since, though his reasons for what he does have changed considerably. In fact almost all of the book has changed considerably! There is still a map in the story, but it's not the one that joined Mr and Mrs Map, and it behaves in quite a different way altogether.
It's proved the toughest of the three children's fantasies to write, and only this last month I had to toss out the second half of it and start again. Curiously enough, after that, an idea I had in the very first draft for a big finale to the story and which had been rejected found itself back in the new version again.
It's been what seems to me to be a long process of working hard to find the real essentials of the story. I'm expecting that by the time it really is finished, it will be a much better story than I started out with.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The fact that I wake up! Plus, being retired, all I have to do is put on my dressing gown and slippers and go into the other room and boot up the computer. I start the day with writing notes about my relationship with Jesus, and my studying of the Bible, plus keeping a diary of what's happened recently. After some chores, I'll get on and work on writing.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a musician and composer, so often I'll be writing songs, piano music, or playing for various singers who live in the same town as me.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually through articles or blogs or other places on the Net, or by people recommending them on sites like Goodreads. Or by people mentioning them on Twitter and Google+.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes! I was in my first year of school, and wrote a fantastical little story about discovering whiskey under the bed! At that time I didn't even know what whiskey was...
What is your writing process?
It varies from work to work. Grimhilda! started life in the 1970s, was abandoned for many years and only truly came to fruition when I worked on structuring it in conjunction with my co-writer, Cherianne Parks. It was written first as a musical, and then two years later turned into the novel that's now available as an ebook. Cherianne worked on it at every stage: I would write a draft, she'd critique it, I'd rewrite, and so it went.
The Diary of a Prostate Wimp, which is due to be published in May 2014, is based on blog posts, and diary entries I wrote in late 2008 and into 2009. Once it had reached a stage where I was satisfied with it, I handed it over to a friend who 'edited' it, suggested possible changes and so on. Some of these I went with, some not.
The latest book, which has the working title of The Mumbersons-and the Blood Secret, began with some discussions with my co-author from Grimhilda!, and then I worked on it on my own for some months,literally making it up as I went along. After two or three drafts had been written, my co-author came back into the process and suggested improvements.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read all manner of things, as much non-fiction as fiction. And being a Christian, I read a good number of Christian books.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Melbourne, Australia, but have spent much of my life in a small city called Dunedin, in New Zealand, a city that happens to be full of creative people: writers, artists, actors, musicians. The first 'work' I remember trying to write was a musical with a school-friend of mine. We were both very much into musical comedy and were trying to write a New Zealand musical. I also wrote a play when I was in my late teens - at that time I was more influenced by the theatre than by novels, although I'd read hundreds of these. Most of my work, both musical compositions and novels, has had some New Zealand 'feel' to it, though not consistently.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The fact that something is created that takes on a life of its own and continues to live on in your mind, like a child you've begotten.
Who are your favorite authors?
Currently I don't have any specific favourites. Amongst all the newly-published books I've read, I've also gone back to reading older books I still have on my shelves: P G Wodehouse, Ellis Peters, Dorothy Sayers, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, to name just a few. But one writer tends to stand out amongst them all, and that's Charles Dickens. I can pick up one of his books any time, even those I've read before, and enjoy it all over again.
Published 2015-09-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.