Interview with Ray Sullivan

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Like many indie authors, writing is a side interest that I'd like to make a main interest! Due to my desire to eat and keep a roof over my head I work as a wage slave for a living. Consequently my writing takes place when I'm at home, fed, watered and all my chores are done. Given a clean break, if I managed to earn enough from my writing I would write full time, in a heartbeat.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Although I'm not a great fan of Amazon - they clearly see self published authors as meat - I recognise that they do host a lot of good books, including my own. I subscribe to their deal of the day and encourage all readers to include that as a book discovery tool. I do harbour an unproven theory that they push books that are part of the KDP Select programme though - and if you're in any doubt about my opinion on that then take a peek at my blog (Google Ray Sullivan Sci Fi Zone) - you'll learn that I think it is the greatest threat to indie publishing going, it is so anti-competitive I can't believe they are allowed to push it.
What is your writing process?
Whenever and wherever, is the simple answer. The whenever is often at the end of the day or early in the morning, but I've recently started using a Microsoft Surface RT, which comes pre-loaded with MS Office and consequently I have an iPad sized device with a real word processor and keyboard that is always on and ready to roll in the blink of an eye - it's getting a lot of bad press from those who want an Apple killer, but for writers I reckon it's a fantastic tool. I'm looking forward to using it on a transatlantic flight from London to Boston in a month's time when I visit New England to photograph the Fall - I've never had a laptop that could last for a flight before, so it should be a fun experience.

2015 update - Surface still going strong and excelled itself on its New England tour (wonderful part of the world, btw).

2018 update - Surface retired in 2016 - still going well but the ARM processor was struggling with tasks so I bought a Surface Pro. Two years on and going strong.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was an early reader and consumed all the Janet and John books in school very early on, but the first influential story I remember reading was in a Ray Bradbury anthology I found in the local library. In particular I recall being stirred by the short story 'the sound of thunder', which introduced me to the concept of time travel and problems it poses. Ray was a fantastic writer and surprisingly anti-progress; he could see what could happen and realised that it could be a dark world that moves forward.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Currently the Microsoft Surface RT, because it's always within arm's reach. I do have a Kindle and in the three of four days of bright, warm weather we enjoy over here in the UK it's very useful and practical. The battery life is also fantastic, although it's a double edged sword as I often get out of the habit of charging it, then finding myself with a dead Kindle when away from home. I also had a Google Nexus 7 which was a great way to read eBooks on, but the screen spontaneously self destructed in a side pocket while I was walking in the Lake District earlier this year and now it lies in a drawer waiting for replacement screens to cost less than a new Nexus!
Describe your desk
Often it's my lap - I sit the RT on it and type. It can be my breakfast bar, the breakfast room table or even, radically, the solid oak desk I had made by an artificer in Shrewsbury to my specification about fifteen years ago. But mostly my lap is my desk.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in north Wales, actually in the same town I now live in. However, although my region is featured on most of my books, the most influential time of my life was while I was in the Royal Air Force. I served for twenty four years, in the UK, Germany, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. I worked on fixed wing fast jets and helicopters for much of my career and then spent the last years as a professional technical trainer, technical author, training manager and procurement engineer working on high value projects for the military. Much of that life permeates into my books, but not in a geeky Tom Clancy way, or as overtly military biased books. In fact I try to redress the misrepresentation that I read in books by authors who should really know better by making my military action scenes as authentic as possible. It really irritates me when I read a book involving helicopters where the author has clearly decided to make up how they work rather than just ask. If you're writing a passage that involves the operation of an aircraft, email me the passage and I'll try to help you make it authentic.
When did you first start writing?
I wrote a two hour comedic parody of the then popular X Files in the mid nineties. It featured a British researcher called Clive Britecks who was investigating a phenomenon called Flat Cow Syndrome, around the time that Mad Cow Disease was in the news. The script was titled the Britecks Files and never saw the light of day, however I learned a lot about writing and story structure from that. It may still appear as one of my comedic books in the future!

After that I wrote a number of short stories and two of them eventually grew into my first two novels; Parallel Lives and The Journeymen. I see those two books as my apprenticeship and I learned so much writing them. My advice to anyone who thinks they have a story inside them is to persevere and try writing. The first book, in my experience, is the hardest.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Journeymen II: Day of Reckoning picks up literally after the epilogue of the original book, with two of the characters from the tragic events at Jodrell Bank reunited four years later at the funeral of a mutual friend. They agree to help the sister of the murdered woman and find themselves dragged back into the world of Journeymen, with all the dangers that involves.

When I wrote the original book, even though I made the story up, I found myself realising that it provided a better explanation for many world events than the supposed truth and I was compartmenting people I knew as Journeymen, colonists, Sons and IBs. After writing the sequel I find I'm still doing it! The concept was like an old glove.

2015 update - shortly after completing J-men II I wrapped up Assassin, a book I'd been working on and off again for about five years. It is based in a futuristic, isolationist UK. Some of the issues mentioned mirror the world following publication. Check out the blurb on Smashwords

2018 update - If you've read Assassin you might recognise some of the risks the UK is facing with Brexit, which didn't exist as a concept when I wrote Assassin. if you haven't read it, you might want to read it to consider what might be an extreme result of Brexit.

Late 2018 update - Just published Hotel California. A dark comedy that might make you wonder why the good (in the music industry) seem to die young. Or do they?
where else can I read you?
I contribute to a satirical news website named Newsbiscuit under the unlikely handle of Throngsman (don't ask, long story, obscure origin). is very UK humour biased satirical website and is open to anyone with a gag (preferably topical), so why not contribute if you think you can cut it with some of the UKs funniest amateur gag writers. Newsbiscuit was created and is owned by John O'Farrell, a comedy writer and author who was also a mainstay of the Spitting Image writing team in the 1990s. Please read the guidelines (and the published submissions) first - some US based writers submit stuff that doesn't fit the house style and some get disheartened by the cruel British tendency to point this out. Good luck, I look forward to reading (and potentially editing before posting) your submissions.

I now edit on a rotation basis and run a writer of the month competition. Join in, we need your input!
How do you approach cover design?
I do this myself. I generally use publicly available images, although I created the latest version of the Digital Life Form cover myself and the photograph adorning Assassin is one I took while walking in the Lake District.
Published 2018-12-17.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Hotel California
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,910. Language: English. Published: November 6, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
When Ricky Maggott decided to turn his back on fame and retire permanently to Hotel California he thought it was the answer to his troubles, however he soon learned that it was a mistake. Meanwhile music journalist Aiden McKie suspected the reports of Ricky's death were covering something and decided to investigate.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 72,340. Language: English. Published: May 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
A tale of vengeance and pursuit in an age where values are distorted beyond recognition. John is the Assassin, a man wanted by the congress. He is stuck with Dave in a beach hut in a winter storm unaware that they are being pursued by congress agents. It's a long night, a long story and people will die.
Journeymen II: Day of Reckoning
Series: The journeymen, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,490. Language: English. Published: July 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
Alan Thomas and John Markerson reunite four years after the events at Jodrell Bank for another brush with the Journeymen, this time to prevent the Sons of Arlgon from being vanquished through a mass cull, a Day of Reckoning by the Journeymen.
Project: Evil
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 54,060. Language: British English. Published: July 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Black comedy
Brian wants a job; Barry Liam O'Feld, CEO of B L O'Feld Megalomaniac Industries needs a project manager to create an evil secret lair in the South Seas. Follow the project progress, bizarre meeting by meeting as Brian tries to deliver a weapon of mass destruction on specification, on time and on budget. Well, on specification anyway - it's a project, after all!
The Last Simple
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 33,350. Language: English. Published: December 25, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Parody
Bradford knows he’s the lead in a third rate parody. However, his ambition is to be the lead in a Dan Brown story, but doesn’t know if he has to dumb up or down for the gig. In ‘The Last Simple’, Bradford, a professor of Simpology from Harvard, follows clues left by the illiterati, ignoranti and even the bingoranti as he tries to track down the kidnapper of Lord Bartholomew.
Digital Life Form
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 70,130. Language: English. Published: April 29, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
DLFs (microscopic, bacteria-like Digital Life Forms) have been landing on Earth for Millennia, clinging to meteorites, looking for the right conditions to thrive. Royston inadvertently becomes embroiled in the secret and dangerous world of DLFs, which are responsible for all the electronic technological advances we all take for granted. In DLF he finds himself in a race for his life.
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 111,260. Language: English. Published: February 3, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
(5.00 from 1 review)
Rory Callum, ex military, now industrial spy, undertakes his hardest assignment yet. Unable to remember the events that led to Rory walking out of the Iraqi desert as the shock and awe phase began, his new assignment pitches him into the most dangerous situations he has ever been exposed to while reigniting the secrets he has been suppressing.
The Journeymen
Series: The journeymen, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 91,050. Language: English. Published: February 3, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
(1.00 from 1 review)
Tom Roberts is a space vehicle designer with an idea that will move the possibilty of deep space exploration one step closer. However his Space Borne Sieve generates excessive interest from two groups, the Journeymen and the Sons of Arlgon, with often violent repurcussions. A book that covers tens of thousands of years and nine light years, it has a back story that affects us all.
Parallel Lives
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 82,150. Language: English. Published: February 3, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
In a country paranoid about getting the inside track on intelligence, using the ability of a rare few to access parallel universes leads to unscrupulous methods. John Staples is effectively a prisoner of the State and it falls to his boss to release John, to hide him from the various Govenmental agencies attempting to restore him tothe clutches of the secretive DTRU.