Interview with Richard Shury

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in New Zealand, but now live in London. This means the speech I use for characters, particularly in contemporary settings, is sometimes mixed. I have to be careful about the slang I employ to make sure it sounds right. During my studies, I encountered New Zealand authors, and some of the style of their writing has probably crept into my work. I particularly like Mansfield's short stories, and the novels of Robin Hyde, as there is a real humanity in them. That said, I have never written a story specifically about or set in New Zealand; this is something I may come to do at some point.
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing in earnest when I was at University, in Dunedin. I would have been twenty one. I remember having the idea of writing a book floating around in my head for a while, and I had done a few bits and pieces during college (mainly science fiction, as I recall), but at the time I started it was because I was inspired by a book I read to go ahead and begin my own. It took a long time for Laid Hold The Dragon to be written, and longer for it to be published, but seeing it complete was the spur for me to create more.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have just published a new set of short stories, which are a mix of contemporary and science fiction. I hope the collection holds together well, because the stories all deal with ideas of humanity and morality, but also I wanted to have a bit of a mix of styles. I wrote the stories during a break for the novel I am working on. This novel is more science fiction, and will be in three main sections; I finished the first part and worked on the short stories as a way of getting other ideas out of my mind and on to paper, and now I will go back to the novel.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I published my first novel, Laid Hold The Dragon, by vanity publishing, and it cost a fair bit, but I didn't really see much return for the money I paid. I realised that I wanted to be able to put my work out there for people to read, even if it makes me no money; and indie publishing was perfect, enabling me to do so in a cost-effective way. A friend and fellow author, J. H. Sked, first put me on to Smashwords and the idea of online publishing, and since then I haven't looked back.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
While I haven't become a household name or an international bestseller (and while I certainly wouldn't turn these things down), Smashwords has really been the outlet I needed to get my work out there without incurring a massive cost. It has enabled me to write, and to have my work read, without the barriers that traditional publishers would have thrown up, the largest one being, actually being published in the first place. I am happy that I am able to make my work visible to other people and I really enjoy any feedback I receive from them.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I think there are a few moments which would be up there as the 'greatest joy'. Seeing a novel or long piece of work finished and published is immensely satisfying. It represents the culmination of a lot of hard work and hours spent at the keyboard. I would also say that getting positive comments and reaction is very enjoyable. Of course, it is often the constructive feedback which is the most helpful, and when I am able to fine-tune my work, and better express myself, this is good too. I think the greatest part of writing comes when I have finished a piece of work, be it a paragraph or a scene, or a story, and I know it has come out well, that I have described the scene or the emotion or the character's thoughts in exactly the right way. That moment is very special.
What do your fans mean to you?
Not being super famous, I wouldn't say I have fans per se, but I do have people who have read my work and offered me a lot of helpful advice, criticism, or encouragement. I am immensely grateful to all the people who have helped with my work, be they beta readers, reviewers, and anyone else who took the time to read my writing. The end result of any work is to be read, so I try to keep in mind the eventual reader of my books, and produce work of a level which is worthy of having them read it.
Who are your favorite authors?
It always sounds pretentious when I say this, but I don't think there is an author out there who can top Shakespeare. I mean, the man was a genius. I studied a lot of romantic poetry at University, and Shelley is up there with the best. Closer to my own favourite genres for writing, I really enjoy the writing of Peter F. Hamilton, and Arthur C. Clarke in science fiction; in contemporary fiction, Douglas Coupland and Chuck Palahnuik are favourites of mine. Hunter S. Thompson is another great writer. For non-fiction, I like Dawkins and Hitchens, and my favourite New Zealand writers are Katherine Mansfield and Robin Hyde.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
There's always the need to go to work to get paid, but that said, I have been enjoying my day job a lot lately, despite challenges, and the ups and downs of an unpredictable market. The last year or so I have been much more disciplined with my routine, and I find myself thinking about the tasks I have for each day. I try to run twice a week (but don't always succeed), and I try to set aside two nights a week for writing, usually for an hour or so. Being consistent in this way helps me make steady progress towards my goals, which makes me feel as if I am getting somewhere with my life. Of course, I also look forward to time with friends and upcoming holidays.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Apart from my day job, which I won't go into here, I try to assign time in the evenings for exercise. Like anyone, I like to see friends and go out with them. I also enjoy going out for dinner, and movies, and even sitting in front of the TV has its time and place. I like going to the football, and my ambition this year is to go to an away match, for the atmosphere; if I can get a ticket it will be a lot of fun. I spend a weekend every now and then at my grandmother's place in Surrey, and it is good to catch up with her and relax. I also like to travel, especially if I can go to places where friends of mine live, and I try to go abroad as much as possible.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Sometimes I follow the recommendations of friends, and sometimes I simply do a search under a particular category and see what catches my eye. I tend to rotate my reading between non-fiction, science fiction, contemporary fiction, and classics. I find that it is good to change things up and try new authors and different genres. It is more interesting that way, and it brings in fresh ideas for subject and style, which I can then use in my own work.
Published 2014-01-05.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Shallow Songs
Price: $3.00 USD. Words: 35,210. Language: English. Published: January 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories, Fiction » Themes & motifs » Psychological
Shallow Songs is a collection containing three 'pure' science fiction stories, and a further four of a more contemporary nature. The stories are centred around the concept of humanity - what it means and how we embrace it, as well as how our own definitions of humanity affect our daily lives and our wider moral outlook. These are stories of action, adventure, and emotion.
Wading, All
Price: $3.00 USD. Words: 21,100. Language: English. Published: October 7, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Horror » Weird fiction
Wading, All is a collection of seven short stories, dealing with the themes of life, love, demons, and mental disorder. It is an examination of the strange and noble aspects of individual lives, set against the backdrop of everyday human existence. Atmospheric, moody, and unrelenting, this collection is scattered with moments of insight, and joy.
Price: $7.00 USD. Words: 72,240. Language: English. Published: June 5, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » General
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
Now updated with bonus material! Rook is the story of a hardened mercenary who steals valuable items - for a price. After he steals a vaccine for a deadly virus, he finds himself in a crisis of conscience, one that will put him in the firing line of anyone who stands to profit from the virus’ spread. Will he be able to survive long enough to do the right thing?
Hannah Black
Price: $5.00 USD. Words: 4,300. Language: English. Published: May 8, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror
(5.00 from 2 reviews)
Hannah Black is a short story involving the disappearance of the girl of the same name. She vanished in mysterious circumstances, leaving behind only a notebook, which was discovered later by a local vagrant. The notebook is in Hannah’s handwriting, and describes her last hours; it is a compelling and at times shocking portrait of a young girl whose life was suddenly changed beyond recognition.
In The Arms Of Sleep
Price: $5.00 USD. Words: 33,220. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Visionary & metaphysical
Sheldon is a troubled man. Suffering from nightmares in which he is pursued by an unnamed terror, the dreams begin to spill over into his waking life, until he is no longer sure what is real and what the product of his mind. Yet even as he fragments, he sees a solution which may help him regain control of his dreams, and his mind. The question is, will he be able to save himself from himself?
Laid Hold The Dragon
Price: $7.00 USD. Words: 88,700. Language: English. Published: October 4, 2011. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Into a world of dust and anarchy, a young woman is thrown. How and why Janice arrived are mysteries. Someone or something has caused her to arrive and seems to be following her. The world she encounters is dark, the people she meets battered by the effort of living. Still, they have hope of a way out. Janice joins them, but she soon finds what looked like escape may be something else entirely.