I didn't actually set out to write a book at all. The idea came to me when I was writing lesson plans for my training courses. I have never had a terribly structured approach to writing, although I have always loved to write, essays were my thing at school, telling stories. One thing led to another and I began to write verbatim what I would be saying in front of my clients. And then "POW2 it hit me, I might have a book here, and that was really exciting.
How do you approach cover design?
Ha ha!! Against ALL of Mark's advice which was don't do it yourself, and I did agonise over it, but decided in the end after canvassing opinion from friends, family as well as impartial parties too to use my own design. I am what you'd probably describe as a lapsed Designer, I was never a Graphic Designer but I was an Illustrator for a number of years and still draw occasionally. When people talk about artistic licence I fear mine has expired and I am too busy to renew it, but I think the image on the cover is pretty good, I believe it would tell a story if you stripped away the words etc.. But we'll see eh? At least the Meat Grinder hasn't come back and said "Erm...About that cover picture my friend???" Although I did only upload the book 40 minutes ago so we'll see.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Lord of the Rings has got to be Number 1, I found the Fellowship when I was 13 in our hotel in Corfu and didn't look up from it until the taxi came. I have read the trilogy 10 times since then and am looking forward to my next reading. Number 2 is Fantastic Mr Fox by Roald Dahl which was a big part of my landscape as a boy. Number 3 His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, I love reading books (and watching movies) about which I have no prior knowledge and that surprise me, and I read this whilst living in Oxford and I have to say I wept at the ending, beautifully written, the most original idea I have ever come across. When I was leaving Afghanistan I found a box of them in the little used library in the airport and went from office to office beseaching people to read them. 4. The Great Game by Peter Hopkirk - every young boys dream to ride off into danger and excitement and I think 5. The New Cold War by Edward Lucas, I am reading it at the moment and going to a talk by him in September, it's terrifying and superbly written, very much looking forward to meeting him.
What do you read for pleasure?
A bit of everything really, I have to keep abreast of current affairs so I subscribe to The Economist as well as my favourite magazine The Monocle and I often buy ebooks and physical books that they review and recommend. But I am also a big fan of gardening and get vegetable growing books for my Birthday. I have loved the process of writing my book on Smashwords and long before I pressed "P" for Publish (today as it happens) I was planning my next book which will probably be a Gardening for busy Blokes type affair. I think growing veg and eating it straight off the plant is better than any therapy and an unbeatable antidote to the pressures of work, life, travel, worrying about ££££ etc.. But looking around my office I see that there also a lot of books about the history of countries and conflicts, I am fascinated by what's happening in the world today BUT my real interest is in the underlying cause, why is it happening. That is the real draw for me.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have an iPhone and an iPad and read all my books on those.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have published two books about the British Army with a good friend of mine John Harris, who runs Military Pocket Books. I decided that I didn't want to publish this one with him because it's got nothing to do with the Army, so the hunt began for a way to publish it traditionally (despite the fact that 90% of what I read is on my iPad - the penny hadn't dropped yet, but it was about to). So I hit the phones/emails and approached lots of publishers and got the square route of 0 response. So rather despondent I called a print professional chum of mine Peter Hamblin and he told me about Smashwords and then when I started to chat to other friends they all started raving about it. And that was that really, I also read Mark's guides and really got into the swing of it, I realised that it's so much more satisfying learning, doing it yourself and seeing it come to life than paying someone else to do it for you. It fulfils that entrepreneurial need I suppose.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been a real eye opener for me, SEO and Marketing/PR was always a bit of a mystery to me (as well as a drain on the ££££) but reading Mark's brilliant style guide, marketing guide and the secret's of publishing success I have learnt so many things that translate across to my training business. I don't know if we'll make lots of money from it, but do you know what "Rome wasn't built in a day" and I think that the last 3 days that Smashwords & I have spent together here in my office have been absolutely priceless and I wouldn't be at all surprised if I had learnt more in the last 3 days than I have in the last 3 years, but as my wife will tell you I am prone to exaggeration 1000% of the time.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Losing myself in the story definitely and creating something that wasn't there before. It's a bit like meditation for me I suppose, I have a couple of books that are swimming about in my head at the moment (on two very different topics - one's a novel and the other is a veg gardening book for men, based on my successes and failures) and it's such fun to walk around watching people, reading things, listening to dialects, hearing opinions, gathering snippets, evaluating and adding/subtracting them to the plot or the recipe of your book. I am serial scribbler and have a set of 10 little notebooks just behind me at my desk which I reach for every now and again and add some little tit bit. And it'll be super joy when I start to earn £££ from it too.
What do your fans mean to you?
A great deal obviously, it would be odd if I put "nothing whatsoever, they mean nothing" not very smart. When I got my first review for Soldiers Pocket Book on Amazon which was 5/5 "A cracking little book" I was walking on air, then I got another and another, of course then the pressure was on when the next one came out, but I have been very lucky. With Travelling Safely Overseas on Smashwords it's going to be so much easier for (I am loathe to say "fans" it sounds very presumptuous so I will instead call them) readers to get in touch with me. I am really looking forward to hearing from the readers, in the same way I keep in touch with people who attend my courses, I learn so much from their experiences and often include them in my writing and vignettes on my courses. So yes a great deal.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My little girl who wakes us up at 0650 with a little kiss and a loud, pleading demand for her "Magic milk and an apple" then our baby boy wakes up and the day begins, but I love that first 40 minutes of the day. The sun just always seems to shine down here in Bournemouth, so I open the curtains a wee bit, much better than electric light, get the brews, put CeeBeebies on for the kids and we all sit in a happy little line in bed. I check out the news on-line and think about what I want to achieve today. Oh and of course breakfast, we like our food in the Godesen household, my wife will then walk the oldest to school while I go for a run, we meet half way round the golf course and walk back to coffee and brekky. Then it's to work. We're very very lucky to be able to start the day all together as a family.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.