Interview with Bradley Atkins

What do your fans mean to you?
They are everything.

I'm as human as the next person. Without the encouragement of the readers, I would never have come this far with my writing.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing? For me it has to be that point where you go from imagining a character to perceiving them as real.

When you find yourself suspending your disbelief and being drawn into the scenes in the same way as you hope your readers will be, that’s a wonderful feeling.

Clever plot lines and a vivid imagination are all well and good, and a vital part of the story teller’s art, but it’s the characters for me. Without them you just have someone clever and articulate putting stuff down on paper. It’s the characters that you relate to on a human level, and never more so than through good dialogue.

I post my work on Scribophile for critiques from fellow writers and often get back really useful comments that help me develop my writing… But it was a simple comment from the Bajan cleaning lady that I treasure the most.

I had given her a scene from my novel, one where three Caribbean characters where talking in a kitchen; I wanted her take on the accuracy of the dialect.

She’s not a writer and could give me no authoritative comments on the quality of the writing, but she did say this, “Mm, mm! That Julius!”

Now that’s quality feedback! That’s when I knew that I'd nailed it and he had become real for her.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My work in progress is called "The Passion of Lettice Treadwell". It is a mystery set around the Church of England and the Sex Trade.

Rather like a parent who worries their child will never fit in, I worry I'm writing a book that will not fit easily in any genre and so might never find a home. While I love the whole premise and have fallen in love with my characters, I’ve yet to discover if anyone else will do the same.

All the more reason to crack on and finish it I suppose!

Here is the synopsis:

A young woman is found dead in a sadomasochistic dungeon. She has been crucified in a perversion of the biblical crucifixion scene.

Is her death an accident or murder?

Victory DeMonick, a former senior police officer from Guyana — now a Church of England priest — is asked by her bishop to investigate if the press allegations of church involvement in the running of the brothel have any foundation.

Vicky promises the Bishop and the police that she will not stray into the criminal investigation. However, as her inquiries proceed, she comes under more and more pressure to intervene in what looks like a miscarriage of justice.

Will Vicky be steered by her distaste for the sex trade and promise to stay out of it, or will her heart overrule her and demand that she uses her skills to ensure a fair investigation?
What are you working on next?
My next project is actually the first novel I ever started.

When you start out writing, you are mercifully oblivious to the abysmal quality of your work! Such was the case here.

For most of us, it is while writing our first work that we grow as writers and learn our craft. By the time it is almost complete, the last chapters are far superior in quality to the first. It is as though the book was started by a different author! One with little experience.

I would abandon it but the plot is so good that I would love to make a proper job of it. The principle characters are also good. Two strong female leads: half Irish, half Senegalese teenage twins called Impatience and Irreverence O’Keefe.

There are at least two books worth plot there to be written and I am hoping to get back to it before long.

(If only I didn’t have to work all day to pay the bills!)
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was a very late reader. In fact I refused to read for some reason that escapes me. I remember my father yelling at me because I wouldn’t read aloud to him.

I left school at about 11 or 12 years old, primarily because of that failing, and joined a training ship called the T S Arethusa. It was only then that I discovered reading. The other children on board were predominantly thugs and enjoy kicking me around. So I learnt to pick the lock on the library and would lock myself in there every evening.

Thank you thugs, you made a reader out of me!

I think the first book I every read was an adventure by Desmond Bagley, possibly set in Africa. But the first I remember in any detail where the classic Jeeves and Wooster stories. I remember howling with laughter and couldn’t put them down. My love of language probably stems from those books…
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The more I read about the traditional route to becoming a published author, the more convinced I become that it's a bad way to go.

In the traditional model:

• Write the book.
• Find an agent.
• Find a publisher.
• Hope they pump money into hyping your work.
• Hope it takes off in a few weeks or it will get ‘remaindered’ for lack of sales.

When I compare that to the model of uploading an eBook and then taking the time to build an audience of readers… Well it looks like a no brainer to me.
Who are your favorite authors?
The boy in my heart loves Science Fiction and sweeping space operas like the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter F Hamilton just blow me away.

I’m also a fan of the Culture novels by Ian M Banks.

I’ve just finished The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd and was enchanted by it. One of the few books I’ve read where I found myself re-reading pages just to enjoy the quality of her writing. A good yarn too.

My first loves where Steinbeck and J D Salinger. Both had such a distinctive style and tone of voice. Steinbeck’s ability to evoke a scene in the reader’s imagination was masterful. The likes of Cannery Row and so on are a must for anyone serious about their fiction.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a geek, when I'm not writing I'm usually coding.

I do enjoy photography though. I often shoot weddings for friends and relatives.

I need to get out more and do more in the way of exercise.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Work :)

I am so tempted to retire to Uganda and write full time.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Too early to talk about success, but reading the excellent guidance on this site has convinced me it is time to upload something and make it available to the public.

While my novel is incomplete and therefore ineligible for publication, I do have numerous short stories that I can compile into a book and upload that. I am eager to learn how to get to grips with promoting my work and this will be the first step in the process.

It's proving to be a very educational exercise!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Until recently, entirely by chance. Whatever the search engines turn up.

Now though, I tend to pick up on references to work in online forums. That was how I discovered The Secret Life of Bees recently. A writer spoke enviously of her prose in a group discussion on Scribophile, so I bought it.
Published 2015-06-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Tales of Life and Beyond
Price: Free! Words: 25,840. Language: English. Published: May 3, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Literary collections » European / English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh
A free glimpse into the fevered imagination of Bradley Atkins. This compelling and original début work consists of five short stories and a taster chapter from his upcoming book. Download it now, enjoy his singular prose, and whet your appetite for the release of his first full length novel!