There are so many, and for me it is books that stand out more than authors. I was started down this road by Roger Zelazny's Lord of Light, and so many of his books are influences. I enjoy Robin Hobb, Pat Rothfuss, George Martin, Naomi Novik, Michelle Sagara, and further back such SciFi luminaries as Alfred Bester, Ursula LeGuin, CJ Cherryh - and more. I like Anthony Burgess, Charles Dickens, Conan Doyle, William Kotzwinkle, Patrick O'Brian, Iain Banks (with and without the 'M'), Neil Gaiman, Jack London, TH White, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Alexander McCall-Smith. The list is not endless, but it's certainly very long.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Actually I like to write in bed, so it's usually the need for breakfast that gets me up. That period between waking and eating is one of my most productive.
Do independent authors have a different relationship with their readers compared with regular published authors?
I can't speak for regular authors, but independents are completely reliant on those who enjoy their work to spread the news. Our work doesn't often appear in bookshops, is rarely reviewed in newspapers or magazines, and we can't afford the sort of advertising that makes a difference - if any does. However hard we work at marketing we always lack the distribution channels and the financial muscle to compete in other ways - at least at first. Word of mouth is paramount. Anything from a simple rating on goodreads, a review, a mention in a reader forum - it's all good, but it's hard to ask any more of someone who has already parted with their hard earned cash to read your work.
How do you approach cover design?
An interesting question. I usually develop a clear idea of what I want and then look for someone who can better it. I have a limited budget, so I can't employ seasoned professionals. My usual approach would be to run a competition on Freelancer with a very detailed spec.
What do you read for pleasure?
A lot less than I should! I like to read fantasy, of course, especially new authors because there's some really great stuff out there, but I also like to read more mainstream stuff like The Kite Runner, almost anything by Anthony Burgess, Bill Bryson and a slew of others. I also love books about real life adventures in extremity - Krakauer's Into Thin Air, Simpson's Touching the Void, and titles like A Voyage for Madmen, In the Heart of the Sea, Sailing Alone Around the World, Caverns Measureless to Man (and almost anything about scuba diving). The last book I read was Iain Banks' The Quarry - reviewed on Goodreads.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a kindle. I love it. It travels with me.
Describe your desk
One end of the dining table with a laptop, a dictionary and an external hard drive to back stuff up. I face away from the window because the real world distracts me. The laptop is attached to speakers that usually play a wide assortment of blues, jazz, pop and classical music. However, I embrace the philosophy 'have laptop will travel', and this is being written on same laptop in a motel in Paraparaumu Beach on my way up to Armageddon in Auckland.
When did you first start writing?
At school. I wrote some awful stuff, and unfortunately I still have some of it. If I ever need to come back down to earth I just reach for it and a few lines will make me wince.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book - I'm going to cheat a little and write about the book I'm writing now - due out later this year.
I've always wanted to write a crime story, but it's not common in the fantasy genre, or at least it didn't used to be. I suppose I was inspired by Michelle Sagara's 'Cast in...' series, which I love, but my book came about as a natural extension of an earlier (so far unpublished) work. I had a character left over, a man that I wanted to use again, and this seemed the perfect part for him. I had already cast him in the role in the third book in this new series and thought it would be good to show how he came to this. It would be unfair to say more at this point, but I had to read up on forensics and try to translate it to fantasy technology, improve my knowledge of archery (pretty sketchy), but it was all fun. Look out for The Lawkeeper of Samara...
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Simply that people enjoy what I write, and that they tell me so. Some of the reviews I've received on Goodreads and Amazon have made my week. I'm new to Smashwords, but I hope I'll get a little feedback here, too. The fact that someone bothered to take the time to comment, or even rate one of my books is uplifting. Thanks to you all!
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Well, almost everything :-)
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I like to read. I like to walk. I run a small writers group. I reluctantly spend time maintaining our garden, mostly with a chainsaw...
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