Like most males, I'm not too good at talking about myself, so I've put up some Q&As that Mary Metcalfe asked me during a recent book review she did on her website:
1. What is the working title of your book?
Love for Sale; Diaries of an International Dating Agency
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I created and ran an introduction agency between 1991 and 1996. The book relates to events during that time.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
It is a true account of events that actually took place and the characters that actually took part, but the pathos, irony and humour of the situations is accentuated to make a more interesting read. In short, I think I would classify it as a work of fiction based on true events. (Mary has since informed me that the genre is in fact, "fictionalised memoir")
4. Are you character driven or plot driven? Why?
I think my answer has to be character driven. Most of the characters are a little larger than life but this is no accident. Take for example the character who was effectively an unemployed English ex-hippy. This character confounded all my expectations by ending up on a blind date on a mountain in Columbia - but with the girl's mother since she had been writing to him, posing as her daughter!
It is also possible I may not endear myself to many readers, since in the book I suffer several accusations of "chauvinism" and of being a "control freak" amongst other character defects. I of course justified these traits by the need to survive against mounting odds and rampant bureaucracy!
5. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Why?
At the moment it is published in Kindle. I am hoping to get it published by an agency and I have received some interest in this direction, but nothing firm as yet.
6. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
It's strange how that happened. I took a degree course in law and went on to do a post graduate degree in legal research. Somewhere along the way I found I could write and that I enjoyed writing. I have had two academic articles, concerning quite technical legal issues, published in international legal journals. This book is light years away from an academic tome but it keeps my eye in!
7. What advice do you have for your fellow writers/authors about self-promotion and its importance?
From what I have discovered it seems to be crucially important. Even if you have an agent it seems you will still be expected to do most of the legwork as an author. My only other discovery is that it is exactly the same as any other form of self promotion: if you give in to your fears, insecurities or weaknesses you will not make it; you must keep at it to succeed - unless you have money and/or connections in which case ignore the foregoing!
8. What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?
I'm hoping that (what I like to think of as) my dry sense of humour might do that. It's not to everyone's taste, but if the thought of an armadillo trying to make love to a tank he has mistaken for a lady armadillo strikes you as amusing, I'm sure you will enjoy the book. This is because just like the armadillo I try every which way I know to succeed, only to end up just as frustrated as that poor little armadillo!
9. What kind of books do you read when taking a break from your writing?
It's probably understandable, in view of my legal training, that I particularly enjoy true crime. For example I very much enjoy reading anything by Vincent Bugliosi, who was a top US prosecution lawyer. In general I find true life much stranger than fiction, as I'm sure anyone reading my book would agree!
10. What is especially near and dear to you - a key cause you support. Describe it for me, please.
In a word, nature. I confess that like the Twitter character "God", I find its human manifestation a little disappointing, but I can always find time to watch a sparrow building a nest, or make silly noises to attract chaffinches to my garden feeder. I have spent time on safari in Africa and support various international animal charities.
Please tell me three (3) things about you as a person that you would like to share with your readers.
I guess if you want to be an author you need to be good at people-watching. I think I'm pretty good at it, but some folk might disagree because I don't wrap people in candy; I don't always give them the benefit of the doubt, so to speak. But I don't think I'm cynical, I just like to think I can see things, and people, as they are. I like to think that is a good approach for an author, and I'm comfortable with it.
I am always ready to help and advise people to the best of my ability, should they ask for my help - if they don't ask, I will usually not interfere and would happily pass them by on the other side of the street.
I like to think I'm well-travelled, and I have an open-minded and fun-loving attitude to different cultures and languages, which has saved my life in many tricky situations abroad!
Please include a paragraph about you, your family, your interests... what you'd like people to know about you apart from the questions above.
I am married to the beautiful long-suffering character named "Sally" in my book. We met just before starting the agency, and finally got married in Las Vegas in 2011 - it was a long courtship!
Unlike me, Sally is a "people person" and as can be seen in my book, without her help in defusing many delicate situations the agency would never have survived a week!
Sally's children, whom I mention in the book, are all grown-up with families of their own now, and are spread across the globe.
Sally and I both like to travel and have made many friends across the world in our years together. Her hobby is painting, and she is very good at it; mine is golf and whilst I am quite useless at it, I still love the game!
Where to find Ken Shaw online
A Warrior Returns
by Ken Shaw
Psychologically damaged by the brutal effects of two world wars, a family is made homeless in 1950 through a breach of his trust by the father’s sibling. Forced to move out of London into a dilapidated cottage tied to a demeaning job in a village foundry, the father remains pursued by ghosts that have haunted him ever since his wartime exploits. Then something inexplicably brutal occurs...
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