What are your current writing projects now?
First and foremost, finishing Scenes from a Life. I have a few ideas bubbling around for short stories but at present nothing of full novel length.
Are you reading any interesting books at the moment?
Yes, indeed. Over the last year I have tried to focus on reading new or relatively unknown authors, and have found a huge amount to enjoy here. Some highlights are:
· A Swarming of Bees, by Theresa Tomlinson (set in Saxon England, a great exploration of events after the council of Whitby, a turning point for English Christianity),
· Let us not live in Ignorance, by Anastasia Abboud (a contemporary romance exploring dome very difficult cross-cultural issues),
· Automaton, by CL Davies (science fiction, slightly akin to The Truman Show and dealing with technology issues in society),
· Pyg, by Russell Potter (a whimsical retelling of events surrounding the so-called Learned Pig of late 18th and early 19th century England),
· The Bone Thief, by VM Whitworth (religious and political manoeuvrings in tenth century England)
· Fargoer, by Petteri Hannila (historical fantasy in ancient Finland, drawing on the mythic traditions of the Kalevala)
· Undreamed Shores, by Mark Patton (a tale of events surrounding the early building stages of Stonehenge)
Are there any new authors that have sparked your interest and why?
See the answer above which covers this.
What are some of the best tools available today for writers, especially those just starting out?
I don’t really make much use of tools, I’m afraid. Gmail and Dropbox are superb for keeping everything synchronised between my various electronic gadgets, so they are pretty much essential tools in my armoury. I’m very happy tangling with the geeky formats used by kindle, other epub readers and so on, so I am equally at home writing in Word, straight html, or more exotic things such as Markdown. I have heard people praise Scrivener very highly but have never tried it.
What contributes to making a writer successful?
I’ll let you know when I am successful! More seriously, I guess it depends what you mean by success. There are plenty of blogs which will tell you how to write for financial success, usually by having a good grasp of the market and following some clear guidelines. Personally, I want to write in particular styles and with different goals in mind. I would rather have a few people who really love the writing and click with what I was trying to do with it, than have enormous financial success. But different people have different priorities, and I am fortunate in having a job which can provide a stable financial base for me to write in my spare time.
Do you have any advice for writers?
I think it is really important to identify and establish your priorities. Do you want to write to make money? In which case find outlets and strategies that facilitate that. Do you want to expose some social condition, whether directly or by analogy? Then find a vehicle for doing that?
Along with that, I have personally found writing to be a great way to explore and expose your own psyche. What does your writing say about you? What themes and patterns keep emerging in your writing? You will probably need feedback from others on this at first, as something might be obvious to them which is obscure to you. But the process of getting to know myself with greater accuracy – the good and the bad – is a crucial aspect of my writing.
Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
Not really. But I do think it important that writers do two things: firstly stay close to their own vision of what they want to write, but secondly to constantly be open to input from other people. It is so easy to miss things about yourself, and feedback from others is priceless.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
Go walking, preferably with family members, ideally in the English Lake District although anywhere rural will do when that journey is not possible.
What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?
Well, just finishing the books has been something of a realised dream.
Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us?
If you could leave your readers with one bit of wisdom, what would you want it to be?
Not something I feel very qualified to talk about, I’m afraid.
When you wish to end your career, stop writing, and look back on your life, what thoughts would you like to have?
Realistically I know that one day I will stop writing, but that day does not seem real to me at the moment. Currently I expect to be writing longer than doing my day job!
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG13